Steven Matz will get his chance to revive his career in Queens.
The Mets and the 29-year-old left-hander agreed to a $5.2 million contract on Wednesday, as Matz avoided arbitration following a nightmarish 2020 season.
Matz made six starts and three relief appearances and finished 0-5 with a 9.68 ERA in the COVID-shortened season, leaving some to wonder whether the Mets would bring him back at all, given that he was likely due a small raise from the $5 million he would have made in a full 2020 season.
Matz lost his spot in the starting rotation and went on the injured list with left shoulder discomfort. But in spite of Matz’s struggles, he has had stretches when he’s been very good, and with new owner Steve Cohen’s deep pockets, the Mets can now afford to keep a popular reclamation project around.
Where Matz will fit in the Mets’ plans remains to be seen and will likely be somewhat determined by how the rest of the offseason goes.
The Cohen-led Mets made their first significant free-agent splash this week by signing Trevor May to a two-year, $15.5 million contract in a deal the team announced Wednesday. The right-hander will provide a boost to a bullpen and the signing could indicate an aggressive outlook on free agency.
The Mets have Jacob deGrom and Marcus Stroman at the top of the rotation, with Noah Syndergaard recovering from Tommy John surgery.
Then there’s the inexperienced David Peterson, the recently signed Sam McWilliams and not much else.
Trevor Bauer, the NL Cy Young Award winner, is the top free-agent pitcher available, but Masahiro Tanaka and Jake Odorizzi are also on the market and could provide starting depth.
As for Matz, the Mets hope he can rediscover the stuff he had earlier in his career, when the Long Island native made a brilliant six-start debut late in the 2015 season followed by a solid year in 2016, when he finished with a 3.40 ERA in 132 ¹/₃ innings.
He’s been hampered since by injuries and ineffectiveness.