It's one of the worst kept secrets in Queens, but we'll reiterate it on the off chance someone isn't in the know. The Mets will do just about anything to avoid trading from the cache of young starting pitchers they've spent the last few years stock piling. That already could have stood as a potential hurdle in any deal for Seattle's Nick Franklin, but if Jon Niese has a serious shoulder injury you can expect the Mets brass to hold onto their chips.
A closer look at the Mets pitching depth reveals that the team's rotation was expected to be comprised of Niese, Zack Wheeler, Bartolo Colon, and Dillon Gee. The fifth start would be left to whomever comes out on top between Jenrry Mejia, Daisuke Matsuzaka and John Lannon. And then the Mets still have several pitchers gearing up in the minors. Noah Syndergaard, Rafael Montero and Jacob deGrom are all expected to be major league starters, giving the Mets TEN starting pitching options already this season.
Ten may sound like some astronomical number, but in reality it isn't. In fact, the Mets have used at least 12 starting pitchers in each of the past two seasons. If fate should fall in a similar way this year, that means even these ten won't be enough. That's why a serious injury to Jon Niese, who some expect to be the opening day starter, could derail any pursuit of Nick Franklin.
The Mariners are expected to request young starting pitching in exchange for Franklin in any trade. Some insiders expect it could take someone as prominent as Rafael Montero, while others think it could just be Jacob deGrom. The result is the same. It removes another starting pitcher from this list and further complicates the decisions the team has to make going forward. One of those decisions, at least theoretically, could be Nick Franklin.
Don't expect the Mets to gut their starting pitching depth in order to upgrade the shortstop position, regardless of how bad their need might be. Sandy Alderson has spent far too much time acquiring and developing his young pitchers, who he intends to build the franchise around, to jeopardize that depth. I'm not saying that a major injury to Niese takes the Mets out of the running for Franklin, but I think its naive to think it won't play into the team's thought process. Time will tell, but I for one will be keeping a close eye on those MRI results. I think there could certainly be more hanging in the balance than just Jon Niese's season.