New York Mets: Looking at the positive return for Steven Matz

Steven Matz, then of the New York Mets. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Steven Matz, then of the New York Mets. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) /

The New York Mets continued their active offseason on Wednesday night, trading away left-handed starting pitcher Steven Matz to the Toronto Blue Jays for three young right-handed pitchers.

Considering that Matz was a potential non-tender candidate earlier this offseason and with the recent addition of Joey Lucchesi into the mix for a back-end rotation spot, the New York Mets did pretty well in their return.

New York Mets ship Steven Matz to Toronto Blue Jays for a nice haul

So, who did the New York Mets receive in this deal? A trio of young arms who all bring a bit of intrigue and even some major league experience. Overall, it’s a very solid return for the New York Mets for a near 30-year-old with an up-and-down track record.

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There aren’t any blue-chip prospects in this return, but two of the three are back-end Top 30 prospects of Toronto and one, Sean Reid-Foley, brings a good bit of major league experience.

Reid-Foley, 25, had been pushed out of starting rotation contention with an influx of quality young pitching talent in Toronto’s system and was ticketed to work out of the bullpen in 2021. For the New York Mets, he provides good bullpen depth who can work multiple innings, even make an emergency spot start here and there if required.

Last season in Toronto, Reid-Foley pitched just 6.2 innings, giving up one earned run on three hits. But he did walk just as many hitters (6) as he struck out (6). Despite having MLB-quality stuff in his arsenal, walks have plagued him throughout his career.

He does bring a decent slider that he’s had success with and was once considered a Top 100 prospect in baseball. If the Mets can tap into some of that, Reid-Foley can contribute valuable innings in 2021. He may not get many opportunities and will have to make the most of each one to stick around in a Mets uniform.

Yennsy Diaz is interesting. Developed as a starter early in his career, Diaz now profiles more as a middle-relief arm, but one with a plus-fastball and quite the curveball he can bend in for strikes.

He’s only 22 but has already reached the majors (less than one inning in 2019), having no issues in quickly working through the ranks. His last full stint on the mound came in Triple-A back in 2019. In 26 outings, Diaz went 11-9 with a 3.74 ERA (3.93 FIP), averaging more than seven strikeouts per game and showing a bit of improvement in his walk rate.

Like Reid-Foley, Diaz has had control issues, but if he can command his fastball which has been topped out at 97 mph and throw his curveball for strikes, Diaz can make an impact in low-leverage situations.

Josh Winckowski is the younger arm of the bunch. The former 15th-round pick wasn’t high up on Toronto’s Top 30 list but he has pitched very well in the lower minors, even while struggling with injuries in 2019.

Last appearing in High-A, Winckowski recorded a 3.19 ERA across 53.2 innings and improved on his walk rate from previous seasons. The injuries may have hurt his ability to pile up the strikeouts (just 16 percent) but if he’s healthy in 2021, there’s breakout potential.

With a mid-90s sinker and an impressive slider, Winckowski has worked mainly as a starter but moving him to the bullpen with his high ground-ball rates could be the way the New York Mets go to get the most out of him. Of three arms in this return, Winckowski has the highest ceiling and will be fun to watch climb up the system.

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The New York Mets didn’t receive any arms that will blow you away for Steven Matz, but it was a quality return for an up-and-down starter who was going to have to scrap his way for innings.