The New York Mets acquired a starting pitcher on Wednesday. While the baseball-viewing nation awaited the Yoshinobu Yamamoto decision, the Mets worked a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers, acquiring starting pitcher Adrian Houser and outfielder Tyrone Taylor for minor league pitcher Coleman Crow. Crow was acquired in the summer from the Los Angeles Angels in exchange for Eduardo Escobar.
For the Mets, the rationale behind the move is clear. The team needs to fill innings on the mound. Houser will do just that, as he's thrown a full season's worth off innings since 2019. Houser has seemingly transitioned to the rotation full-time, although he only accumulated 111.1 innings in 23 appearances (21 starts) last season. The calling card here is command, as Eno Sarris' Location+ rates Houser at a 103, above-average for big league pitchers. Houser needs strong command to combat a rather vanilla profile, with two fastballs that live under 95 mph. The good news is that Houser is coming off his best command season, posting a career-low 7.1 percent walk rate while striking out 20.0 percent of opponents, his highest total since 2019. Houser's 4.12 ERA is roughly in line with his 3.99 FIP, which makes him a valuable backend rotation member. Should he spend the full season with the big league club, Houser is slated to hit free agency after the 2024 season.
The second piece heading to Queens is outfielder Tryone Taylor, who has spent the last two seasons playing a bit of an expanded role for Milwaukee. Taylor offers some power, hitting 10 bombs in 243 plate appearances in 2023. One thing Taylor lacks is plate discipline. Taylor has never posted a walk rate above 8.3 percent, which came in limited 2019 action. Speed and power are the two carrying tools for Taylor's profile, as he ranks in the 86th percentile of sprint speed, in addition to his ability to put the ball over the fence. Taylor saw time at all three outfield spots last season, but projects more towards the corners. Given the current state of the Mets' outfield, Taylor likely slides into a backup role.
Coleman Crow quickly emerged as a steal from the 2019 draft, greatly outperforming his 28th round pick. The pandemic delayed Crow's professional debut until 2021, which was spent at Low-A before he saw some Arizona Fall League action. Crow struggled a bit at Double-A in 2022, and was dominating in a brief return to the level in 2023. In four Double-A starts, Crow posted a 1.88 ERA in 24.0 innings, with a strong 31:6 K:BB ratio. Then, the elbow pain came. Crow eventually underwent Tommy John surgery in August, likely pointing to a 2025 return. When healthy, Crow's command carries the most weight of a backend starter projection, with two above-average breaking balls buoying the lack of an impact fastball. Crow's low-slot has not pointed him to the bullpen yet, although his now accelerated 40-man timeline may push him there due to an inability to accumulate innings. Either way, Crow is a likely big leaguer, but his return from TJ will determine the impact of his future role. A decent flier here for Milwaukee, especially for two expendable players.