Dillon Gee's future in doubt after DFA
The Dillon Gee saga took another turn on Monday, as the Mets designated the veteran for assignment. (Flickr: r0sss)
A year ago Dillon Gee was the opening day starter for the New York Mets. Although the distinction was partly a product of guys like Matt Harvey being injured, as others such as Zach Wheeler being deemed too young for the gig at the time. But no matter the circumstances around Gee's opening day start in 2014, it's safe to say what has follwed is not part of the script of an opening starter.
The 29 year old righty was designated for assignment on Monday, just the latest chapter in the Dillon Gee saga. Gee had been bumped to the bullpen in the offseason after a lackluster 2014 that saw him battle injury and wind up with a 4.00 ERA. After Zach Wheeler went down for the season due to Tommy John Surgery, Gee was back in the rotation to start the year. But he, and most Mets followers, knew that may not be the case for long.
Gee got off to a rough start to the year in his first two starts, but bounced back to give up no more than two runs in each of his next three starts. Unfortunately for Gee, the injury bug bit him again, as he would miss a full month between starts, returning on June 3rd in San Diego. During that month Noah Syndergaard had made his major leagye debut and pitched well enough to stay in the rotation once Gee returned, leading the Mets to decide to go to a 6-man rotation.
The decision was not too well-received, most notably by the pitchers themselves. The starters expressed their concern over messing with their routines, while maintaining the message that the decision was not up to them. However the 6-man rotation was short-lived, as after a poor start in San Diego for Gee, he was moved to the bullpen.
Gee told reporters after the move that, while understanding the decision, "any value, if I had any at all before this, it's probably gone." The Mets had been publicly shopping Gee all winter, and his role had been uncertain ever since. "I'm done trying to figure out this whole situation," said the emotional pitcher. "I'm almost at the point where I don't even care anymore. I'm kind of just over it all."
The mindset would not prove effective out of the bullpen as Gee surrendured a home run to Joe Panik in his only relief appearance last Tuesday, in a game that the Mets were no-hit.
Gee would move back to the rotation for what Terry Collins made clear to the media was not a revertion to the 6-man rotation but a spot start. Gee, who was fresh off the bereavement list after the death of his grandmother, was put in another tough spot. He had been shopped in the offseason, placed in the bullpen, reinserted to the starting rotation because of the Wheeler injury, placed on the disabled list for a month, bumped from the rotation, and now put back into the rotation temporariliy one day after returning from the bereavement list.
Gee's outing on Sunday fell perfectly in line with how you would expect someone in his situation to perform. He gave up 8 runs on 11 hits, without getting out of the 4th inning. The next day, he was designated for assignment.
Terry Collins admitted before Monday's game that it was not an easy conversation to have with his veteran pitcher. "It's very difficult because I've been with Dillon since I came to the Mets in the minor leagues," said Collins in his pregame press conference after the decision had been announced. "I watched him develop and watched him fight through injuries and come back and compete and compete and compete and put up good numbers. It was a hard decision to make but right now it's all about the team and what we need to do to move forward."
The decision leaves the Mets 10 days to make a decision with Gee, either trading him, releasing him, or trying to pass him through waivers. Although it's a possibility that he's pitched his last game for the Mets, Collins still has plans for Gee.
"We've got to get Dillon back," said Collins. "Right now we don't have the innings to probably do that. So we think this is hopefully a decision that is going to help him and also us. If he isn't claimed, which I'm sure there is a good chance he may be, but he's gotta go pitch and he's gotta go pitch consistently."
This move could be the best thing for Gee in that it may lead to just that: a consistent role. Whether that's starting in the minor leagues should he clear waivers or having a defined role on another team, Gee's future may be headed for a clearer path.
That is, after yet another period of uncertainty. Currently, there is no room for Gee in the major league starting rotation. Noah Syndergaard solidified his place buy dominating the Blue Jays on Monday night, striking out 11 in 6 innings. Steven Matz may also be promoted in the near future, and Sandy Alderson said on Monday that when he gets to the majors, it will not be in the bullpen. So the Mets decided the best move for now was to designate Gee for assignment, leaving him in limbo for a 10-day period. Limbo is not an area Gee is unfamiliar with this season, and the constant shuffling contributed to what he has called "the weirdest...year in baseball I've ever had."
After the 10-day period Gee will at least know what his immeadiate future holds. And that's a luxury he hasn't had in quite some time.