I love these big all steel MTD's. Here's a link to my thread about the one I dragged home for $50 back in Jan. Picked up a JC Penny Grass Handler
I certainly wouldn't avoid bringing yours home, but there's one BIG red flag that could be a deal breaker; The air cleaner cover is missing and there's debris down in the carb throat. It's possible that water and other stuff has gotten down into the engine. If that's true, the engine may have a cylinder, or both cylinders, that are rusted solid....locking the engine up.
So your first steps will be:
-Use a shop vac and suck all that crud out of the carb throat.
-Take the entire hood/nose/sides off so you can easily work on the entire engine.
-Get a can of Kroil or PB Blaster, and spray a ton of it down the carb throat.
-Remove both spark plugs and spray more Kroil or PB down into the cylinders.
-Let the penetrant soak in for a while......hours, days....etc.
-See if the engine will rotate by hand. Might be easiest if you take the screen off and put a socket on the big flywheel bolt. Rotate the engine (or attempt to rotate it) slowly in both directions. Sort of a rocking motion. Go back and forth until you can get a full revolution out of the engine.
-If you can get a smooth revolution out of the engine, you're making huge progress.
-You can next try to spin the engine on the starter. To do this, I'll take a good battery or a jumper box, and jump from the good battery negative terminal, right to something bare metal on the engine. Next, I connect my jumper battery or jump box's positive terminal to the big cable on the engine's starter. I usually just go directly to the nut on the starter where the starter cable is bolted. This immediately gives a spark and the starter engages, so be ready for that. The engine should begin cranking over rapidly, and all that Kroil/PB Blaster should be spraying out of the spark plug holes all over you.
-If you successfully make it this far, you may wind up with a running engine after a bit more work.
-Do a compression test next, and with wide open throttle, you should get over 100psi in each cylinder. If you have good compression, it's probably going to be a runner.
-Change the oil, and then start making progress toward starting it for real.
There's still quite a bit more work to be done in order to actually start the engine, but you're getting close if it's gone well to this point.