3 relievers the Mets could target at the trade deadline

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With a 41-22 record, the New York Mets are enjoying one of the strongest starts to a season in franchise history.

New York has one of the best offenses in baseball and a rotation that figures to become exponentially better with the returns of Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer imminent.

Meanwhile, Mets relievers have performed reasonably well. In fact, they rank 4th best in the National League with a 3.76 ERA.

Edwin Diaz is finally living up to the expectations that the club had for him after acquiring the reliever following his historic 2018 season with the Seattle Mariners.

However, getting Diaz the ball with the lead has been a precarious tightrope for Buck Showalter to walk.

With Trevor May on the injured list, Drew Smith looking less effective of late, and Joely Rodriguez, Adam Ottavino, and Chasen Shreve having their own struggles, the Mets could certainly look to upgrade the back end of their bullpen.

Here are three relievers that the New York Mets could target to improve their relief corps as they look to make a deep playoff run.

Jorge Lopez, RP Baltimore Orioles

Jorge Lopez entered this season looking to make a case to even remain in the big leagues.

After debuting with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2015 and being traded twice, once to the Kansas City Royals and then to the Baltimore Orioles, Lopez was the owner of a 6.04 ERA over his first 104 career appearances.

This year, Lopez has made a full 180 and is one of the best relievers in Major League Baseball.

In 26 games for the Orioles, Lopez has a minuscule 0.88 ERA over his first 30.2 innings this season. A former 2nd-round pick by the Brewers, the  29-year-old may finally have put it all together.

Lopez is striking out nearly a batter per inning with 28 punchouts compared to his 13 walks issued this season.

According to Baseball Savant, Lopez is in the 93rd percentile in opponents’ average exit velocity, 98th percentile in opponents’ hard-hit percentage, and 97th percentile in fastball velocity.

The right-hander is under team control through 2025, so the cost to acquire him could be hefty. Given the short sample size of his success, it could be a risk to trade valuable assets for him. But, a team looking to put themselves over the top for 2022 may see a once-promising prospect that’s just now hitting his prime.

Scott Barlow, RP Kansas City Royals

The Kansas City Royals are bad (I will never not enjoy taking a shot at this team after they broke my heart in the 2015 World Series). And bad teams trade their productive MLB players to help jump-start a rebuild.

Scott Barlow is one of those players. Barlow debuted with the Royals in 2018 and has quietly flown under the radar as a solid relief pitcher in his three seasons at the big league level.

From 2018 to 2021, Barlow owns a 3.46 ERA in 170 games. This year, Barlow has taken a jump into the upper echelon of elite relief pitchers.

In 26 innings this season, Barlow has pitched to a 1.73 ERA. Despite a lower strikeout rate than his career average, Barlow has the lowest WHIP of his career at 1.15. Further, Baseball Savant has Barlow in the 96th percentile in chase rate and  88th percentile in average exit velocity and hard-hit percentage.

Barlow, like Lopez, is under team control through 2025. The last-place Royals will most certainly be selling at this year’s trade deadline, though, and the Mets could make a bid to add Barlow to the back end of their bullpen.

Dennis Santana, RP Texas Rangers

This one could be a bit of a stretch.  After stumbling out of the gate, the Texas Rangers have corrected their course and are a somewhat respectable 28-32 on the season. Further, Dennis Santana is under team control through 2026.

Should Texas decide to sell, Santana would be a primary target for teams looking to add to their bullpen.

Santana was drafted as an international free agent by the Los Angeles Dodgers before being traded to the Rangers last June. After joining the Rangers, Santana was excellent, pitching to a 3.63 ERA in 39 appearances with Texas last year.

This year, Santana has a 1.46 ERA over 24.2 innings with a WHIP of 0.68 (!!!)

While his strikeouts are down, so too are the number of home runs he’s surrendered. Santana has yet to give up a long ball this season.

Baseball Savant has Santana ranked in the top 90th percentile in five different categories and within the top 88th percentile in three others.

His FIP of 2.65 suggests there will be some regression to the norm, however, a team looking to add a quality arm for the stretch run this season could find themselves a dominant solution in Santana.