The Mets’ bullpen competition has a front-runner

MLB: Spring Training-Houston Astros at New York Mets
Credit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

Spring training is in full swing, and while the Mets‘ third base competition has the majority of the eyes, an underrated storyline is who will make the Opening Day bullpen.

There are six current locks for the bullpen in Edwin Díaz, Jake Diekman, Adam Ottavino, Brooks Raley, Jorge Lopez and Drew Smith, resulting in two spots being up for grabs.

The new president of baseball operations, David Stearns, brought many intriguing options to the table in addition to those he inherited from the previous regime.

It appears, however, that one of the spots has a clear front-runner.

Michael Tonkin is the favorite to claim a bullpen spot

According to Mark Sanchez of the New York Post, RHP Michael Tonkin is the front-runner in capturing one of the Mets’ two bullpen spots.

After a six-year absence from the major leagues, Tonkin spent 2023 coming out of the bullpen for the Atlanta Braves.

The California native pitched 80 innings across 45 games to a 4.28 ERA with a 1.088 WHIP alongside 75 strikeouts.

The 34-year-old signed a one-year split contract worth $1 million with the blue and orange this past offseason.

Tonkin has made two appearances this spring, pitching two innings and allowing just one hit and no runs while striking out one.

What would Tonkin making the roster mean for the Mets?

If Tonkin were to claim one of the two bullpen spots, there would be a few correlating results.

Tonkin would take over the long reliever role in the bullpen, resulting in a player like Sean Reid-Foley, who possesses a similar skill set, finding himself left off the big league roster.

In addition, either Phil Bickford or Yohan Ramírez will likely find themselves out of the organization as neither has minor-league options available and would have to be placed on waivers if they do not make the roster.

There is potential for both to be gone if a player with a minor-league option dazzles in spring training.

“We’re going to get to a stretch here where we’ll get a better look at some of them, and we’ll see where we’re at,” manager Carlos Mendoza said earlier this week. “So far, I’ve been really, really pleased with the way they’re throwing the baseball.”

Time will tell who rounds out the Mets bullpen, but for the moment, it appears that one of those spots will be going to a player who pitched for the Long Island Ducks just three years ago.

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