New York Mets Best Relief Pitching Options on the Free Agent Market

New York Yankees, Justin Wilson

The New York Mets may not need extra bullpen help but the more,, the merrier. Like the starting pitching market, there is a clear-cut top guy in Liam Hendriks, but the Mets already have a dominant closer. What are the other strong, late-inning options for the Mets to bring in for the 2021 season?

1. Liam Hendriks 

Liam Hendriks is the best reliever in baseball over the last two seasons. In 99 games since 2019, he has a 1.79 ERA, 39 saves, and an astounding 13.1 K/9. Hendriks only allowed six home runs in that span of games and would undoubtedly make the Mets bullpen the best in baseball. He is well within the Mets budget, but Hendriks may not be as high on their list as George Springer or Trevor Bauer.

Adding Hendriks would create a three-headed monster with Edwin Diaz and Seth Lugo. It allows the Mets to mix and match their bullpen, similarly to the Tampa Bay Rays. Pitchers are creatures of habit, but all three have shown versatility to pitch prior to the ninth inning.

2. Brad Hand

Moving to the bullpen was the greatest thing that ever happened to Brad Hand‘s career. Since 2016, Hand has a 2.70 ERA, 104 saves, and three All-Star appearances. Despite the Cleveland Indians attempt to save money, it was still a surprise for the team to waive him after the season.

The Mets bullpen is desperate for a left-handed reliever after Justin Wilson became a free agent and the Mets non-tendered Chasen Shreve. Hand would create a different breed of a three-headed monster in the bullpen with his ability to neutralize lefties. Left-handers have no success against Hand; they have hit well under .200 since Hand became a reliever. Hand would be the perfect neutralizer for NL East lefties Freddie Freeman, Bryce Harper, and Juan Soto.

3. Alex Colome

Alex Colome is a more likely right-handed option for the Mets. The 32-year old veteran only allowed two earned runs in 22.1 innings pitched. Colome is as close to Mariano Rivera 2.0 as anyone can get. He only features a cutter and 4-seam fastball, ditching everything else.

Versatility is the name of the game for relievers this offseason and Colome fits the mold. He has 138 career saves but is likely an eighth inning reliever with Lugo. The Mets have a lot of hard throwing, swing and miss relievers; Colome is a good change of pace in comparison. He is a master of inducing weak contact due to his tremendous cutter. Hitters had a 3.1% barrel rate in 2020.

4. Justin Wilson

The market is a lot quieter on Justin Wilson than it would have been last offseason. Wilson would agree 2020 was not his finest season but had a 3.66 ERA in 23 games. He fits perfectly into any role the Mets have and even lefty/righty splits in his career. Wilson was a big part of the Mets resurgence in 2019 and is an underrated part of their bullpen.

5. Keone Kela

Keone Kela comes with plenty of injury and personality baggage which is a huge risk in New York. His bad clubhouse reputation is well documented but partnering with the culture with the Mets could benefit him. The lights out stuff is proven with a career 3.27 ERA and 11 K/9 but he ranks low due to injuries and past suspension. Kela is primed for a one year deal with an option for a second due if the risk pays off.

 

New York Mets: Yes, J.T. Realmuto is Better But James McCann Fits Right

New York Yankees, Yankees, James McCann

When the New York Mets locked down James McCann on a four-year deal, there were still questions about J.T. Realmuto. Why sign McCann so quickly? Was Realmuto not an option? Why are we settling for a cheaper option? McCann is all they needed as their catcher with the circumstances and the holes on the Mets roster.

Of course, Realmuto is the ultimate option as a catcher, but his requests would hurt the Mets more than help them. Just because Steve Cohen has the most money does not mean you spend it like a fool. Being smart with loads of money is the difference between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels. Both have tons of money, but one builds winners while the other wastes Mike Trout.

Potent Offense

The Mets already had one of the best offenses in baseball without catcher production. In reality, all the Mets needed was an average hitting catcher who is good behind the plate. McCann gives you that production in a sub-par season. The contract McCann signed also allows the Mets to bring in guys like George Springer and Trevor Bauer.

Of course, Realmuto is a tier above McCann but does he make the Mets better once the season starts? Realmuto will draw out the process and end up signing one of the two largest deals this offseason. If the Mets played the waiting game, they run the risk of losing McCann.

In that scenario, the Mets give Realmuto six years and more money than they expected. If they pass, they will end up with a catcher at a level way below their expectations. With the market where it is, signing McCann shows the Mets will run the offseason how they want. They are forcing agents to follow their terms, not the other way around.

The Extra Years

Whether it is Johnny Bench, Mike Piazza, or Buster Posey, all great catchers drop off in production as their push towards their mid-30s. The Mets did not want to give six-years to Realmuto, knowing the last two years he’ll be 34 and 35. With Francisco Alvarez likely to be big-league ready by the time McCann’s contract is nearing its end, it allows the Mets to continue using their farm system.

Outside of on-field production, the best justification of this signing is what happens next. If the Mets strike out on every other big name on the market, it raises questions on why Realmuto was not signed. With the Mets track record this offseason, there is no reason to question any of their methods. As Steve Cohen said, they will not spend like a “drunken sailor.”