Mere weeks away from the first teams’ pitchers and catchers reporting for spring training and many of the best remaining free agents are relievers. The Mets have reportedly shifted their focus to shoring up their bullpen according to a report from Ken Rosenthal.
Rosenthal suggests that the Mets are specifically targeting free agent relievers Sergio Romo, Joe Smith, and Jerry Blevins, but that they are also looking at everyone. Rosenthal also cites Matthew Cerrone of MetsBlog.com about a possible trade rumor involving the Braves’ Arodys Vizcaino:
Among FA relievers whom #Mets are considering, per sources: Sergio Romo and Joe Smith. And of course, Jerry Blevins. Looking at all of ‘em.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 26, 2017
Per @matthewcerrone, #Mets also could trade prospects for low-cost reliever. Specifically mentions #Braves’ Vizcaino as possibility.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 26, 2017
While nothing is close, the Mets already have a pretty impressive bullpen to work with, though an addition leading into spring training would certainly make them more competitive.
Addison Reed is coming off of his best season yet, and will likely have the setup role locked down to begin the season. Furthermore, no setup/closer duo was relied on more heavily last season than Reed and Jeurys Familia, combining for 155.1 innings.
To begin the season, Familia could be facing a suspension for a domestic violence case that is still under investigation. Familia was arrested in early December for assault after his wife was found with scratches on her chest and bruises on her cheek.
As far as the available free agent options, Romo is likely the best candidate. The 33-year-old right-hander is coming off of a down year. Over his previous seven seasons, Romo had been worth 8.5 WAR according to FanGraphs. However, in 2016, his walk rate climbed and his value was just fractionally above replacement value.
The 32-year-old Smith meanwhile is coming off of an even worse season of being below replacement level. The side-armer spent parts of last season with the Angels and the Cubs and was bad with both teams, posting a FIP of 4.99.
The lone left-hander of the group, Blevins, is a somewhat surprising name to still be on the board. The 33-year-old has had his name bandied around the rumor mill since November, when free agency began. Perhaps teams have been non-committal to relievers not named Chapman, Jansen, or Melancon up to now. Or perhaps Blevins has been waiting for the right deal to remain with the Mets—his home for the last two seasons.
In the coming days, the relief market will materialize more and more. Every season the lower leverage relievers tend to stay on the board up until spring training. Look for a few of these names to find their employers for the 2017 seasons very shortly.