Antonio Bastardo to Mets: Latest Contract Details, Comments and Reaction

Tyler ConwayFeatured ColumnistJanuary 20, 2016

Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Antonio Bastardo works against the Colorado Rockies in the eighth inning of a baseball game Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015, in Denver. Pittsburgh won 5-4. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
David Zalubowski/Associated Press

The New York Mets continued fortifying their bullpen Wednesday, agreeing to a two-year, $12 million deal with veteran reliever Antonio Bastardo.

Jon Heyman of MLB Network reported the news. Bastardo, 30, spent last season with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He compiled a 4-1 record with a 2.98 ERA and 1.13 WHIP, earning one save and nine holds. It was his first and only campaign in a Pirates uniform, having spent the previous six years with the Philadelphia Phillies.

Fresh off a World Series appearance, the Mets have nonetheless kept spending to a minimum this offseason. They added Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera, but neither player comes with an exorbitantly high cost or a long-term commitment. Walker can be a free agent after this season, and Cabrera's deal was only for two years.   

The Bastardo signing continues an organizational trend of short-term commitments. While many Mets fans have become disenchanted with a perceived lack of effort from the front office, keeping things short-term with Bastardo is smart.

He's never produced more than one win in a single season, per FanGraphs, and has a strange trend of performing in every other season. Starting in 2010, Bastardo has never produced an ERA lower than 3.94 in even-numbered years and has posted ERAs of 2.98 or lower in odd-numbered years.

Statheads would correctly point out that's a result of fluky variance, but it nonetheless illustrates Bastardo's inconsistency. He's not someone worth tethering your franchise to; in most years he's a slightly above replacement-level reliever.

Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal nonetheless pointed out Bastardo's strengths:

The Mets will probably slot him in the seventh inning, with setup man Addison Reed paving the way for closer Jeurys Familia.

Paying $6 million a season for someone who won't even pitch in many high-pressure situations seems a little odd on the surface, but this is the new normal in MLB. Teams are recognizing the importance of middle relief more than ever amid the Kansas City Royals' ascent, and the going rate for even middle-tier players has never been higher.

Suffice it to say: It's a good time to be a baseball player.