New York Mets' Top Free-Agent, Trade Targets Post New Year
Nobody's going to criticize the New York Mets for re-signing Yoenis Cespedes to a four-year, $110 million deal. Despite already having a full complement of outfielders under contract, Cespedes is unquestionably the key piece of the team's offense.
But with Cespedes back in the fold, this glut of outfielders has limited the Mets' ability to improve elsewhere—namely in the bullpen.
"It’s like buying a new house without selling your old one," Mets general manager Sandy Alderson remarked in early December, per Joel Sherman of the New York Post. "Sometimes you get stuck in the transition, and it’s not a good place to be."
No, it's not.
But there's a market for some of those excess outfielders, namely Jay Bruce and Curtis Granderson. In fact, the Mets could potentially unload one of them in exchange for one of the players we're about to look at—a New Jersey native who would represent a major addition to their relief corps.
As for the rest of the targets on this list, the Mets' odds of adding them likely depends on just how much payroll room they're able to create.
LHP Jerry Blevins
The Mets have three left-handed relievers on their roster who could potentially replace Jerry Blevins—Josh Edgin, Sean Gilmartin and Josh Smoker—but they'd be much better off if they just re-signed the genuine article.
But according to Brendan Kuty of NJ Advanced Media, the veteran reliever is looking for a three-year deal that pays around $5 million per year through his age-36 season. That might be too rich for the Mets, even for a player with whom they're comfortable and familiar.
Still, it's hard to argue that he's not worth that kind of investment. Blevins pitched to a 2.79 ERA and 1.21 WHIP over 73 relief appearances last season, holding left-handed hitters to a .636 OPS. He was even tougher against right-handed batters, who mustered an even more mediocre .611 OPS against him.
RHP Brad Brach
Of all the targets we're going to look at, few make as much sense for the Mets than Baltimore reliever Brad Brach.
Brach, a New Jersey native, has been stellar as a setup man for the Orioles. He pitched to a combined 2.61 ERA and 1.13 WHIP since 2014 and is coming off a career-best season. He posted a 2.05 ERA, 1.04 WHIP with 92 strikeouts over 79 innings of work, earning his first All-Star nod in the process.
Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal reported in early December that the two teams had discussed a potential deal that would have sent Jay Bruce or Curtis Granderson back to Baltimore. But the Orioles wanted the Mets to pick up some of the money left on their deals, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
That was a deal-breaker, apparently. But it shouldn't be.
Brach, who has two years of team control remaining, is projected to earn $2.9 million in 2017, per Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors. Even if the Mets were to pick up half of the money due to Bruce ($13 million) or Granderson ($15 million), they'd still be shaving a few million off of their payroll.
The Orioles, of course, remain in need of bats, and Bruce or Granderson could fill the team's void in either right field or as a designated hitter. A deal between the two clubs almost makes too much sense to not take place.
RHP Greg Holland
With a suspension of at least 30 games likely awaiting closer Jeurys Familia for violating MLB's joint domestic violence policy, the Mets will have to turn to Addison Reed and Hansel Robles to close things out in the season's opening month.
That's hardly appealing, as it's been years since Reed was asked to fill that role, and Robles has never been asked to lock things down at the end of games with any regularity.
We can't say the same of Greg Holland, who had established himself as one of the game's premier closers before undergoing Tommy John surgery in October 2015.
Holland hasn't thrown a pitch in more than a year, but the 31-year-old had established himself as one of the game's premier closers before surgery forced him to the sidelines. Now healthy, Holland would be a terrific short-term replacement for Familia.
He'd also add some much-needed depth to a bullpen that manager Terry Collins tends to lean a bit too heavily on. A foursome of Holland, Reed, Robles and Familia would give Collins more trustworthy options late in games, enough to keep everyone's workload a bit more reasonable.
LHP Boone Logan
Like Jerry Blevins, Boone Logan is a left-handed reliever in his early 30s with a substantial track record of success. He too has experience pitching in New York, having spent four seasons (2010-2013) with the New York Yankees.
While he posted peculiar splits in 2016—Logan was far better at hitter-friendly Coors Field than he was on the road—there's plenty of reason to think he should find more success away from Colorado in 2017.
Logan kept the ball on the ground nearly 50 percent of the time, and he posted a 16.4 percent swinging strike rate that was as good as Andrew Miller's, with the two tied for eighth-best among relievers who logged at least 40 innings of work in 2016.
He's more of a power pitcher than Blevins—Logan's fastball averaged 93.9 mph compared to 89.6 mph for Blevins, per Brooks Baseball—and he might be looking for more money than his fellow southpaw as well.
Logan, who signed a three-year, $16.5 million deal the last time he went through free agency, figures to be looking for a pact with a higher annual value than the $5 million figure Blevins reportedly seeks.
RHP Joe Smith
If the Mets don't wind up shedding some salary by moving one of their excess outfielders and ownership forces Alderson to shop in the bargain bin for bullpen reinforcements, Joe Smith is one pitcher who could be on the team's radar.
The 32-year-old allowed a career-high eight home runs over 52 innings of relief—including four in just 14.2 frames with the Chicago Cubs—and he wasn't nearly as effective as his 3.46 ERA season would indicate.
But he does have a lengthy track record of success, pitching to a 2.93 ERA and 1.20 WHIP over a 10-year career that began with the Mets back in 2007. Smith is worth gambling on as a bounce-back candidate on a cheap one-year deal.