Reese Kaplan -- Bargain Options for the Pen

So on the first weekend after the World Series over 130 players have already filed their free agency papers signaling a likely end to their association with their current employers.  Most are well acquainted with the big names of the Hot Stove season – Yoenis Cespedes, Edwin Encarnacion, Kenley Jansen, Aroldis Chapman – and players of that ilk

Perhaps some of the lesser known players who are thus far flying under the radar may be worth considering to address some of the Mets’ needs.  Here’s a quick look at a few that may warrant a closer look who could help in the bullpen given the uncertainty of Jeurys Familia’s availability to pitch.  Addison Reed may become the closer by default so it's the 8th inning help that's needed:

Koji Uehara – the former Red Sox closer has had a spectacular American career after arriving from Japan.  The Mets have had great success with some older pitchers, including LaTroy Hawkins and Bartolo Colon, so his 41 year age may not scare them off as much as other teams.  His career ERA is just 2.53.  His outlier year in 2016 was a not horrible 3.45 while maintaining a WHIP under 1.000.  He won’t command big closer money but could close if push came to shove.  His ending salary with Boston was $9 million but estimates have him around $7 million for the upcoming season.  Remember, if Jeurys Familia is supended then the Mets have that money to pay for someone else.

Joe Smith – a former Met is once again on the market and the sidearmer would certainly give a different look from other pitchers in the bullpen.  The 32 year old has a career record of 41-28 with a 2.93 ERA and a WHIP just under 1.200.  He earned $5.25 million for the World Champion Cubs and probably is looking at a similar contract this year.

Greg Holland – for a team reeling from injuries, taking a flyer on a guy who’s played even less than David Wright the past few years seems far-fetched, but consider his numbers pre-injury.  He was the Royals’ closer for 4 years and over his career he has an 18-12 record with 145 saves and a 2.42 career ERA while sporting a 12:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.  A heavily incentive-laden deal would seem to make him at just 30 years old a viable option.

Brett Cecil – a classic buy-low candidate, the normally reliable Cecil finished the season with over 20 innings of 1.74 ERA after recovering from a torn lat muscle.  His overall numbers were pretty brutal in 2016 but for the three years prior to that he reeled off three consecutive sub 3.00 ERAs and about 11 Ks per 9 IP.  Cecil earned $3.8 million last year for Toronto and probably could be gotten for less off of his lackluster 2016.

Joe Blanton – the mediocre reliever seemed to find the answers at age 33 and put together two consecutive stellar seasons of 1.57 and 2.48 ERAs while striking out a batter per inning.  He went from $6.5 million in 2015 to just $4 million last year.  It’s conceivable he’ll look for a two year deal at $7 million total.

Fernando Rodney – another ageless wonder, Rodney tends to pitch to the extremes.  In San Diego he had 17 saves while sporting a 0.31 ERA but then he pitched to a 5.89 ERA for the Marlins.  He had that same up and down season for the Cubs and Mariners in 2015.  He was earning $1.6 million last year and obviously has closing experience.  As a non-prime member of the pen, the 39 year old might be worth consideration.

I’ve listed them pretty much in my order of preference.  What do you all think?


Tom Brennan said...

Great analysis...if we don't land a big fish when (if) Familia is suspended, one of the top 3 would be a nice pick up. Or sign Cespedes and Reed, and try Sewald out (10 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 8 K, 5 for 5 Sv in Mexican off season ball). Paul is 16-8, 2.20 in regular season minor league career, 66 of 72 Sv, 307 K in 258 IP, 1.03 WHIP. How bad could he be? Not as closer, but as a useful piece who could close some games in a pinch?

Matt Oberste broke his ARIZONA SCHNEID and is now 1-29. He and TEBOW combined have put up a devilish 6 for 66.

Tebow WAS in fact 0 for 3 in his last game, as one poster noted but had decent ABs (2 ground outs and a line out). The lad has made real apparent progress.

Mack Ade said...

Reese -

You have easily become the cleanup hitter here on Mack's Mets. We wouldn't be a great site without you.

Tom Brennan said...

Mack, I echo your sentiments on Reese.

That Adam Smith said...

Hi Reese. I think you've hit on the aisle that Sandy will be shopping in.

Reese Kaplan said...

I left out the other elder statesman, Joaquin Benoit.

Robb said...

kick the tires on hollard and cecil for sure. relievers outside of the elite closers (and andrew miller) seem to fluctuate wildly. this is a good strategy to augment your bullpen with the guys (reed included) who are coming back. and with joe smith, like darren oday, it might come down to where his wife wants to be for her braodcast career and nyc is never a bad option there.

Bill metsiac said...

Any of these guys MIGHT help, but are they necessarily better than what w've got? One FA you left out is Salas's, who found his game once he got her. I'd re-sign him quickly. Ditto for Blevins, who show d he was more than a LOOGY. With Reed closing and those two returning along with Robles (still my pick for "future closer") and Edgin, the back end of the pen looks solid. If JF is suspended, it likely would be for a half-season or so. That gives us a chance to audition Lugo, Gsellman, Gilmartin, Sewald, Smoker, and even Bart for the other spots.

Why spend on retreads when we've got these guys? If they don't work out, there'll be plenty available before the trade deadline.

Reese Kaplan said...

The focus of the article was on OTHER players available in free agency. If you're going to look in-house for help, then watch Paul Sewald who is the TJ Rivera of pitching -- never getting a shot but just pitching brilliantly everywhere he's been. He costs just minimum wage:


That's 2.20 for his entire minor league career!

Anonymous said...

Other than the GIGS concept, why go outside if you're not finding better than what you've already seen work here?

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