Reese Kaplan -- A Tale of Two Bullpens

The recent signings of Mark Melancon by the Giants, the resigning of Kenley Jansen by the Dodgers, and the reunion of Aroldis Chapman in the Bronx has cleared up much uncertainty in the closer market.  Throw in the trade of Wade Davis from KC to the Cubs and there are a lot of teams who are now going to be scrambling for bullpen help.

While one of these teams is obviously the NY Mets who stand to lose closer Jeurys Familia for perhaps as long as 50 games based upon the decision by MLB for his domestic violence incident this off-season, many are also pointing to the Washington Nationals who now have a gaping hole in the back end of their bullpen left when Melancon found his heart in San Francisco.

Greg Holland’s people let it be known today that he’s fully intending to sign with a club that’s promising him the opportunity to close games.  Projected salary for the long injured All-Star is $15 to $20 million for 2 years.  That’s a bargain for his quality if he’s indeed healthy, so I would expect that Washington will start doing their due diligence on him as a nice consolation prize.  Unlike the Mets, they can indeed offer him primary closing duty whereas the Mets would have him perhaps serve that role only until Familia was eligible to play once again.  More importantly, it’s not in Sandy Alderson’s DNA to spend that kind of money on a closer nor is it his MO to have depth at positions of need.

Another option for the Nationals is their former closer who shared duties with Tyler Clippard, Drew Storen.  In his last season with the Nationals in 2015 he finished with a 3.44 ERA and 29 saves.  Last year after a mid-season deal he ended the campaign in Seattle with coincidentally a 3.44 ERA once again after stinking it up in Toronto.  His ending salary of $8.375 million makes him competitive with what Holland would earn but he’s again too rich for Sandy Alderson’s blood, particularly when he’s faced with the arbitration projection for Addison Reed of about $10 million.

Other closers on the market include persona non grata Jonathan Papelbon and over-the-hill Joe Nathan.  Former San Francisco closer Sergio Romo earned $9 million after losing his fireman gig, but turned in a 2.64 ERA.  They are possibilities but for a club with World Series aspirations and a real budget, you’d think the former two would come first if they were not exploring the trade market.  All would be more than the Mets would want to spend, too.

After that are the next tier of setup guys who theoretically could be converted to closing in Washington’s case, but could continue in their familiar role should the Mets have any interest in dabbling in the shallower end of the free agent pool.

At the top of the list are likely former Met Jerry Blevins and former Met Joe Smith.  Since both are likely to land $6 million or more per season I wouldn’t expect the Mets to get involved in these negotiations.

Slightly down from there is reinvented starter Joe Blanton who at age 36 has turned in two consecutive stellar stints with Pittsburgh and LA as a reliever.  He appeared in 75 games last year and finished with a 2.48 ERA which was actually significantly worse than his Pirates record of 21 games and 1.57 ERA.  He earned $4 million with the Dodgers last year and shouldn’t be on tap for much more given his age.  That sounds more like Sandy Alderson’s style.

Other quality pitchers include Brad Ziegler, Mike Dunn, Boone Logan, Matt Belisle, Junichi Tazawa, Chris Withrow, Fernando Salas and Travis Wood.  Vance Worley is probably a notch below and seemingly perpetually injured Pete Moylan might be a 2017 version of Jim Henderson.

Many good second tier pitchers are already off the table, including Joaquin Benoit, Fernando Rodney and Koji Uehara.  Where were the Mets when these deals were negotiated?

Once again it’s painful to watch real clubs operate as if they want to win pennants and obtain the best possible players whereas the Mets continually put artificial restrictions on their roster such as unloading salary before making moves, or putting a limit on what can be spent despite finishing in the post-season each of the past two years and promising to spend when they contended.


Thomas Brennan said...

Good analysis, Reese.

I am with you, if I were Sandy, I load up the Mets bullpen with talent...meaning another really strong guy...and your starters would be smiling a lot in 2017 when leads are being held and not blown. And we beat the Nats to the playoffs.

Skimp on the pen, hello Wild Card. How'd that work out in 2016?

Zozo said...

Its BS that they have to wait to shed salary before spending some.
Go out and ink Both Holland and Ziegler to 2yr contracts at $18 million each in total value. If you have to promise Holland a closer role then be it, Familia made his own trouble.

We shed Reeds contract after this year so that pays for one of their contracts next year. Also if Familia produces ok this year we can shed his contract as well with a trade next offseason (as well as Harvey) a year before they become free agents.

So please help the young starters by building the best bullpen possible, sign both Holland and Ziegler!!!

Mack Ade said...

You can shed salary today if you want to.

As for the pen, as I have written about many times in the past, great teams have at least 3 or 4 fireballers that can come in and throw 20 pitches over 95 miles per hour. They eliminate the need of any starter going over 6 innings and help bail out even in the sixth if they begin to get in trouble.

Eddie Corona said...

Reese Your so right... We have needs and tasks... Shedding salary is a task... Getting bullpen help is a need...
We should fill our need when the opportunity arises... they are not attached to one another...
What what all of you think if our only move would be bring back Salas... I like what he did but is that enough?

Reese Kaplan said...

Salas is probably near the top of their list since he earned less than $2 million last year.

I can't believe they have 100% faith in the Josh lefties -- Edgin and Smoker. Blevins is probably deemed beyond their budget, so I would think they're seeking a left handed arm who doesn't cost much.

Most of the internal options -- Goeddel, Robles, Sewald, etc. -- are righties (as is Salas).

Once again they are not going after the best available players but only the ones that fit neatly into the arbitrary budget. However, let's assume for a moment that they did indeed shed the salaries of both Curtis Granderson and Jay Bruce...how many here feel they would spend that $28 million on the best available players to fortify the team? I suspect they would retain "payroll flexibility" -- i.e. going cheap in the hopes that mid-season salary dumps become available. So, in effect, they'd be punting half the season.

Thomas Brennan said...

If they ran football team, they are so cheap their two favorites would be nickelback and quarterback.

Mack Ade said...

Reese -

The Mets template for the pen seems to be to promote minor league pitchers.

There have been a few that broke through this (Reed), but I just can't see the Mets spending big bucks on the pen.

bob gregory said...

Just keep in mind.....available roster space.

bob gregory said...

What about Wheeler's possible impact in the bullpen?

Gosh....I hate that their are sooooo many questions regarding players returning from injury.

Thomas Brennan said...

Wheeler is a likely reason they held off on bullpen spending.

Gary Seagren said...

A couple of thoughts here: would any of you trade Conforto for Tampa's Colome even up? Second the front office could have just kept Herrera last year (Bruce was never going to be the second coming of YC anyway) and not traded for him and then not posted a QO on Walker. That would have left us $30 million ahead with Herrera, T.J Rivera and Cecchini to fight it out over 2nd base and when Rosario is ready we would have the option depending on how the 2nd base battle plays out to either give him more seasoning in Vegas or put him at SS and move Cabrera to second. The real question though is would the Mets spend the $30 million or at least part of it where it's most needed. I still find it hard to believe that Blevins at 6 million is out of reach for a team gunning for a WS trip. This just in: Wilson Ramos signed with the Rays 2 yrs for 12.5 dam ...and we're the same team that signed Frank Francisco I believe for 2 yrs at 12 mil and last year and the same contract for Bastardo...ugh at least he's not on the Nats!

Reese Kaplan said...

@Gary -- I'd written here more than once that if they made a QO to Walker he would accept it. And he did. They made this bed while bypassing the less expensive Flores, Reyes, Cecchini, Rivera and, as you suggested, Herrera options. The intention in getting Bruce made sense but the output and the subsequent moves did not.

bob gregory said...

It is entirely possible that Alderson actually wanted Walker for the 1 year.

Maybe he really preferred that Walker accepted it and was this year's 2nd baseman for the Mets.

Mack's Mets © 2012