2 relief outs that the Mets can sign to bolster their bullpen
Following the departure of starting pitcher Jacob DeGrom, the New York Mets were suddenly faced with the urgency of mending the gap they left behind in their rotation. So without much delay, the Mets not only signed three-time Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander to a multi-year deal, but also acquired 29-year-old Japanese rookie Kodai Senga.
In addition to their starting rotation, the Mets have taken up some of their big priorities as well, such as re-signing close quarters Edwin Diaz, who relieves Adam Ottavino and Drew Smith while also acquiring veterans David Robertson and 27-year-old Eliezer Hernandez. What’s more, starting pitchers like Tylor McGill and David Peterson could get more roles as relievers should the Mets’ five-man rotation continue and stay healthy through 2023.
But despite having closers like Diaz and three good relievers like Ottavino, Robertson and Smith, the question that still remains is whether the Mets have done enough with their bases over the course of the season to ensure they provide the solid support the rotation needs in relief.
In short, the Mets bullpen really could use an extra dump factor or two, especially with this team’s World Series ambitions. Although Diaz proved he could land more than one role last season, having four good disposal options just wouldn’t cut it. In addition, McGill and Peterson may be required in the rotation in the event of any injuries.
With that in mind, here’s a look at a couple of relievers the Mets should keep an eye on before the 2023 campaign kicks off on March 28.
Two relief pitchers the Mets could still target to bolster the Bulls:
1. Alex Reyes
If the Mets want to add a promising underrated arm to their rotation, free agent signing Alex Reyes will do just that. The 28-year-old solid thrower and 2021 All-Star has proven just how great he is in just five seasons in the league. And the Mets should look to give the right-hander a chance considering how young he is.
Great one-year performances are certainly a reality in baseball, particularly in MLB. But the kind of performance in 2021 that Reyes has been able to produce has been absolutely astounding and makes one wonder if he has the potential to produce something similar, if not better. Over the course of the 2021 season, Reyes racked up a career-high 29 saves, 95 strikeouts, and finished with a 10-8 record to go with a 3.24 ERA in 72.1 innings pitched.
Yes, Reyes missed the entire 2017 season due to Tommy John surgery and then the entire 2022 season due to a shoulder injury, which also had surgery. So, he has a precarious and worrying history of gambling. But with these major medical setbacks behind him, Reyes could be in a better position to deliver the way he’s used to, and the Mets should embrace it.
2. Corey Nebel
If the Mets want to look forward to a safer yet more expensive option to add to their bullpen, they should look no further than Corey Knebel. After a breakout All-Star season in 2017, in which he posted a 1.78 ERA and finished with 39 saves to go with 126 strikeouts, Knebel would end up requiring Tommy John surgery in 2019 and missed the entire season.
Despite this setback, the 31-year-old veteran ended up bouncing back in promising fashion through 2021 and again in 2022. After going 4-0 with a 2.45 ERA and three saves in 25.2 innings pitched for the Dodgers in 2021 Knebel would finish with a 3-5 record, 3.43 ERA, 12 saves, and 41 strikeouts.
Did Knebel manage to produce anything close to peak season in 2017? Unfortunately no. But the improvement has been there from season to season. And with so much left in his tank, Knebel presents a viable option for the Mets to pursue before the start of the 2023 season. The Mets’ one catch: Knebel has a market value of just over $5 million per season.