As this decade closes out at midnight today, the Mets will actually enter their seventh decade of baseball. Before proceeding forward, let’s take a look at the best moments from each year of this decade:
On the field, it was Angel Pagan hitting an inside-the-park home run and starting a triple play in the same game.
In a moment no one saw coming, Chris Capuano had a two hit shutout where he struck out 13:
This was the year of Harvey, and there was a lot to choose from with his near perfect game, bloody nose game, Harvey’s Better game, and others, but it’s hard to top him and David Wright starting the All Star Game at Citi Field.
Every single defensive play made by Gold Glove winner Juan Lagares:
With this being the fifth pennant in Mets history, there are many moments, but perhaps the biggest is Daniel Murphy‘s postseason heroics:
The Mets would need to make a late charge to make the postseason in consecutive seasons for the second time in team history. The lasting image from that run was Asdrubal Cabrera‘s walk-off homer:
After an injury plagued 2016, Michael Conforto would emerge as an All-Star, and his season was highlighted by an impressive homecoming:
It was melancholy, but we got to see Wright play one final game as a member of the New York Mets:
First and foremost, it should be noted the Mets unwillingness or inability to sign one or more players before trading away an outfielder, namely Jay Bruce, is aggravating. Despite the Mets attendance growing and the team’s revenues increasing, the Mets still do not have a payroll commensurate with either their position as a potential playoff team or their stature as a big market team in the biggest market in the world. It is unfathomable the Mets still cannot have more than a league average payroll. As a result, we have seen players who could help the Mets sign with other teams.
Fortunately, there are plenty of options still available on the free agent market. At least conceptually, this means there are more relievers than there are teams in need of them. Ideally, this means the price for these players should be suppressed. This goes doubly so with pitchers and catchers reporting in less than one month (February 13th). In sum, this means the Mets may be able to add one or more of the following on a team friendly deal:
2016 Stats: 4-2, 2.79 ERA, 73 G, 2 SV, 42.0 IP, 1.214 WHIP, 11.1 K/9
Heading into free agency, it was assumed Blevins was as good as gone as he wanted a multi-year deal worth approximately $6 million per season. With teams looking elsewhere in free agency, Blevins remains on the market. Worse yet, it does not appear that many teams are interested in Blevins services. That is odd considering he had a career best year pitching to right-handed batters, and for his career, he has limited left-handed batters to a .214/.266/.322 batting line. In the end, this could spell the Mets being able to re-sign him to a one-year deal at a modest raise over his $4 million 2016 salary.
2016 Stats: 1-1, 4.13 ERA, 16 G, 24.0 IP, 1.583 WHIP, 10.1 K/9
Back in 2011, Capuano came to the Mets looking for a place to rejuvenate his career, and under the tutelage of Dan Warthen, he largely succeeded. Now, the 38 year old finds himself with another elbow injury that limited him to 16 games in 2016. He also finds himself in need of an opportunity. He could be worth a flyer as a LOOGY with left-handed batters slashing .244/.302/.360 against him in his career and .212/.297/.333 in 2016.
2016 Stats: 1-1, 4.09 ERA, 64 G, 50.2 IP, 1.401 WHIP, 7.8 K/9
Howell has been effective against left-handed batters in his career limiting them to a .229/.306/.317 batting line. From 2013 – 2015, he was an extremely effective reliever posting a 1.97 ERA over that time span. However, last year was a struggle for him due largely to left-handed batters hitting him much better. In 2016, left-handed batters hit .302/.343/.417 off of him. The question is whether this is the start of a downward trend or just a one season blip for him.
2016 Stats: 2-5, 3.69 ERA, 60 G, SV, 46.1 IP, 1.014 WHIP, 11.1 K/9
In some respects, it is astounding there is not more interest in Logan with him coming off an effective season while pitching half of his games in Coors Field. The main reason could be his .225 BABIP against which is well below his career .326 number. Still, he dominated left-handed batters limiting them to a .142/.222/.255 batting line. Overall in his career, he has limited left-handed batters to a less impressive .233/.308/.361 batting line.
2016 Stats: 4-0, 2.95 ERA, 77 G, 61.0 IP, 1.131 WHIP, 6.9 K/9
In the last two years for the Cubs, Wood has transitioned to the bullpen for the Cubs. If judging by ERA+, Wood is coming off the best season of his seven year career. In his career, he has been extremely effective getting left-handed batters out limiting them to a .206/.276/.316 batting line. He was even better in 2016 limiting them to a .128/.208/.239 batting line. In addition to his pitching, we have also seen him handle left field.
2016 Stats: 3-7, 3.91 ERA, 75 G, 6 SV, 73.2 IP, 1.113 WHIP, 7.8 K/9
For the past few years with the Angels, Salas was on a downward trend. However, when he joined the Mets, Salas was seemingly rejuvenated. Whether it was being in the Wild Card hunt or pitching to much better pitch framers, the results were dramatically different for Salas. In his 17 games for the Mets, he had a 2.08 ERA, 0.635 WHIP, and a 9.9 K/9. While it is unrealistic to expect him to put up those numbers, it is reasonable to believe he could perform well for the Mets next season.
2016 Stats: 7-2, 2.48 ERA, 75 G, 80.0 IP, 1.013 WHIP, 9.0 K/9
After sitting out the 2014 season, Blanton has come back to the majors as a very good relief pitcher. According to Brooks Baseball, over the past two seasons, Blanton has predominantly become a fastball/slider pitcher who strikes out a batter per inning. Generally speaking, Blanton has also shown the ability to keep the ball in the ballpark. While Blanton is not a closer, he has shown the ability to be an extremely effective late inning set-up man.
2016 Stats: 4-2, 3.52 ERA, 62 G, 2 SV, 53.2 IP, 1.137 WHIP, 10.2 K/9
Feliz began his career as a dominant closer. However, he began to make multiple trips to the disabled list, and in 2015, it all caught up to him as he struggled throughout the season. Last year, he began pitching much better in Pittsburgh. Still, he struggled in the second half, and again he needed to be shut down over the final month of the season due to arm problems.
2016 Stats: 2-3, 3.86 ERA, 40 G, 37.1 IP, 1.071 WHIP, 9.6 K/9
Like Matt Harvey, Hochevar needed seasons ending surgery to alleviate the effect of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. Unlike Harvey, Hochevar will not be ready for Opening Day. As we saw in 2013, when healthy, Hochevar is capable of being a dominant reliever. However, between his Tommy John surgery in 2014 and his most recent surgery, it is debatable whether he can be that pitcher again.
2015 Stats: 3-2, 3.83 ERA, 48 G, 32 SV, 44.2 IP, 1.455 WHIP, 9.9 K/9
Judging from the rather ordinary 2015 stats, you knew something was wrong with Holland. From 2011 – 2014, he was 15-9 with a 1.86 ERA, 1.026 WHIP, and a 12.6 K/9. During this stretch, he averaged 62 appearances, 64.0 innings, and 28 saves. Holland would need Tommy John surgery robbing him of the remainder of the 2015 and the entirety of the 2016 season. At this point, Holland is seeking a two year deal worth $11 million per season with an opt out after the first year. If he returns to form, he may look like a bargain. If he doesn’t, the contract will be a burden.
2016 Stats: 2-2, 3.41 ERA, 29 G, 31.2 IP, 1.326 WHIP, 4.5 K/9
Maness’ 2016 season was abbreviated because it was thought he was going to need Tommy John surgery. Except Maness did not get the surgery. Rather, Maness opted for a sugery dubbed “primary repair” which seeks not to reconstruct the ligament, but to repair and stabilize it. He is the first major league pitcher to ever elect this surgery over Tommy John meaning we do not know how successful this will be. Maness’ 2017 season is going to be an extremely interesting, if not important, one. If he is truly able to pitch with this surgery, and pitch as well as he has in his career, the Mets may have not only found a quality reliever, but the whole baseball industry may be in the beginnings of a revolution.
2016 Stats: 1-0, 2.64 ERA, 40 G, 4 SV, 30.2 IP, 1.076 WHIP, 9.7 K/9
Behind what were some good numbers for Romo in 2016 was an injured plagued year and a drop in velocity. Still, Romo had a solid season with numbers in line with his career norms. Unless his elbow injury is worse than believed, it is hard to imagine why a quality reliever like him, one who has closing experience, remains on the free agent market.
2016 Stats: 2-5, 3.46 ERA, 54 G, 6 SV, 65.1 IP, 1.250 WHIP, 6.9 K/9
Like his former teammate Salas, Smith had regressed in 2015, and he was performing worse in 2016. Also like Salas, Smith was traded to a postseason team with a excellent pitch framers, and he thrived. In 16 appearances for the Cubs, Smith posted a 2.51 ERA, 1.116 WHIP, and a 9.4 K/9. Despite his success in those 16 appearances, Smith was left off the Cubs postseason roster.
Overall, there are a number of relievers still remaining on the free agent market. Some of these players may be able to be acquired on a minor league deal. Others may still command major league deals, and yet some more may still get a multi-year contract. Each one of these pitchers at least has potential to be a contributor to a major league bullpen in 2017. With all of these choices remaining, it remains possible the Mets are able to add a quality reliever at a reasonable or even discounted price.