In assessing how the Mets fared in the Addison Reed trade, let’s start with the obvious. The fact Sandy Alderson was able to turn Miller Diaz and Matt Koch into a great run with Reed plus Red Sox prospects Stephen Nogosek, Jamie Callahan, and Gerson Bautista was absolutely phenomenal. No, it doesn’t rank up there with Noah Syndergaard, Travis d’Arnaud, and Wuilmer Becerra for R.A. Dickey, but nevertheless, it was a coup.
Still, the question remains whether Sandy got a good return for the 2017 version of Reed.
Let’s start with this. Since joining the Mets, Reed has been one of the best and more versatile relievers in baseball. He has deftly handed the seventh, eighth, and ninth inning. His 142.0 innings pitched since joining the Mets is fifth in baseball, and his 2.09 ERA over that stretch is great. Intuitively, you may not believe Reed is a top reliever in baseball, but he was. From 2016 to the present, Reed posted the sixth best fWAR in the majors (3.5). Aside from Kenley Jansen and Andrew Miller, who we all know are otherworldly right now, Reed is as good, if not better than any reliever in baseball.
Looking over the list of potential free agents, Reed could have arguably been considered one of if not the best reliever on the free agent market. With that being the case, it was likely worth gambling and giving him the qualifying offer putting his value at a second round pick or the equivalent.
Looking at the Mets haul, they most likely received that. The trio of arms all throw in the upper 90s. With respect to Nogosek and Bautista, they both have a good but inconsistent slider, and there are some control issues. If they figure it out, and realistically speaking, they are in the right organization to do so, the Mets have two potential late inning relievers. With Callahan, they have a near MLB ready reliever who can generate a high number of strikeouts and could be ready to help the Mets as soon as next year. To that end, the Mets certainly did receive a second round equivalent.
Where the debate becomes dicey is when you ask the question whether the Mets could have done better.
For starters, there is no real way of knowing that. We are not privy to the general back-and-forth between general mangers. We also don’t know if there was a theoretical better offer the Mets rejected because they liked the players the Red Sox offered more.
We should also consider, last year, the Yankees seemingly built an entire farm system (hyperbole) by trading Miller and Aroldis Chapman. Each trade fetched the Yankees two of their trade partners’ top five prospects. In terms of Gleyber Torres, it got them one of the best prospects in baseball.
With Reed arguably being the top reliever on the market with at least eight teams interested, it makes you question how the Mets walk out of a deal without an organization’s top five prospect. The counter-argument is the prices this year are not the same as they were last year. In the end, we have no idea if this was the proverbial best trade, and the reviews on the trade have been all over the place.
Ultimately, I find the trade underwhelming, and I do question the Mets motives a bit. If you look at their recent moves, they have all been bullpen driven. Lucas Duda was moved for Drew Smith. The team went out and obtained AJ Ramos. Now, the Mets got an arguably low return for a trio of fireball throwing relievers. I’m not so sure the Mets approached this trade deadline with the intent on rebuilding the minor league system as much as they were intent on rebuilding their bullpen.
In the end, if the Mets goal was really to build the bullpen in the trade market, they have to back that up by spending real money in the free agent market to back up their decisions. If they don’t do this, they may not have only lost out on the possibility on maximizing their returns for the pieces they did move, they may also miss out on the 2018 postseason.
By the end of August 2015, it was clear the Mets were going to the postseason. With that in mind, the Mets needed to do something to address their bullpen – something that has been a theme of the Sandy Alderson Era. The Mets did just that in August picking up both Eric O’Flaherty and Addison Reed. Given the Mets lack of a LOOGY, it was believed O’Flaherty was the bigger pickup. Boy was that wrong.
At the time Reed joined the Mets, he was having his worst season as a professional pitching to a 4.20 ERA with the Diamondbacks and having made a trip down to Triple-A. Due to his relatively high salary, he was likely ticketed to be non-tendered in the offseason. When the Mets obtained him, it was little more than a gamble for a pitcher with prior closing experience. Certainly, Miller Diaz and Matt Koch were worth paying for the gamble. As we know, that gamble paid off.
From the minute Reed put on a Mets uniform, it was like he was a completely different pitcher. Seemingly, he found one of the remaining telephone booths in Queens, stripped out of his Diamondbacks uniform, and emerged as an elite MLB reliever.
To close out the year, he’d make 17 appearances going 1-1 with a 1.17 ERA, 1.043 WHIP, and a 10.0 K/9. At a minimum, Reed locked down the seventh inning for a team hoping to make it to the World Series. As we know, the Mets did, and Reed played his part.
Reed would appear in nine of the Mets 14 postseason games, and he would appear in all five World Series games. Reed was reliable in those games allowing no runs in seven of those appearances and just one run in another. That one run came in Game Two of the NLDS right after Chase Utley broke Ruben Tejada‘s leg.
In the World Series, where three of the five games had been a battle of the bullpens, Reed had mostly done his job. Through the first four games, he had allowed no runs and just one hit. Unfortunately, with him being on fumes, he fell apart in Game Five of the World Series becoming the losing pitcher after allowing three runs in the 12th inning.
Reed would emerge from this heartache as possibly the best pitcher in the National League in 2016. During the 2016 season, Reed made 80 appearances going 4-2 with a 1.97 ERA, a 0.940 WHIP, a 10.5 K/9, 209 ERA+, and a 1.98 FIP. His 2.9 WAR that season was the highest among relievers. In short, he was great out of the bullpen. All year long he helped a team with little bullpen depth stay afloat, and when he last stepped off the mound in the Wild Card Game, the Mets still had a chance to advance to the NLDS.
This year, all he had to do was step in for Jeurys Familia and become the team’s closer. Like he had done in his entire Mets career, Reed took on the role the Mets needed him to do, and he was great at it. In what was his final stint with the Mets, Reed made 31 appearances going 1-2 with 19 saves, a 2.57 ERA, 1.122 WHIP, and an 8.8 K/9.
Since joining the Mets, Reed was one of the best relief pitchers in baseball. He has pitched the fifth most innings (142.0) while maintaining a sterling 2.09 ERA. He has fulfilled whatever role the Mets needed him to fulfill by going from 7th to 8th and finally to the 9th inning. In that sense, Reed has become the rare pitcher in baseball. He took on whatever role was asked of him, and he performed well in that role.
In essence, Reed was exactly what you want in a bullpen arm. He was a guy who went out there and did whatever the team needed. He was used frequently, and he was one of the few arms who was not burned out by Terry Collins during his Mets tenure. He was a great reliever, and some would go so far as to say he was Raddison.
Reed is now a member of the Boston Red Sox. He goes to a team in need of a reliever capable of setting up for Craig Kimbrel. As we have seen during his Mets tenure, Reed can certainly do that. He can also give Kimbrel the occasional day off.
In the end, Reed is where he belongs. He is with a contender. Hopefully, he gets that ring he feel agonizingly short of winning in 2015. Hopefully, he will have the same success with the Red Sox he found with Mets. Hopefully, with his being an impending free agent, Reed finds his way back to New York.
Even if he doesn’t, Reed was a good Met who twice helped pitch the Mets into the postseason. Now, it is time to wish him well as he once again pursues October glory. Here’s hoping he finds it this time.
Over the past year, the Mets have made a number of trades to not only help them go to the World Series last year, but also to help them become World Series contenders again this year. With Neil Walker returning to Pittsburgh to not one but two standing ovations, and the draft scheduled for later today it seems like today is a good day to take a cursory view of how the players the Mets traded away are faring.
Robert Whalen – Whalen has made 11 starts for the Atlanta Braves AA affiliate going 4-4 with a 2.88 ERA and a 1.247 WHIP. At the time of the trade, Whalen was seen as a back of the rotation starter, and his performance this year should not change those impressions.
John Gant – Despite never having pitched above AAA before this season, Gant got a cup of coffee early on with the Braves showing off his very unorthodox delivery. He predictably struggled pitching to a 6.17 ERA and a 1.714 WHIP in seven appearances. Gant was sent back down to AAA where he has pitched better. In eight appearances, he has a 3.14 ERA and a 1.233 WHIP. He appears on track for another promotion before the year is over, especially with the way the Braves want to sell everything.
Casey Meisner – The 20 year old Meisner pitched well for Oakland’s Advance A affiliate pitching going 3-1 with a 2.78 ERA and a 1.052 WHIP in seven starts. This year, for the first time in his brief career, Meisner is struggling going 0-9 with a 4.55 ERA and a 1.645 WHIP in 11 starts. At 21, Meisner is still young for his league, and he is still walking too many batters. If Meiser can make the ncecessary adjustments, he can get back on track to being the mid to top of the rotation starter he was projected to be.
Michael Fulmer – Fulmer only received three AAA starts before the Tigers felt compelled to bring him up to help fix a beleaguered rotation that included former Met Mike Pelfrey. Fulmer has shown himself to be every bit the ace people anticipated he might be one day. He has gone 6-1 with a 2.83 ERA and a 1.175 WHIP. In his last four starts, he is 4-0 with a 0.32 ERA and a 0.635 WHIP.
Luis Cessa – Cessa was actually traded to the Yankees in the offseason, and he made his major league debut with them. In his three appearances, he had a 2.57 ERA and a 0.857 WHIP. In the minors, he has been in the rotation with less success. In his five starts (with one relief appearance), he is 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA and a 1.214 WHIP. Ultimately, Cessa has the stuff to be either a back end of the rotation pitcher or a middle reliever. His brief cup of coffee with the Yankees has shown he does have the ability to pitch in the majors.
Dawrin Frias – After the conclusion of the 2015 season, Frias become a minor league free agent. To date, no one has signed him.
Miller Diaz – Diaz is struggling mightily for the Arizona Diamondback’s high A affiliate going 0-1 with a 7.76 ERA and 2.414 WHIP in 15 games (inlcuding three starts). Diaz was seen as nothing more than a major league reliever, at best, and these statistics make that proposition a stretch.
Matt Koch – Koch is having another strong year in AA. In his five starts, he is 0-2 with a 2.66 ERA and a 1.310 WHIP. While Koch was seen as a bullpen piece, if he keeps improving the way he has, he may have a shot to stick with the back end of someone’s rotation.
Jon Niese – Niese’s early season struggles have seemed to go by the wayside. While he started the year 3-1 with a 5.94 ERA and a 1.680 WHIP, he has settled down and pitched much better of late. We just saw him pitch seven innings in beating the Mets. In his last six starts, he is 3-1 with a 2.15 ERA and a 1.141 WHIP.
For the most part, the players the Mets traded are playing well. It shows the Mets gave up valuable pieces for the quality players they received. The hope is the Mets have enough trade assets this year to swing a deal or two like they did last year.
For the second straight year, the Mets entered the season with questionable depth. The result of the questionable depth last year was the Mets were forced to raid their minor league pitching depth to build a bench and a bullpen. Overall, the Mets traded away Robert Whalen, John Gant, Casey Meisner, Michael Fulmer, Luis Cessa, Dawrin Frias, Miller Diaz, and Matt Koch. The end result was a National League Pennant and only one player under contract beyond 2015.
The Mets had the whole offseason to make sure that didn’t happen again. They didn’t. The team decided not to re-sign Kelly Johnson, and they waived Ruben Tejada. The end result was the Mets started the year with Eric Campbell on the 25 man roster. Keep in mind, the 2015 Mets which supposedly had less depth had Campbell in the minor league system.
Unfortunately, Campbell did not reward the faith the Mets placed in him. Campbell hit .159/.270/.222. The Mets were forced to move on from him. Next up was Ty Kelly, who the Mets signed to a minor league deal over the winter, and Kelly hit .111/.200/.111. Another option was Matt Reynolds, who is still up with the team, who is currently hitting .167/.231/.167. By the way, the Mets have now made it readily apparent they are not going to give T.J. Rivera a shot. Long story short there are kiddie pools with more depth than what the 2016 Mets had this season. Accordingly, the Mets were in a position where they were forced to make a move to improve their depth.
Today, the Mets traded away Akeel Morris for Kelly Johnson. This is the same Kelly Johnson the Mets thought Eric Campbell was better than in the offseason. This is the same Kelly Johnson who is currently hitting .215/.273/.289 this year.
Again, the Mets could have signed him in the offseason and not forfeited a prospect in return. Either the Mets thought Campbell was a better player and were wrong, or they made a money decision. There is roughly a $1.5 million difference between Campbell’s and Johnson’s salaries, and the Mets did release Tejada before the season in an effort to save money. Keep in mind, the Mets not only obtained Campbell in the deal, but as per Jon Heyman, the Mets also received some money in the deal as well. Because of the Mets penny wise pound foolish decisions, the Mets once again had to dip into their minor league system to address their poor depth.
This time the cost was Akeel Morris. Last year, Morris was terrific in his 23 appearance in AA. He went 0-1 with a 2.45 ERA and a 1.091 WHIP. This year, for the first time in his major league career, he is struggling. In his 22 appearances, he is 2-2 with a 4.62 ERA and a 1.382 WHIP. Lost in those stats is Morris’ stuff. He can get his fastball up to 95, and he has a good changeup. With his ability to strike people out, he could have been a late inning reliever. With the development of another pitch, like the Warthen slider, he would be. If he does reach his potential, it will be with another organization as the Mets decided they desperately needed someone who is hitting worse than Kevin Plawecki this year.
Regardless of his struggles, Johnson is an upgrade over what the Mets have been playing lately. Johnson may also benefit from returning to a team where he played well last year. If Johnson does play well, it’ll be a reminder the Mets should not have let him sign elsewhere in the offseason. It will be a reminder that the mistake the Mets made a mistake in thinking Campbell was the best choice for the bench. Ultimately, the cost of that mistake is the career of Akeel Morris.
Going into last year, the Mets were well noted for their organizational pitching depth. It wasn’t just the pitchers that were in the majors, but it was also the pitchers on the way. The thought process was the Mets could select the pitchers to keep to help the rotation and trade the others for a bat.
Well, the Mets are going into the 2016 season, and their depth isn’t the same as this regime seems comfortable jettisoning this team’s pitching depth. A large part of the reason was the unwillingness and/or inability to spend in the offseason last year. Here is the list of pitchers gone from the Mets organization:
- Greg Peavey
- Randy Fontanez
- Cory Mazzoni
- Brad Wieck
- Casey Meisner
- John Gant
- Robert Whalen
- Michael Fulmer
- Luis Cessa
- Matt Koch
- Miller Diaz
- Dawrin Frias
- Jack Leathersich
- Jon Niese
- Matthew Bowman
This list doesn’t include Logan Verrett, who was selected in last year Rule 5 draft and returned. It also doesn’t include Tyler Clippard, Bartolo Colon, Eric O’Flaherty, Bobby Parnell, and Alex Torres because, at least in theory, they all could return to the Mets next year. In any event, that’s a lot of pitchers gone and/or potentially gone from the 2014 Winter Meetings and the 2015 Winter Meetings.
After losing all these pitchers, the Mets only have two . . . TWO . . . players on their 2016 major league roster resulting from these moves: Addison Reed and Neil Walker. Also, the Mets still need a fifth starter and possibly bullpen help. You would think after losing 15 pitchers in a year, you’d be in a better position.
Now, the important caveat here is not all of these pitchers are of the same caliber. For example, Peavey and Fontanez were selected in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 Draft. Also, I did defend the trade that brought in Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson. On the flip side, I did not like the trades which brought in Clippard and Yoenis Cespedes.
I’m not in the crowd that justifies these deals due to the Mets winning the pennant. You win the World Series, you’re untouchable because you did what was necessary. However, the Mets lost all that pitching and still fell short. Think of it another way. Do you think the Tigers would’ve traded winning the AL East for John Smoltz‘ career?
With all that said, the Mets still deserve some credit here. Even though they lost all that pitching, they still have good pitching prospects like Robert Gsellman. I just wish they spent more money last offseason and kept some of those pitchers to give them more options to make deals this winter or this upcoming summer.
Keep in mind that sooner or later losing all this pitching will eventually catch up with them. I’m not looking forward to the day that happens.