The next free agent class includes some very talented relief pitchers. If they are serious about winning in 2019, the New York Mets need to use this to their advantage and build an elite bullpen.
The New York Mets have a lot to do next offseason. One task they should consider undertaking is one to build an elite bullpen.
Free agency offers some intriguing options. If they want to go beyond putting Robert Gsellman in the closer role and cross their fingers elsewhere, there are players out there for the Mets to target.
Let’s say the Mets don’t move Gsellman to the closer role. Eager to make up for a bad 2018, they are ready to spend money on their relief corps.
Assuming Jeurys Familia does not return, the Mets may want to look at other available closers. Mickey Callaway‘s closer from his Cleveland Indians days, Cody Allen, is pitching 2018 with no deal in place next season. As one of the most consistent closers for the past few seasons, it would make a lot of sense for him to become a major target. He hasn’t pitched well this year which may make him a bargain.
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Other closers for the Mets to look at include Zach Britton and Craig Kimbrel. Brad Brach could also fall into this category considering how many save opportunities he has received while with the Baltimore Orioles.
Beyond the closer spot, someone like Joe Kelly could get into the mix and become a setup man the Mets fall in love with.
There’s certainly talent to pick from. Best of all, the Mets already have some names in the current bullpen who could help round it all into shape.
Along with Gsellman, Seth Lugo has been fantastic in 2018. I can’t say for certain he stays in the team’s rotation next season. It would certainly become difficult to keep a rotation spot even if he pitches well down the stretch.
Let’s say Lugo does win a spot in the Mets rotation. What now?
This then forces them to choose between Steven Matz, Jason Vargas, and Zack Wheeler. If all return in 2019, one of them would need to go to the bullpen. The move could breathe some new life into whomever they choose. This is a complete assumption and there’s no guarantee whichever one loses their rotation spot ever figures it out in relief.
The Mets may also find that signing Anthony Swarzak to a two-year deal was the right move. He has been awful in 2018. However, if the 2017 season offered any indication, they may have yet another good arm they can count on. Personally, I don’t think he has much left.
The biggest need I see for an elite bullpen next year is a left-handed arm. Jerry Blevins won’t be back nor should he. This leaves the front office without a southpaw.
Lefty relievers cost a premium these days, but I do not doubt they can land someone either via free agency or trade. Bringing in a veteran like Andrew Miller would only bring some hype. Now in his mid-30s, his best days are in the rearview mirror.
Instead, they should look to acquire younger assets. They won’t survive without at least two southpaws in the bullpen. Preferably, neither is considered a specialist.
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I don’t expect the front office to fill every bullpen spot with a potential All-Star. With some smart moves, they can turn it into a much more threatening group of men.