New York Mets offseason trade target: Relief pitcher Steve Cishek
By Nick Scheurer
As the New York Mets continue to search for bullpen help, they should turn to the trade market and check in on a possible deal for relief pitcher Steve Cishek.
The New York Mets are in the market for a couple of back-end relievers to bridge the gap to newly acquired closer, Edwin Diaz. An undervalued option like Steve Cishek would be a perfect fit for 2019.
The Winter Meetings are underway and the Mets would be well-advised to sign the likes of Andrew Miller or David Robertson to reliably take over the eighth inning and collect spot saves when Diaz is overworked.
But, two high-end relievers are not enough for a team competing for a playoff spot. The Mets need one more guy they can count on to consistently get outs when the game is on the line. Steve Cishek can be that guy. Here is why it makes sense:
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It is perfectly feasible
The Chicago Cubs are a lot like the Cleveland Indians this offseason. They’re loaded with talent but arbitration pay raises have caught up with them and their payroll has subsequently become tight.
Cishek is making $6.5M in 2019. The Cubs certainly wouldn’t mind shedding that in order to create some breathing room in their payroll or perhaps to pursue a bigger ticket (Bryce Harper?).
Relievers are the pawns of the baseball world. They come and go. The Cubs could reasonably prefer financial flexibility over keeping their third or fourth best reliever.
The Cubs have enough relief strength to carry them to another postseason without the aid of Cishek and therefore wouldn’t bat an eye at losing him.
The Mets on the other hand had a horrendous bullpen in 2018 and would rely heavily on Cishek’s services in 2019.
The Mets can easily manage Cishek’s $6.5M salary and would only have to send a couple of lower-tier prospects to the Cubs in order to facilitate the deal.
He is also a free agent after 2019. So, his small salary and impending free agency make him a low-risk, high-reward option.
Steve Cishek is good
Cishek has managed a 2.65 ERA through 9 years in the MLB. He gets overlooked and is paid so little because of his low arm slot.
The truth is, it doesn’t matter how he throws the ball as long as he gets outs. He threw 70.1 innings for the Cubs in 2018 and struck out 78 while ultimately achieving a 2.18 ERA.
He stayed healthy, kept runs off the board, had an impressive strikeout rate, and kept batted balls in the park (0.6 HR/9). You can’t ask a reliever to do anything more than that.
Trying to acquire undervalued talent for pennies on the dollar is a Mets staple. Granted, this ideology has backfired in the past. But, even though Brodie Van Wagenen wants to make a splash, he shouldn’t shy away from smaller opportunities like this one.
In the end, little pieces like Cishek can be the difference between making the postseason and missing it by a couple of games.
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The back-end of the Mets’ bullpen will only be as strong as its weakest link in 2019. They should feel pretty comfortable with a talent like Cishek as that link.