Mets reliever Luis Avilan could turn into the bargain of the offseason
By Tim Boyle
The New York Mets managed to snag veteran lefty reliever Luis Avilan on a minor league deal this winter. The signing could end up as one of the best bargains of the offseason.
Let’s be honest, not many of us knew much about Luis Avilan. After seven seasons in the big leagues with four different teams, you might think the name would be a little more familiar. The New York Mets reliever, while owning a name we sort of recognized when they inked him to a minor league deal, didn’t exactly stand out for many of us.
Despite three and a half years with the Atlanta Braves, a presence on the 2016 and 2017 Los Angeles Dodgers teams, and wrapping things up with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2018, he was just a name.
If you’re like me, you assumed because he was willing to sign a minor league deal that it meant his numbers were short of fantastic. Then I took a look at them. Avilan may end up as the bargain signing of the offseason.
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With a minor league deal in tow, Avilan can get cut by the Mets without suffering significant financial consequences. Of course, the Mets should prefer he pitches well in Spring Training and at the very least earns a roster spot with the Syracuse Mets to begin the year.
When the Mets signed Avilan, Justin Wilson was just a member of the offseason wish list. Daniel Zamora was the best option on the roster. Now, the team has three guys they can possibly use in the role Jerry Blevins and Pedro Feliciano have occupied in the past.
Through 399 games and 308.2 frames, Avilan owns a career 3.09 ERA. He saw it rise up to 3.77 last year, but a lot of that had to do with the below-his-average with the Chicago White Sox to start the year. He had a 3.86 ERA with them and finished with a more Avilan-like 3.18 ERA with the Phillies.
Prior to last season, Avilan owned a 3.20 ERA in 2016 and a 2.93 ERA in 2017. For his career, he’s better than a LOOGY. Lefties are hitting .213/.289/.292 against him with righties knocking him around at a pace of .244/.325/.347. Regardless of the handedness of the batter, Avilan has a chance.
Whenever I look at Avilan’s numbers, I’m amazed he settled on a minor league deal. We know the MLB market is a disinterred one. Was he really not getting enough attention to at least warrant a guaranteed Opening Day roster spot?
Avilan may be confident enough in his own abilities or perhaps he sees something with the Mets that pessimistic fans do not. Other teams would have surely considered handing him a 25-man roster spot had he waited a little longer.
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Instead, Avilan went to a team that needed a lefty reliever badly. He bet on himself to crack this roster. This spring, I expect him to win a job.