New York Mets News

Mets: Signing Craig Kimbrel would fix more than one problem

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 27: Closing pitcher Craig Kimbrel #46 of the Boston Red Sox pitches in the ninth inning in Game Four of the 2018 World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on October 27, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 27: Closing pitcher Craig Kimbrel #46 of the Boston Red Sox pitches in the ninth inning in Game Four of the 2018 World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on October 27, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit

Craig Kimbrel remains a free agent and adding him to the New York Mets roster would help them solve more than one issue.

If there was one area on the New York Mets roster that warranted the least amount of concern heading into the 2019 season, it was their pitch and yet here we are. Entering May, the Mets bullpen owns the third worst ERA in the Majors at 5.37, better than only the Washington Nationals and the Baltimore Orioles.

What was once hailed as their greatest strength due to management’s acquisition of arguably the best closer in the league via a trade with Seattle for Edwin Diaz, and their re-signing of Jeurys Familia to fill the setup role has not worked out as planned for the Amazins in the early goings of this season. While Diaz has been stellar, apart from the two blips in his last two outings against the Cincinnati Reds, Familia’s struggles have been more frustrating, not surprisingly resulting in his placement on the ten-day injured list.

Simply put: The Mets have a bullpen problem. However, more than one month into the season it appears that both high profile pitchers, RHP Craig Kimbrel and LHP Dallas Keuchel, remain unsigned and available. While it’s unlikely for them to be signed any time soon, due to the compensation draft pick required for both players and the penalty of losing significant international pool money for some interested teams, it’s still possible that some ballclub may jump in to sign one of them.

More from Rising Apple

My guess is that neither player will be picked up by any ballclub until after the MLB draft, which will be held from June 3 – 5, as no one wants to lose draft picks or pool money. Therefore, for the Mets, my message is simple: sign Craig Kimbrel instead of Dallas Keuchel and move forward from there. Here’s why:

First, I want to be clear that the Mets should sign Kimbrel with the understanding that he would be the 8th inning setup man for Diaz, effectively moving Familia into the seventh inning reliever role. Although adding a quality left-handed pitcher of Keuchel’s caliber to the starting rotation would certainly add depth to their roster and be an improvement over the aging 36-year old Jason Vargas, choosing to invest in Kimbrel would effectively kill two birds with one stone by shoring up their struggling bullpen, while retaining the option to move Seth Lugo into the fifth spot later in the season should Vargas fall back into his old mediocrity. It’s a move that only has upside by adding depth to their pitching staff.

Interestingly, Jason Vargas has been a reliable pitcher throughout the ups and downs of his first five starts, after finishing the 2018 season on a high note. This reemergence as a decent fifth starter in his last three starts has contributed to his 1-1 win-loss record and 5.75 ERA. It is a bonus to the front office and a sign that they can now prioritize their efforts toward bolstering their pen instead of their rotation.

In this scenario, signing Kimbrel to the bullpen would mean having both Lugo and Kimbrel and provide the flexibility to move Lugo into the fifth spot should Vargas slow down as the season progresses.

However, since this is still the Mets and ownership is not usually willing to expand payroll unless forced to, the consequences of signing Kimbrel to ensure a stronger 2019 roster now might result in the Mets not re-signing Zack Wheeler before he’s slated to hit the free agent market this winter.

Finally, it’s important to keep in mind that Kimbrel might not be interested in playing for the Mets in the setup role, as he would not be utilized in his usual closer role. Still, it’s been reported by SNY’s Andy Martino that Kimbrel and the Mets are “having continued dialogue,” and for now that’s going to have to be enough for Mets fans who, like myself, are looking for an impact move to rejuvenate their middling .500 April record to open the 2019 season after an active offseason.

For the Mets, the idea of having power arms to close out games from the seventh inning on should be enticing enough to get them to bite. But will Kimbrel be sold on the idea enough to bite back, and sign? Only time will tell.

Next. Four potential trade targets for the Mets this summer

Want your voice heard? Join the Rising Apple team!

Write for us!

The calendar has just flipped to May, and there is a whole lot of baseball to be played before June rolls around.

facebooktwitterreddit