New York Mets: Grading the Brad Brach and Joe Panik signings
By Allen Settle
The New York Mets will give Brad Brach and Joe Panik another chance with them this season. Were they the right choice?
The New York Mets 2019 season has been a tale of two extremes. Before the All-Star break, the team struggled to find consistency and a winning formula. At their worst, they sat 11 games below .500 and were amongst the worst teams in baseball. Since the All-Star Game, the team has been blisteringly hot!
While the Mets are playing as well as anyone could have imagined, there are some issues that need to be addressed. Yoenis Cespedes’ freak injury cost him the season. Jed Lowrie’s status is totally unknown. Brandon Nimmo and Dominic Smith are also out for the foreseeable future. Add in Robinson Cano’s recent injury and the team’s once deep roster has some weaknesses.
Since the Mets elected not to add any position players at the trade deadline they were forced to turn to the free agent market for help. General Manager Brodie Van Wagenen was recently able to address the team’s two biggest needs by signing second baseman Joe Panik and adding reliever Brad Brach. Considering the available options, both of these signings were successful moves that helped improve the roster and add depth.
Panik is a former Gold Glover winner who was surprisingly waived by the San Francisco Giants following the trade deadline. The New York native’s batting average and power numbers have dipped each of the past three seasons.
However, he fills an immediate need as a replacement for the injured Robinson Cano. Panik also still holds a career .988 fielding percentage and has 86 postseason at-bats on his resume, including 27 during the Giants 2014 World Series-winning season.
Brach also provides the team with another arm in the bullpen. Despite posting a 1.52 ERA last season in Atlanta, he was released by Chicago with a 6.13 ERA. While the 9-year MLB veteran is several years removed for performing at a level that made him an All-Star in 2016, he will still have value to an ascending team like New York.
Joe Panik: B+
While Panik’s offensive decline is admittedly concerning, his experience and defensive ability make him an ideal fit with the Mets. While a more offensive-oriented free agent like Asdrúbal Cabrera would have provided the team with a more tangible boost, recent reports confirm that he didn’t seriously consider a return to New York.
Given Tomas Nido’s recent cold streak, the team could also have turned their attention to veteran catcher Johnathan Lucroy after his surprising release from the Angels and subsequent signing with the Chicago Cubs. However, if the Mets were only serious about adding one offensive player, they made the right decision adding a player with experience in the infield.
Brad Brach: C
The question is not whether the Mets made the right call signing a relief pitcher. They absolutely needed help in the bullpen for the postseason push. While Brach does fill an immediate need, there are questions about whether there were better options available.
I would have preferred to see the team take a flier on Greg Holland. The three-time All-Star was recently DFA’d by the Arizona Diamondbacks after a turbulent first season with the team. He has a better track record and holds a better 4.54 ERA this season and for his career 2.96 ERA. He also had 17 saves with the Diamondbacks this year.
A player like Kyle Barraclough may also have been worth a look. Like Brach, he also held a 6+ERA before his eventual release. However, before a disastrous 2019 campaign, Barraclough was a solid bullpen option in Miami. He holds a 3.57 career ERA and has shown decent strikeout potential. Pitching in a larger ballpark like Citi Field may also help him recapture some of his success from his time with the Marlins.
The Mets also had an opportunity to add pitcher Kevin Gausman from the rival Braves. Gausman, who was cut by Atlanta after melting down before the trade deadline, was quickly signed by the Cincinnati Reds. While Gausman was primarily used as a starter in Atlanta, the 28-year-old could have been a valuable piece out of the bullpen.
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Did the Mets select the right free agents? Is there anyone else you would like to see them bring to Flushing?