The New York Mets have been noted for consistently fielding a bullpen that underperforms each season. The Mets bullpen ranked in the bottom third of the league in fWAR and bullpen ERA last season, and they have not had an above-average bullpen since 2016.
Although the lackluster performance of the bullpen was not the only reason why the Mets disappointed and vexed fans in 2020, it was evident that the team needed to retool it heading into 2021. To address their needs in the bullpen, the Mets signed Trevor May, Sam McWilliams, and Aaron Loup to contracts. May is a solid bullpen acquisition who pitched well for the Twins the past few years, and Loup is a left-handed reliever that the team sorely needed.
But the Mets are being injudicious if they believe these three acquisitions are enough. Last season, they were let down by poor performances from Dellin Betances, Jeurys Familia, and Miguel Castro. It would be optimistic to the point of foolishness to expect that all three of them are going to exceed expectations and be dominant in their current roles. Betances hasn’t been a great pitcher for a few years now, Familia has had a negative fWAR the past two seasons while blowing games constantly, and Castro is too susceptible to giving up home runs.
The Mets have many bullpen options for 2021, but only a few of them are reliable, prompting the need for the team to sign another reliever.
What the Mets need is another bullpen arm that they can rely on. Considering that Lugo could miss the start of the year, the only two Mets bullpen arms that will start the season coming off great seasons in 2020 are Trevor May and (surprisingly) Edwin Diaz. Therefore, the Mets should seriously consider signing Shane Greene to a major league contract.
Greene is perhaps the best reliever still looking for a team for 2021. Last season, Greene compiled a 2.60 ERA over 27 innings. The year prior, Greene was an All-Star, spending much of the season with the Detroit Tigers before being traded to the Atlanta Braves.
Greene profiles as a hard-throwing right-handed pitcher who is usually a late-inning reliever. His four-seam fastball and his sinking two-seam fastball average between 93 and 96 mph. His primary offspeed pitch is his slider, which usually ends up in the 87 to 90 mph range.
Greene’s value to the Mets would be immeasurable. He would provide them with another solid right-handed arm out of the bullpen that could be counted on late in games. A Greene signing stabilizes the bullpen and serves as an insurance policy if Seth Lugo has an injury setback or if the McWilliams experiment does not yield positive results. The Mets will also be able to poach him from the rival Braves, who are rumored to have interest in bringing him back.
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With the Mets failing to land Trevor Bauer, the team clearly has the money to spend. Not acquiring Bauer gives the team the opportunity to spend that money more wisely, and part of it should be allocated to fortifying a questionable bullpen. As the saying goes, a team cannot have enough pitching, and relying on several players to have bounceback years is not a panacea to ensuring the team’s pitching success.