Who would have thought in a free agent class that includes long time New York Mets Michael Conforto and Noah Syndergaard plus star infielder Javier Baez with the addition of one of the best pitchers in the league, Marcus Stroman, that none of those guys are universally looked at as a “must keep” by the fans.
We can even add in Jonathan Villar to showcase just how special one of the upcoming MLB free agents on the Mets roster has become.
Someway, somehow, the one free agent Mets fans will not forgive the front office if he gets away is a middle reliever. I am, of course, referring to lefty Aaron Loup. And lucky for us, he is at least expressing a desire to return.
Aaron Loup is the one Mets free agent the team cannot let leave without the fans raging against them
Loup has ingratiated himself with the fans in two ways. His stunningly impressive numbers are one thing. His attitude along the way is the added bonus.
Because he is a middle reliever, Loup is rarely in the spotlight. He doesn’t get any big quotes and he’s not the first guy reporters run to for comment on an issue. Still, Loup has managed to pitch well enough to become a 2021 cultural icon at Citi Field.
We can credit his Stone Cold Steve Austin-esque use of beer in postgame press conferences for this. Busch Light, his beer of choice, has become synonymous with the Louisiana native. What you may not recall, as I didn’t, is that this was a plan he had early on during his Mets tenure.
Way back in February, when talking about the possibility of working as an opener, Loup dropped this quote:
“Who wouldn’t want to be the guy to start the game and then get to sit in the clubhouse and drink a few brews on the back end and watch the rest of it?
He had his chance to start a pair of games for the Mets this season. The first was on July 18 in a loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. The second was a little more fun. It came in a 1-0 shutout by the Mets against the Atlanta Braves in one game of their July 26 doubleheader. This was the far more memorable of the two.
Loup, however, isn’t merely an opener. He has been used almost to perfection this year by the Mets. Certainly set up for success, it’s a big reason why he has become a fan favorite. It doesn’t take a statistician to know a 1.00 ERA is a good thing. Add in his personality and desire to return to the orange and blue next season, we have ourselves a guy who has embraced this city, the fans, and the moment.
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There’s no excuse not to invite him back. Even in such a memorable season, Loup’s market isn’t going to skyrocket. The well-traveled lefty with the unorthodox delivery shouldn’t be allowed to go anywhere else. Not on our watch.