I know it’s a little too far into the future for people who live in the moment but have you stopped and realized how close the free agent class of 2023 actually is? A year from right now, there’s going to be a lot of discussion about all of the players the New York Mets could potentially lose to the open market.
Along with a Jacob deGrom opt-out fear, the possible end of Brandon Nimmo’s stay in New York, and a few other names we know well, the club has a lot of free agent relievers.
Next year’s Mets free agent class is heavy on relief pitchers
Just how many relief pitchers could leave the Mets after the 2022 season? These are the names currently set to reach free agency:
I know Williams isn’t quite a full-fledge reliever for the Mets, but it’s a role he’ll likely take on if he is tendered a deal this winter—unless they stash him in Triple-A until needed.
It’s quite significant to have five or six of your main relievers reach free agency all at once. This doesn’t include Jeurys Familia and Aaron Loup who are both free agent eligible after this season.
This leaves the Mets with a lot of cleats to fill. Drew Smith has been the most active among the names not mentioned above as free agents either after this season or next. Aside from him, I suppose there’s a bit of a waiting game to see what becomes of Yennsy Diaz and Sean Reid-Foley.
The Mets don’t exactly have a whole bunch of pitchers knocking on the door in the minor leagues to become options out of the bullpen. Someone like Thomas Szapucki could always shift to a bullpen role full-time. I also suspect we’ll see at least one guy who has primarily started shift into a more regular relief role. Depending on how well he pitches when he returns, the bullpen might ultimately be where David Peterson lands.
The Mets built a decent bullpen for this season and will need to do it again
Last winter, we saw the Mets make two significant moves to help improve their bullpen. Signing Loup and May gave them a much-needed boost. It added to an already strong faction made even more impressive by Familia’s strong start to the season.
When the clock strikes midnight this year, they’ll need to reassess and replace. Bringing in one more quality reliever on a multi-year deal could help start the construction for future seasons. However, it doesn’t address the big bullpen decisions coming in the not too distant future.
Relief pitcher performances are fickle and a three-year deal for any non-closer is typically rare. Many relievers are lifelong journeymen so it’s not exactly a shock to see this much turnover so quickly.
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Perhaps the bigger issue is the timing of it all. An inability to develop homegrown relievers could leave the club putting all of their focus in one area two winters from now. One of the toughest parts of a roster to successfully piece together, getting a jump start on it as soon as possible should help ensure they aren’t all of a sudden left high and dry.