Why the Mets called up Shintaro Fujinami yesterday just to put him on the IL

The irony is, the promotion seems to spell a possible ending for his Mets tenure.
Mar 10, 2024; Port St. Lucie, Florida, USA;  New York Mets pitcher Shintaro Fujinami (19) throws
Mar 10, 2024; Port St. Lucie, Florida, USA; New York Mets pitcher Shintaro Fujinami (19) throws / Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

You might’ve been killing time at some point yesterday and come across the news that the New York Mets promoted Shintaro Fujinami. The struggling free agent had a 14.09 ERA in 7.2 innings for Triple-A Syracuse. Far more damaging were the 17 walks. Two hit batsmen and 4 walk pitches aren’t going to escape so easily either.

It was about as bad of a performance as Fujinami could have delivered. And yet the Mets called him up to the big league roster yesterday.

There was a reason for it, though. As Mike Puma explains, it’s to have room for another roster move.

This feels like the end of Shintaro Fujinami and the Mets one way or another

There’s only so much patience a team can have with a player they aren’t so committed to. There is no guarantee Fujinami will require a 60-day IL stint. Dealing with a right shoulder strain, it’s the kind of injury that hits with an unpredictable timeline.

It’s caution and smarts the Mets are using with this roster move. Knowing they don’t have any intention of using Fujinami in the majors anytime soon anyway, why not stash him in the one place they have left: the 60-day IL.

This would cut him out of action for the remainder of the first half of the season. As long as those 60-day IL stints last and as deep into the year as we feel we are, the Mets will have about half a season left to go when he becomes eligible to return. However, with rehab and much more he’d need to prove before getting any sort of opportunity in the big leagues, the gut feel is the Mets will expect nothing.

Fujinami was signed for just one year this offseason, but because of his service time he would be eligible for arbitration next year. They could conceivably hold onto him as a project after 2024. He’d have minor league options available and would cost less than the $3.35 million they’re paying him in 2024 to better the OBP numbers of Triple-A opponents.

As an impatient resident of the Northeastern United States all my life, I’m prone to move on already. Fujinami is welcome to sit on the sidelines and prove me wrong. But gosh, not even Job would have faith he’d ever see a big league inning for the Mets.