To make room for Keynan Middleton, the St. Louis Cardinals designated 25-year-old Guillermo Zuniga for assignment. Young and with minor league options, this hard-throwing reliever fits the modus operandi of what the New York Mets have been doing all offseason. Whether it’s a waiver claim or a trade, he’s worth a gander.
It’s easy to see why the Cardinals did choose him over any of their other options. Zuniga’s 7.63 ERA in Triple-A last season came a year after have a 4.77 ERA in Double-A. The control got more out of control, going up to 5.9 walks per 9. His strikeouts, while high, aren’t mind-numbing.
Zuniga may very well just be another guy who throws hard and that’s all he brings to the table. Compared to some of the other arms on the 40-man roster right now, he’s far more intriguing of an option.
Where the Mets can fit Guillermo Zuniga onto the roster
The Mets will already ride the DFA train when the signings of Shintaro Fujinami and Jake Diekman become official. Two spots will need to be cleared for them. Any of the players without options make sense, including infielder Zack Short who seems to be the utility man David Stearns will keep around for insurance until the last second.
Comparing Zuniga to any of the optional relievers on the 40-man roster is fairer as he’d essentially place one of them. They only have three to possibly DFA. Grant Hartwig isn’t one of them. Reed Garrett and Josh Walker are a little different.
Zuniga is younger than both. With the Mets now carrying two major league lefties and possessing Danny Young on a minor league deal, Walker has less of an advantage to stick around. Garrett, the righty, is already in his 30s. He could just as easily end up back with the Mets at some point via the waiver wire. His last minor league option, while intriguing, is still half as many as Zuniga has. Garrett, more than almost anyone else on the 40-man roster, looks replaceable to the Nth Degree.
Stearns hasn’t been shy about claiming guys off waivers. However, because of the intrigue of Zuniga as a young flamethrower, it’s like he’ll end up costing a player via trade. This isn’t a Cooper Hummel or Tyler Heineman situation where all the Cardinals will want back are cash considerations. An actual player, albeit not a major one, can be an assumed price tag.
If everyone on the Mets is healthy for Opening Day, roster spots will naturally open up anyway because of all the designating for assignment that will take place. Zuniga wouldn’t be a casualty. And if they want to continue adding players who fit this particular mold, he’s someone to highly consider.