Mets free agent relief pitchers: 3 we should buy, 2 we should sell on having a good year

Which free relievers should we believe in and who'll be a bust?
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Tampa Bay Rays v Arizona Diamondbacks / Norm Hall/GettyImages
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Sell the Michael Tonkin signing

In fairness, at only $1 million for a year, the expectations for Michael Tonkin aren’t exceedingly high. We can like it (which I do) and still sell this as being anything more than an improvement to what they already had.

Think of the Tonkin deal as a more expensive minor league signing and not even much more than what a minor leaguer would make at league minimum. Tonkin made his return to MLB last season. His time away dating back to 2017 with the Minnesota Twins included two stints with the Long Island Ducks and a tour in Mexico. The Atlanta Braves added him in 2022 and for the 2023 season he became a multi-inning reliever out of their bullpen.

The numbers last year included a 4.28 ERA in 45 appearances spanning 80 innings. He walked batters at a rate of 2.6 per 9 and fell shy of a strikeout per inning at 8.4 per 9. A solid 1.08 WHIP and some decent numbers in terms of hard-hit percentage at 40%, Tonkin could turn into one of the sneakier moves of the offseason by Stearns.

He can, just as easily, get real cold again. At 34, he’s no kid. Because of how tight the Mets roster is in terms of who they can send down, there could come a point where Tonkin ends up as a roster casualty if his numbers aren’t strong enough.

We just haven’t seen enough of Tonkin at the major league level to fully know what to expect. The ceiling is averageness.