5 recent Mets free agent signings that turned out better than expected

The Mets have better luck with free agents that have no expectations.
Miami Marlins v New York Mets
Miami Marlins v New York Mets / Rich Schultz/GettyImages
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The New York Mets have signed a plethora of free agents this offseason. While there have been no headliner additions to the roster like Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander in the past few off-seasons, the Mets' depth has improved since David Stearns became team president last October. When Stearns took over, the Mets had question marks all over the diamond and across the pitching staff. Furthermore, the coaching staff and front office experienced an overturn with Buck Showalter parting ways and Billy Eppler under investigation for his usage of the injured list. Suffice it to say, the Mets have a different look heading into spring training.

With the organization in a state of transition from the veteran to the younger talent, the Mets have targeted one-year contracts to fill in as placeholders. Many of these players have little to no expectations given their recent track records, such as Shintaro Fujinami and Michael Tonkin. However, the Mets will need some of these players to step up their performances this season if they intend to be competitive. In reviewing the past few off-seasons, the free agent signings have been very mixed between solid and disappointing performances. On the other hand, a few made a more significant impact than originally anticipated. Of those players, who surprised us the most?

1. Aaron Loup

The Mets had many inconsistencies through the Sandy Alderson and Brodie Van Wagenen eras. In 2017, the Mets hit a lot of home runs but lost all of their starting pitchers but Jacob deGrom to injury. In 2018, the pitching staff stayed healthy, but the offense was anemic in May and June. In 2019, the Mets' starters pitched well, and the offense received great contributions from the younger core but won just 86 games. Through all of these inconsistencies, the one constant was always the lackluster performance from the bullpen, particularly from the late-inning relievers.

When Steve Cohen took over in 2021, both Jared Porter and Zack Scott recognized the bullpen needed to be revamped from the 2020 season. Instead of taking a risk in signing another Jeurys Familia type of 3-year contract, the Mets took the short route of signing many short-term deals. One of which was veteran left-hander Aaron Loup, who had a typical every-other-year track record. In acquiring Loup, the Mets expected him to just be a left-handed compliment to Trevor May in the late innings of a ballgame.

Little did Scott know Loup would turn out to be his best decision as general manager. He exceeded any expectation of his 1-year $4 million contract and had the best relief season in recent memory. Across 56.2 innings, Loup pitched to a 0.95 ERA with just 16 walks and 57 strikeouts. While he was snubbed as an All-Star in July, Loup was the Mets' best player aside from deGrom and earned a multi-year contract from the Los Angeles Angels in 2022. While the Mets rarely have positive surprises from journeymen relief pitchers, Loup defied historical trends and put together a career season at age 33.