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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3. Adam Ottavino

As with every offseason, the Mets' bullpen was in flux following the 2021 season. Familia and Loup were free agents, meaning the threesome of Diaz, May, and Seth Lugo were the only locks for the 2022 season. Having already been burnt with multi-year commitments to relief pitchers, Eppler committed to a different approach. In taking the Scott and Stearns model of building a bullpen, Eppler signed and traded for relief pitchers coming off of bad seasons. While on the surface fans may ask, "Why sign a player who performed horribly in 2021?" The formula behind this ideology is to buy low on relief pitchers and reap the rewards if they have a bounce-back season.

The free agent pool every offseason is flooded with relief pitchers whose contracts either expired or were non-tendered by their prior organization. The likelihood to 'hit a homerun' on a one-year contract is not favorable, but once in a while, the Mets hit one 400 feet. Eppler jumped into this pool and signed Brooklyn native Adam Ottavino to a contract worth 1-year $4 million. Ottavino was coming off a mediocre season with the Boston Red Sox, having pitched to a 4.21 ERA in 62 innings. At age 36, the Mets were signing Ottavino not out of desperation, but out of hope he could rediscover the fastball that made him effective in 2018-19.

Rarely have we uttered these words, but Eppler hit a grand slam with this decision. Ottavino is expected to be the next 2021 version of Familia: a late-inning relief pitcher who often struggles with control and gives the fans agita. However, Ottavino had the lowest walk rate of his career at 2.2 BB/9 which contributed to his dominant 2.06 ERA across 65.2 innings pitched. While the track record of Ottavino is not as erratic as Loup, it was still a shock that the 36-year-old had the best all-around season of his career when expectations were at their lowest.