The New York Mets are officially in the offseason and are patiently awaiting free agency, as the work is cut out for the front office. With plenty on the plates of management, pitching will be the number one topic.
We are all aware of the Mets top-dog starting pitchers who are on the market, such as Jacob deGrom, Chris Bassitt, and Taijuan Walker, however, the Mets bullpen will also be vulnerable. Also on the market will be relievers such as Adam Ottavino, Seth Lugo, and most importantly, Edwin Diaz. It is without a doubt that these pitchers should be reconsidered for summer 2023 in Queens; unfortunately, other clubs have the same needs. The Mets need to prioritize their bullpen as much as they prioritize starting pitching; over all, they must put the need for a closer first.
Which free agent reliever should the Mets target in the 2023 offseason market?
One of the hardest pitching roles to fill is the closer role. This unique relief position is an art, and it’s hard to come by. It is without a doubt that the Mets will make a bold move for their most recent closer and soon to be free agent, right-hander Edwin Diaz. The Puerto Rican born stopper was the talk of the Mets bullpen, entering at the sound of a trumpet, and filling up the zone with a blazing 100mph fastball. Diaz saved 32 games this season, out of the 101 Mets wins.
In a case where things go downhill and Diaz does not return to Queens, who’s on the market? Who best fits the New York City 9th inning limelight? No better option than right-handed closer, Kenley Jansen. The 6’5” 265 pounder is up for free agency after a 2022 season with the Atlanta Braves, where he saw 64 innings of mound time, saving 41 games for the last-minute National League East Champions. Jansen held a 3.38 ERA, striking out 85 and only walking 8 hitters in 2022. His numbers this year are quite impressive, after being in the league for 13 years; the numbers are very comparable to Diaz’s, who’s currently 28 years old and been in the league or 7 seasons. In 13 Major League seasons (majority of which were with the Los Angeles Dodgers), Jansen has a combined 2.46 ERA with 391 saves in 769 innings with 1107 strikeouts, and 226 walks.
Jansen has a ton of playoff experience and has pitched his entire big-league career in the National League. The 35-yearold works 3 main pitches; a cutter which is his go-to option, a sinker, and slider. The cutter tops at 97.1mph with an average of 92-93mph. The sinker tops at 98mph, with average at 93.6mph, and the slider works around 82-85mph. Each pitch can be thrown for a strikeout and Jansen is able to force groundouts and fly-outs. He is still huge, strong, consistent, and composed in his outings. His mechanics and delivery are repeated and deceptive to hitters.
If the Mets plan to contend again next year, a dependable closer will be key, and Kenley Jansen is the top piece in the market for such a role, and environment, on the New York Cit big stage.