Adam Ottavino had one of the better non-closer seasons for a New York Mets relief pitcher in recent memory. If not for what Aaron Loup accomplished in 2021, we’d probably be hyping him up a whole lot more.
Ottavino finished the year with a 6-3 record, 2.06 ERA, and a whole bunch of other positive numbers across the board. He was as perfect of a setup man as the Mets could have found over the winter. It’s just a shame he was signed to only a one-year contract.
This offseason, Ottavino is one of several Mets free agents from the bullpen. I’m all for another reunion and you probably are, too.
How much will it cost the Mets to reunite with Adam Ottavino?
Ottavino signed with the Mets on a downswing of his career. He struggled in 2020 with the New York Yankees and was much closer to average during his one season with the Boston Red Sox—posting a 4.21 ERA in 62 innings of work.
He’ll turn 37 in November, making him a less-than-ideal long-term fit. The $4 million he earned from the Mets in 2022 after a rough two seasons prior might still match closely to what Ottavino seeks in this coming winter but with a catch.
There is a lot of mileage on Ottavino’s arm yet his healthy and strong performance in 2022 could hit at the veteran reliever first demanding a contract with a second-year option. A 50-inning barometer is quite fair. Since 2017, he has passed it with the one exception being the 2020 season when he still did appear in 24 of the 60 games on the Yankees schedule.
A contract of $4.5 million in 2023 and a vesting option for another $4 million in 2024 might be enough for an aging veteran pitcher. If the Mets have to, they should go as high as a total of $12 million across the two seasons with the 2024 campaign including the higher salary. Let’s go with $5 million in 2023 and $7 million in 2024 but only if Ottavino reaches 50 innings.
Before we can expect Ottavino to rush out and sign this type of deal, we’d have to know how he feels about his own market. He should be able to get more than $5 million on his 2023 contract. It’s belief in himself beyond next season which could be the greater selling point. Perhaps decreasing it from 50 innings to 40 is enough.
The Mets have a lot of areas they will need to spend this offseason. The bullpen can’t be ignored. It’s possibly Max Scherzer’s final year in a Mets uniform and they need to be all-in. Ottavino has proven himself with several teams over the years. More importantly, he did it with the 2022 Mets.
Ottavino is certainly replaceable in the sense that the Mets can find a veteran who has a fantastic year with them again in 2023. However, odds are stacked against it. Do they really get lucky with Loup and Ottavino in back-to-back winters? I don’t think so.