Mets Monday Morning GM: Faith in David Stearns, none in a quick bullpen turnaround

The Mets bullpen needs more work than one offseason can provide.
Philadelphia Phillies v New York Mets - Game One
Philadelphia Phillies v New York Mets - Game One / Adam Hunger/GettyImages

Adam Ottavino’s decision to opt out of his deal with the New York Mets for the 2024 season made a big problem even worse. It’s like trying to put out an overflowing toilet with a stick of dynamite. The Mets now have a bullpen looking incapable of holding a lead should they ever need to enter before the sixth inning. It’s so insecure it should be a high school freshman going through puberty.

The Mets will have Edwin Diaz returning from injury. Brooks Raley is back as well. Even Drew Smith could be better. But beyond them, the Mets don’t have a single reliever anyone can justify belongs on a major league roster.

Many of us have a lot of faith in David Stearns. An immediate turnaround in the bullpen is a different story altogether.

The Mets bullpen has already crushed some faith in the team’s chances in 2024

It’s not as if the Mets have any younger players knocking on the door to become credible big league relievers either. Bryce Montes de Oca missed last season and should be a contender for innings. Paul Gervase is someone who could make the leap as well. Opening Day doesn’t seem likely.

There’s still a giant net of free agents and trade possibilities for Stearns to fix what appears to be unfixable in such a short period of time. No doubt he will make some moves. The trouble is they need true headliners and depth pieces. That’s a lot of work and doesn’t even account for the players who end up underperforming or getting hurt.

If there is one saving grace for this team it’s how bad the Texas Rangers relievers were in the beginning of last year. They did address some needs at the trade deadline, but still finished with a 4.77 ERA from their relievers on the season. This was ranked 24th in MLB and placed behind the Mets and their 4.45 ERA in the 22nd spot.

Going into the year expecting to repeat what the Rangers did isn’t so smart. They were only able to do it because the offense and starting pitcher staff were among the best. They led the American League in runs scored. Blowups by the bullpen didn’t always crush them because there was wiggle room.

How do the Mets go about this offseason when it comes to bullpen improvements?

One-year deals with relievers isn’t the best approach. They need guys who’ll be around longer to avoid yet another offseason search. Stearns isn’t in a Hail Mary situation where he needs the club to win in 2024. With this in mind, a more conservative approach aimed at relievers on short but more than single-year contracts is what the goal should be.

Even if Stearns magically builds a bullpen we can be proud of, it doesn’t account for other shortcomings on the roster. The Mets do need to improve their offense. The starting rotation is a couple arms shy of being credible, too.

Relief pitchers may not be the priority at the moment because of how fickle their performances tend to be. Nonetheless, it’s an issue the Mets cannot ignore and need to begin tackling immediately before the well dries up completely.