A big bat. A starting pitcher. A lefty reliever. Those are all things you might find on the offseason shopping list of the New York Mets right now.
There’s something they don’t have to buy, though. Frequently seen on past offseason shopping lists, the Mets have had the need to buy right-handed relievers. Not so much anymore.
The Mets have a right-handed heavy bullpen with Edwin Diaz as the closer and the pair of Seth Lugo and Trevor May expected to set him up. Let’s also not forget about 2021’s relief pitcher innings leader Miguel Castro, yet another righty, or even Drew Smith. It’s a very right-handed happy bullpen at the moment and the team should be all set in this regard.
A right-handed reliever could still sneak onto the Mets shopping list
The Mets went into the 2021 season with only a single lefty on the team, Aaron Loup. Southpaws in the bullpen aren’t nearly as vital as they were in the past given the three-batter minimum rule. The best way to use a lefty is not to overpower left-handed hitters. The benefit now is to change the vantage point of the hitters they face regardless of how they swing the bat.
Splits still matter but balance is the key. Righty or lefty, you want a reliever that can get both types of batters out. With this in mind, another right-handed reliever is not out of the question.
The last several offseasons have included the addition of notable right-handed pitchers. Prior to 2019, Jeurys Familia returned to the club. Diaz was also brought over in the blockbuster trade with the Seattle Mariners. The team filled their left-handed role with Justin Wilson and minor league addition Luis Avilan.
The next winter, the Mets added an even bigger name to the bullpen. He also threw with his right hand. His name was Dellin Betances. And much like so many other recent bullpen additions, this one crashed. Injuries were the major blame but even when Betances was able to take the hill only a handful of times in 2020 and 2021, he was dreadful.
The Mets were not done adding righties to the bullpen. A yearly occurrence, last winter saw them bring in Trevor May. They got much better results out of him in his first year in Queens. A token high-leverage reliever not expected to take on closer duties, his remaining presence should make the Mets turn their focus to a similar pitcher with a more functional left arm—or at least someone who can retire lefties well.
Free agent Ryan Tepera, for instance, held lefties to a .135/.226/.203 slash line in 84 chances last year. He throws right-handed and seems like he could be serviceable in this regard. His lifetime numbers vs. lefties include only a .203 batting average against which actually tops the .214 righties have batted against him. The other slash numbers, however, favor lefties.
The Mets bullpen is good yet not complete. A righty could fall into their lap. With several right-handed relievers set to hit free agency after the 2022 season, landing an effective arm now wouldn’t be such a bad plan.