The New York Mets added Austin Adams to the roster on Thursday. The big dose of knowledge received by the majority of fans was his modern record of 24 hit batters in 2021. The running joke is the Mets now have a pitcher who'll protect the batters and their tendency to get nailed with balls.
An ability to bruise batters at such an alarming rate is cause to question the move. And at first, his contract agreement looked like a big problem because of the reported MLB deal they signed him to.
The Mets signed Adams to a major league deal, but in a rare twist have guaranteed him nothing. Adams agreed to a “split” contract which has two salaries. One is if he makes the major league roster. Another is if he is in the minors. Who knew this existed?
Hit backspace on your Austin Adams rant; the deal makes a lot more sense now
Whenever it comes to roster building, we can excuse some of these lesser deals with the understanding that a player is here for depth. For instance, Danny Mendick was accepted last year because he had minor league options. The Mets never had a reason to force him onto the MLB roster until needed. Even then, they could always keep him around with an assignment to Syracuse.
The last two offseasons include examples of veterans without options signed by the Mets to minor league contracts. There was Chasen Shreve ahead of the 2022 season. That didn't work out. There was Tommy Hunter last winter. That, too, included an early season dismissal.
Adams is a perfectly fine addition to the Mets on a minor league deal. A guaranteed major league contract feels forced when the club has no option but to have him around or release him. His lack of minor league options offered the team no protection. Thankfully, there was more to it.
We all know the Mets won't bolster the bullpen with nothing but All-Stars. However, these lesser moves need to be tactful. In this case, David Stearns was operating with a safety net. We can think of this as a minor league contract now with a bigger payday for Adams if he makes the MLB roster. Score a point for the Mets.
So far the Mets have done nothing but sign players coming off of bad seasons with potential to be better. Those moves do happen. As uneventful as the Adams signing is in the grand scheme, the creativity is worth applauding.