If all things were equal, the choice between Zach Greene and Stephen Nogosek might seem like a tough one to make. Greene doesn’t have any big league experience and his presence on the 2023 New York Mets would require them to keep him all year long due to his Rule 5 Draft pick status.
The situation isn’t much different with Nogosek. Around in the Mets organization in some capacity since the team acquired him at the 2017 trade deadline, this out of options reliever is essentially competing alongside Greene for a spot on the Opening Day roster. The Mets cannot afford to carry both. They can certainly benefit from carrying neither if they deem their other relief options to be a better fit.
There is one reason that the Mets could favor Greene. Once they lose him, he’s gone for good. The same isn’t a sure thing for Nogosek. They could DFA him and have a shot to bring him back if he cleared waivers. This is the best reason to keep Greene if it came down to a coin flip decision. What about Nogosek?
The Mets bullpen battle between Zach Greene and Stephen Nogosek is favoring one of them early
Nogosek was actually a free agent last offseason before re-signing with the Mets. The situation was a little different. He didn’t pitch well in the minors during the 2021 season. Jobs were not plentiful. Returning to the Mets made sense.
Fortunately, Nogosek pitched very well in Triple-A last season. In 43 innings of work, Nogosek was 2-0 with a 2.30 ERA. He wasn’t just a minor league hero either. Nogosek showed he could get big league outs. He tossed 22 innings for the major league Mets, going 1-1 with a 2.45 ERA in those 12 appearances.
The problem the Mets are running into is they need to have at least two bullpen roster spots with optional relievers, excluding the one belonging to Drew Smith. You don’t send him down for 10 days just to have a fresh arm.
One of those roster spots should go to a long-man like Elieser Hernandez or Joey Lucchesi. The other would go to one of the many other relievers the Mets will carry with them into Opening Day. Greene and Nogosek fit into a whole different category. Greene would have to be returned to the New York Yankees once the Mets are through with him. He’d be gone for good. Nogosek would have to pass through waivers after being designated for assignment. It’s not something we should be all that confident he could do because of what he showed last season. Someone might take a chance.
As little as spring statistics matter, they might for Greene who has yet to pitch in the big leagues. He has not gotten off to a good start. A pair of earned runs in two innings plus four walks has pushed Nogosek ahead of him through the first week+ of Spring Training. Two clean innings from Nogosek adds to the difference although he has proven himself more in actual games.
Nogosek’s results on the field are what currently have him ahead of Greene. If he can remain productive in March, an Opening Day roster spot will be his.