The New York Mets have made a ton of moves this offseason to drastically improve their team from last season. They added arguably the best pitcher on the market in Max Scherzer, another All-Star pitcher in Chris Bassitt, and multiple veteran guys with solid track records in Starling Marte, Mark Canha, and Eduardo Escobar.
The Mets did also make some smaller moves such as adding veteran relief pitcher Adam Ottavino to a 1-year deal and dished out some minor league deals to Travis Jankowski, Chasen Shreve, Mike Montgomery, and Alex Claudio.
Even though the Mets have acquired some solid players at the major league level and added some players with experience on minor league deals for depth, the Mets are still missing a major piece to their team to put them on the next level. Some think the team still needs another impact bat, which I do think there is an argument for, but they need an experienced left-handed relief pitcher even more.
The Mets most obvious need is an experienced left-handed relief pitcher.
Chasen Shreve might be the current best option the Mets have between him, Montgomery, and Claudio, but there are still obvious concerns. He did have a decent season with the Mets in 2020 where he pitched 25 innings to a 3.96 ERA and had a pretty good year for the Pittsburgh Pirates last season where he pitched to a 3.20 ERA in 56.1 innings. Although he improved, his FIP was almost a run higher and his strikeout rate was way down. He has decent upside but the Mets need a guy with more experience and success over a longer period of time.
Looking at the availability of left-handed relief pitchers available, there is slim picking. Josh Hader will not happen unless the Mets are willing to trade half the farm which it appears they are not willing to do at this point. There are only a handful of lefty relievers in the free-agent market but one does stick out in Tony Watson.
Watson has been a very steady and reliable relief pitcher throughout his career. He has a career 2.90 ERA in over 600 innings and a 1.083 WHIP. At first glance, his 2021 may not look too appealing with a 3.92 ERA, but his FIP was a 3.48, and he turned his season around drastically once traded from the Los Angeles Angels to the San Francisco Giants. In 33 innings with the Angels, he had a 4.64 ERA, with the Giants he had a 2.96 ERA in 24.1 innings.
Although Watson will be turning 37 in May, he is still someone the Mets should go after. As previously stated, he has been a steady and reliable pitcher throughout his career and has been extremely durable, which is something the Mets can always use. He has pitched in 60 games every year of his career outside of the shortened 2020 season and his rookie year back in 2011.
Baseball-Reference projects Watson to pitch to a 4.12 ERA over 59 innings this season. There is good reason to believe he can be better than that under Mets pitching coach Jeremy Hefner, who led multiple players to career years for the Mets this past season. Marcus Stroman, Aaron Loup, and Drew Smith all had incredible years under Hefner, as well as Taijuan Walker and Tylor Megill before they tired out due to high workloads. The Mets pitching staff as a whole were ninth in the Majors in ERA, tenth in opponents batting average, ninth in OBP, tenth in OPS, and fifth in walks allowed.
Adding an experienced left-handed reliever like Watson allows the team to rely on someone trustworthy and take off the pressure of someone like Shreve, Montgomery, or Claudio if they were to make the team. With big left-handed bats in the NL East like Bryce Harper, Kyle Schwarber, Matt Olsen, Eddie Rosario, and Juan Soto, it is more important than ever to get a solid lefty.