In the span of a month, the New York Mets made two separate trades for middling relief pitchers. Early July included the already grim trade with the Seattle Mariners for Trevor Gott and Chris Flexen. The hook of this trade was the Mets gave up only DFA’d reliever Zach Muckehnhirn and were picking up Gott while paying Flexen’s contract.
The savviness of this was originally praised, but with Gott’s poor performance it became a waste of money.
Not to be out done, the Mets made another move closer to the actual trade deadline. A bit lost in all of the selling was the one “buyer” move if we can even call it that. They sent cash to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for relievers Phil Bickford and Adam Kolarek. So far, so blech!
The NY Mets trade with the LA Dodgers should have us questioning Billy Eppler
Bickford is the reliever from this trade we’ve actually seen pitch in the big leagues so far. He had been 2-3 with a 5.14 ERA for the Dodgers in 42 innings of work. Not exactly glamorous. He’s a 28-year-old reliever without minor league options and already looking like someone the team will non-tender in the offseason.
Bickford has made three appearances for the Mets and given up at least one earned run in each. He got beat up the most on Friday against the Baltimore Orioles when he allowed 4 earned runs while retiring only a single batter. The Mets found their replacement for Dominic Leone. Somehow, it was a major downgrade.
Already 0-1 with a 23.14 ERA in just 2.1 innings of work, Bickford’s welcome feels worn out. There is little to suggest he’ll be much better than a bullpen mop-up guy. Why the Mets even had the desire to add him to the roster is where we can divert the majority of our questions. Is there not another arm on the farm they could turn to?
As tiresome as it is for them to rotate through many of the relievers they already have, a pitcher like 23-year-old Nate Lavender who becomes Rule 5 Draft eligible this offseason has done well at each level in the minors. Nobody is expecting big things from him just yet, but if you want to see what you have in him and a 40-man roster spot is inevitable, this is a move to make.
All that’s saving this trade and even the one for Gott/Flexen from getting roasted more is how the only thing the Mets lost was cash.
Billy Eppler will probably return to the Mets organization next year in some capacity. The expectation is he’ll have a new boss, President of Baseball Operations David Stearns, to helicopter over him. Trades like these continue to give the fans doubts about his abilities, most notably how poorly constructed this year’s bullpen became.