The Mets reunite with pitcher they just traded and dump their feel-good story in the process

This is why relievers rent and don't buy.
Detroit Tigers v New York Mets - Game One
Detroit Tigers v New York Mets - Game One / Rich Schultz/GettyImages

A little over a week after the New York Mets traded Michael Tonkin to the Minnesota Twins, the $1 million free agent pickup is back. The Mets put in a waiver claim on Tonkin and successfully snagged him back from the Twins in an unusual transaction. As it turns out, the Mets weren’t so eager to get rid of Tonkin as much as they just needed his roster space.

In doing so, the Mets were forced to make a 40-man roster move. Tyler Jay, who made his triumphant MLB debut for the club recently, was designated for assignment. The feel-good story of the sixth overall pick from 2015 finally making it to the major leagues months after the birth of twin daughters captivated a nation; Mets Nation. Unfortunately, the ruthless nature of roster management made him the guy chosen as the sacrifice to bring back Tonkin.

It has been a strange set of circumstances with the Mets bullpen. Jay was a strange pick to make the 40-man roster in the first place outside of the intention of finally giving him a bite on a major league mound which may have very well been the case. Adding to the unusual handling of these relief arms, bringing Tonkin back resumes the same issue the Mets faced before with him.

Reacquired Mets pitcher Michael Tonkin might not be here long for round two

If the Mets were willing to DFA Tonkin so quickly, they’ll do it again. This time, after struggling with the Twins in his lone appearance, he might actually pass through waivers which could be their plan all along. Tonkin would have to forfeit the remainder of his contract if he refused a minor league assignment due to his lack of service time. It’s a hitch the Mets could seek to take advantage of if they have the desire to keep him around.

Along with DFA’ing Jay, the Mets will require a second roster move. Grant Hartwig, who finished off Wednesday’s win against the Pittsburgh Pirates, should be the one who gets demoted back to Triple-A. It’ll allow Tonkin to slot into the bullpen, but for how long exactly?

At the moment, the Mets have only two optional pitchers. Starter Jose Butto isn’t going anywhere. Neither is Reed Garrett whose unexpected success has earned him wiggle room to have a bad day—something he has yet to have in 2024 as a member of the Mets.

Tonkin could easily end up as someone the Mets use until a fresh arm is needed. No other bullpen arm is in danger of being designated for assignment or demoted.

There isn’t necessarily anyone we should demand to see instead of Tonkin. Dedniel Nunez and Cole Sulser have already found their way onto the 40-man roster and into the big leagues this year. Waiting for their chance are Shintaro Fujinami, Kolton Ingram, and Josh Walker. All five of them do have minor league options, as did Jay. For whatever reason, the Mets preferred to have Tonkin. Expect the reunion to be short-lived and not just for the sake of talent but the sudden need this team will have for an arm that hasn’t been worked to the bone.