The Detroit Tigers were expected to be an interesting team this year, with big free agent signings like Javier Baez and Eduardo Rodriguez and acquiring Tucker Barnhart and Austin Meadows in trades. But 2022 has turned out to be the opposite. The Tigers are 15 games under .500 and in prime position to sell at the trade deadline and lengthen their farm system. This makes a team like the New York Mets primed to add to its bullpen over the next three weeks.
But, the Tigers’ bullpen has been the strength of their team this year, and boy, they have been phenomenal. They rank third of 30 teams with a 3.05 reliever ERA before play began on Tuesday, and only the Houston Astros and the New York Yankees have better bullpen ERA’s. So that says a lot about what the Tigers have done, and the work that A.J. Hinch and pitching coach Chris Fetter have done.
The Mets began play on Tuesday with the fourth best bullpen ERA in the National League with a mark of 3.52. However, two of the three teams ahead of them in that stat are playoff contenders, with the Braves (1st at 3.12), the Dodgers (2nd at 3.31) and the Cardinals (3rd at 3.39) ahead of the Mets.
It should behoove the Mets to be as deep of a bullpen as possible for not only a playoff run in October, but 12 of the 60 games the Mets are to play following the August 2 trade deadline are against the Braves. These games will likely determine who wins the NL East and likely a first-round bye in the playoffs.
This trade proposal would work for both the Mets and the Tigers
A common denominator of every single championship winning team recently is great relief pitching in October. There are 20 teams that are either in playoff position or within five games of playoff position at this point, and we know from experience that every team could use reliever depth. So thus, a trade for two of the Tigers’ five outstanding relievers will be costly (assuming Al Avila knows what he’s doing as Tigers GM).
Andrew Chafin and Joe Jimenez are both under contract or team control through the end of next season, so it is going to cost a team more than one top 30 team prospect for each reliever. The Mets have a lot of expendable pitching trade pieces in their minor league system that could help the Tigers long-term. This trade would help the Mets correct a wrong from this offseason, but at the expense of a few prospects.
Chafin and Jimenez have the two best FIP’s among Detroit relievers at 2.20 and 2.27, respectively, and would not only fill in the need of lefty reliever with good control the Mets really need, but it would give the Mets a formidable bullpen that can match up with anyone.
Chafin is owed $7 million next season, while Jimenez will undergo arbitration for the last time next year, and he should expect to be paid around $4 million. The Mets should ask the Tigers to eat the money in exchange for better prospects because the Mets are going to need that money to re-sign someone like Brandon Nimmo or Edwin Diaz.
The Mets have interesting prospects that would go to the Tigers organization in this trade, and this trade would make the Mets cough up four of their top 30 prospects.
Jose Butto is already on the 40-man roster and figures to be a bullpen guy upon arrival in the majors as soon as next year. Butto has a 3.95 ERA and 83 strikeouts over 73 innings pitched this season in Double-A.
Carlos Cortes has been one of the most productive hitters at Double-A this season outside of their big three prospects. He could be someone that fills in a hole at second base in 2024 for Detroit when Jonathan Schoop’s contract expires after next season.
Nick Zwack has been money at the High-A level. Over his last seven starts, he has just a 0.74 ERA and a 0.83 WHIP over 36.1 innings pitched and is likely destined for action at Double-A in the near future.
And finally, Brian Metoyer has improved between High-A and Double-A the past two seasons. His 9.82 ERA this season is inflamed because of one bad outing in April and he hasn’t pitched since May 1 due to injury. But he is someone that can project toward Detroit’s bullpen once he is healthy.