Andrew Chafin has been a fit for the New York Mets in each of the last two offseasons and was once again a logical choice for their 2024 roster. Instead of finally bringing him to Queens, they let him return to the Detroit Tigers on a modest $4.25 million guaranteed deal with incentives to reach $6.5 million. There’s also an option for the following season but a total of only $4.75 million of it is guaranteed to reach Chafin’s wallet.
Passing on Chafin isn't a surprise. The Mets have been in the market for relievers half his price or less. Steadfastly, Stearns has remained on mission to not shift away and spend much of anything on bullpen targets.
The bullpen is taking shape and it’s not exactly bulletproof.
Fans can safely assume the Mets won't spend excessively to improve the bullpen
Those early moves for the bullpen first viewed as depth additions could very well turn into becoming much more vital. Stearns has shifted away from minor league deals. He has already gone out and signed free agents from the lower tier, bringing Michael Tonkin and Jorge Lopez to town. Affordable with something to offer, this level of relief pitching looks like the only aisle they'll shop in. Guys trying to win back their glory or hoping to discover it for the first time; those are the ones the Mets will have.
On one hand it's tough to get bent out of shape over any buy low relief pitcher. Even passing on Chafin can be justified. Relief pitchers are just so random at times. We almost can't blame the Mets for redirecting attention away.
There is a second hand. By only building a bullpen out of guys who if they played to the back of their baseball cards they still wouldn't be very good, you've committed yourself to mediocrity in the most likely scenario. What good is a Luis Severino bounce back season when the relievers are blowing games?
A lack of true MLB relievers on the roster and within the organization at the start of this offseason is the real problem. Free agency and a continued inability to develop bullpen arms is why this is the resort Stearns has chosen. The Mets entered Monday with three relievers on the 40-man roster with options: Grant Hartwig, Josh Walker, and Reed Garrett. They have very little flexibility at the moment. Although there are ways to solve this with better additions, it’s beginning to feel like if less than $5 million for a player like Chafin wasn’t something they were interested in, very few proven big league arms will entice them at an expected steeper price.