Thank goodness it’s been warm outside, because the MLB stove is barely room temperature. The Mets, who have holes at first base, the outfield, second base and in the bullpen have made just one minor-league signing. There has been little movement around the league as well. The only embers burning for baseball fans this winter have been the questions surrounding Shohei Otani and Giancarlo Stanton.
For the Mets, they may just have been caught in a seller’s market. Looking to shore up the back end of a bullpen of Jerry Blevins, A.J. Ramos and Jeurys Familia, the Mets are looking at relievers like Bryan Shaw, the righthander who pitched for new manager Mickey Callaway with Cleveland, side-armer (and former Met) Joe Smith, former Braves and former Met set-up man Addison Reed.
“It’s a very, very strong market for relievers,” one agent said Monday. “About half the league has called about relievers. We’re still talking to a lot of teams, I am sure others are talking to a lot of teams, too.”
Monday night, there might have been the first significant movement with lefty Mike Minor reportedly agreeing to a multi-year deal with the Rangers. Minor, who the Mets were interested in as a reliever, reportedly will sign as a starter.
The pitching market is competitive and the Mets may also be limited by their payroll. After spending on Yoenis Cespedes last season and with young pitchers coming into arbitration money, they are already committed to more than $ 120 million.
Heading into arbitration with Familia, who is expected to make more than the $ 7 million he made last year, and Ramos, who made $ 6.55 million in 2017, the Mets are committed to more than $ 21 million after picking up Blevins’ $ 6.5 million option for 2018.
Mets closer Jeurys Familia gestures after defeating the Phillies last season.
(Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
The Mets’ total payroll for 2018 is already committed to around $ 125 million with GM Sandy Alderson having said that the team will not likely go as high as the $ 154 million it opened with in 2017. The Mets don’t have a lot of money to address all the holes they have. They also have a very depleted minor-league system from which to make trades.
So, the Mets could find themselves having to improvise in the bullpen.
Alderson already suggested at last month’s GM meetings that they will use a steady rotation of younger arms from Triple-A Las Vegas to fill out the bullpen. One Mets source said they are looking at the possibility — if they have a full rotation of healthy starters — of using the bullpen to limit the workload of some starters, comparing it to how the Dodgers used the disabled list to keep their pitchers fresh in 2017.
With all of baseball convening next week in Orlando for the annual Winter Meetings, the Mets hope the market loosens up a little bit and they can get creative to fill their needs.
PUSHING HIS LUCK?
Noah Syndergaard, Blevins and Kevin Plawecki will be the special surprise guests at the Mets Kids Holiday Party on Thursday. Syndergaard dressed up as Santa at last year’s party and continued the Mets’ St. Nick curse by spending the majority of his season on the disabled list. The curse has held that players who have put on the Santa suit for the Mets have either been injured, traded or suffered a significant dropoff in production the next season. In 2014, Jenrry Mejia donned the suit and the next season he was limited to seven games after testing positive for PEDs twice. In 2015, lefty Steven Matz dared to put on the Santa suit and 2016 ended with Matz suffering through bone spurs all season and not pitching an inning in September. In 2005 and 2009 the Santa suit was a precursor to being traded for Kris Benson and Jeff Francoeur, respectively.