The Mets picked up right-handed relief pitcher Brandon Lyon in the offseason on a relatively inexpensive deal: $750,000 for the year with a handful of incentives that would probably end up paying him a total of approximately $2 million.
Up until his last three appearances—one of which was the nightmare outing on Sunday in which he allowed six runs in two-thirds of an inning—Lyon was having a pretty decent season. He had a 3.16 ERA through June 23, having thrown 31.1 innings in 33 appearances at the time. But he allowed 7 runs in his last three outings and now has a 4.91 ERA and a 4.03 FIP on the year.
Like almost everyone else on the Mets’ roster, there’s little doubt that Lyon would be available if another team came calling. While the Mets’ bullpen has been a weakness for a long time, the team could get by without him for the remainder of the season.
A relief pitcher with a 4.91 ERA might not sound too appealing, but major league front offices probably won’t be too concerned with the one terrible outing that inflated Lyon’s ERA. For reference, the average major league relief pitcher this year has a 3.65 ERA and 3.76 FIP. If Lyon continues pitching as he did before Sunday, he’s probably a better-than-average bullpen arm.
The Dodgers, Red Sox, Tigers, Reds, and Orioles all consider themselves contenders this year. They also have bullpen ERAs that are worse than the league average. Not all front offices are equal, but boneheaded trades for relief pitchers have happened time and again when the trade deadline approaches.
It’s hard to imagine Lyon can command much of a return, even if he’s fantastic over the next three-plus weeks. But it wouldn’t be surprising if the level of return was better than "player to be named later." Perhaps one of the above organizations has grown tired of trying to develop a former prospect or has a middling one that they don’t see fitting into their plans.
Also, the Cubs were involved in two trades yesterday that included the exchange of international bonus pool money, and this Mets’ front office has been very active in that market. Perhaps the Mets would be willing to part with Lyon in order to spend more there. It wouldn't be exciting for many Mets fans, but it would be a prudent move for long-term development.