clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Mets trade reaction: The bullpen gets better without mortgaging much of the future

New, comments

In acquiring a couple of left-handed relief pitchers, the Mets got better in 2015 without risking too much for the future.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

At the beginning of the day today, the Mets’ bullpen had at least a couple of vacancies, and it was not entirely clear who would fill them. Without Josh Edgin, who unfortunately had Tommy John surgery recently, the team didn’t have any ideal left-handed options in camp. Vic Black is still working his way back from shoulder soreness, which everyone who cares about the Mets hopes is nothing serious in the long run. And Bobby Parnell might be back very soon, but he is still making his comeback from his own Tommy John surgery just a little shy of one year ago.

In an offseason that didn’t include much in the way of major league player acquisition—Michael Cuddyer and John Mayberry Jr. were the only additions who would obviously make the Opening Day roster—Sandy Alderson went out and made a couple of trades. First, we learned that the Mets brought in left-handed relief pitcher Alex Torres from the San Diego Padres in exchange for right-handed pitching prospect Cory Mazzoni and a player to be named later. Not long after that, the news broke that the Mets had acquired left-handed relief pitcher Jerry Blevins from the Washington Nationals in exchange for outfielder Matt den Dekker.

With those moves, the Mets’ bullpen is in considerably better shape. The 31-year-old Blevins had a rough year last year, at least in terms of ERA, but his peripherals looked fine. And he was very good for the Oakland A’s for four seasons before that. His splits indicate that he’s at his best when he pitchers to same-handed hitters. He’s earning $2.4 million this year and can become a free agent after the season.

Torres, who will be eligible for arbitration for the first of four times after this season, was pretty good for San Diego last year, but he was downright excellent in 2013. He doesn’t really have significant platoon splits, at least in terms of FIP, which means he shouldn’t be limited by the side of the plate that opposing hitters are hitting from. He doesn’t have to be the Mets’ best relief pitcher, but if he can be the third-best, that’s a pretty good outcome.

To get the two lefties, the Mets didn’t give up a ton. Cory Mazzoni, Matt den Dekker, and whoever the player to be named later is are not nothing. But given the team’s current roster, giving up the two known players seems perfectly reasonable.

We ranked Mazzoni 16th on our list of the Mets’ top twenty-five prospects for this season. He’s been a starting pitcher in the minors and seemed most likely to get his shot with the Mets in a relief role. He might still turn out to be a starting pitcher in the big leagues, and if not, he might turn out to be a very good relief pitcher. But given the Mets’ starting pitching depth, the team could afford to lose him, and the move might very well prove beneficial for his career, too.

The Mets’ outfield was in shambles not long ago, but Juan Lagares’s emergence as one of the very best defenders in the game in center field really helped to make den Dekker expendable. The 27-year-old left-handed hitter had a nice year in Triple-A Las Vegas last year, but for the past few seasons he and Kirk Nieuwenhuis have been fairly redundant. It was pretty evident that the Mets were going to take Nieuwenhuis north since he was out of options and had the better season in the big leagues last year, too.

In one day, the Mets doubled the number of major league players they acquired in the offseason. With just one week until Opening Day, their bullpen feels a lot less risky than it did before, and it’s tough to see either of the trades really coming back to haunt them. Even if they do, the logic behind both deals makes plenty of sense right now.