In what seems to be the smarter play, the Mets opted not to re-sign veteran reliever Tyler Clippard this offseason. Clippard, a midseason acquisition in 2015, departed for the Arizona Diamondbacks and as a result leaves the Mets' bullpen's eighth inning role wide open. Despite signing Antonio Bastardo in free agency, another mid-season acquisition stands a strong chance of landing the role: Addison Reed.
Born in Montclair, California, Reed was a four-year varsity baseball player at Los Osos High School in Rancho Cucamonga. He was primarily a first baseman and did not begin pitching until his junior year. As a senior, Reed split time between the mound and first base compiling a 5-1 record with a 2.53 earned run average and batting .446 with 13 home runs and 34 runs batted in. His dominance would earn him first team all county honors in 2006 and 2007, not to mention being named Inland Valley player of the year as a senior. Garnering interest from schools like Michigan, Hawaii, and UC Irvine, Reed opted to attend San Diego State University.
Once he arrived at San Diego State, Reed made the transition from first baseman to full time reliever and was nothing short of dominant on the mound. As a freshman he posted a 2.73 ERA in 26.1 innings pitched with 26 strikeouts and only one wild pitch. He followed up his freshman campaign with a record setting sophomore season, recording a nation leading, conference and SDSU record 20 saves as the closer with an ERA of 0.65. Reed was named first-team all-Mountain West Conference as a sophomore, was one of 15 semifinalists for the College Baseball Foundation’s National Pitcher of the Year and received an invitation to the USA Baseball National Team Trials. In his final collegiate season, Reed moved from the bullpen into a starting role and did not falter. As a junior, Reed started 11 games, posting an 8-2 record on a 2.50 ERA with 90 strikeouts in 79.1 innings pitched. His stellar college career led to the Chicago White Sox selecting Reed in the third round of the 2010 MLB Draft.
Debuting in Rookie ball in 2011, Reed excelled in Chicago’s minor league system, quickly moving through all levels until he joined the White Sox during September call-ups. His prominence in the minor leagues led to Reed being named to a member of Baseball America’s 2011 Minor League All-Star team. Reed debuted in the big leagues on September 2, 2011 and posted a modest 3.68 in limited action with the Sox. 2012 would be his first full year spent with Major League club and on May 23, 2012, manager Robin Ventura officially tabbed Reed with the closer’s role. As the closer of the White Sox, Reed performed well in stretches, but was predominately average in the early stages of his career. During his time spent with the White Sox, Reed posted a 102 ERA+ whereas the league average is set to 100, indicating that the young reliever was only performing slightly above average in comparison to the rest of the league.
In 2013, the White Sox deemed Addison Reed expendable and shipped him off to the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for infielder Matt Davidson. Reed was once again given a shot at the closer’s role but performed at a mediocre level, putting up an ERA of 4.25 in 59.1 innings pitched. He opened the 2015 season with similar results and was pulled from the job and optioned to the Diamondback’s AAA affiliate, the Reno Aces, in June after allowing 16 runs in 24 innings. After a dominant stretch in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, Reed returned to the Diamondbacks in July.
Seizing the opportunity to buy low, the New York Mets acquired read after the non-waiver trade deadline on August 30 in exchange for minor league pitchers Matt Koch and Miller Diaz. Reed joined the Mets in the midst of the race for the NL East crown and performed admirably. The late-season acquisition recorded a 1.17 ERA in 17 appearances for the Amazins’, serving as an important piece in clinching the division title.
2016 projects to be serviceable but not dominant season for Addison Reed. Across the board, the projections call for Reed to post an ERA in the mid-threes and continue to keep his walk rate low. Reed is projected to produce just under a strikeout for every inning pitched. The fact that Antonio Bastardo is a lefty and Reed is a righty does give Terry Collins versatility in his late innings decision. He could choose to use a different eighth inning pitcher simply based on match-ups which is probably how things will shake out at first. Even if Bastardo were to seize the eighth inning, Reed would then slide into the primary seventh inning role and regardless will play a major role in the Mets bullpen in 2016.