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Mets trade rumors: Mets reportedly seeking bullpen reinforcements

The team looks to shore up its bullpen down the stretch.

Sandy Alderson - 2012 - Chris McShane

On the eve of the second half, the Mets have found themselves in need of pitching reinforcements. Mike Puma of the New York Post reports that the team is primarily looking for bullpen help. Puma names Jeremy Jeffress of the Brewers as a target should the Mets choose to acquire an established closer. Jeffress would require a heavy cost in terms of prospects, and his strikeout rate has dropped to 6.57 K/9 from 8.87 K/9 a year ago. That said, he still throws in the mid-90s and comes with three seasons of arbitration eligibility.

If the team aims for a less premium option, Puma mentions Chris Withrow of the Braves, John Axford of the Athletics, and Ryan Buchter and Brad Hand of the Padres. Withrow has decent velocity, but his .229 BABIP and 4.66 FIP indicate that the Mets should be cautious. Axford is in the midst of a sub-par season in Oakland, though as recently as last year the 33-year-old right-hander averaged 96 MPH on his fastball and sported a 10.02 K/9. The two Padres lefties are a bit more palatable. Formerly a mediocre swingman for the Marlins, Brad Hand has pitched exclusively out of the bullpen this year and seen his strikeout rate jump to 10.95 K/9. Buchter is a journeyman who has gotten his first extended shot at the majors this year, and has responded with a 13.03 K/9 and 2.61/2.78 ERA/FIP, though he struggles with walks and induces very few ground balls.

Apart from the players Puma mentions, a name to consider is Xavier Cedeno of the Rays, a lefty who has ditched his fastball and slider this year in favor of a 70/30 cutter/curveball mix, and is in the midst of the best season of his career. If Cedeno could be packaged with Steve Pearce, the Mets could also shore up their 1B/OF options with a right-handed platoon bat.

Should the Mets look to shore up their bullpen with internal options, left-handed Joshes Edgin and Smoker are both waiting in the wings in Los Vegas. More than a year removed from 2015 Tommy John surgery, Edgin reportedly has not shown quite as much velocity as he did before his injury. Still, he ran a 1.32 ERA and 4.67 K/BB ratio as recently as 2014. Smoker has gotten touched up to the tune of a 5.45 ERA in Los Vegas this year, though his 3.07 FIP and .444 BABIP indicate that some of his struggles may be chalked up to the extreme hitting environment.

Some fans may prefer that the team pursue starting pitching help in the wake of Harvey’s surgery. The team currently seems content to bridge the gap to Zack Wheeler’s return with Logan Verrett. While the right-handed swingman has struggled of late, he has flashed solid 5th starter potential. Sean Gilmartin is also an option, should the Mets want a left-hander to make a spot start.