The Mets are interested in a pair of right-handed relievers in Tommy Hunter and Steve Cishek. As Sandy Alderson walks back earlier comments about the Mets striking early in the relief market, both Hunter and Cishek represent fallback, middle-tier options. Accordingly, both have warts, but there is reason to be interested in both.
After signing a minor league deal last offseason, Hunter quietly had an excellent season with the Rays in 2017, running a 2.61 ERA over 58.2 innings as his cutter ticked up to 94 MPH. He backed that performance up with strong peripherals, striking out almost 10 batters per nine innings and walking just over two. Dave Cameron labeled Hunter one of the biggest potential bargains of the offseason, noting that he ran the same xwOBA as Andrew Miller and Roberto Osuna on the strength of his new arsenal.
Meanwhile, Cishek is finishing up a two year, $10 million deal he signed with the Marlins in 2016. He posted a 2.01 ERA over 44.2 innings last season, and boosted his usually elite ground ball even further to 56.1 percent. Cishek has missed time the last two years with injuries, undergoing hip surgery in the 2016-17 offseason, and he has significant platoon splits. Still, signing a more effective, established version of Paul Sewald is an upgrade over Paul Sewald.
Neither of these guys are players Met fans will be excited to sign, particularly given recent frustration over a payroll that might be even lower than initially expected. Nevertheless, there’s something to be said for the quantity approach to building a bullpen as opposed to placing all of your eggs in the basket of one elite reliever. If that’s the approach the Mets want to take, Hunter and Cishek are two of the better options out there after the top of the market.