The Mets have been rumored to be interested in a reunion with one member of the 2017 impending free agent fire-sale in Jay Bruce, but the most prudent reunion they could make this offseason would be with Addison Reed.
Reed was nothing short of excellent in his time in Queens, starting from the time he was traded to the Mets in 2015. He threw 15.1 innings for the Mets that season, posting a 1.17 ERA (good for a 32 ERA-), and a 2.74 FIP, while sporting a 28.3% strikeout rate compared to an 8.3% walk rate. He continued that into 2017, where he put together a career year. He had a 1.97 ERA (50 ERA-), and a 1.97 FIP. He raised his strikeout rate to 29.9%, and lowered his walk rate to 4.3%, all while posting a career-best 2.6 fWAR (which was the sixth-highest among relievers that year).
Reed took a step back from his gaudy 2016 numbers in his half-ish season with the Mets in 2017 but he was still very good. He put up a 2.84 ERA (62 ERA-), and 3.16 FIP while seeing his strikeouts drop (24%). His walk rate was an impressive 3%, however. Reed also earned 19 saves as a Met, a departure from his usual set-up duties, because of Jeurys Familia’s suspension and subsequent injury.
While Reed’s Mets tenure looks excellent, there are two big red flags on him, which are likely the reasons why he remains unsigned as we move closer to the new year.
For one, the Mets (i.e. former manager Terry Collins) overused him rather significantly. In 2016 and 2017, Addison Reed leads all relievers in appearances with 157, and fifth in innings at 153.2. That is a ton of innings for one pitcher to throw, and that does not even factor in pitches he throws in the bullpen and as a warm-up in-between innings, and the like.
Another red flag was his performance post-trade in Boston. In 27 innings with the Red Sox, he posted a 3.33 ERA (which was actually good for a 74 ERA-), but he posted a slightly below average FIP of 4.60 (107 FIP-). The home run bug that bit him a little in New York (9.4% home run to fly ball ratio for the Mets), ballooned to a ridiculous 20.8% in Boston.
His strikeout rate rose a bit to 26.4% after the trade, but his walk went up quite a bit from his time with the Mets, up to 8.5%. Reed was far from bad with Boston, but he did not put up the numbers he did with the Mets in the small sample-size. Something that will be interesting to monitor with Reed is whether the excessive use of the last two seasons led to his struggles, or if he just hit a bit of a cold streak at an inopportune time.
Reed would be a good fit in Queens despite the red flags. He would undoubtedly be used less under new manager Mickey Callaway, and adding him to a bullpen of Familia, Jerry Blevins, and newly-signed Anthony Swarzak would give the Mets immense depth, and would allow Callaway to actually implement the plan of limiting the starters’ innings—as of now, they likely do not have enough reliable arms to do so.
The one thing that likely leaves this entire post moot is the Wilpon’s lack of desire to spend. With the payroll reportedly being slashed, and multiple positions of need elsewhere, it is hard to see Sandy Alderson committing more money from a tight budget to the bullpen. Ken Rosenthal suggested that the Mets could trade reliever A.J. Ramos for second baseman, and pivot to the free agent market for a high-end arm — and Reed is one of the only ones left standing in that front.
As it stands now, it is hard to envision a path to Queens for Reed. Despite that, he is a perfect fit, and one the Mets would be prudent to examine.