Picking up where we left off in the first part of our annual attempt to find the best fits for the Mets’ bullpen in free agency—which included 2018 strikeout percentage leaders Craig Kimbrel, Adam Ottavino, and old frenemy Oliver Perez—here’s the next bunch of relievers who are on the market and posted high strikeout rates this year. As a reminder, we’re running down the free agent leaderboards at FanGraphs by strikeout percentage for pitchers who threw at least 20 innings in relief this year.
The two-time Yankee is now 33 years old and coming off a pretty good season that saw him post a 3.23 ERA and 2.97 FIP with a 32.2 percent strikeout rate over 69.2 innings for the Mets’ crosstown rival. He was outstanding in 2017, but over the past four years, his numbers look more like the ones he posted in 2018. That’s not a bad thing, but it’s just worth noting that he hasn’t been the completely-dominant pitcher that he was from 2011 to 2013 with the Yankees. Robertson would certainly be a valuable reliever for the Mets, and the crowdsourced predictions at FanGraphs have him getting two years at $11 million per year on average. Something in that range should be affordable for the Mets.
Mets fans probably don’t want to hear it, but Clippard struck out 30.2 percent of opposing hitters this year. He wasn’t as good as most of his high-strikeout peers, but he threw 67.2 innings in relief for the Blue Jays and had a 3.46 ERA and 4.05 FIP. He’ll turn 34 in February, he’d presumably be a pretty affordable free agent, and a better bet to be useful in 2019 than a good chunk of the Mets’ current bullpen. He was, however, prone to giving up home runs—1.60 per nine innings to be precise.
At 29.4 percent, Soria’s strikeout rate was good this year. The 34-year-old totaled 60.2 innings in 66 appearances for the White Sox and Brewers. In both stints, his strikeout rate was high, and his walk rate was low. The results were a bit better in Chicago, as he had a 2.56 ERA there and a 4.09 ERA for Milwaukee, but in total, he had a 3.12 ERA and 2.44 FIP on the season. That made it his best season of the past three, and he’s estimated to get two years at $8 million per year at FanGraphs.
The first lefty of this particular bunch of pitchers, Wilson is coming off a solid year with the Cubs. He’s bounced around over the years, having played for the Pirates, Yankees, and Tigers before heading to the Cubs during the 2017 season. Over the course of that career, he’s mostly been pretty good, and he struck out 29.2 percent of batters this year. Unfortunately, he also walked 14.0 percent of them, the second year in a row that he’s had a really high walk rate. He’s generally been a bit better against left-handed hitters, but his platoon splits aren’t drastic.
The Mets have actually been linked to the 33-year-old lefty in rumors this offseason. One of the better-known pitchers in this series thus far, he’s coming off his worst season since he converted to being a full-time reliever. With a 4.24 ERA and 3.51 FIP, he wasn’t nearly the pitcher he usually is—his single-season ERA ranged from 1.44 to 2.04 over the four seasons that preceded this one—but it’s worth noting he dealt with a shoulder injury that sidelined him multiple times. He’s not far removed from some of his best work, but the question is really whether or not that injury is completely cleared up. The FanGraphs estimate from the crowd is that he’ll get two years at $11 million per year.