Hector Santiago spent less time with the 2019 New York Mets than I remembered. You might also be surprised that he was only on the Major League roster for less than a month. He signed a minor league contract in January in hopes that he could provide the Mets a lefty option out of the pen, but he failed to break camp with the team. He finally came up on May 24, but less than a month later, June 18, he was granted his release and two days later he was back with his old team, the White Sox.
He made his first appearance with the Mets against a familiar former AL Central foe, the Tigers, closing out a 9-8 loss on May 24. His singular “Mets Moment” came in his second appearance the next day, coming in in the 12th inning of a tie game. He struggled through the 12th before throwing a clean 13th, buying the Mets time to win on a walk-off Tomas Nido home run (yes, really).
Over his final six appearances as a Met, Santiago gave up at least one run in five of them, serving as mostly a mop-up man. After giving up a home run to Kolten Wong in the ninth inning in what ended up as a 9-5 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on June 14, the Mets designated him for assignment and granted him his release.
From a pure performance standpoint, this is an unremarkable story. Plenty of teams sign formerly useful veteran starters, especially lefties, as speculative bullpen pieces, and on many, if not most, occasions those signings don’t work out. What makes this stand out was general manager Brodie Van Wagenen oddly decided to highlight Santiago—who, again, was signed to a minor league deal—as an improvement to the roster that would help the Mets contend in 2019. The Mets’ new GM made a habit of hyping up their offseason additions, none more now-infamous than his “Come and get us” quote, but speaking so highly was even at the time an odd choice.
During his brief Mets tenure, Santiago pitched 8.0 innings over eight appearances, giving up six runs for a 6.75 ERA. He struck out six batters and walked five and gave up 10 hits, resulting in a 1.875 WHIP.
For those worried about a potential Wilmer Font situation—who went to the Blue Jays after being DFA’d and was oddly solid with his new team—that didn’t happen here. His old squad in Chicago signed him to a minor league deal, and he didn’t make it back to the majors until the beginning of August. Santiago first made two short starts before returning to the bullpen. Overall he made 11 appearances, giving up 19 runs in 25.2 innings, resulting in a 6.66 ERA. He allowed a whopping seven homers in that time (2.5 HR/9). He struck out 34 and walked 17.
He had one tangentially noteworthy appearance, coming in of relief of top prospect Carson Fulmer after the former gave up a first inning grand slam to Jose Ramirez on September 25. Santiago gave up seven runs over the next four innings, all on home runs.
So no, he didn’t improve much of anyone’s roster this year.