Welcome to One Last Move, where our writers pitch a move to the Mets that would close out their offseason and make the team better in 2019.
While the Mets appear mostly done with major offseason additions, there are moves they could still make on the fringes that would improve the roster without being too costly. Pitching depth is an area where this could be particularly helpful, as there are still many relief arms floating about in the free agent market that could be had relatively cheaply. Lukas Vlahos made the case for Tony Sipp as one such pitcher, and Adam Warren is another reliever who would make a nice final addition to the Mets’ bullpen.
Warren didn’t have quite the sexy 2018 numbers that Sipp had, but he has the advantage of a pretty consistent track record on his side. He began his big league career as a starting pitcher and was very solid for the Yankees in that role 2015, posting a 3.29 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP over 131 1⁄3 innings of work. He has since been used almost exclusively as a relief pitcher, but unlike Sipp, about 40% of Warren’s appearances in the past two seasons have been more than one inning in length, so he would give the Mets another multi-inning option alongside Lugo and Gsellman to utilize from the bullpen. In that same vein, like Lugo and Gsellman, Warren has a starting pitcher’s repertoire and being able to mix and match four pitches can be an advantage out of the bullpen.
The only year of his career he has truly struggled was 2016, but that was also the season he made the adjustment from a starting pitcher to a relief pitcher and he has put up two solid seasons since then. Warren’s most interesting splits are not his platoon splits or his home and away splits, both of which are negligible, but rather his time as a Yankee versus his time with other teams.
Warren as a Yankee: 407 IP, 3.18 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 3.61 FIP
Warren as a Cub/Mariner: 56.2 IP, 5.08 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 5.45 FIP
Of course, the latter group is a smaller sample size and includes the aforementioned adjustment period from starter to reliever, but it’s perhaps worth noting that he enjoyed his time in New York, for whatever that is worth. Warren has never been a strikeout pitcher and an environment like Citi Field will help any pitcher not overly reliant on the strikeout for his success. However, it is notable that Warren did see a spike in strikeouts in 2016 after going back to the Yankees, employing their “anti-fastball” approach.
Most importantly, while the Mets have made great additions to the back-end of the bullpen in Edwin Diaz and Jeurys Familia and have added Justin Wilson to the fold as well, the fact remains that the overall picture of the Mets’ middle relief corps still looks rather grim for 2019.
2019 PECOTA Projections, Mets middle relievers
In total, that’s 262 innings being given to relievers who are all projected to have worse seasons than Adam Warren’s 2018, worth -0.3 WARP in aggregate. That is suboptimal, to say the least. Meanwhile, Warren was worth 0.4 WARP in 2018 and is projected to be worth 0.3 WARP over 48 1⁄3 innings in 2019. Of course, Warren alone would not be replacing the contributions of all of these pitchers, but adding one more competant middle relief arm would knock everyone on this list down a spot on the depth chart. While that may not be a huge difference on paper, in a division as tightly packed as the NL East is projected to be, even a small final addition to the bullpen such as this one could move the needle enough to make a difference.