With plenty of wiggle room in their player pool for 2020, the Mets have taken to the free agent market in an attempt to add some more depth to their roster for this unique shortened season. In addition to bringing back outfielder Ryan Cordell, the Mets have signed free agent right-handed reliever Hunter Strickland.
Mets fans are intimately familiar with Strickland, who was brought on to the Washington Nationals via trade during the 2019 season in an effort to bolster their struggling bullpen for their stretch run to the playoffs. Prior to 2019, Strickland had pitched for the Giants for his entire career and served as a reliable late-inning reliever. In 226 career innings in San Francisco, Strickland posted a 2.91 ERA and 3.40 FIP with 211 strikeouts. Now in his age 31 season, Strickland’s numbers have declined. After a brief stint in Seattle last season, he pitched to a 5.14 ERA with the Nationals over 24 regular season games. Strickland did not pitch for the reigning World Series champions in the postseason and was released by the Nationals in March.
However, what may stand out in the minds of Mets fans more than his Giants career or brief time with an NL East rival is Strickland’s long-held beef with Bryce Harper that culminated in a brawl when Harper was still on the Nationals—before Strickland’s time there. Now, hopefully with his temper more in check, Strickland finds himself facing another shot at big league innings during a time when bullpen depth is perhaps more important than ever, given the dearth of time starting pitchers have to stretch out and the potential for a coronavirus outbreak sidelining many players at once.