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Mets sign free agent LHP Aaron Loup

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The Mets have identified their lefty specialist.

2020 World Series Game 6: Los Angeles Dodgers v. Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic is reporting that the Mets have signed free agent lefty reliever Aaron Loup to a one-year deal.

MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo indicated the Mets were “zeroing in” on Loup earlier today. The 33 year old has been in the league since 2012, working exclusively as a reliever for the Blue Jays, Phillies, Padres, and Rays. In 406 appearances, he’s thrown 351.0 innings, which should emphasize the narrow role he’s typically occupied. Loup is one of the premier lefty specialists still around, with a .233/.302/.320 line against left-handed hitters in 622 plate appearances for his career.

He’s walked just 5% of lefties he’s faced, struck out 20.7%, and yielded just five home runs to them, thanks in large part to a sinker-heavy profile. Loup’s go-to pitch for most of his career has been that sinker, which averages around 92 mph, and he gets groundballs at a well above-average rate for his career. Over the past couple seasons he’s begun to incorporate a mid-80s cutter almost a third of the time, along with a curve and change to round it out.

Loup has had to adjust to the three-batter minimum, though he’s survived thanks to at least passable numbers against righties. Loup would likely command a similar deal to his previous runs in free agency, having drawn a one year, $1.4 million deal prior to 2019 with the Padres that had a $200k buyout for 2020 and a $2 million option that was declined. He then signed with the Rays for 2020 on a one year, $1 million deal.

The Mets are quite thin on lefties in the bullpen, with only Stephen Tarpley and Daniel Zamora on the 40-man roster, though their usage of Steven Matz, Joey Lucchesi, and Thomas Szapucki could change that. Loup is immediately the most proven option of the group.