With the news on Saturday that Seth Lugo needs surgery to remove a loose body in his right elbow, the Mets’ bullpen looks more uncertain than it did before. On Sunday, the Mets signed Tommy Hunter and Mike Montgomery to minor league deals, and one or both of them could figure into the team’s mix for its Opening Day bullpen. But the team should not hesitate to add other pitchers.
We already touched on several free agent relievers who are still available and pitched well in 2020: Nick Tropeano, José Álvarez, Jeremy Jeffress, Yusmeiro Petit, Trevor Rosenthal, and Oliver Perez. Petit has since signed with the A’s, and the Mets are reportedly in on Rosenthal, per Mike Puma.
Tony Watson had a 2.50 ERA for the Giants last year, a marked improvement from the 4.17 ERA he had with them in 2019. The 35-year-old lefty has been more effective against left-handed hitters over the course of his career, but he hasn’t been awful against right-handed hitters.
The 32-year-old Shane Greene began his major league career as a starter with the Yankees and Tigers and converted to a full-time relief role after three starts early in the 2016 season. In three of four seasons since then, he’s been quite good, and the Tigers traded him to the Braves at the trade deadline in 2019. The 32-year-old has seen his velocity drop a bit each year since it topped out at an average of 96.11 miles per hour in 2017, per Brooks Baseball, having most recently averaged 93.47 in 2020. But it seems he is still fully capable of getting major league hitters out.
Tyler Clippard has bounced around quite a bit since finishing the 2015 season with the Mets, pitching for the Diamondbacks, Yankees, White Sox, Astros, Blue Jays, Indians, and Twins over the past five seasons. The 36-year-old had a 2.77 ERA for the Twins last year and has a 2.86 ERA since the start of the 2019 season, an ERA that ranks twenty-first among 161 qualified relief pitchers over that span. He’s significantly cut down on walks while maintaining a good strikeout rate, though it’s worth noting that he averaged 89.74 miles per hour on his fastball last year, a slight drop compared to 2019.
A couple days ago, there were a few other similar relievers on the market who have since signed. The A’s signed Sergio Romo, who isn’t his old dominant self but has remained a serviceable reliever, and the Padres signed Keone Kela, who threw just two innings last year but pitched well from 2017 through 2019. And if you had your hopes up for Matt Harvey signing with the Mets in an attempt to revive his career as a reliever, well, the Orioles signed him, presumably with at least a chance at cracking their rotation.
With spring training set to begin this week, it’s not surprising that the remainder of the free agent market is moving fairly quickly. If the Mets want to add to their bullpen, they should make those additions soon—while they’re still available.