While the Mets have made some moves to potentially help their bullpen in recent days, the most notable of which was their trade for Elieser Hernandez and Jeff Brigham from the Marlins, their bullpen still very much needs a bunch of new arms heading into the 2023 season. In the first part of this series, we touched on the top three free agent relievers by 2022 fWAR, and we’ll continue by running down the list of the next few such relievers.
Kenley Jansen: Having been with the Dodgers for the entirety of his major league career from 2010 through 2021, Jansen signed a one-year, $16 million contract with Atlanta for the 2022 season. And although his performance over the past few years hasn’t been nearly as good as the numbers he put up during his peak, the 35-year-old finished the year with a 3.38 ERA, a 3.21 FIP, and an 82 ERA- in 64.0 innings.
Taylor Rogers: In his time with the Twins from 2016 through 2021, Rogers established himself as a pretty good reliever. Only during the very short 2020 season did he post an ERA over four, and over the entire stretch in Minnesota, he had a 3.15 ERA in 314.2 innings of work, all of which came as a reliever. He’ll turn 32 in December and had a 4.35 ERA with the Padres in 41.1 innings in 2022 before he was dealt to the Brewers in the surprise trade that sent Josh Hader to San Diego. From there, Rogers struggled even more, posting a 5.48 ERA in 23.0 innings in Milwaukee. In total, he still had a 3.32 FIP on the season, and his velocity and swinging strike rates were pretty much in line with his 2021 numbers.
Andrew Chafin: The 32-year-old lefty declined his $6.5 million player option with the Tigers for the 2023 season, having just signed with Detroit last winter. While Joely Rodríguez, who has already departed for a two-year deal with the Red Sox, improved over the course of the season for the Mets, the team saw what it was like to operate without a good left-handed reliever in its bullpen for most of the season. Having been pretty good for most of his time in Arizona, Chafin broke out with a 1.83 ERA in 68.2 innings in 2021 with the Cubs and A’s, and he followed that up with a solid 2.83 ERA in 57.1 innings for the Tigers this year.
Craig Kimbrel: Believe it or not, it has been eight years since Kimbrel pitched for the Braves. In the four seasons that followed his departure from Atlanta, he put together a very good 2.47 ERA over one season with the Padres and three with the Red Sox. In 2019 and 2020, though, he had a cumulative 6.00 ERA for the Cubs, and after he rebounded with a 0.49 ERA through 36.2 innings to start his 2021 season, the Cubs traded him to the White Sox. He promptly returned to his bad form, as he put up a 5.09 ERA in 23.0 innings the rest of the way. This year, Kimbrel pitched for the Dodgers, and he was above average, as he had a 3.75 ERA and a 3.23 FIP. The track record here has a lot more bad than good over the past few years, but maybe he still has something left in the tank moving forward.
David Phelps: Having come up with the Yankees in 2012, Phelps has worn many uniforms over the course of his major league career. The Yankees traded him to the Marlins following the 2014 season, and since then, he’s pitched for the Mariners, Blue Jays, Cubs, Brewers, Phillies, and then the Blue Jays again. Earlier in his career, he made starts on a regular basis, but he’s done his best work since switching to the bullpen. A freak injury limited him to just 10.1 innings in 2021, but between that season and the 2022 season, Phelps had a 2.55 ERA for the Blue Jays. The 36-year-old saw his strikeout rate dip this year and has always had a slightly-higher-than-ideal walk rate.