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Mets trade for Brooks Raley

The stockpiling of bullpen arms continues.

Tampa Bay Rays v Cleveland Guardians Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

John Heyman is reporting that the Mets traded Keyshawn Askew to the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for left-handed reliever Brooks Raley. The veteran Raley has played in the KBO, as well as for five big league clubs. His 4.64 career ERA is heavily skewed by his pre-KBO seasons for the Cubs, where he put up an 8.14 ERA and a 5.14 ERA, respectively, in 2012 and 2013.

Since coming back from Korea in 2020, and specifically since being traded to the Astros mid-season in 2020, Raley has been far more effective.

In 2021, Raley signed a two-year, $10 million contract with the Rays, and he had a solid year for Tampa, throwing 53 innings in relief with 61 strikeouts, good for a 2.68 ERA, a 2.74 FIP, and a 138 ERA+.

In exchange, the Mets gave up one of their 2021 draftees. Askew was an interesting Mets prospect; here is what our Steve Sypa has to say about Askew:

A Georgia native, Keyshawn Askew attended McEachern High School, where he lettered three times, and then went on to attend Clemson University. In 2019, his freshman year, the southpaw posted a 4.40 ERA in 45.0 innings, allowing 46 hits, walking 15, and striking out 36. The 20-year-old seemed to be on his way to having something an improved season in 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic cut it short. In 12.2 total innings, he posted a 3.55 ERA, allowing 12 hits, walking 11, and striking out 12. Askew returned to the Tigers in 2021 and pitching primarily as Clemson’s Sunday starter, posted a 5.84 ERA in 57.0 innings, allowing 68 hits, walking 11, and striking out 69.

The Mets selected the southpaw in the 10th round of the 2021 MLB Draft, and the two sides agreed to a $125,000 signing bonus, below the MLB-assigned slot value of $147,000. The team sent the left-hander to the FCL Mets for the remainder of the 2021 season, where he appeared in 4 games, allowing 1 run over the course of 9.0 innings, giving up 3 hits, walking 4, and striking out 14. He began the 2022 season assigned to the St. Lucie Mets and began his season on an incredible run but was put on the injured list at the beginning of May. He was activated at the beginning of June and was used in long relief until the beginning of August, when he was promoted to Brooklyn. He was used primarily as a starter in the month he pitched in Coney Island and had success, but once again, was placed on the injured list, ending his season at the end of the month. All in all, the left-hander posted a 1.93 ERA in 46.2 innings in St. Lucie with 28 hits allowed, 19 walks, and 64 strikeouts and a 3.66 ERA in 19.2 innings in Brooklyn with 15 hits allowed, 9 walks, and 28 strikeouts, good for a cumulative 2.44 ERA in 66.1 innings with 43 hits allowed, 28 walks, and 92 strikeouts.

Askew’s unorthodox pitching mechanics have been key to much of the success that he has had on the mound. Tall and lean, the 6’4”, 190-pound left-hander throws from a very low three-quarters, almost sidearm arm slot. Combined with his high leg kick, he hides the ball extremely well, with the only good look hitters get of the ball before he whips it at them with a slingy crossfire delivery is during his long arm action in the back.

His fastball hovers around 90 MPH, ranging from 87 MPH to 94 MPH. It’s spin rate is pedestrian, but the pitch has plenty of horizontal movement and vertical drop thanks to his arm slot, averaging between 27- 37 inches of vertical drop and 10-20 inches of horizontal movement. The pitch induces a ton of groundballs and was a big reason the southpaw maintained a 58.2% groundball rate in 2022.

His main strikeout pitch is his slider, a mid-70s-to-low-80s offering sitting 76-82 MPH. With Askew’s slingy delivery and the pitch’s naturally low spin rate, averaging 2390 and ranging 2250-2550 RPM, thepitch has massive sweepy break that he can command to either side of the plate, backdooring it against right-handed hitters and throwing it away to lefties. Askew throws the pitch roughly 30-40% of the time and when batters swung at it, he registered nearly a 50% whiff rate. In addition, he throws a mid-80s changeup that sits 82-86 MPH, averaging 85 MPH. Because of its low spin rate and his arm slot, the pitch has plenty of tumble and fade. He does not use the pitch much, and when he does, it is almost used exclusively against right-handers away.

Raley will be owed $4.5 million this season, and has a club option for 2024 that would pay either $6.5 million, or a $1.25 million buyout.

Raley was one of four Rays that refused to wear a cap celebrating LGBTQ+ Pride at a Rays game last season.