The Mets have addressed one of their bullpen needs this afternoon by inking veteran right-hander Adam Ottavino to a one-year contract. The deal is for one year and $4 million, with another $1 million in performance bonuses possible.
The 36-year-old is no stranger to New York, having spent the 2019 and 2020 seasons with the Yankees before being dealt to Boston last year. He’s coming off a 2021 in which he posted 4.21 ERA over 62 innings for the Red Sox, though his 3.71 xERA and 3.96 FIP, along with his ability to limit quality contact, indicate he pitched better than his ERA would tell you.
Ottavino came up with the Cardinals in 2010, but he broke out as a solid reliever with the Rockies in 2013. He had some ups and downs but generally put up very solid numbers for a reliever pitching in Coors Field, with a composite 3.11 ERA and nearly 11 K/9 across the 2013-2018 seasons. Ottavino then signed with the Yankees in 2019 and was a stalwart of their bullpen that year, putting up a stellar 1.90 ERA in 66.1 innings in the Bronx. He struggled mightily in the shortened 2020 season before being dealt to Boston last year.
Ottavino’s average fastball velocity last year was a career high 95.7, so his advanced age doesn’t appear to be catching up with him in that department. His calling card is his slider, which has some of the best horizontal movement in baseball with 19 inches of break. Ottavino strikes out a ton of hitters, but his bugaboo is the free pass; he hasn’t had a walk rate below 10% since 2016, and last year it was at 12.7%. If Ottavino can find the strike zone more, he can be a valuable reliever for the Mets.
Ottavino likely slots in as a middle reliever for the Mets. He’ll probably receive fewer high-leverage innings than Trevor May or Seth Lugo early on, but he could move his way up in the pecking order if he’s able to find his success from 2019. The Mets are still in the market for more relievers, with their eyes more towards left-handed pitchers now.