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Finding a lefty for the Mets’ bullpen

The Mets’ bullpen could use a lefty, and there are still some free agents out there.

Chicago White Sox v Oakland Athletics Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

With spring training underway, there’s plenty to be excited about when it comes to the 2022 Mets. Between the rotation that’s headlined by Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer and a lineup that includes a bunch of accomplished major league hitters, the team should be competitive. But the bullpen, as always, could prove to be an area of concern, and the team is lacking a reliable left-handed major league arm to include in it.

At the moment, Roster Resource lists Alex Claudio, a non-roster invitee, as the lone left-handed pitcher projected to make the Mets’ Opening Day bullpen. The 30-year-old owns a career 3.63 ERA, but he was far better earlier in his career than he has been over the past four years, as he’s compiled a 4.50 ERA since the start of the 2018 season. With that, MLB Trade Rumors has a few names on its list of free agents who might be able to help the Mets.

Andrew Chafin is undoubtedly the headliner of the group, having put together a great 2021 season with a 1.83 ERA and 2.98 FIP for the Cubs and A’s. Aside from a poor showing in a very limited sample in the 2020 season, he had been a solid major league reliever over the past few years preceding the 2021 season, and he’s only 31 years old. Throw in the excellent mustache and he seems like a blatantly obvious fit for a contending team that is willing to spend money and could very much use him in its bullpen.

After Chafin, there are a couple of pitchers who had a three-point-something ERA in 2021: Chasen Shreve and Tony Watson. Shreve is a familiar face, as he was with the Mets for the short 2020 season and pitched reasonably well for them. The 36-year-old Watson has quite a few very good years under his belt in his major league career, but he had a 4.17 ERA in 2019 and a 3.92 ERA in 2021, his two most recent full seasons.

From there, things drop off quite a bit. Ross Detwiler had a 4.64 ERA in 2021 and has struggled in most of the past several seasons, with the short 2020 season being the only exception. Andrew Miller can be dsrcibed much in the same way, having posted ERAs north of four in his past three full seasons, with a 2.77 ERA in the 2020 season sandwiched in between the others. Derek Holland, Hyeon-Jon Yang, and Daniel Norris have posted worse numbers than those two.

Chafin really is the star of the show here, and there’s no excuse for the Mets not to sign him. If for some reason they don’t, though, they’d probably be wise to pick up one of Shreve or Watson, barring a trade that includes a lefty reliever who is clearly better than both.