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Finding bullpen help for the Mets, Part 6

More free agent relievers? More free agent relievers.

New York Mets v San Diego Padres
Nick Martinez
Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images

By now, you’re probably familiar with this series and asking yourself how many relief pitchers it’s going to cover. The answer, apparently, is a bunch. You can read the fifth part of the series and find links to all of the others there. And the relatively good news for the Mets is that only one of the aforementioned pitchers has signed elsewhere thus far.

Joe Kelly: Now 35 years old, Kelly has been in the big leagues since 2012. He made a bunch of starts early in his major league career with the Cardinals and Red Sox before transitioning to a bullpen role on a permanent basis in 2016 in Boston. And his results have been mixed over the years that have passed since then. At his best, Kelly has put up very good numbers: a 2.79 ERA in 2017 with the Red Sox and a 2.67 ERA between the 2020 and 2021 seasons with the Dodgers. At his worst, he had a 6.08 ERA as a member of the White Sox, and that was in 2022. This year, he had a 4.97 in his second season in Chicago before he was traded back the Dodgers, and he excelled after the move—albeit in only 10.1 innings of work. In total, he had a 4.12 ERA and a 2.72 FIP this year, as he had a pretty good strikeout rate and limited home runs to a relatively low rate.

Nick Martinez: After a couple of pretty good seasons to start his big league career in 2014 and 2015, Martinez racked up a 5.64 ERA over the 2016 and 2017 seasons. He spent all four of those seasons with the Rangers, but following his struggles, he moved to Japan, where he wound up spending the 2018 through 2021 seasons. In 2022, Martinez broke out with the Padres, splitting his time between starting and relieving. As a starter, he fared okay, putting up a 4.30 ERA. But as a reliever, his 2.67 ERA in 54.0 innings was excellent. This year, those splits were essentially reversed, as Martinez had a 2.32 ERA in 42.2 innings as a starter and a 4.12 ERA in 67.2 innings as a reliever. The contract he had signed with the Padres ahead of the season was a bit weird, but ultimately, San Diego declined two option years and let him hit free agency instead. With a 3.45 ERA since coming back to Major League Baseball and the versatility to pitch in both roles entering his age-33 season, he could have some appeal to the Mets.

Buck Farmer: Look, there aren’t many better names out there than Buck Farmer. The righty is set to enter his age-33 season next year, and he’s been in the big leagues for nine full seasons following his major league debut, a cup of coffee with the Tigers in 2014. Farmer has had a few pretty good seasons mixed in there and a couple of abjectly terrible ones. Most recently, after spending eight seasons with the Tigers, he had a 3.83 ERA in 47.0 innings out of the Reds’ bullpen in 2022 and a 4.20 ERA in 75.0 innings in his second season in Cincinnati this year. Home runs have been a bit of a weak spot, especially his worst seasons, and he’s rarely put up high strikeout rates, especially for a reliever. But there’s durability here and perhaps a bit more certainty than the Mets have in most of their bullpen depth chart right now.

Miguel Castro: A familiar face from his time with the Mets in 2020 and 2021, Castro was flipped to the Yankees for Joely Rodríguez ahead of the 2022 season. Neither pitched fared particularly well that year, but Castro was better, putting up a 4.03 ERA for the Yankees in 29.0 innings. This year, he pitched for the Diamondbacks and started the season really well before ending up with a 4.31 ERA in 64.2 innings. And in eight appearances during Arizona’s surprisingly successful playoff run, he had a 10.50 ERA in 6.0 innings of work. For what it’s worth, he’s cut down on his walk rate in each of the past two seasons, having seen it peak at 25.4 percent with the Mets in 2022 and trimmed three percentage points off that this year.