Over the past few months, the Mets have built a very strong team for the 2023 season, something that would have seemed impossible in the face of Jacob deGrom’s departure or the non-signing of Carlos Correa in offseasons past. And the bullpen has not been ignored in the process, as was the case for much of the team’s history. With Edwin Díaz retained on a five-year, $102 million deal, Adam Ottavino back in the fold, and the additions of David Robertson and Brooks Raley, the back end of the bullpen looks very good.
Beyond that group, Roster Resource lists the other half of the Mets’ projected bullpen as Drew Smith, John Curtiss, Stephen Nogosek, and Elieser Hernandez. Of those four, only Nogosek is out of options, meaning he can’t be sent to the minors without being exposed to waivers.
Smith is the surest thing of the group, as he put up a 3.33 ERA with the Mets last year and has a 3.24 ERA in 122.1 innings at the major league level of the course of his career. Curtiss last pitched in a major league game on August 10, 2021, before requiring Tommy John surgery. Nogosek fared well in his time in the big leagues last year, though the underlying metrics—particularly a very high home run rate—make it tough to fully buy into the 2.45 ERA he had in those 22.0 innings.
There are a bunch of pitchers who will begin in major league spring training: Zach Greene, Jeff Brigham, Bryces Montes de Oca, Stephen Ridings, Tommy Hunter, T.J. McFarland, Jimmy Yacabonis, Zach Muckenheim, William Woods, Eric Orze, and Grant Hartwig. And starting pitchers David Peterson, Tylor Megill, and Joey Lucchesi all figure to be out of the rotation barring any moves or injuries, making them potential candidates for a bullpen role on Opening Day. Denyi Reyes, Josh Walker, and Connor Grey are all set for big league camp, too.
Given that context, two of the most obvious free agent targets here are still the ones to whom the Mets have been linked this offseason: Andrew Chafin and Zack Britton. But they’re not the only left-handed pitchers who could still be appealing.
Matt Moore, now 33 years old, is best known for the work he did as a starting pitcher with the Rays in 2012 and 2013, but he put up a 1.95 ERA and 2.98 FIP in 74.0 innings of relief with the Rangers last year. It was the first time in his career that he’d spent a single season exclusively as a reliever.
Brad Hand is still out there, too, and is coming off a year that saw him finish with a 2.80 ERA and 3.93 FIP in 45.0 innings with the Phillies.
There are a few right-handed pitchers who could improve the latter half of the Mets’ bullpen, too. Former Braves starting pitcher Matt Wisler has spent time with the Reds, Padres, Mariners, Twins, Giants, and Rays since Atlanta traded him away in 2018. He had a 2.25 ERA in 44.0 innings in Tampa Bay last year and has a 3.01 ERA and 3.57 FIP in 92.2 innings since the start of the 2021 season.
Wily Peralta has had varying degrees of success in his major league career, and he’s bounced from starting to relieving back to starting and back to relieving again. He had a 2.58 ERA last year, albeit with a 4.08 FIP, working as a reliever last year.
And last but not least, former Mets pitching prospect Michael Fulmer had a 3.39 ERA and a 3.57 FIP with the Tigers and Twins last year, pitching exclusively as a reliever along the way. Having made a few starts early in the 2021 season, he’s been in a relief role since early May of that year and has a career 2.98 ERA in 120.2 innings as a reliever.
There are other relievers not mentioned here who still on the free agent market, and it’s possible that the Mets have enough pitching in house to round out a strong bullpen without any additions. But with the team very much looking to win a championship this year, adding relievers who are surer things would be a wise move.
Having wound up with the passable Tommy Pham as their fourth outfielder instead of some other players who might have been better fits, it would be great to see the team not settle in finishing up the build of its bullpen for Opening Day.