Danny Abriano, SNY.tv | Twitter |
The offseason is nearly halfway over and the Mets have still not added a new reliever to a bullpen that torpedoed their playoff chances in 2019.
Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen suggested last week while speaking about the "volatility" of the relief market that the team might not add a potential impact piece to the bullpen. But Van Wagenen might have been being coy. Those comments were also made before news broke about Yoenis' Cespedes' contract situation.
With the Mets and Cespedes agreeing to an amended contract for 2020, he will be guaranteed roughly $10 million in 2020 instead of $29.5 million. He can make back another $10 million or so via incentives. But no matter what, the Mets are guaranteed to save roughly $10 million.
Those savings (not yet calculated by Cot's Baseball Contracts) currently put the Mets' payroll for luxury tax purposes around $192 million for the 2020 season, which means they can add another reliever (or another somewhat expensive player) without crossing the $208 million threshold.
Here are five relievers they could consider...
This one has seemed like an obvious fit for a while, with SNY's Andy Martino reporting earlier this offseason that the Mets had interest. Martino reported shortly after the Michael Wacha signing that the Mets adding Betances could be less likely.
Still, with the money saved due to Cespedes' contract being amended, the Mets are in a different financial situation than they were right after they signed Wacha.
Blake Treinen recently got a one-year deal worth $10 million from the Dodgers, so it's fair to believe that Betances' eventual deal could come in right around there.
The Mets have spoken with the Rangers about Leclerc, according to SNY's Matthew Cerrone, who reported on Dec. 5 that the Mets have talked with the Rangers, Brewers and other teams about trading for a closer.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported on Dec. 12 that as part of their attempt to trade Jed Lowrie, the Mets have discussed a potential deal with the Rangers that would involve Lowrie and Dominic Smith heading to Texas.
Could a potential deal with Texas lead to the Mets landing Leclerc?
The Rangers, who just traded for Corey Kluber, are trying to contend in 2020. So nabbing Leclerc could be tough. But if the Rangers value Smith and his five years of relatively inexpensive team control highly, they're going to have to give up something of value to get him.
Leclerc, 25, will make $3.7 million in 2020 for luxury tax purposes and is under contract through the 2022 season. His contract also has options for 2023 and 2024.
Martino added that the price for the Mets would be high -- in the J.D. Davis, Dominic Smith, Jeff McNeil category.
Hader, 25, has put up eye-popping numbers during his three-year career, posting a 2.42 ERA (2.73 FIP) and 0.85 WHIP with 349 strikeouts in 242.2 IP. That's an absolutely ridiculous 15.3 strikeouts per 9.
Like many pitchers, Hader was hurt by the longball last season, when he allowed 1.8 homers per 9. He served up 15 homers after allowing just 14 in 2017 and 2018 combined.
Still, Hader's WHIP and K/9 (which were elite in 2018) actually improved in 2019, as did his walk rate, which dropped from 3.3 per 9 to 2.4 per 9 -- the best rate of his career.
Hader is expected to earn $4.6 million in 2020 and is under team control through the 2023 season.
Harris has been one of the better relievers in baseball since 2015, and he had a very strong season with the Astros in 2019, with a 1.50 ERA (3.15 FIP) and 0.93 WHIP with 62 strikeouts in 60 IP (68 appearances).
The 35-year-old Harris made $4.225 million in 2019, so he isn't expected to cost nearly as much as Treinen got paid or as much as Betances is likely to get paid.
There haven't been many rumors when it comes to a potential landing spot for Harris, who has spent the last five years of his career with the Astros after stops with the Diamondbacks (2013, 2014) and Rockies (2012).
As it the case with Harris, there has been very little buzz when it comes to where Smith might end up.
Smith, who turns 36 in March, has been both reliable and durable during his career. He had a 1.80 ERA (3.09 FIP) and 0.96 WHIP in 2019.
During his 13-year-career that began with the Mets in 2007, Smith has posted a 2.98 ERA (3.54 FIP) and 1.16 WHIP with 615 strikeouts in 695.1 innings over 782 appearances.