LATEST UPDATE, 11:38 AM:
The Mets have agreed to a two-year deal worth $14 million with RH reliever Anthony Swarzak, reports Marc Carig of Newsday.
Swarzak had a 2.33 ERA (2.74 FIP) and 1.03 WHIP with 91 strikeouts (a career-high 10.59 K/9) in 77 1/3 innings (70 games) in 2017 for the White Sox and Brewers.
The 32-year-old Swarzak, who almost exclusively features a fastball and slider, saw his stuff tick up in 2017. His fastball averaged 94.7 MPH (up from 93.4 in 2016 and 92.2 in 2015) and his slider averaged 87.1 MPH -- both the fastest of his careeer.
The Mets had preferred to sign a reliever to a two-year deal -- meaning a pitcher such as Steve Cishek (who the Mets have expressed interest in, per Marc Carig of Newsday), or Swarzak, Joel Sherman of the NY Post reported earlier this week.
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Swarzak had some success in 2013 with the Twins, but mainly struggled early in his career while being a four-pitch pitcher until 2013. He still featured his changeup a bit in 2014, before becoming a two-pitch pitcher in 2015 with the Indians and then-pitching coach Mickey Callaway.
Since then, Swarzak's average fastball velocity has ticked up from 92.2 MPH to 94.7 MPH, and his average slider velocity has ticked up from 83.7 MPH to 87.1 MPH. With that added velocity, Swarzak had a breakthrough season in 2017. And digging through his advanced stats, his success in 2017 doesn't look like a fluke.
Swarzak has always had great control, and in 2017 he paired that with the best stuff he's ever had. The result was a largely dominant season, where he was impressive against both left-handers (.194/.294/.281) and right-handers (.214/.259/.346).
Callaway suggested on Tuesday that the Mets might not have a dedicated closer in 2018, instead focusing on matchups and using the appropriate reliever when high-leverage situations arise. Swarzak -- a crossover reliever with plus stuff -- should seemingly fit in very well with that philosophy.
Of the free agent relievers still available, the Mets may have the most interest in Joe Smith and Addison Reed, Sherman reported earlier Wednesday, adding that Reed may be "too pricey."
Reliever Bryan Shaw agreed to a deal with the Rockies on Tuesday night, reports Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. The Phillies agreed to a deal with reliever Tommy Hunter on Tuesday night, according Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports. The Mets had been interested in both pitchers.
Mets GM Sandy Alderson suggested on Sunday at the Winter Meetings that the Mets are looking for "value" in the relief pitching free agent market, and said the team wasn't prepared to jump into the "inferno" of that market.
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