David Stearns mentioned earlier this month that improving the bullpen was one of his focuses as he looked to wrap up the offseason. Since, the Mets have not acquired a significant bullpen arm, and the free-agent market for relievers has seen quite a bit of recent action: Josh Hader went to the Houston Astros, Aroldis Chapman signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Robert Stephenson signed with the Los Angeles Angels, and David Robertson is headed to the Texas Rangers.
After the current run on high-leverage relievers, who is still out there for the Mets to sign?
Ryne Stanek is one of the recent arms the Mets have been tied to in free agency, though the Cubs and Red Sox are also showing interest. The 32-year-old right-hander had a 4.09 ERA in 55 appearances for the Houston Astros during the 2023 season. The former first round pick has been a critical cog in the Astros bullpen over the last three years, with a 2.90 ERA over 173 2/3 innings.
Wandy Peralta is another reliever the Mets have been linked to recently. The 32-year-old is coming off a strong, almost three-full-season stretch with the New York Yankees. In 2023, Peralta had a 2.83 ERA and allowed only 30 hits in 54 innings. He held lefties under a .500 OPS for the second straight season. He was also in the 94th percentile with a 57.1 groundball rate. The bad that sticks out from Peralta’s 2023 season was his 5.0 BB/9.
Héctor Neris is a familiar name for Mets fans, having pitched in parts of eight seasons with the Phillies before the 2022 season. The 34-year-old had a 1.71 ERA and 77 strikeouts in 68 1/3 innings for the Astros last season. In his eight seasons with the Phillies, Neris had a 3.42 ERA and 84 saves in 405 games.
Phil Maton is another member of the 2023 Astros who is currently one of the top free agent relievers. The 30-year-old had a 3.00 ERA, a 1.12 WHIP, and struck out 74 batters in 64 innings for the Astros last season. The former Padre has pitched at least 65 innings in each of the previous three seasons.
Best of the Rest
- RHP Shintaro Fujinami – The hard thrower (98.4 mph average) looked better after a trade to the Orioles last season.
- RHP Adam Ottavino – Former Met who posted a 3.21 ERA during the 2023 season in Flushing.
- LHP Jake Diekman – A veteran lefty who posted a 2.18 ERA in 45 1/3 innings for the Rays after being released by the White Sox last year.
- RHP Jay Jackson – The 36-year-old posted a sparkling 2.12 ERA and 0.91 WHIP in 29 2/3 innings for the Blue Jays last year.
- RHP Ryan Brasier – Another pitcher that fared well after an in-season team change, posted a 0.70 ERA in 38 2/3 innings for the Dodgers.
The Mets have added quantity to the bullpen picture this offseason, but Stearns probably feels like he needs to do more to bridge the starters to Edwin Díaz before the offseason is through.