The New York Mets are bringing lefty specialist Jerry Blevins back on a one year deal, but will he be the only addition to the bullpen?
By Gregg Cambareri
The New York Mets have struck a deal to bring back veteran lefty Jerry Blevins. The one year, $4 million dollar pact (not including incentives) looks like a low risk, medium reward kind of deal. The Mets, who didn’t really have a true lefty reliever last year with the exception of long man Sean Gilmartin, now have a legitimate lefty specialist.
— Adam Rubin (@AdamRubinESPN) December 15, 2015
Blevins is a nice addition. However, that’s not enough.
Blevins has a career FIP of 2.87 vs. lefties, per Fangraphs. There’s little doubt that he knows how to be an effective situational reliever. However, if the Mets are counting on him to be the sole lefty specialist in the bullpen, then it simply isn’t enough. Blevins pitched just 5 innings last year before breaking, and then re-breaking his forearm. Counting on one guy who missed over 90% of last season to be your main weapon against Bryce Harper in a big spot is taking quite the risk.
Surely, the Mets will give youngsters Dario Alvarez and Josh Smoker a shot to earn a spot in the ‘pen when comes spring training. Both are on the 40 man roster and possess youth and upside with their stuff. While it’s nice to see what you have with these kids, the Mets aren’t in a position to experiment. If there’s an injury, or rosters are expanding late in the year, then fine, call one of them up and see what they can do. Until that scenario arises, go out and get a proven relief pitcher.
Payroll currently sits around $95.5 million. Why not make a run at someone like lefty Antonio Bastardo? His career 3.58 ERA (3.33 FIP) and 31.4% K rate vs. lefties would give the Mets two legitimate options from the left side in the middle and late innings. He’s likely going to command a contract similar to Tony Sipp’s recent 3 year/$18 million pact with Houston. The Mets were linked to Sipp earlier in the offseason, but supposedly did not like his asking price.
Well, guess what? Six million dollars per season for an effective middle innings guy is the current going rate for relievers these days. Whether the Mets like it or not, they could definitely use a player of Bastardo’s caliber and easily have the payroll to afford him in lieu of Michael Cuddyer’s recent retirement. At least, you’d like to think they won’t be afraid of topping last season’s opening day payroll, which was just north of $100 million.
If the Mets are looking to conserve cash to make a run at Yoenis Cespedes (or any other expensive impact bat), then I’ll live if they don’t add another bullpen piece. However, if they do not decide to splurge on a slugger, then adding a valuable bullpen arm is a must.
The return of Jerry Blevins is a good thing. However, it hopefully isn’t the only thing.