With limited resources to spend this winter, the New York Mets will need contributions from guys on the roster bubble. These are a few possibilities.
Every year there’s a player that produces after having limited expectations coming into spring training. Some examples of this phenomenon are Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman from 2016. These two were pitchers who not many Mets fans knew of before the season but thought highly of after the season. This was due to their key contributions down the stretch.
Also, look no further than Michael Conforto last season, who most thought might start the year in Triple-A Las Vegas, but ended up with an All-Star appearance instead. This isn’t to say that the three players on this list will be voted to their first All-Star games, but they can certainly help the Mets win games in 2018.
Bradford may have made his MLB debut at 28 years old, but that did not stop him from being a quality option out of the bullpen. In fact, Bradford was impressive in his late-season stint in which he threw 33.2 innings.
He was able to strikeout 27 batters in those 33.2 innings while walking only 13. Although he technically has three pitch offerings, he mainly uses his fastball and slider to induce outs. And when he gets those outs they come on the ground.
Batters hit the ball on the ground at a 55.9% clip against Bradford in 2017, which aided him in stranding 67% of baserunners. Bradford is not a top prospect, and he certainly doesn’t light up the radar gun, but his ability to induce groundball outs can earn him a spot in the 2018 Mets bullpen.
Now we arrive on a pitcher who is the polar opposite of Bradford. Montero is a former top prospect and can hit the mid 90’s on the radar gun. Unfortunately, Montero’s biggest issue since his ascension to the majors has been his ability to command his pitches.
Montero had a 5.07 BB/9 in 2017, which was extremely high, and needs to be roughly half of what it was. The positives when it comes to Montero is his stuff.
The bright side was that Montero induced 8.62 K/9 in 2017 and possesses an 8.84 K/9 rate for his career. His stuff can create swing and misses, but only if he can locate it in the strike zone more often moving forward.
So what can Montero provide the 2018 Mets? This spring, expect him to battle for the fifth rotation spot and eventually be moved to the bullpen for the start of the season. If Mickey Callaway and Dave Eiland can get through to Montero and lower that BB/9 number, look for him to be a passable long man out of the pen.
He also has the ability to make spot starts or step in for an injured pitcher in the rotation, which is valuable for a Mets team that has more questions than answer in the projected 2018 rotation.
Plawecki has failed twice at the MLB level, which is why it was surprising to see him breakout this year and become a positive for the team. He will have to fend off Tomas Nido for the backup catcher’s spot in 2018, but that does not mean he can’t ascend past being just a backup.
If he can continue to hit and play defense better than Travis d’Arnaud there will be playing time made available for him. In 100 ABs during the 2017 season, he slashed .260/.364/.400. He became much more selective at the dish and his OBP rose to .364 because of it.
He was also able to slug eight extra-base hits in his limited role and his defense was above average, which is important when considering his catching partner’s clear defensive limitations.
Plawecki has the ability to move into the number one catcher’s role for 2018, a spot that the Mets desperately need consistent production from.