The New York Mets continue to add to their pitching staff, bringing former Oakland A’s prospect A.J. Griffin on board Monday.
The Mets have signed right-handed pitcher A.J. Griffin, who has played four years in the Majors with the A's and Rangers, to a minor league deal. He'll report to big league spring training. Career 4.34 ERA, almost exclusively as a starter.
— Anthony DiComo (@AnthonyDiComo) February 26, 2018
While he’ll join the team in Port St. Lucie, Griffin is most likely nothing more than organizational depth and will compete for a spot in the Mets Triple-A affiliate Las Vegas 51’s rotation to begin the season.
Entering his age 30 season, Griffin owns a career 34-21 record with a 4.34 ERA over four full Major League seasons. He struggled last year with the Texas Rangers, going 6-6 with a 5.94 ERA in 18 games, 15 of which were starts. The three relief appearances were the only of his career.
Griffin has been in the majors since 2012, but like his new teammate, Zach Wheeler missed two full seasons after undergoing Tommy John ligament replacement surgery in 2014.
The right-hander began his career with the Oakland Athletics with a flourish, bursting on the scene with a 7-1 record with a 3.06 record in 15 starts as a rookie and followed that up with a 14-10 season with a 3.83 ERA with 171 strikeouts in 200 innings in 2013 before going under the knife.
But he’s never regained his form. After being released by the A’s he signed on with Texas, where he had a 5.41 ERA and a 1.35 WHIP in 196 innings during his two years with the Rangers, compared to a 3.60 ERA and 1.12 WHIP in 282 innings during his two seasons in Oakland.
Gsellman and Lugo both have options remaining and are likely to start the season in Triple-A. Rafael Montero has no minor league options remaining and the Mets risk losing him if they attempt to send him down, thus he has the advantage for a long-relief, middle-innings bullpen spot.
That likely leaves Griffin out of the mix for a major league spot.
Griffin’s struggles were mostly due to home runs and a higher walk rate in hitter-friendly Arlington as all his other peripheral numbers were virtually identical to those in Oakland. Thus, he could provide key injury protection and quality innings in a more pitcher-friendly ballpark like Citi Field.