After a historically expensive offseason, most of the heavy lifting for the Mets’ roster is done ahead of Opening Day. But that doesn’t mean general manager Billy Eppler isn’t still trying to cook, ya know.
One area of New York’s roster that’s most likely to get another upgrade during spring training is the bullpen. It’s also mostly set, but there are still free agents looking for a home in 2023. A reliever that fits this description is Zack Britton.
The left-handed reliever was among baseball’s best during his time in Baltimore while Buck Showalter was his manager. Between 2014 and 2017, Britton racked up two All-Star Game selections and a fourth-place finish in 2016 AL Cy Young voting, as well as a 1.61 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in 246.1 innings.
Now 35 years old, Britton has pitched in just 38 innings since 2020. This included just 18.1 innings before having to undergo Tommy John surgery in September 2021. He did make it back to the big-league mound for the Yankees last year, but that comeback consisted of only 0.2 innings.
This all may paint a dire picture, but as we all know, left-handed relievers can pitch forever.
Britton held a workout this week, and the Mets were in attendance. Of course, they weren’t the only ones. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic noted a total of six teams were in attendance for the throwing session in Florida:
New York (duh), the San Francisco Giants, the Los Angeles Angels, the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Chicago Cubs, and the Texas Rangers.
The Mets had to pretty much rebuild their pitching staff (both the rotation and bullpen) completely this winter. It included making a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays for Brooks Raley. At the moment, he’s the lone southpaw in Showalter’s bullpen. Of course, if the rotation is fully healthy by the end of spring, fellow lefty David Peterson may eat up some innings as a reliever.
Obviously, Eppler and Co. are interested in the potential of adding another left-handed reliever. He’s also said in the past that the Mets are placing a value on roster flexibility for the final bullpen spots. That’s code for having hurlers with minor-league options available.
If the Mets do want to grab another veteran left-handed reliever, it may be Britton or bust. Andrew Chafin recently signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Meanwhile, the Angels are nearing a deal with Matt Moore. That could at least take L.A. out of the running for Britton, making the field a little less crowded for his services.
Matt Musico can be reached at [email protected] and you can follow him on Twitter: @mmusico8.