zack britton mets relief options
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

A nightmare scenario is currently playing out for the Mets and Edwin Diaz. After closing out Puerto Rico’s win over the Dominican Republic in Miami on Wednesday night, Diaz had to be helped off the field with what looks like a serious knee injury.

He’ll be getting more tests done on Thursday, so we won’t know how serious this is until later in the day, or possibly Friday. However, it’s hard to not think Diaz will be on the shelf for a considerable period of time.

The Mets were still surveying the free-agent reliever market. General manager Billy Eppler’s surveying just got a lot more serious, though. While the below list isn’t exhaustive, here are seven names (in free agency and potential trade targets) New York could kick the tires on in the wake of this unfortunate series of events.

Zack Britton

The Mets have been loosely connected to Zack Britton throughout the latter portion of the offseason. As Mike Puma of the New York Post reported Wednesday night, the southpaw is holding a workout on Thursday. The Mets were already planning to attend, but their potential interest in the former Baltimore Oriole just skyrocketed.

Britton has only thrown 19 total innings in the past two seasons (0.2 in 2022). But if he proves healthy, it could be intriguing for the Mets. He has closer experience, was once one of the game’s top relievers, and also has a relationship with Buck Showalter from their time together in Baltimore.

Corey Knebel

In reporting about the Mets attending Britton’s workout, Puma mentioned two other free-agent relievers. Corey Knebel was one of them.

He’s another hurler with past experience as a closer. After posting a 2.45 ERA in 25.2 innings with the Dodgers in 2021, that number rose to 3.43 in 44.2 frames for the Phillies in 2022. However, his 14.4% walk rate was a career-worst mark for him. Knebel’s season also ended prematurely because of a tear in his right shoulder capsule.

Will Harris

Will Harris completes the trifecta of free-agent relievers mentioned by Puma. The veteran right-hander has compiled just 23.2 innings over the past two seasons with the Nationals. His 2022 season ended with a pectoral issue.

Before heading to D.C., Harris spent a very productive five-year stretch with the Houston Astros. His most recent full year came in 2019 when he produced a 1.50 ERA in 60 innings of work.

Alexis Diaz

You know this guy — it’s Edwin’s brother, who is currently a reliever with the Reds. New York tried to pry him away from Cincinnati last July prior to the trade deadline, but it didn’t work. As a rookie in 2022, the right-hander posted a 1.84 ERA with a 32.5% strikeout rate and a 12.9% walk rate in 63.2 innings.

It’d be great to eventually have the brothers together, but Alexis wouldn’t come cheap via trade. He’s not even arbitration eligible until 2025.

Joe Mantiply

While Joe Mantiply is another hurler who is yet to be arbitration-eligible, he’s in a little different situation than Alexis Diaz. His 2022 performance led to an appearance in the All-Star Game, and he’s come into his own as a reliever the past couple of years with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Mantiply — who owned a 2.85 ERA and 2.5% walk rate last season — was probably available at last year’s trade deadline. Arizona isn’t ready to compete in the incredibly top-heavy NL West, so it’s not like he’s untouchable. It can’t hurt for Eppler to at least make a phone call.

David Bednar

Some of these options fall in the category of “This would be awesome, but it’s not super likely.” Pirates reliever David Bednar falls into that category.

He’s gotten more ninth-inning experience recently, evidenced by his 19 saves in 2022. The right-hander has tossed at least 50 innings in each of the past two seasons. In both instances, he’s produced a sub-2.75 ERA, a strikeout rate of at least 30.0%, a walk rate below 9.0%, and 1.0-plus fWAR.

Also, at just 28 years old, it’d give the Mets a younger arm with late-game experience. But as we’ve seen with the Yankees’ pursuit of Bryan Reynolds, any kind of trade wouldn’t come cheap.

Daniel Bard

We go from a younger arm in Bednar to one that’s almost 40 in Daniel Bard. We’ve gotta hit all the bases, right?

Bard has had some up-and-down years with the Rockies since making his comeback in 2020. This past year was his best, though. He posted career-best marks in ERA (1.79) and fWAR (1.8) in 60.1 innings. His .221 BABIP allowed is a red flag for regression, but he induced ground balls at a 51.7% rate to go along with a 19.6% soft-hit rate and 27.0% hard-hit rate.

He’d be useful to Colorado, but it’s the Rockies. They also know being competitive isn’t in the cards this year. Plus, many of us have no idea what goes through the mind of the front office when certain moves are made. So, it’s not like there’s no chance. Especially if the Mets offer up someone who can play the middle infield.

Final thoughts

None of these hurlers fit perfectly into what the Mets need right now. That’s not surprising — we’re two weeks away from Opening Day. All the free-agent hurlers are coming off abbreviated seasons because of injury. But then again, that also means they could be had on a low-risk, potentially high-reward contract.

I’ve already seen people saying the Mets need to go get a “real arm” and make a trade. Well, it takes two to tango. Other clubs aren’t in a rush to make a deal right now, especially when teams will be more desperate closer to the trade deadline.

This situation sucks. There’s no way around it. New York’s bullpen has taken multiple hits in the past week. But still, I don’t think the Mets need to overpay in a trade for another relief arm in the middle of March. If I had to pick the most likely scenario for right now, it’s coming to an agreement with Britton. Then, they can see how the first month or two of the regular season goes while constantly reassessing the situation.

Matt Musico can be reached at and you can follow him on Twitter: @mmusico8.

Matt Musico is an editor for ESNY. He’s been writing about baseball and the Mets for the past decade. His work has been featured on numberFire, MetsMerized Online, Bleacher Report, and Yahoo! Sports.