New York Mets Still Seeking Bullpen Upgrade As Spring Training Nears

The New York Mets are still looking to acquire a reliever to strengthen their bullpen, but are not willing to give anybody a multi-year contract, Mike Puma of the New York Post writes.

After their World Series appearance in 2015, the Mets have had a busy offseason, making several notable signings and getting rid of some fan favorite players. Daniel Murphy, the longest tenured Met aside from David Wright, was not offered a contract and signed a three-year deal with the division rival Washington Nationals.

To replace Murphy, the Mets shipped out lefty Jon Niese to the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for Neil Walker, as the Inquisitr previously reported. The team also signed Asdrubal Cabrera to be the team’s new shortstop and outfielder Alejandro De Aza — likely spelling the end for Yoenis Cespedes’ tenure with the Mets.

While the offense has been a priority this offseason, the Mets have done little to upgrade the bullpen. The team re-signed lefty Jerry Blevins, who missed most of 2015 due to an arm injury. Also, right-hander Addison Reed, who was acquired from the Arizona Diamondbacks last August, is under contract for 2016.

Paired with closer Jeurys Familia, Blevins and Reed are the only pitchers considered locks for the 2016 bullpen. However, general manager Sandy Alderson asked Puma earlier in the week if the Mets really be better off signing a reliever just for the sake of doing so if it didn’t really improve the team.

“Does it really improve the team to give a reliever a one-, or two-year contract if we don’t believe he is better than what we have?”

There was a report last week from ESPN‘s Buster Olney that the Mets had an interest in former Philadelphia Phillies reliever, Antonio Bastardo. The 30-year-old left-hander enjoyed a solid year out of the bullpen for the Pirates in 2015, going 4-1 with a 2.98 ERA through 57-and-one-third innings. In particular, Bastardo’s ability to limit home runs (0.6 HR/9) and keep both righties (.207 BAA) and lefties (.138 BAA) in check makes him an intriguing option.

Antonio Bastardo [Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images]
As mentioned, the Mets are reluctant to give a reliever a multi-year deal. Lefty Tony Sipp got a three-year, $18 million contract from the Astros this offseason, per ESPN. Bastardo, who is two years younger, figures to get a similar deal.

Veteran right-hander Tyler Clippard is still an option for the Mets. The team acquired Clippard prior to the trade deadline in 2015 from the Oakland Athletics. After the trade, the former two-time All-Star went 4-1 with a 3.06 ERA in 32-and-one-third innings for the Amazin’s as the team’s set-up man.

The market for Clippard this offseason has been a quiet one as few teams have been linked to him and the 30-year-old’s contractual demands are unknown. Based on Puma’s report, however, if Clippard is willing to accept a one-year deal, a reunion is possible.

The Mets have in-house options such as Hansel Robles, Carlos Torres, Josh Edgin, Sean Gilmartin, Dario Alvarez, Erik Goeddel, Jim Henderson, Josh Smoker, and Logan Verrett at their disposal. While Edgin is still recovering from Tommy John surgery, the others all figure to be in the mix for bullpen jobs.

Jim Henderson, who once saved 28 games for the 2013 Milwaukee Brewers and didn't pitch in 2015 is potential low-risk, high-reward option for the Mets. [Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images]
Young righty Rafael Montero can also be mentioned on that list, but he could be utilized as either a starter or reliever, if healthy. Troubled pitcher Jennry Mejia could also be an option in 2016 after he finishes serving his second suspension for the use of performance-enhancing drugs.

[Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images]