The Mets have made re-tooling their bullpen a top priority this winter.
That stands to reason, as in five games in the World Series, the Mets bullpen gave up 24 earned runs in 51 1/3 innings, allowing 47 hits and 17 walks while blowing all three save opportunities they had, arguably costing them a World Championship in 2015.
One of the free agent relievers the Mets have expressed interest in is RHP Joakim Soria, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
But the Mets have company in their interest, as the Royals, Giants, Rangers and Twins have all expressed interest in Soria, according to James Schmehl of Michigan Live.
An early suitor for Soria’s services was the Tigers, who traded him to the Pirates mid-year. And according to Schmehl, the Tigers were attempting to negotiate a two-year deal with the free agent reliever, but he turned that deal down, the two sides never agreed to a contract, and Detroit acquired RHP Francisco Rodriguez instead.
Soria is looking for a deal in the range of three years and $27 million, according to Jayson Stark of ESPN, and it’s possible Soria could sign as a closer on the market, making a marriage between the reliever and the Mets unlikely, writes Adam Rubin of ESPN New York.
Still, adding someone like Soria would give the Mets three right-handed pitchers in their bullpen capable of closing. That could be significant, as Familia was arguably overworked in his first season as the club’s closer, and having flexibility in the ninth inning would unquestionably allow them to spread the wealth as needed.
Soria, 31, was traded from the Tigers to the Pirates ahead of the trade deadline in 2015, meaning he is not tied to compensation in the 2016 draft. He was solid for the Tigers in 43 games before being traded, going 3-1 with a 2.85 ERA with 23 saves, allowing only 32 hits and 11 walks with 36 strikeouts in 41 innings. But as Mark Melancon’s setup man in Pittsburgh, Soria had a 2.03 ERA in 29 games, allowing only 23 hits and eight walks with 28 strikeouts in 26 2/3 innings.
In addition to Soria, the Mets could consider Ryan Madson, Jonathan Broxton, and Trevor Cahill to fill their need.
Over the first few weeks of the offseason, the Mets have shown clear interest in free agent second baseman Ben Zobrist–but they’re not the only ones.
According to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, the division rival Washington Nationals also interested in Zobrist’s services, as they are in need of a left-handed hitting infielder and outfielder–both roles that the switch-hitting veteran can fill.
While Zobrist’s production at the plate and versatility in the field makes him a fit for almost every team in the league, the Mets and Nationals are going to be ‘high bidders’ to sign him in free agency, per Tom Verducci of MLB Network, although the Cardinals have emerged as an interested party, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
The Mets were interested in acquiring Zobrist in a trade this past season from the A’s, but those talks stalled thanks to a disagreement over the asking price. Zobrist was ultimately sent to the Royals in a deal that netted Billy Beane left-hander pitcher Sean Manea, the Royals second best prospect.
Now, however, Zobrist is a free agent and is not tied to a draft pick, making him a great fit for the Mets–or any other team–as they’re looking to upgrade their defense, their swing-to-contact methodology, and their overall versatility.
The Mets interest in Zobrist has been labeled as serious, and the club reportedly held a conference call with Zobrist last week in an effort to recruit him to Flushing.
This past season, the 34-year-old Zobrist hit .276/.359/.450 with 36 doubles, 13 home runs, 56 RBI and an .809 OPS in 126 games with the A’s and Royals.
At least ten teams – including the Cardinals, Royals, Mets and Nationals – have reportedly expressed interest in Zobrist.
Original post: November 24, 2:30 pm
Updated: November 25, 9:30 am
In an attempt to build bullpen depth, the Mets have signed RHP Stolmy Pimentel to a minor league contract with an invite to Major League Spring Training, the team announced on Tuesday.
Pimentel, 25, made eight relief appearances for the Rangers in 2015 and was 0-1 with a 3.97 ERA. He was then sent to Triple-A Round Rock and spent the rest of his season in the minor leagues.
He made 12 starts and five relief appearances for Round Rock in 2015, going 5-3 with a 5.40 ERA in those 17 games. But in his five relief outings, Pimentel posted a 1.80 ERA with 15 strikeouts.
Pimentel has a 4.39 ERA in 33 major league relief appearances, spanning three seasons from 2013-2015.
The Mets announced their 2016 spring training schedule on Tuesday.
The Mets will play 14 games at Tradition Field and 15 road games during the month of March, including two split-squad games against the Tigers and Astros on March 7 and March 24 respectively.
The Mets will be off on March 16.
The schedule contains two games against the Yankees – one at Tradition Field on March 9 and the other at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa on March 22.
All home games begin at 1:10 pm, with the exception of the final spring game against the Nationals on March 30, which begins at 12:10 pm.
For now the Mets schedule remains open from March 31-April 2.
Mets 1B prospect Dominic Smith had a breakout year in 2015, winning the Florida State League Player of the Year award in 2015 after hitting .305/.354/.417 with six home runs and 79 RBI in 118 games with Single-A St. Lucie.
But he missed time at the end of the season with a shoulder injury, and so he headed to the Arizona Fall League to pick up some extra at-bats and additional playing time at first base.
And his impressive run continued in the desert.
Smith was named an Arizona Fall League Fall-Star, but was unable to play in the league’s All-Star Game after suffering a muscle strain which caused him to miss 14 days of action this month.
Still, Smith posted impressive all-around numbers in the AFL, hitting .362/.483/.511 with four doubles, a home run and six RBI with 12 walks and ten strikeouts in 47 at-bats.
Those marks were good enough for Smith to be named to the All-AFL team in 2015 at first base.
“Smith picked up in the AFL where he left off in the Florida State League, making consistently loud contact and barreling the ball to from line to line,” Mike Rosenbaum of MLB.com writes. “The 20-year-old’s approach supports the numbers, too, as he’s extremely patient and willing to take a walk but also is comfortable hitting in any count and seldom expands his zone. Meanwhile, Smith’s defense at first base drew rave reviews throughout the fall.”
Smith, 20, is listed as the Mets fifth-best prospect, according to MLB.com. He will likely begin the 2016 season with Double-A Binghamton.
The Mets, looking to create a lockdown formula late in games in their bullpen, have expressed interest in signing one of the premier right-handed relievers on the free agent market this winter, Darren O’Day.
O’Day has posted an ERA of 2.30 or less in each of the last four seasons, saving his best for 2015 when he went 6-2 with a 1.52 ERA with 85 strikeouts in 65 1/3 innings and a whopping 274 ERA+.
But as the demand for O’Day’s services has risen over the course of the month, so has his price tag, and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports said the right-hander is now seeking a four-year deal worth upwards of $36 million.
The Mets are very unlikely to sign O’Day to those terms.
The Mets are projected to be committed to anywhere between $8-10 million to both Familia and Addison Reed in 2016. If they met O’Day half way and signed him to a four-year, $32 million deal, they’d be committed to $16-18 million for three relief pitchers in 2016, hardly ideal from a payroll allocation perspective.
Meanwhile, the Nationals have joined the pursuit for O’Day, and MLB.com’s Bill Ladson describes their interest as, “serious,” and the interest is mutual, according to Mark Zuckerman of Comcast SportsNet.
And according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN, the Nationals and the Dodgers could now be leading the pursuit for O’Day, with the Braves also trying to recruit the side-arming right-hander, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
Presumably, the rest of the reliever market is waiting for O’Day to sign and establish a baseline price. Once that happens, teams like the Mets (assuming they don’t sign O’Day) should be able to get a better understanding at what the cost in both dollars and years will be for secondary options.
And there are no shortage of quality options to O’Day, either.
There’s always relievers like Joakim Soria, Ryan Madson, Jonathan Broxton, and Trevor Cahill, all of which might take one-year contracts, although Soria could command a deal of two years or more, especially if O’Day can net a four-year pact.
As for Soria, the the Mets have expressed in him, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. But it’s possible Soria will want to close next season, which could hinder the Mets ability to sign the 31-year-old reliever.