At the beginning of the off-season, Sandy Alderson said one of the areas he wanted to improve upon was the club’s bullpen ahead of the 2016 season in an effort to create less of a dependence on the starting rotation and create shutdown formula with Jeurys Familia at the end of the game.
But so far this winter, the Mets haven’t done much to address their bullpen with the exception of retaining Jerry Blevins and signing Buddy Carlyle and Jim Henderson to minor league deals.
And Blevins comes with question marks of his own, as he’s coming back from a twice broken left arm in 2015, which limited him to seven games and season-ending surgery in August.
As such, in addition to finding another right-handed reliever, the Mets could be looking at shoring up the left side of their bullpen as well, as Buster Olney of ESPN says the Mets have been in discussions with LHP Antonio Bastardo.
Olney says the Orioles have also been in discussions with Bastardo.
Bastardo had an up-and-down 2015 season with the Pirates in 2015, but was stellar in the second half after posting a 4-1 record and a 2.32 ERA in 34 appearances down the stretch. He was dominant in general, holding opponents to a .188 average overall, but he was especially stingy against left-handed hitters, allowing only 17 lefties to reach base all year which was good for a .138/.233/.215 line.
Bastardo is a flyball pitcher with a low-90s fastball. He used it a lot more in 2015 and shied away from his change-up, which could be attributed to his success considering he saw a modest uptick in velocity during the year. In fact, opponents hit under .150 against Bastardo’s fastball in the second half of the season.
He would be an excellent fit for the Mets, but if the Mets sign Bastardo and both he and Blevins stay healthy, there might not be room for Josh Edgin once he returns from Tommy John Surgery. But certainly a tandem of Bastardo and Blevins on the left side of the bullpen would be among the league’s best, giving the Mets a good problem to deal with once Edgin returns.
There is, of course, the issue of what Bastardo might be able to command in free agency. Teams have clearly been willing to pay a premium for relievers this winter as they emphasize strengthen the bullpen and shortening games. As a result, more and more relievers are getting multi-year deals, including Darren O’Day, Tony Sipp, Joakim Soria, and Ryan Madson.
Those multi-year deals should be able to net Bastardo a multi-year deal for himself, and it remains to be seen if the Mets consider going that route – especially for a reliever – after being seemingly reluctant to give multi-year deals to other players not named Ben Zobrist and Asdrubal Cabrera.
And for now, the Mets are unwilling to give Bastardo a multi-year deal, tweets Mike Puma of the New York Post.
Original post: January 5, 8:45 am
Updated: January 5, 9:15 pm