Assistant GM John Ricco said on Sunday the Mets intend to explore the second-tier relief market in an effort to create a lockdown formula in their bullpen.
But much like the top-tier of the market, that second-tier is beginning to get inflated, thanks to the reported long-term deals granted to Darren O’Day, Ryan Madson, and Joakim Soria.
Such is the case for LHP Tony Sipp, who is now looking to sign a three-year contract in the range of $5-6 million per year, according to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick.
The Mets have not been connected to Sipp to this point in the off-season. But he checks a number of boxes the Mets are looking to fill this winter.
Sipp, 31, had an outstanding year for the Astros. And with the Mets lacking any kind of reliable left-handed relief specialist, one might think Sipp is an excellent fit for the Mets. He posted an ERA+ of 203, went 3-4 with a 1.99 ERA in 60 relief appearances while allowing only 41 hits, 15 walks and five home runs with 62 strikeouts in 54 1/3 innings for Houston in 2015. He was also outstanding in the postseason against the Yankees and Royals, allowing only one hit with two walks and five strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings over six playoff games.
But if the Mets are looking strictly for a left-handed relief specialist, Sipp may not necessarily be their guy.
He had reverse splits in 2015, and while left-handed hitters posted a moderately lower OPS against him than right-handed hitters did (.613 vs. .599), left-handed hitters hit nearly 40 points higher against him than right-handed hitters (.190 vs. .227).
That trend is in-line with his career numbers as well.
That’s not to say Sipp wouldn’t be a good fit for the Mets bullpen. His career marks against left-handed hitters is .213/.293/.387, which is better than anything they have in-house right now. He could certainly be a very effective cross-over left-handed reliever as well, which could help Terry Collins save his bullpen rather than use a guy like Sipp for one batter only.
But clearly, if the Mets intend to build the bullpen they’re envisioning, they’re likely going to have to consider multi-year offers for those solutions, given the state of the market right now.