Jon Niese’s season looks to be over, as the left-hander will undergo arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee, per MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo. The injury likely brings to an end Niese’s second stint with the Mets — one that will be remembered as considerably less successful than his first tenure.
Since being acquired from the Pirates in a one-for-one trade that sent struggling lefty Antonio Bastardo to Pittsburgh, Niese has yielded 14 runs on 13 hits and nine walks with 12 strikeouts. That 11.45 earned run average continued what was a dreadful season for Niese with the Bucs, and his 2016 campaign looks like it will come to a close with a 5.50 ERA over the life of 121 innings between the two teams. Per DiComo, Niese has been dealing with discomfort in his knee since June but has attempted to pitch through the pain he felt. The Mets project a recovery timeline of at least four weeks, which would seem to make it quite unlikely (though not impossible) that Niese is able to rejoin the club in late September.
Niese’s career-worst season comes at a poor time, as the 29-year-old lefty has a $10MM club option on his contract, but the Mets will assuredly elect to pay him a $500K buyout rather than lock in that salary. Niese will enter the offseason, then, as a buy-low candidate for clubs in need of pitching. Despite this season’s poor results, he worked to a 3.65 ERA with 6.6 K/9, 2.5 BB/9 and a 50.4 percent ground-ball rate in 697 2/3 innings from 2012-15. With that type of track record under his belt, Niese should draw interest on incentive-laden one-year deals as he looks to re-establish himself as a useful mid-rotation piece. If he’s able to do so, he could once again test the open market the following winter prior to his age-31 season.