The 30-year-old Niese is coming off what was easily the worst season of his Major League career. In 121 innings split between the Pirates and Mets, Niese struggled to a 5.50 ERA with 6.5 K/9, 3.5 BB/9 and a 51.1 percent ground-ball rate. His deteriorated performance led the Pirates to shift him into the bullpen and ultimately trade him back to the Mets in exchange for lefty reliever Antonio Bastardo, who’d struggled in his first year with a new team as well. Niese made just six appearances with the Mets before undergoing knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus, which ultimately ended his season.
Though the 2016 season was one that Niese would like to forget, the southpaw has long been a steady mid-rotation arm. He averaged 28 starts and 171 innings per season from 2010-15 (all with the Mets), working to a collective 3.86 ERA in 1028 2/3 innings. Niese has never been one to miss many bats and has seen his strikeout rate fade a bit over the years, but he’s typically displayed solid control and above-average ground-ball tendencies.
Even with a rebound season, Niese profiles mostly as a back-of-the-rotation arm. But given what figures to be a low cost of acquisition and a pre-2016 track record of league-average innings, he’d make sense for a club looking for options at the five spot in the rotation or as a swingman/long reliever.