Though the free agent market has basically not yet budged, that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been movement behind the scenes. The Mets, for instance, are working hard to land multiple veteran relievers, according to Mike Puma of the New York Post.
There’s particular interest, Puma writes (expanding upon his prior report), in veteran righty Bryan Shaw. The durable veteran worked with new Mets manager Mickey Callaway, who was previously the Indians’ pitching coach. That fact clearly gives the organization some added insight into a hurler who has steadily produced excellent results.
Another pitcher with a recent connection to Callaway has also caught the Mets’ eye, according to the report. Sidearmer Joe Smith, who broke into the big leagues with the Mets, is closing in on his 34th birthday but has a track record of consistently good innings that’s similar to Shaw’s. Interestingly, Smith exhibited a big jump in his swinging-strike rate (11.4%) and strikeout rate (11.8 K/9, against just 1.7 BB/9) in 2017.
Two others on the Mets’ watch list, according to the report, are lefty Mike Minor and former Mets righty Addison Reed. Both of those pitchers are in the same general range of sub-elite relievers as Shaw, though MLBTR has predicted that each would be able to secure an extra guaranteed season on the open market. It seems unlikely that the Mets would be able to take on two significant relief contracts in one winter, so perhaps the hope is to land one of those three (or another, similar pitcher) while also picking up a slightly cheaper option such as Smith — who just missed inclusion on MLBTR’s top fifty list but could certainly be a candidate for a significant, multi-year deal.
It’ll be interesting to see whether the Mets are able to strike an early deal with one of these pitchers. There’s surely broad interest in all of them, and getting something done now — before more significant dominoes fall — could mean extending an offer that meets or approaches the typically steep initial asking price. To take but one example, the Cardinals landed Brett Cecil last winter by giving him a fourth year and a no-trade clause, neither of which were anticipated when the market opened.