With lefty Brad Hand, reported to be one of the Mets’ top bullpen targets, now off the board on a deal with the division-rival Nationals, the Mets are “zeroing in” on southpaw Aaron Loup, MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo reports (via Twitter). The 33-year-old has a solid, albeit lesser track record to that of Hand but should come at a more affordable price as a result.
Loup spent the 2020 season with the Rays, pitching to a 2.52 ERA and 3.62 SIERA with a 22.9 percent strikeout rate and a 4.2 percent walk rate that ranked among the best in the league. That marked an (obviously) outstanding rebound effort for the lefty, who missed the bulk of the 2019 season with the Padres due to a forearm strain.
Prior to the 2019-20 seasons, Loup had spent the vast majority of his career with the Blue Jays, enjoying a good bit of success but struggling through some of the highs and lows oft associated with the ever-volatile world of relief pitching. Loup was optioned multiple times over the years with the Jays, including several times in a 2016 season that finished with an ERA just north of five. However, in parts of seven seasons with the Jays, Loup finished with a 3.47 ERA, a roughly average 21.8 percent strikeout rate and a solid 7.2 percent walk rate.
As one would expect with any left-handed reliever, Loup has some degree of a platoon split. Over the course of his nine-year MLB career, he’s held lefty batters to a .232/.301/.319 line, while righties have had more success at .264/.333/.424. That said, Loup was quite good against righties and lefties alike in 2020 — albeit in an obviously limited sample of work.
With Justin Wilson hitting the open market after wrapping up a two-year deal in Queens, the Mets lack a lefty reliever with any sort of Major League track record. Waiver claim Stephen Tarpley and longtime farmhand Daniel Zamora are both on the 40-man roster and both have big league experience, though neither found much success in 2020. Former Met Jerry Blevins is also back with the club on a non-roster deal with an invite to Spring Training, so he could factor into the look as well depending on how things shake out in camp.