December 6: Tonkin will earn $1MM, according to Mike Puma of the New York Post. Feinsand adds that Tonkin’s deal is actually a split contract, so the $1MM salary will be prorated over the time Tonkin spends on the big league roster. Tim Britton of The Athletic relays that Tonkin will make $400K in the minors. The Mets also officially announced the deal today.
After posting a 4.43 ERA over 146 1/3 innings with the Twins from 2013-17, Tonkin didn’t play in the majors until resurfacing with the Braves last season. The five-year odyssey saw Tonkin pitch in Japan, the Mexican Leagues, the independent Long Island Ducks, and within the affiliated minors with the Braves, Diamondbacks, and Brewers. That stint with Milwaukee’s Triple-A affiliate occurred in 2019 when David Stearns was still running the Brewers’ front office, so today’s deal reunites Tonkin with the Mets’ new president of baseball operations.
Tonkin’s return to the big leagues was a success, as he posted a 4.28 ERA over 45 appearances and 80 innings last year. Atlanta often used Tonkin in a multi-inning capacity, giving him a valuable role on a team that often had to figure out how to patch together innings in the wake of multiple rotation injuries. A .241 BABIP did provide some help to Tonkin’s efforts, though his 3.87 SIERA was actually lower than his ERA, and his 7.1% walk rate was well above the league average.
Since Tonkin’s peripherals were otherwise pretty lackluster, that could explain why Atlanta opted to non-tender him, despite a modest $1MM arbitration projection. The Braves were aggressive in moving a lot of arbitration-eligible players who were either obvious non-tenders or only borderline roster candidates for 2024, yet Tonkin didn’t linger in free agency long before catching on with another NL East team.
It would seem like Tonkin’s role in New York will resemble his assignment last year, as he’ll be called on to eat innings for a Mets club that currently has a lot of question marks on the pitching staff. The Mets signed Luis Severino and have been rumored to be pursuing some big-name talent on the free agent market, yet for now there isn’t much certainty in the rotation beyond Kodai Senga and Jose Quintana. The return of Edwin Diaz will fill the biggest hole in the Amazins’ bullpen, yet Tonkin will add a necessary long relief option to the mix. Tonkin joins Austin Adams (who signed a split contact) and minor league signings Cole Sulser, Andre Scrubb, and Kyle Crick as relief signings for the Mets over the last few weeks.