The Mets have interest in free agent right-hander Ryne Stanek, per Mark Feinsand of MLB.com. That would track with the club’s interest in making further bullpen moves, something that was confirmed by president of baseball operations David Stearns recently. Andy Martino of SNY relays that the club is willing to spend another $10MM or so this offseason, with perhaps more funds available at the deadline if they are contending. Martino adds that the club has spoken to the representatives for free agent righty Héctor Neris.
There has been a lot of turnover in the Mets’ bullpen relative to last year. David Robertson and Dominic Leone were traded at last year’s deadline, then Adam Ottavino opted out of his deal. Various other players were either non-tendered or outrighted.
Since then, the club has given one-year deals to Michael Tonkin, Jorge López and Austin Adams. That’s been in keeping with the club’s slate of short-term moves to bolster other parts of the roster. Sean Manaea got a two-year deal but with an opt-out after year one, while to Luis Severino Harrison Bader and Joey Wendle all inked one-year deals. The bullpen also got a new arm via trade when the Mets acquired Yohan Ramírez from the White Sox, and they’ve given minor league deals to journeymen like Cole Sulser, Yacksel Ríos and others.
It seems the club is still hoping to add another arm in there before Opening Day. Stanek, 32, has had a solid run for the Astros over the past three years. He’s made 186 appearances in that time with a 2.90 earned run average. He has struck out 27% of batters faced but also given out walks a a 12.2% clip. That strikeout rate fell to 23.9% in 2023, but he also cut his walk rate to 9.9%, a career low for him.
Neris, 35 in June, spent the past two years with Houston, with a 2.69 ERA over his 141 appearances. He paired a 29.1% strikeout rate with a 9% walk rate. His ERA dropped from 3.72 in 2022 to 1.71 last year, but that seems to have involved quite a bit of good fortune. His strikeout and walk rates actually worsened compared to the year prior, but his batting average on balls in play dropped by more than 70 points while his strand rate spiked from 63.4% to 90.5%. Neris’ 3.83 FIP and 3.89 SIERA in 2023 were each more than a full run higher than they were in 2022.
Either pitcher could be a sensible option for the Mets. Astros general manager Dana Brown recently said that they have interest in bringing those pitchers back, though that was before they signed Josh Hader and launched themselves over the competitive balance tax threshold. Neris has also reportedly received interest from the Rangers, Yankees and Cardinals.
Despite heading into 2024 with a sort of retool in mind, the Mets have a CBT number of $318MM, per Roster Resource. That’s well over the fourth and final tier of the CBT, which is $297MM this year. As a third-time payor in that stratosphere, the Mets are subject to a 110% tax rate on any further spending, though it seems that won’t be an obstacle to them adding to their bullpen in the coming weeks.