The Mets are signing reliever John Curtiss to a major league deal, general manager Billy Eppler told reporters (including Anthony DiComo of MLB.com and Tim Healey of Newsday). The team is also selecting outfielder Travis Jankowski to the major league roster for Opening Day. Curtiss will make $770K this season, and next year’s option is valued at $775K, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post (Twitter link).
Curtiss isn’t expected to pitch for the entire 2022 campaign. The 29-year-old righty suffered a torn ulnar collateral ligament while pitching for the Brewers last August, an injury that eventually required Tommy John surgery. Milwaukee had just acquired Curtiss from the Marlins at that summer’s trade deadline. He’d had an excellent first half in Miami, pitching to a 2.48 ERA in 40 innings with a solid 24.8% strikeout percentage and tiny 5.6% walk rate.
Milwaukee no doubt envisioned Curtiss serving as an important bullpen piece both down the stretch and over the next few seasons, but he only managed six relief appearances as a Brewer. They non-tendered him in November, electing against carrying an injured pitcher on the 40-man roster all winter. Curtiss only has a bit more than two years of MLB service, so he’ll be controllable via arbitration even beyond the 2023 option year. The Mets will take a low-risk dice roll to see if Curtiss can be a member of the big league bullpen next year and beyond. While rehabbing, he’ll pick up a big league salary and MLB service time on the injured list.
Curtiss will spend the entire season on the 60-day injured list, but the Mets first have to clear a 40-man roster spot to sign him to a big league deal. To do so, they’ve designated utilityman Travis Blankenhorn for assignment. New York claimed the left-handed hitter off waivers from the Mariners in June. That concluded a series of waiver claims for the former third-round pick, who bounced from the Twins to the Dodgers to Seattle and then Queens in a span of a few weeks.
Blankenhorn has only tallied 28 plate appearances at the big league level. He owns a solid .253/.361/.460 slash in a pair of Triple-A campaigns, though, and can still be optioned to the minor leagues for another season. That could lead another club to acquire Blankenhorn via minor trade or waivers in the next week.
Once Curtiss’ deal is made official, the Mets will place him on the 60-day IL and free a 40-man roster spot. That’ll go to Jankowski, who cracked the Opening Day roster after signing a minor league contract this offseason. He adds a fleet-footed player with experience at all three outfield spots to the New York bench. He has played 400+ innings everywhere on the grass as a big leaguer, with the bulk of that experience coming in center field.
The 30-year-old will serve as a speed/defense specialist behind the starting outfield of Brandon Nimmo, Starling Marte and Mark Canha. The lefty-swinging Jankowski has never been much of a threat at the plate, as he owns a .239/.322/.318 line in a bit more than 1,100 big league plate appearances.