The Mets announced Wednesday that right-hander Edwin Uceta has been designated for assignment in order to open a spot on the 40-man roster for fellow righty Dennis Santana, whose contract has been selected from Triple-A Syracuse. Right-hander Jose Butto was optioned to Syracuse in a corresponding 26-man roster move.
Uceta, 25, was a waiver claim out of the Pirates organization back in April. He’s missed substantial time this season after undergoing surgery to address a torn meniscus in his left knee — a June procedure that sidelined him for eight weeks. The Mets only recently reinstated him from the 60-day injured list. He’s pitched three shutout frames at the big league level this season and another 7 2/3 innings of one-run ball in the minors. That said, Uceta has also walked six hitters against just two strikeouts in the minors, and he issued a pair of free passes while facing a total of 11 big league hitters earlier this season.
Command has been an issue for Uceta throughout the upper minors (13.4% walk rate in 83 1/3 Triple-A innings) and in the Majors (11.9%). Broadly speaking, he’s shown good ability to spin his four-seamer and to miss bats in the upper minors, but he hasn’t yet found much success above the Double-A level. Uceta has a 4.64 ERA in 83 1/3 innings at the Triple-A level and a 5.80 mark in 40 1/3 frames between the Dodgers, D-backs and Mets in the big leagues.
The 27-year-old Santana has had better, albeit still below-average results in the Majors, working to a 5.18 ERA in 147 2/3 innings between the Dodgers, Rangers and Mets. He tossed 8 2/3 innings for the Mets earlier this season, yielding six runs in that time before being designated for assignment and passed through outright waivers. Since heading to Triple-A, he’s logged 33 innings with a 4.91 ERA, 27% strikeout rate and 13.2% walk rate. Command has been an issue for Santana as well, but he throws harder than Uceta and keeps the ball on the ground far more often.
The Mets have only gotten 6 2/3 innings out of their starters over the past two games, so swapping out Butto for Santana — at the expense of Uceta’s 40-man spot — will give manager Buck Showalter a fresh arm in the event of another short start in the next couple games. Uceta will be placed on waivers or released within the next week. He’s never been outrighted in the past and doesn’t have three years of service time, so if he goes unclaimed the Mets can retain him via outright assignment.