A bidding war on New York pitching, Stearns plays it cool and an unheralded Mets reliever
The Mets may have some competition for Aaron Loup and Marcus Stroman in free agency. Plus, a look at another relief pitcher that doesn't get enough attention.
What’s Up with the Mets? 💭
The Mets are interested in re-signing LHP Aaron Loup, but they’re finding some early competition from the Phillies (Heyman)
The Angels are interested in both Marcus Stroman and Noah Syndergaard in free agency (The Athletic)
In addition to Adam Cromie, New York has also been linked to another former Washington employee, Sam Mondry-Cohen (MMO)
Braves LHP Max Fried won the NL Silver Slugger award, beating out Jacob deGrom
Steve Cohen and the Mets have built up their analytics staff to 26 employees, a far cry from where it stood during the Wilpon era (Heyman)
Brewers President of Baseball Operations David Stearns downplayed rumors that the Mets are waiting to hire him next offseason while attending the GM Meetings on Thursday
A look at Drew Smith, the Mets bullpen’s secret weapon 📝
For the majority of the 2021 season the Mets bullpen was actually very good —quite the contrary from the Amazin’ relief corps we had watched in recent years. New York was able to feature a strong six-man relief core of Edwin Díaz, Seth Lugo, Aaron Loup, Jeurys Familia, Trevor May and Miguel Castro that was largely reliable and prevented manager Luis Rojas from having to overuse any of them. In my opinion, though, there was actually a seventh man in this bullpen that didn’t get enough attention.
Right-hander Drew Smith has sort of become a forgotten man on this roster, especially after missing all of the 2019 campaign recovering from Tommy John Surgery, then making only eight appearances in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. This past season, however, he really emerged as a legitimate big league reliever.
Prior to having his season cut short in August because of shoulder inflammation, Smith took the mound 31 times, and was brilliant in almost all of them. In 41.1 innings he put up a 2.40 ERA with an excellent 1.06 WHIP. Opponents managed to hit just .192 against the Fort Worth, TX native and he punched out a hitter per inning.
What made Smith an especially important member of this pitching staff was his ability to consistently pitch more than one inning in relief — something that the Mets were missing for much of 2021 when both Robert Gsellman and Sean Reid-Foley were on the injured list. On 12 different occasions, Smith was able to give New York multiple frames, an underrated skill that can really save the rest of your bullpen. Smith features a mid-90s fastball with a sharp slider/cutter, and his 3rd pitch, a curve ball, held opponents to just a .111 batting average.
The Mets bullpen expects to bring many of the same faces back in 2022, with Loup and Familia the only two of that top group who are currently free agents. But regardless of who is ultimately here on Opening Day, I think it would behoove the club to really give Smith an opportunity to prove himself as a potential late inning set-up man.
Hot Stove 🔥
Pirates all-star CF Bryan Reynolds is drawing significant trade interest at the moment, specifically from the Yankees and Mariners (Morosi)
The Phillies are showing interest in free agent CF Starling Marte (Heyman)
The Tigers have been linked to free agents RHP Jon Gray and RHP Anthony Desclafani (Heyman and Morosi)
RHP Joakim Soria announced his retirement after pitching in the league for 14 seasons and for nine different teams
MLB has proposed replacing arbitration with WAR-based salaries for pre-free agent players (The Athletic)
Prospect Watch ⚾
Yesterday’s stats in the Arizona Fall & Dominican Winter Leagues
Brett Baty (3B, No. 2 prospect): 3-for-4, RBI, BB, 3 R
Brian Metoyer (RHP, unranked): 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K