Robert Gsellman and two others non-tendered, Mets make two free agent signings official, plus two ideal fits for the Mets bullpen
Starling Marte and Mark Canha are officially on-board
What’s Up with the Mets? 💭
The collective bargaining agreement between Major League Baseball and the Players Association expires at 11:59 PM ET tonight. The owners will reportedly lock the players out if the two sides don’t come to terms by that deadline. No transactions can be completed and players will be barred from using their club’s facilities until the lockout has ended. Click here for a history of work stoppages in Major League Baseball.
Ahead of the impending lockout, the Mets made their deals with OF Starling Marte (four years) and OF Mark Canha (two years) official on Tuesday night - their 40-man roster currently stands at 38 and will be full when the club officially adds RHP Max Scherzer and INF Eduardo Escobar later today.
RHP Robert Gsellman was non-tendered by the Mets ahead of Tuesday’s deadline, ending his tenure with the Mets and making him a free agent. Gsellman had a 3.77 ERA in 17 appearances in 2021, having dealt with a lat tear for most of the season. He was projected to earn $1.6 million through arbitration.
The Mets also non-tendered OF Mark Payton and RHP Stephen Nogosek.
The Mets are showing some interest in re-signing RHP Jeurys Familia (New York Post)
The Mets would like to discuss a contract extension with the agents for OF Brandon Nimmo (SNY)
The Rockies are showing interest in signing 3B/OF Kris Bryant (MLB.com)
Richard Rodriguez and Brad Hand are ideal fits for the Mets bullpen 📝
When Mets GM Billy Eppler was introduced in mid-November, he identified pitching depth as an area of need on the club’s roster. The reported acquisition of Max Scherzer unquestionably gives their rotation more credibility, if not the best 1-2 punch in baseball if he and Jacob deGrom is healthy.
But one area the Mets have yet to address among any of their major league acquisitions is their bullpen, and not only replacing the departed Aaron Loup and Jeurys Familia, but working to effectively shorten the game and confidently get outs in innings 7-9.
Of course, that’s not at all to say Eppler and the Mets will neglect this area of the roster. After all, there are unquestionably a wealth of options for the Mets to consider.
And two options which immediately come to mind are Brad Hand and Richard Rodriguez.
Hand, who will be 32 on opening day, piqued Sandy Alderson’s interest when the Indians chose to waive him after the 2020 season. He bounced between the Nationals, Blue Jays and Mets in 2021, going 6-7 with a 3.90 ERA in 68 appearances between the three clubs. He had a rough second half, however, pitching to a 5.86 ERA in 33 games overall but more specifically, a 7.27 ERA in 11 appearances for Toronto after being acquired from Washington. That led to his release at the end of August and the Mets picking him up in September. He did pitch to a 2.70 ERA in 16 relief appearances with five walks and 14 strikeouts in 13 1/3 innings after joining New York, serving primarily as a sixth and seventh inning reliever.
Hand experienced regression in the effectiveness in both his sinker and slider in 2021, his walk rate increased and his strikeout rate decreased, all of which contributed to his off-year and the second half specifically. Still, Hand has been among the elite relievers in the game since 2016, registering 125 saves and a 2.90 ERA in 374 games during that span.
As for Rodriguez, he will also be 32 on opening day and was non-tendered by the Braves on Tuesday. He started his professional career with the Astros back in 2010 and had his contract purchased by the Orioles in 2015. He was then signed as a free agent by the Pirates in 2017 and made his debut in 2018. Prior to the 2021 season, Rodriguez served in a setup role for the Pirates before being injected as their closer and has a 3.24 ERA since the 2019 season over 88 relief appearances.
Rodriguez recorded 14 saves for the Pirates before being traded to the Braves before the trade deadline, combining for a 2.94 ERA between the two clubs and 2.0 bWAR with only 10 walks allowed in 64 1/3 innings pitched. His strikeout rate did decrease dramatically in 2021, as he only recorded 5.9 strikeouts-per-nine-innings, just 42 total on the year. But he abandoned his sinker upon his arrival in Atlanta which might’ve led to just nine strikeouts in 26 innings with the Braves down the stretch of the season, throwing his fastball over 86% of the time during that span. He has maintained a low 90’s fastball with elite movement on his slider since 2018.
Between Hand and Rodriguez, they could both go a long way towards addressing a few glaring needs in the Mets bullpen, as they need additional late inning relief help as well as at least one left-handed reliever. They both have experience closing as well, which could serve as insurance for the erratic Edwin Díaz should he falter in his role.
A long lockout could actually work to the advantage of the buyer in the relief market, as the closer the lockout ends to spring training with a large supply of relief pitchers still available, the more likely that market could be discounted (relatively speaking, of course) when business resumes. Given the volatility of relievers, both Hand and Rodriguez could prove to be two of the great values in the free agent relief market for the 2022 season.
Hot Stove 🔥
The Marlins acquired INF Joey Wendle from the Rays (Miami Herald)
Miami also extended RHP Sandy Alcantara on a five-year, $56 million contract extension (team release)
Miami shipped C Jorge Alfaro to the Padres from the Marlins for cash considerations (team release)
The Braves signed Orlando Arcia to a two-year, $3 million contract (team release)
Raisel Iglesias re-signed with the Angels for four years, $58 million (MLB Network)
The Tigers non-tendered LHP Matthew Boyd (team release)
Atlanta has shown interest in 1B Matt Olson as a fallback to Freddie Freeman (MLB Network)
Many NL teams are showing interest in DH Nelson Cruz, if there’s a universal designated hitter (MLB Network)
The Blue Jays and Yankees are among teams showing interest in signing 1B Freddie Freeman (MLB Network)
OF Clint Frazier has agreed to sign with the Cubs (MLB.com)
The Phillies have explored a trade for OF Kevin Kiermaier (Athletic)
C Yan Gomes is joining the Cubs on a two-year contract (SportsGrid)
Former Dodger utility player Chris Taylor could sign a new deal soon, with the Dodgers, Blue Jays, Mariners, Angels and Nationals all having expressed interest in his services (MLB.com)
The Orioles are close to signing INF Rougned Odor (Baltimore Sun)