The team that signs Brad Ziegler isn’t going to draw front-page headlines or an uptick in jersey sales. Heck, they might not even trend on Twitter for signing him.
But that doesn’t mean that signing Brad Ziegler won’t be an important move that drastically changes the landscape of the 2017 season for one, or multiple teams.
Ziegler is the best relief pitcher available now that Kenley Jansen, Aroldis Chapman and Mark Melancon are signed. He’s 37 years old, so he’s not going to command a long-term deal for $15 to $20 million a year. And his career numbers are as good as any other relief pitcher in baseball.
He has never posted an ERA above 3.49 since breaking into the majors in 2008, and has a lifetime mark of 2.44. Ziegler has been especially dominant over the last two seasons.
Closer A, since 2015: 121 IP, 2.08 ERA, 183 ERA+
Closer B, since 2015: 136 IP, 2.05 ERA, 210 ERA+
A is Kenley Jansen. B is Brad Ziegler.
— Chris Gaine (@chris_gaine) December 12, 2016
He’s been as good as Kenley Jansen since 2015, and will come at just a fraction of Jansen’s price. Ziegler is also quite versatile; he has been a setup man for much of his career and has only become a full-time closer over the last two seasons, and he has excelled there as well.
This is someone that the Mets need to sign for a couple of reasons. The first of which is their need for another arm in the bullpen. Jeurys Familia could end up getting an extended suspension after he was arrested in October and charged with simple assault. And after he comes back, the Mets will need a seventh-inning man to shore up the back end of their bullpen.
And another reason the Mets need him– and this is the one that will justify overspending on him– is that both the Nationals and the Marlins are vying for a closer. Ziegler is by far the strongest option here and depriving two division rivals of a guy who is statistically on par with Kenley Jansen might just be the biggest upside of a Ziegler-Mets partnership.
The Nationals’ bullpen right now is nonexistent. If they get a closer like Ziegler, however, they’ll re-emerge as favorites to win the division. The Marlins are in a similar situation, albeit they’re a middle-of-the-road team that probably is going to need to make a lot more moves to contend.
Other options on the relief market are not nearly as effective as Ziegler has been. They include Neftali Feliz, who is one season removed from a 6.38 ERA, Greg Holland, who hasn’t pitched in two years, and Santiago Casilla, who has been remarkably inconsistent over the last couple seasons. Considering this market, the Mets need to sign Ziegler to keep their division rivals from acquiring a top-tier reliever.
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports predicted that Ziegler would get a two-year, $18 million contract. That’s more than fair for him, and if the Mets need to go a little bit higher than that, so be it.