In a great post earlier this week, Harris Decker posed the question as to whether Jenrry Mejia should be traded this offseason. The readers were split on this notion with 51% saying yes and 49% saying no. The reasons justifying this move, according to Decker, are health and pitching depth. These are both very valid reasons. However, I want to throw out a third, and perhaps most relevant reason: he wasn’t that good.
This may seem a bit unfair a first glance. His 28 saves were the most by a Met since Francisco Rodriquez saved 35 in 2009. And his 90.3% save percentage was in the top half of the league. But if we are to consider Ws and Ls in a lesser light for starters in the age of sabermetrics, perhaps the same holds true for saves for closers.
When looking at effectiveness, the narrative changes considerably. Of all NL closers, Mejia ranked dead last in both WHIP (1.48) and BAA (.265). In fact, only once in the last 20 years has a primary Met closer had a worse WHIP than Mejia’s. And this covers the steroid era and venerable closers such as Braden Looper and Armando Benitez. (In case you were wondering, that one season was 2012 when Frank Francisco stumbled to a 1.61 WHIP. Clearly, not great company.)
Given this view of Mejia’s season, the Mets were fortunate not to have lost more of those games. If next season is truly the year we are going to compete, the last thing they need is to be sabotaged by ineffective late inning relief. But as Decker mentions, the Mets are dealing from a point of strength in this department. As a set up guy, Jeurys Familia posted considerable better numbers than Mejia with a 1.18 WHIP and a .209 BAA. While this would not rank near the league’s best, it is also a far cry from worst. And the guy is a fierce competitor with what seems like the mental toughness to succeed in the role. As Decker alludes to, a combination of Vic Black/Bobby Parnell could slide in to fill the void left in the 8th inning if Familia is bumped up.
So to get back to the question of whether Mejia should be traded, I think the answer is yes. But even if Sandy can’t get a suitable return on such a trade, the Mets should seriously consider moving Familia to that role anyway. The results speak for themselves.