After a long offseason of inaction following the re-signing of outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to a four-year, $110 million dollar deal in November, the New York Mets sprung back into action last week, re-signing left-hander Jerry Blevins and right-hander Fernando Salas to one-year deals and even adding veteran southpaw Tom Gorzelanny on a minor-league contract.
So in one fell swoop they completed their No. 2 offseason priority which was to secure two veteran arms for the bullpen. And the interesting part is that they didn’t have to trade Jay Bruce to free up the payroll dollars to get each of those deals done. It looks like the former Reds slugger will go into the the 2017 season as the de facto right fielder for the New York Mets. As Jerry Seinfeld would say, “Not that there’s anything wrong with that.”
Blevins, 33, was the biggest prize of the bullpen bounty, signing a one year deal for $6.5 million with a team option for $6 million. It’s important to remember that Blevins began the offseason looking for a three year, $19 million dollar deal, so what a coup this is for Sandy Alderson who played his hand brilliantly.
In Blevins the Mets get a sure-fire commodity who gave them a 2.79 ERA in 73 games last season, while striking out 52, walking 15, and posting a career-best 11.1 strikeout rate. Not only did he hold lefty batters to a .637 OPS for the Mets in 2016, but he was even better against right-handed batters who he held to a .611 OPS in 55 at-bats.
Salas, 31, got a one-year deal worth $3 million dollars which seems like a steal compared to some of the other deals similar pitchers have received in previous offseasons. Salas posted a 2.08 ERA and 19/0 K/BB ratio over 17.1 innings with the Mets in 2016 after coming over in a trade from the Angels at the deadline. For his career he has a 3.64 ERA and K/BB ratio of 385/114 in 388.1 innings over seven seasons.
I read a few articles elsewhere over the weekend that the Mets are “bringing the band back,” or essentially showing up with the “same old team” as last year – the one that barely scraped by and lost the Wild Card. Some people…
If you think this is the same team as last year, put down the pipe and think again. Last Opening Day we had Eric Campbell, Logan Verrett, Alejandro De Aza, Antonio Bastardo, Kevin Plawecki, and Jim Henderson in the home team dugout. A motley crew to say the least.
Those names have now been replaced with Jay Bruce, Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo, Fernando Salas, Jose Reyes, and Rene Rivera. That’s quite a big upgrade. In fact, it’s actually a formidable upgrade and anyone who can’t see that really isn’t very good at baseball.
Meanwhile the Nationals… What have they done? Their bullpen is in complete shambles. Sure they got Adam Eaton, but he essentially replaces the offense they lost behind the plate with Wilson Ramos. Daniel Murphy is due for some regression, Ryan Zimmerman batted .218 last season Jayson Werth batted .244.
Look, all I’m saying is that the Washington Nationals are not exactly the unbeatable force that everyone is making them out to be. And that the New York Mets are not a team with a second place ceiling at best. And when are these so-called experts ever right anyway?
I’ve been following baseball long enough to know that there are only two absolutes in this game. Number one, nobody ever wins anything on paper. And number two, there’s no telling who lady luck will smile upon in any given season.
The way I see it, we have a tremendous team entering the new season and we have much to be excited about here. This is a significantly better group of players than the team we had on last year’s Opening Day roster. This could be the year that for the very first time we’ll finally get to see the Fab Five all taking a turn in the same starting rotation. Potentially, we could have five 25 homer bats in the same starting lineup. Last season we had the third best bullpen in baseball, this year it could be the best. This is the best team on balance that we’ve had in years. I’m really feeling it this season… This is a team every Met fan needs to get behind.