Position: Reliever / Closer
Bats: Left – Throws: Right
Born: December 27, 1988 (Age-28)
2017 Stats: 2.84 ERA, 1.053 WHIP, 9.0 K/9, 19 Saves
When the New York Mets acquired Addison Reed from the Arizona Diamondbacks back in August 2015, Sandy Alderson was taking a chance that the then 26-year-old right-hander could provide a consistent presence in the back-end of the pen. Trading two prospects (Matt Koch and Miller Diaz), Alderson was hoping that Reed, who had been demoted to Triple-A in June of that season after posting a 5.92 ERA in 25 appearances, would continue to perform at the level he was pitching at after his return from the minors: a 1.65 ERA in 16.1 IP, with 14 strikeouts to three walks.
Alderson’s hunch paid off, as Reed was solid for the Mets in September, pitching to a 1.17 ERA over 15.1 IP with six holds. While Reed faltered at times during that postseason, he had two more years of team control, and, turned in one of his finest seasons in 2016. Among qualified relievers, Reed was third in baseball in appearances (80), 6th in FIP (1.97), 11th in K-BB % (25.7), and 13th in WHIP (0.94). His 2.6 fWAR was behind only Kanley Jansen, Andrew Miller, Dellin Betances, and Arolid Chapman among qualified relievers that year.
Entering his final arbitration eligible season in 2017, Reed once again proved to be an asset in the pen, and back in a familiar role he once owned with the Chicago White Sox and Diamondbacks, closer. Filling in for Jeurys Familia, who was suspended to start the season and later landed on the DL, undergoing surgery to remove a blood clot in his right shoulder, Reed was 19-for-21 in save opportunities, with a 2.57 ERA and a career best 1.1 BB/9.
While his average fastball velocity has seen a slight decline over the years, Reed was able to have continued success by throwing first pitch strikes (67.7 %, 7th best in baseball) and generating swings on outside pitches (36.2 %, a career best and 18th in baseball). Not to mention the change in his leg kick, one he shortened before the trade to the Mets, which helped with his rhythm on the mound and gave him more command of the strike zone.
The Mets flipped Reed to the Boston Red Sox at this year’s deadline, looking to recoup high upside arms for a fairly barren minor league system. It made sense for the team at the time, as the Mets were floundering and set to see Reed hit free agency for the first time in his career at the conclusion of the season. The trade netted the Mets three hard-throwing right-handers in Jamie Callahan, Stephen Nogosek, and Gerson Bautista.
With the Red Sox, Reed got to experience the postseason for the third consecutive year, however, the postseason has been rough on Reed at times. Fans will remember the heartbreaking loss in Game 5 of the ’15 World Series, where Reed allowed the go-ahead run for Kansas City to score in the 12th inning, giving up a total of 5 runs (4 earned) in just 1/3 of an inning pitched.
Despite the shaky performances in his playoff career, there’s no denying that Reed has been one of the pre-eminent relievers in baseball over the past two seasons. Among qualified relievers, Reed checks in first in appearances (157), 5th in innings pitched (153.2), 12th in ERA (2.40), 8th in fWAR (3.5), and 5th in Win Probability Added (5.69).
Turning 29 in December, Reed is entering free agency as one of the top available arms on the market. While Wade Davis leads the pack, Reed is three-years younger and will receive a ton of interest on the open market. There were about five other teams interested in Reed’s services before the Red Sox dealt the three prospects to the Mets, according to Mark Feinsand of MLB.com, and with clubs looking to bolster their bullpens, expect Reed’s name to be bandied about this offseason.
Reed enters the offseason as one of the best relief pitchers on the market, and can be sold as both a closer and set-up man. Surely Reed’s agent will sell teams on him as a closer, hoping to secure every last dollar they can. After earning $7.75 million last year in his final year of arbitration, I envision Reed could jump to an annual average salary close to $10 million per year, with Andrew Miller’s four-year, $36 million contract as a close comp.
It’s no secret that the Mets need to upgrade their bullpen if they want to compete in ’18 and beyond. With several intriguing names on the free agent market (Neshek, Davis, Gregerson, Kintzler, McGee, Holland, Smith) the Mets should look to acquire at least two arms this winter, while holding competitions for the remaining vacant spots in spring.
Reed is a known commodity in Queens, and would be a seamless transition back into the clubhouse. Adding Reed back to a pen that already includes AJ Ramos, Jeurys Familia, and Jerry Blevins (once option is picked up) would give the Mets superior relief, one that features three potential closers for the next Mets’ manager to mix and match to help keep them healthy throughout the course of a year.
I fully expect the Mets to monitor Reed’s market this winter. Alderson’s MO is not to go multiple years on relievers, usually staying around the one to two-year deals, or, spring training invites. If the Mets are serious about upgrading the back-end of the bullpen, they might need to go three plus years to secure one of the premier relievers on the market. While relief arms can be fickle year-to-year, signing a guy like Reed who has a successful track record both as a set-up man and closer, under the age of 30, and has experience in New York, would make a ton of sense in terms of a reunion.