MMO Fan Shot: A Bull(Pen) Market

An MMO Fan Shot by @kengiffyjr

Over the last 10 years, the Mets have finished above .500 in just two seasons, 2015 and 2016.

Over the last 10 years, the Mets’ Bullpen has finished a season ranked in the top 15 just two times, 2015 and 2016.

In 2018, here were the Mets’ Bullpen rankings by month:

March/April:  9th
May:  29th
June:  30th
July:  30th
August:  18th
September:  10th

The Mets record in March/April/August/September: 50-34

The Mets record in May/June/July: 27-51

 Since the 2015/2016 playoff runs, the Bullpen has ranked No. 28 in back to back years with a combined 0.2 WAR.  Brutal.  To compare, the Yankees’ Bullpen posted a 19.1 WAR over the past two seasons.  There have been many reasons why they’ve taken a step back since those playoff runs, but the HUGE falloff by the bullpen has been at or near the top of the list.

It’s looking unlikely that the Mets will be major players in any of the marquee free agent position player markets (they should be, but that’s another story.)  But one thing going the Mets way: this is one of the best Reliever Free Agent crops in years.


Let’s look at this by tiers.  And let’s compare it to previous contract/performances over the past few years.  For the Free Agents (who are highlighted), I’ve added my own estimate of what I think their potential contract could be based on comps/current market.

TOP TIER (Relievers with a Prior 3-Year WAR over 5.0)

This is a risky tier.  The year after netting their huge contracts, Chapman, Melancon, and Wade Davis all had unusually weak years and were all near 1.0 WAR or below.  Man, I always forget how dominant Addison was here.

MIDDLE TIER (Relievers with a Prior 3-Year WAR from 3.0 – 5.0)

This is the most interesting tier.  Still some risk but some great values in here.  Wouldn’t be surprised if this is the most competitive tier as well.

LOWER TIER (Relievers with a Prior 3-Year WAR below 3.0)

This is where the gems are found, and often a roll of the dice.  Our Swarzak roll last year…not good.


Sandy Alderson liked to explore the trade market vs. free agency (see: Reed, Blevins), as he hated those multi-year deals for relievers (see: Frank Francisco, Antonio Bastardo.)  We’ll see what happens with the new regime, but these trades are often way cheaper and less risky.  I don’t foresee anyone next level (ie Iglesias), but some guys that are interesting:

  • Yoshihisa Hirano (ARZ): Great first year (2.44 ERA), signed through 2019 ($3 million), D’Backs all but announced their rebuild, wouldn’t cost too much.
  • David Hernandez (CIN): Last year of contract with Reds, outstanding year (2.53 ERA, $2.5 million next year)
  • Craig Stammen (SD): Would probably be more of a midseason trade since San Diego isn’t calling it quits in the offseason. (2.73 ERA, $2.3 million next year)
  • Jared Hughes (CIN): Signed through 2019 with a club option for 2020. Been shockingly steady with a career year last year (1.94 ERA, owed $5 million over next two seasons.)
  • Will Smith (SF): Another midseason trade candidate. Strong lefty, 2.55 ERA with a 12.1 K/9.


It’s easy to say the Mets should get 2-3 guys, to add to the core of Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo and Drew Smith (Lugo may be in the rotation of course.)  I do think Anthony Swarzak bounces back and settles in between his two extremes of 2017 and 2018 (1.0 WAR-ish.)  I remain a Tyler Bashlor fan.  Zamora looked interesting.  And a few of the upcomers should stick (Villines, Bautista, Gilliam, Ryder Ryan, etc)

Have to be wary of what happened in Colorado last year.  Everyone loved their offseason when they went all in on the bullpen.  While Wade Davis was decent, Shaw/McGee nearly combined for -2.0 WAR.  But the Mets have to roll the dice this year.  It’s a must.

The good thing with investing in the bullpen is (barring a catastrophe), they should be easy to move if the contract is decent in the event 2019 goes south once again, and the Mets pivot to sellers or (gulp) a legitimate rebuild.

I think Kimbrel will go back to the Red Sox.  And I think Yankees keep one of Britton or Robertson.

For the FA list, the four guys I’m zeroing in on are:

So, here’s my official Bullpen Wish List as of October:

  • Sign Cody Allen – 3 years, $30 million
  • Sign Adam Ottavino – 3 years, $30 million
  • Trade for David Hernandez in offseason for top 15-20 prospect. 1 year, $2.5 million
  • Trade for Will Smith in midseason for top 20+ prospect. 1 year, $2.5 million

Hope you all enjoyed!

* * * * * * * *

This Fan Shot was written and contributed by MMO community member and die-hard Mets fan @kengiffyjr. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Send your article to or use this Contact Form. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.

About Fan Shots 496 Articles
Share your opinions with over 25,000 daily readers on MMO and write your own Fan Shot. If we like what we read, we'll feature you on our front page with the rest of of our great content. Simply email us at and we'll take care of the rest. Then you can tell your all your friends and family that you were published on Mets Merized Online - the #1 Mets Fan Site on the web!