With Jerry Blevins on the free agent market and not likely destined to return to the team next year, the Mets will have to fill their LOOGY role from within or go to the outside market.
Internally, the only legitimate candidate for that type of role is Daniel Zamora, who impressed in his brief stint with the Mets at the end of the season.
It would be frugal for the Mets to acquire a more experienced lefty, though, so that Zamora could be the second option. Listed below are some of the names the Mets should consider for that role.
Wilson, 31, has been one of the better left-handed relievers in baseball over the last five years or so and posted a very respectable line with the Chicago Cubs last season.
In 71 appearances, the hard-throwing reliever posted a 3.46 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, and 69 strikeouts. While Wilson handled right-handed hitters perfectly fine (.244 average against him), he was much more dominant against his same-handed opponents, who hit a mere .190 off of him in 2018.
However, in his career, Wilson has actually fared slightly better against right-handed hitters as they have a career OPS of .628 against him as compared to his .664 OPS against lefties.
If the Mets are looking for someone that can handle both lefties and righties, then Wilson could be their guy. If the goal is to get a strict LOOGY, though, they might be best served looking elsewhere.
Jon Heyman of Fancred currently projects Wilson to land a two-year, $14 million contract in free agency this offseason.
The 35-year-old has had a very-up-and-down career to date with an ERA of 3.67 over his 10 years in the league. However, one of his best years came this past season with the Houston Astros in which he posted a 1.86 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, and 42 strikeouts in 54 appearances (38 2/3 innings pitched).
In his career, unfortunately, his best seasons have often been followed by years where his ERA would skyrocket into the mid-4.00s, meaning the Mets could be looking into him at the wrong time.
Sipp, though, did limit his same-handed opponents to a mere .557 OPS in 2018 while also faring pretty well against right-handed hitters who had a lowly .608 OPS against him.
For his career, he is slightly better against lefties too, holding them to .707 OPS as compared to a .719 OPS against righties.
Heyman projects him to only get a two-year deal worth $10 million this offseason. Sipp’s age and regression habits over his career could serve as a barrier to the Mets giving him such a deal, though.
De La Rosa is an interesting candidate for the Mets this offseason as he could be had on the cheap, but is only two years into his career as a full-time reliever.
The 37-year-old split his time last season between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Chicago Cubs. He posted very different numbers on each team as he struggled in the first half with the former as he had a 4.63 ERA, 5.56 FIP, and 1.60 WHIP in 42 appearances.
After he was dealt to the Cubs, though, his performance improved significantly as he had a mere 1.29 ERA and 1.04 WHIP while striking out 20 batters in 17 games (21 innings).
Much like Sipp and Wilson, De La Rosa was only slightly better against lefties (.686 OPS) than righties (.725 OPS) in 2018.
His price tag might be the most appealing thing about him, though, as Heyman only sees him getting a one-year, $3 million contract on the open market this offseason.
Duke falls in a similar category as De La Rosa, as a former starter that has transitioned to the bullpen.
The 35-year-old has been in the bullpen much longer, though, as he appeared in 371 games as a reliever to date and 3.31 ERA and .240 average against him coming out of the bullpen.
Duke, though, is more of the typical lefty-specialist, though, as he is significantly better against his same-handed opponents who he has limited to a .698 OPS for his career. Meanwhile, right-handers have a .808 OPS against him, which makes it very tough to leave him in for more than a couple left-handers in a particular inning.
In 2018, Duke split his season between the Minnesota Twins and Seattle Mariners in which he had a 4.15 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 3.01 FIP, and 51 strikeouts in 72 appearances (52 innings).
Heyman only sees Duke costing a one-year, $2 million contract which could put himself into consideration for the Mets, and pretty much any other team looking for a lefty, with that minuscule price tag.
Last on this list is Diekman who I find to be the most interesting gamble of the bunch. The former Phillie did not fare well at all overall this season as he had a 4.73 ERA and 1.50 WHIP between the Texas Rangers and Arizona Diamondbacks this past season.
However, for his career, Diekman is actually very solid against both lefties (.638 OPS) and righties (.680 OPS) and has a much more respectable 3.75 ERA for his career, even with last year’s rough season.
That season was even a tale of a pitcher having trouble adjusting to a new team as he had a 3.69 ERA in 47 appearances with the Rangers before registering a blistering 7.53 ERA in 24 appearances with the D-Backs.
Diekman has always registered a high strikeout rate, though, as he has 383 strikeouts in only 312 innings for his career.
At Heyman’s projected price (one-year, $3 million), the Mets could make a low-risk, high reward pickup if they were to sign him.