The first signing under new owner Steve Cohen is a relief pitcher, who pitched his first six seasons in Minnesota. That would be 31-year old Trevor May, who looks to solidify a Mets bullpen that has had its struggles over the past four years. May is a strong get for an area that has hurt the Mets in the recent past. The deal is for a reported two years worth around $15 million.
Mets Bullpen Struggles in 2020
Although they improved from previous years, the bullpen was still far from a strength in 2020. The Mets’ main bullpen addition, Dellin Betances, had a tough time of it in his first year in Queens as he pitched to a 7.71 ERA in 15 games. Brad Brach pitched to a 5.84 ERA in 14 games. Miguel Castro, whom the Mets traded for at the deadline, struggled as well.
Other relievers such as Robert Gsellman, Paul Sewald, Drew Smith, etc. also disappointed. However, not all was lost from the bullpen as Seth Lugo was successful yet again in the backend, and both Edwin Diaz and Jeurys Familia both put up improved numbers with respect to 2019.
Mets Relievers Under Contract In 2021
With the addition of May, the Mets currently have five right-handed relievers under contract for 2021. This doesn’t include Edwin Diaz, who will be tendered a contract soon. This crop of right-handers includes Jacob Barnes, Dellin Betances, Brad Brach, Jeurys Familia, Trevor May, and soon-to-be Edwin Diaz.
However, Seth Lugo could also be added to this list if he does return to the bullpen, but that remains to be seen. It’s also possible and likely that one of Miguel Castro or Robert Gsellman gets non-tendered. If I’m the Mets, the answer is clearly Gsellman, who had an atrocious 2020 season. He pitched to a 9.64 ERA in six games, including four games started.
May Succeeds In Transition to Bullpen
While originally instituted as a starter, May became a full-time reliever in his third season. Since then, he has put up strong numbers in relief. His velocity, particularly, has gone up significantly since moving to the bullpen.
After undergoing Tommy Joh Surgery and missing all of the 2017 season, he has come back stronger. He has put up respective ERA’s of 3.20, 2.94, and 3.86 in 123 games since 2018. Additionally, he has struck out 32.9% of the batters that he has faced since then as well. That would put him at 15th in the league among relievers with at least 100 games pitched.
Since 2018, he has put up a 3.19 ERA (t-37th), 141 ERA+ (t-29th), 1.080 WHIP (21st), and a .620 Opp. OPS (24th), As a result, it’s clear that May has cemented himself as a top 30 reliever in the game and will be a great help to the Mets bullpen which already includes a lot of firepower.
Mets Have Continued Work in Bullpen
The Mets still have a little work left in the bullpen, which includes finding a new left-handed reliever. The likeliest option is Brad Hand, who was non-tendered by the Indians due to his contract.
The Mets current Team President Sandy Alderson said in a prior interview that the Mets would’ve picked him up had they been in a position to do so. Other options include a return with Justin Wilson, Andrew Chafin, Tony Watson, and Jake McGee. If the Mets can snag one of these, particularly Hand, they will be in a much better position bullpen wise in 2021.
May Is The first of Many Signings in Queens
The signing of May is the first notable signing for the new regime in Queens in what is likely to be a very busy offseason in Queens.
While the Mets are currently in the market for a general manager, Sandy Alderson is more than capable of handling baseball operations. As a result, the absence of a general manager will not prevent the Mets from pursuing any top free agents.
Alderson said the Mets have done more than their due diligence with free agents, indicating they have had serious conversations with a variety of free agents.
So while May is the first ball to drop, expect the Mets to be involved in many of the remaining top free agents. The Mets are looking to improve their fortunes in 2021 and the new regime of Alderson and Cohen aims to do just that.