It is no secret that one position Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson needs to address before the start of Spring Training is the bullpen, as this team currently lacks depth in their bullpen.
Even though the Mets will most likely have a very solid backend of the bullpen in 2017 with Jeurys Familia and Addison Reed pitching the final two innings on most nights, the bullpen could be much more dominant if Alderson could add at least one more veteran relief pitcher to provide some more depth.
Right now, the Mets especially lack a solid veteran lefty specialist out of the bullpen, the role that Jerry Blevins held down last season. Even though Blevins is still a free agent, it seems unlikely that the Mets will bring him back in 2017, as Blevins is seeking a 2-3 year contract while the Mets are trying to save their money and only sign relief pitchers to minor league contracts.
With the Mets playing in the NL East, which includes power hitting left handed hitters on opposing rosters such as Bryce Harper, Daniel Murphy, Freddie Freeman, and more, the Mets need to find themselves a lefty who is capable of getting those types of hitters out in late game situations.
All three of these pitchers are younger pitchers who have moved back and forth the past couple of seasons between the Mets and Triple-A Las Vegas who have had their struggles at times at the big-league level. With that being said, the Mets could certainly use an upgrade for a left handed relief pitcher and there are still many free agents the Mets could turn to before the start of Spring Training.
One veteran lefty the Mets could bring in is the soft tossing 38 year old, Chris Capuano. Capuano was with the Mets as a starting pitcher in 2011 where he went 11-12 with a 4.55 ERA along with 168 strikeouts and 53 walks. Capuano used to be a full time starter earlier in his career but has spent more time in the bullpen the past few seasons because he is getting older and some injuries have caused him to not go as deep into games as he once could have.
Capuano has never been a “great” pitcher as he has not had his ERA under 4.00 since the 2012 season. However, at age 38 he can still pitch out of the bullpen and get left handed hitters out so bringing him in with a minor league contract would not be that bad of an idea for Sandy Alderson.
Like Capuano, Javier Lopez is another soft tossing left hander that has been around the MLB for a long time. Lopez is currently 39 years old and spent his last six seasons with the San Francisco Giants. He seems to have some left in the tank as just two years ago he posted an ERA of 1.60 in 77 appearances with lefties batting .112 against him.
Lopez did have a down year overall last season as his ERA inflated to 4.05 in 68 appearances but was still very dominant at getting left handed hitters out. In 2016, lefties batted .208, showing that Lopez can still get left handed batters out at age 39, which is exactly the Mets are looking for. Since Lopez had a down season overall in 2016 and is still a free agent, the Mets could bring him in for cheap and could make major contributions in 2017.
Even though he is not as experienced as Capuano and Lopez, 32 year old Boone Logan is another well experienced lefty specialist still available that the Mets could get for cheap. Logan may be coming off of his best big league season in 2016 where he posted a 3.69 ERA with a strikeout to walk ratio nearly at 3:1 in 66 appearances with the Colorado Rockies in 2016. Left handed hitters only batted .142 off of Logan in 2016, which is very good considering half of the Rockies games are played at Coors Field.
Logan has moved around since he got called up in 2006 and has had some really bad seasons at times which is why his solid 2016 season came as somewhat of a surprise. Since Logan has looked bad at times before 2016, the Mets could get him for cheap in 2017 because who knows if 2016 was just a fluke for Logan or not, but nonetheless this could be a risk worth taking by bringing in Logan.
Howell is another interesting name that is still out in the free agent market because he is a 33 year old and has had some successful seasons but had a down season in 2016 with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Last season J.P. Howell had a 4.09 ERA in 64 games with opposing left handed batters batting .302 off of him. Due to his down season in 2016, Howell could be another cheap option for the Mets. He could certainly be an upgrade over the youngsters the Mets currently have in their bullpen as Howell has had many successful seasons in the big leagues before his down year in 2016.
Just two seasons ago with the Dodgers, Howell posted a career best ERA of 1.43 in 65 appearances with lefties batting just .224 off of him. So Howell has shown in the past that he is capable of being a solid relief pitcher at the big league level, 2016 just seemed to be a down season for him.
One more intriguing name that is still in the free agent market is former Chicago Cub, Travis Wood. Coming off of a season where he won a World Series ring with the Cubs, Wood had a 2016 season to remember out of the Cubs bullpen. In 77 appearances, Wood went 4-0 with a 2.95 ERA and lefties batting .128 against him.
Even though Wood is more of a long relief left hander than a one batter lefty specialist, the Mets should still keep Wood on their radar as this is a relief pitcher who has had some consistent success the past couple of seasons with the Cubs. He is capable of getting both left handed and right handed hitters out which can give Terry Collins some more options during games. Also with Wood having experience pitching in the World Series last season could only benefit the Mets as that is the Mets main goal in 2017.
Right now, the Mets are capable of being a World Series contender once again in 2017, but they still have some holes to fill in their bullpen and signing one or two of these guys could help fill those holes and give Mets manager, Terry Collins more options out of the bullpen during games.