While the New York Mets had many weaknesses in 2017, one of the most glaring was the inability of the bullpen to hold leads or keep the team in close games. This is evidenced by the 4.82 earned run average that the Mets bullpen had in 2017, which was the second highest in the MLB behind only the Detroit Tigers. For the 2018 season, the Mets will likely have AJ Ramos, Jeurys Familia, and Jerry Blevins back, but outside of that, the rest of the bullpen could be different. For this reason, one of the key focuses of the offseason for the Mets should be improving the bullpen.
One option the Mets have is attempting to convert one or more of their many starting pitchers to the bullpen. While Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom will definitely remain in the bullpen, it is not out of the question for the Mets to see if injury prone starters like Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, and Steven Matz are more efficient and durable out of the bullpen. It is also unclear if the Mets intend to use other pitchers like Robert Gsellman, Rafael Montero, and Seth Lugo as starters, relievers, or some combination of the two if they are retained and make the major league roster.
Another way for the Mets to address their bullpen problem is to sign free agents who have proven to be capable of pitching well out of the bullpen. Luckily for the Mets, the free agent market this season is loaded with relievers who would instantly upgrade the bullpen. Wade Davis and Greg Holland are two of the best options available on the free agent market, however, they have both received qualifying offers from their respective teams so it is unlikely that the Mets will pursue them.
One realistic option for the Mets is to bring back Addison Reed, aged 28, who they traded to the Boston Red Sox in 2017 at the trade deadline. In 48 appearances with the Mets last season, Addison Reed had a 2.57 earned run average and had 19 saves. After being traded to the Red Sox, he had a 3.33 earned run average in 29 appearances so maybe he would desire a return to Citi Field in 2018 and attempt to improve on his career 2.09 earned run average in 142.0 innings pitched with the Mets.
Another free agent option for the Mets is Steve Cishek. Cishek, who is 31 years old, has a career earned run average of 2.73 and is coming off a career best season where he had an earned run average of 2.01 in 44.2 innings pitched with both the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays. His stint with the Rays in the second half of the season was very impressive where he had a 1.09 earned run average in 24.2 innings pitched. He also has familiarity with some of the hitters in the National League East from his six season stint with the Florida/Miami Marlins where he served as the team’s primary closer for portions of three of those seasons.
Brandon Kintzler, aged 33, is a third free agent option the Mets could target this offseason. Kintzler made his first All-Star Game appearance in 2017 with the Minnesota Twins where he had a 2.78 earned run average and 28 saves before being traded to the Nationals. The Mets could use another reliever with experience pitching in high leverage situations, and Kintzler has that after being a closer for parts of the past two seasons with the Twins.