This week’s Inbox begins there:
Will Addison Reed close if Familia is suspended? Will an outsider be brought in to compete for that role?
— @sydncook via Twitter
Mets officials have already said that if Familia is suspended (and that’s no guarantee), Reed will indeed close. The Mets chose not to dabble in the high-end relief market this offseason, passing on Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen and Mark Melancon. As a result, they’re left with Reed, which isn’t a bad thing at all.
In terms of FanGraphs reliever WAR, Reed ranked sixth in baseball last season, topping all non-closers on that list. He does have prior ninth-inning experience, finishing games from 2012-13 with the White Sox and in ’14 with the D-backs. And he’s about to be paid like a closer in his third and final year of arbitration eligibility.
The question is, how will Reed’s body hold up after appearing in 80 games last season, an 18 percent jump over his previous career high? While Reed’s peripheral stats suggest he was not particularly lucky or unlucky in 2016, can the Mets really expect him to be that good again?
Reed often gets lost in the shuffle, particularly given Familia’s record-breaking 2016 season. But without him, the Mets would not have sniffed the National League Wild Card Game, and he enters 2017 as one of the club’s more important players.
Will the Mets pay the going price for a middle reliever, such as bringing Jerry Blevins back?
— @claytonharvey33 via Twitter
A cog of the Mets’ 2016 bullpen, Blevins is said to be seeking a three-year deal worth $5-6 million annually, likely pricing him out of the Mets’ range. (Remember, the team is looking to shed payroll before Spring Training.) There’s a decent chance Blevins will get it, if Mike Dunn‘s recent three-year, $19 million deal with the Rockies or Brett Cecil‘s four-year, $30.5 million pact with the Cardinals provide any indication.
Why won’t the Mets go there? It’s mostly general manager Sandy Alderson’s personal philosophy regarding bullpens. Relievers are fickle, goes the theory. They can’t be trusted from year to year. So it’s better for teams to invest in several low-cost arms than one or two high-priced ones, with the aim of fleshing out the bullpen from within the organization.
To that end, look for Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo or even Zack Wheeler to play key roles in the Mets’ Opening Day bullpen, rather than Blevins or anyone else commanding multi-year deals on the open market. Remember, the biggest relief contract Alderson has drawn up since joining the Mets was Frank Francisco’s two-year, $12 million pact entering the 2012 season. That one didn’t exactly embolden the GM to pursue similar deals.
Assuming they don’t bring on a new catcher, what’s the bare minimum Travis d’Arnaud needs to do in 2017 to keep his job?
— @BrianSutch via Twitter
Stay healthy. The Mets are optimistic that if d’Arnaud can do that, his offensive upside will finally shine through. Remember, d’Arnaud is still just 27, barely a year removed from an excellent second half in 2015.
Mets have faith in d’Arnaud
DiComo discusses Mets’ faith in d’Arnaud at catcher
MLB.com Mets reporter Anthony DiComo talks about how the team still has faith in catcher Travis d’Arnaud heading into the 2017 season
There’s no way to sugarcoat the fact that d’Arnaud lost his job last summer. Rene Rivera, a career backup, was playing over a healthy d’Arnaud in critical spots down the stretch, and while d’Arnaud will enter Spring Training as the starter once again, manager Terry Collins now has a track record of sending him to the bench if he struggles.
It’s a critical make-or-break season for d’Arnaud, who can at least rely on a lack of competition heading into camp. Rivera is an excellent veteran backup, but that’s his ceiling. Kevin Plawecki has meanwhile done little to distinguish himself despite multiple opportunities, likely ensuring he’ll open this year back in Triple-A Las Vegas.
Are there any pitchers that could potentially be the next “Gsellman and Lugo” in the Minors, in case injuries pop up again?
— @MillManner via Twitter
It seems the Mets’ starting depth chart goes seven deep heading into Spring Training, with Gsellman and Lugo filling in behind Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Steven Matz and Wheeler. But as we learned last year, there are likely other arms floating around that have yet to show their true potential.
The most likely candidate to help the rotation at some point this summer is Gabriel Ynoa, who started three games for the Mets in 2016. Though Ynoa struggled, he put together a decent year — 12-5, 3.97 ERA — at hitter-happy Las Vegas. And while he doesn’t boast the ceiling of, say, Gsellman, Ynoa does own a fine Minor League track record. His career walk rate in the Minors is 1.5 batters per nine innings.
Beyond Ynoa, the Mets boast few intriguing arms anywhere near the Majors. Given the lack of competition, keep an eye on Rafael Montero. Though his 2016 season was disappointing, Montero showed flashes of excellence late in the summer. Mets officials still have not given up on the former top prospect, even if his career has been stalled for some time.
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
Source: Mets News / Inbox: Reed in line to close some games?