The New York Mets have upgraded their roster this offseason, both via free agency and by trade. While Francisco Lindor, Carlos Carrasco, James McCann, and Trevor May grab the headlines, the Mets have also added depth to their organization. While the likelihood of all those players impacting the Mets next year is low, there were a few deals that can help New York in 2021 in a year when health is a major concern.
While Jacob Barnes has been on three different teams in the past two years, this hard-throwing right-handed pitcher out of Florida Gulf Coast University, starting his career with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2016. Barnes pitched in 27 games as a rookie and had an ERA of 2.70
He earned his first save that year and then saw time in 2017 as the set-up man in front of Corey Knebel, registering 25 holds. Since then, he has gone through some injuries but was claimed off waivers by the Mets in October.
Barnes will likely come to Spring training as an extra arm, but still only 30-years-old, he may find himself on the taxi squad with New York. The Mets are only paying him $750,000 this year and will hope to get him back to his form from his early days when he struck out more than a batter per inning with his lively fastball.
Trevor Hildenberger finds himself in a similar position as Barnes. The longtime Minnesota Twins relief pitcher performed well in his rookie season in 2017 with an ERA of 3.21 but has struggled since then. He pitched in 73 games in 2018 despite an ERA over 5.00 and then fell off in 2019 with a 10.47 ERA and 2.265 WHIP. He did not pitch in 2020.
The Mets signed him to a minor-league deal in December. Hildenberg does not throw particularly hard partly due to his sidearm delivery but can be extremely tough on right-handers and can induce a lot of ground balls. His repertoire primarily features a sinker, slider and changeup.
Stephen Tarpley only pitched in 12 games after being traded from the New York Yankees to the Miami Marlins in 2020. He averaged less than one inning per appearance, and he posted a 9.00 ERA and a 1.727 WHIP and 6.5 BB/9.
However, the 27-year-old from Los Angeles, California, was a former third-round pick in the 2013 MLB draft. He comes to the Mets having pitched in 43 games and potentially gives manager Luis Rojas an extra lefty in the bullpen.
New York has a left-handed void in their bullpen as Justin Wilson became a free agent after the 2020 season. With new rules regarding how many batters a pitched has to face, left-handers’ roles in the bullpen have changed but should be someone to keep an eye out for if the Mets do not sign a pitcher like Brad Hand.
Infielder Robel Garcia has only had 72 plate appearances in the major leagues but has hit five home runs with 11 RBI. The Mets acquired him off waivers from the Cincinnati Reds though he had his MLB experience with the Chicago Cubs.
With the recent loss of Amed Rosario and Andres Gimenez as well as the PED ban for Robinson Cano, Garcia will likely find himself competing against Luis Guillorme for a roster spot as a middle infielder.
Brandon Drury is a very interesting signing for the Mets. He will not be an everyday player by any means, but he provides New York with some pop. Drury has hit 15 home runs as recently as 2019 and can play both second and third base.
Drury will also find himself competing against players like Guillorme and Garcia for a spot on the roster as well, but will likely need to raise his average to stick in MLB as he has hit below .200 in each of the past two seasons.
The Mets would have to pay him $1.55 million if he makes the roster and, after incentives, they could owe him over $2 million. It was not surprising to see the former Arizona Diamondback sign with the Mets as general manager Jared Porter was part of the Diamondbacks’ front office when Drury was there.
All these players will come to Spring Training and battle for a spot on the roster. The Mets though do not appear done this offseason which will provide more competition to these five players.
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