June 13, 2024

During the offseason, the New York Mets adopted a conservative approach to signings, opting for shorter contracts that aligned with lower averages across MLB. These acquisitions helped round out the team’s roster without burdening it with excessive costs.

None of the offseason additions can be considered financially taxing for the team. In fact, three of the signings are so economically viable that each player should be closely monitored at the start of the season.

There’s a possibility of a midseason or earlier restructuring where the team may release players signed to major league contracts, akin to the Philadelphia Phillies’ actions at the 2022 trade deadline with Didi Gregorius, Jeurys Familia, and Odubel Herrera, where their contracts were absorbed. The Mets have even less financial commitment if any of these players fail to perform.

1) Joey Wendle
The addition of Joey Wendle, while slightly pricier than Gio Urshela’s deal with the Detroit Tigers, is still a positive move for the Mets. Wendle’s contract remains affordable enough for the team to seek alternatives if his performance falls short of expectations.

Mets 'have to be more conscious of' obstruction rule

Wendle will take on the role previously held by Luis Guillorme as a versatile utility infielder with a modest offensive output. Although Wendle saw regular starts with the Miami Marlins in the past two seasons, his numbers declined compared to his time with the Tampa Bay Rays. It’s worth noting the Rays’ reputation for maximizing player potential.

An obvious replacement for Wendle already exists on the roster in Zack Short. If Short proves to be more than just a temporary waiver wire pickup, he could potentially take over Wendle’s role. Given their similar skill sets as gifted defenders capable of playing multiple positions, retaining both on the team for an extended period may become redundant. In such a scenario, the team might consider parting ways with one of them to address other bench needs.

2) Jorge Lopez
Securing a one-year contract worth $2 million, Jorge Lopez won’t receive leniency if he struggles on the mound early in the season. Consider him akin to a higher-priced minor league signing who managed to secure a spot on the roster.

With a career 5.54 ERA, Lopez’s performance history suggests inconsistency, barring a standout first half with the Baltimore Orioles in 2022. Outside of that exceptional period, Lopez has often struggled, resembling more of a batting practice pitcher than a reliable starter.

Mets' Jorge Lopez fires perfect inning in spring training outing

Last season, Lopez pitched for three different teams, ultimately returning to Baltimore to finish the year with a 5.95 ERA in 59 innings pitched. Unlike Luis Severino, who has demonstrated elite performance when healthy, Lopez’s track record is considerably thinner.

Given the Mets’ bullpen situation, they should be particularly discerning. The lack of viable relief options limits their flexibility, making Lopez a candidate for early removal from the roster if he fails to deliver.

Expecting Lopez to significantly improve under the guidance of pitching coach Jeremy Hefner or through extensive training is optimistic, considering his inconsistent performance history. With him, it’s prudent to prepare for the worst while hoping for the best.

3) Michael Tonkin
Among the Mets’ free agent signings, Michael Tonkin stands out as one of the most economical, securing a one-year deal worth $1 million. Essentially an early-arbitration eligible player without minor league options, Tonkin offers bullpen depth following a solid campaign with the Atlanta Braves as a multi-inning reliever.

Tonkin’s durability, evidenced by his 80 innings pitched across 45 appearances, is commendable. Additionally, his 4.28 ERA, coupled with a walk rate of 2.6 per 9 innings and a strikeout rate of 8.4 per 9 innings, suggests effectiveness without dominance.

Before joining the Braves, Tonkin’s MLB experience was primarily with the Minnesota Twins from 2013 to 2017, where he would have crossed paths with Mets pitching coach Jeremy Hefner. Often, roster additions may reflect preferences of front office executives or coaches, making Tonkin’s acquisition potentially influenced by Hefner’s familiarity with him.

Priced at only $1 million, the Mets have already demonstrated a willingness to adjust, designating Tonkin for assignment to accommodate Julio Teheran. With decisions looming for both Tonkin and the team, a release is not an unreasonable outcome if his early stint proves unsuccessful.

Meet Michael Tonkin, the Mets reliever who traveled the globe

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *