Mets’ revamped bullpen will be a glaring uncertainty


The Mets entered this offseason with a bullpen full of uncertainty. 

About a month and a half into free agency, they have added plenty of arms — but virtually no certainty. 

What has become clear about the Mets’ 2024 bullpen is that it will be new.

After a 2023 season in which the unit was the second-worst in baseball by FanGraphs’ WAR tabulations, the Mets will hope it will be improved, too. 

“Our bullpen’s pretty open right now,” president of baseball operations David Stearns said this month at the winter meetings, “and that’s not a bad thing.” 

The Mets have just two near sure-things in the unit in Edwin Diaz (who did not throw a major league pitch last season) and Brooks Raley.

Through this offseason, they have handed out just one fully guaranteed MLB contract to a reliever — signing Jorge Lopez to a one-year, $2 million pact this week. 

Jorge Lopez
Jorge Lopez marks a volatile addition to a volatile group in the Mets’ bullpen. Getty Images

Lopez is a volatile addition to a volatile group.

After converting from a starter, the righty broke out as an All-Star reliever with the Orioles in 2022.

A year later, though, the 30-year-old struggled through stints with three teams and finished with a 5.95 ERA.

Stearns is betting on a bounce-back from the hard-thrower, whose fastball averaged 96.9 mph last season. 

The Mets cannot be sure what they will get out of Lopez, yet he might be their third-most reliable arm out of the pen at this moment.

Returning will be Drew Smith, whose stuff tantalizes but who has found little major league consistency, as well as fliers such as Grant Hartwig, Reed Garrett, Sean Reid-Foley, Phil Bickford and Josh Walker. 

Michael Tonkin
Michael Tonkin signed with the Mets this offseason. Getty Images

Stearns has gotten creative in adding interesting arms to what will be a competition during spring training.

Michael Tonkin, who pitched to a 4.28 ERA with the Braves last season, and Austin Adams, whose control has always been an issue but who has struck out 170 batters in 114 ¹/₃ major league innings, have been signed to split contracts that pay different salaries depending whether they’re in the majors or minors. 

The Mets also have signed Cole Sulser (lifetime 3.87 ERA but who pitched in just four major league games last season), Andre Scrubb (who hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2021), Kyle Crick (who was out of the majors last season) and 24-year-old Cam Robinson (who has yet to debut) to minor league deals. 

“There’s so much volatility in bullpens in general. I think we do need to give ourselves some options there,” Stearns said. “We will fill out a quality bullpen by the time we get to Opening Day, and it’s probably going to take a lot of different types of transactions to get us there.” 

There is still plenty of time for Stearns to add a proven reliever or two, but it is becoming clear that the Mets will be counting on several bullpen arms to emerge during camp.

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