The Mets and lefty reliever Antonio Bastardo are reportedly in agreement on a deal, according to multiple reports. The deal is worth $12 million for two years.
Bastardo was a cog in the Philadelphia playoff-machine, bursting on to the scene in 2011, when he posted a 2.64 ERA and held opposing batters to a .144 batting average. He spent last season with the Pirates, owning an ERA of 2.98 with a .188 opposing batting average, along with a 1.13 WHIP—his lowest since his 2011 season.
At age 30, with the current market, $6 million a season is a steal for a guy like Bastardo. Fellow lefty Tony Sipp—who had an amazing 2015 season following an otherwise adequate career—landed a 3 year, $18 million contract with the Astros. Bastardo has had more consistent major-league success, and to get him for less than what Sipp cost is a win in and of itself.
The Bastardo signing is great and all, but it creates an awful lot of lefty pitching in that bullpen. Sean Gilmartin is returning following a dominant season, and Josh Edgin is set to return from Tommy John surgery in early May. Minor leaguers Dario Alvarez and Josh Smoker are deemed by many to be major league-ready. The additions of Jerry Blevins and Bastardo supply the Mets with proven veteran southpaw arms—but it’s going to make things awfully difficult once Spring Training rolls around. From the right side of the bullpen, Jeurys Familia and Addison Reed are the only shoo-ins for the upcoming season. Erik Goeddel, Rafael Montero, Carlos Torres, Jim Henderson, Hansel Robles, and Logan Verrett will have to battle it out for the remaining spots in the bullpen.
Most of all—if I had to guess—the Bastardo signing can also be used as a preemptive distracter for when the Mets fail to re-sign Yoenis Cespedes. Could Bastardo’s money have been better used elsewhere, given the lefty depth they have? Yes, I believe so. Take back the signing of Asdrubal Cabrera, Alejandro de Aza, and Bastardo, and that’s $20 million that could’ve been spent on Cespedes, Jason Heyward, or even Dexter Fowler—all of which probably would’ve made fans much more happy. However, I think panic city shouldn’t erupt quite yet. Bastardo, Reed, and Familia anchoring the back end of the bullpen is quite a combo. A bench that consists of de Aza, Wilmer Flores and Ruben Tejada is much better than John Mayberry Jr, Danny Muno and Eric Campbell. Also, let’s not forget that Juan Lagares his .348 in the postseason—let’s finally give him a chance before we slam the front office for not spending enough. It’s evident that the Mets built on their success in 2015—they improved the team without significantly increasing payroll, a strategy which many fans tend to disapprove of.
All-in-all, the Bastardo signing is great, especially in a division that could easily be spoiled by the impressive Nationals’ lefties, Bryce Harper along with new additions Daniel Murphy and Ben Revere. Lastly on the Mets’ checklist is a right-handed bench outfielder/first baseman—which can be solved with low-risk, high-reward guys on the free agent market like Steve Pearce or Ryan Raburn, or internally with minor leaguer Jayce Boyd.