The Hot Stove in Queens seemed to have settled down for a bit, but it got a little warmer today, as the Mets have inked left handed reliever Justin Wilson to two year, 10 million dollar deal.
Wilson comes in to Queens preparing for his eighth season in the bigs. He has spent time with the Pirates, Yankees, Tigers, and most recently, the Cubs. Over his career, he has a 3.33 ERA with 407 strikeouts over 370.2 innings. Last year he finished with a 3.46 ERA and 69 punch outs over 54.2 innings on the North Side of Chicago.
Cubs skipper Joe Madden used Wilson more as a left handed specialist than a full blown reliever who can come into any situation although last season, he was actually better against right handed hitters than lefties. Overall, Wilson had a solid 2018 has enjoyed an overall solid career.
Bringing in Wilson adds to the bullpen additions Brodie Van Wagenen has already acquired in Edwin Diaz and Jeurys Familia. This move is one a lot of beat writers and fans were hoping for. But now, what does that mean for the rest of the bullpen?
On Opening Day 2018, the Mets had a total of seven relievers. At this moment, there are probably five of those spots taken. Edwin Diaz and Familia manning the back end, with Wilson, Seth Lugo, and Robert Gsellman behind them. Assuming Mickey Callaway takes his same roster format into 2019, that leaves two spots open.
It is safe to also assume that there will not be just one left hander in the pen. As of right now, the main battle is going to be between Luis Avilán and Daniel Zamora. Avilán was with both the White Sox and the Pirates, finishing with a 3.77 ERA over 45.1 innings last season. Although Zamora was a solid during his brief time in Queens, he does have plenty of minor league options left. A few Mets scouts also believe Avilán could be a steal for them. Either way, that sixth spot could go to a left hander.
The last spot has the potential to be a battle between a handful of guys. Paul Sewald, Drew Smith, and Tim Peterson are all names who may fit into that spot. All guys have seen significant time with the big club, all pitching to some success, but all three had their fair share of inconsistencies. Look for this battle to take shape throughout the span of spring training.
Another name who said even he would be willing to throw is the newly acquired infielder J.D. Davis. The former Houston Astro was a college closer who has appeared a few times in games with the Astros. Sure they were blow outs, but he was throwing secondary pitches, getting both Khris Davis and Marcus Semian to whiff on pitches. He also has a fastball hitting 93 miles per hour. With the emergence of Shohei Ohtani and names like Brendan McKay waiting in the wings as the next two-way player, there is always the shot to utilize an extra arm without being put in the bullpen full time.
With the Mets signing Justin Wilson, they have added to a bullpen that was a major point that needed to be addressed at the beginning of this offseason. It should be interesting to see what the Mets do going forward with their final bullpen spots.