The winter was a busy one for Sandy Alderson and the New York Mets. Bringing back Yoenis Cespedes capped off the successful offseason. In addition to Cespedes, the Mets signed Asdrubal Cabrera, Antonio Bastardo and Alejandro De Aza. Neil Walker was acquired from the Pittsburgh Pirates in exchange for pitcher, Jon Niese. Despite all the new players, Mets management continues to look for bullpen help.
Former Mets player, and current free agent, Tyler Clippard is still a possibility for the Mets bullpen. The beginning of Clippard’s tenure with the Mets was very positive. However, the end of the season ended poorly. Clippard appeared to be tired towards the end of the regular season and into the playoffs. Clippard lost the feel for his changeup, which resulted in fastballs left over the heart of the plate.
Without his marquee changeup, Clippard is not a dangerous arm out of the bullpen. The fact that Clippard still remains a free agent in February may indicate the possibility of a more team-friendly contract out there to be had. Having Clippard for a year would provide some welcome experience. Clippard is searching for a multi-year deal, which the Mets are not open to at this time. With Clippard’s value down, it may be best for both parties to sign a one-year deal.
A more affordable risk for the Mets could be reliever, Joe Nathan. Alderson has recently stated that his team has the payroll flexibility to spend during the season. The team has solidified the bullpen with Bastardo and Jerry Blevins signing this winter. The money can be saved for the season, and offer a pitcher like Nathan, a shot in spring training. The risk could be worth the reward.
Nathan is coming off an elbow injury that caused him to miss the majority of the 2015 season. Nathan has recovered from the injury and is a free agent. The former All-Star has spent the last few seasons with the Detroit Tigers. As a closer with the Minnesota Twins, Nathan had six seasons of 30-plus saves. Far from his prime, Nathan is no longer closer material. That being said, Nathan has much to prove after two Tommy John surgeries. A change of scenery, and getting back to where he played college ball would help greatly. The 41-year-old reliever attended Stony Brook University on Long Island. Nathan could thrive in New York with a lesser role for a contender.
The Mets have had a great deal of success with aging relievers. The Mets revived the careers of LaTroy Hawkins and Jason Isringhausen. Nathan is no longer the dominant pitcher from the past, but is an intelligent pitcher and a great influence for the youngsters. Jeurys Familia could use the veteran presence from Nathan, being a former closer. Nathan has the heart and desire to return from the injuries for one more shot at a World Series title.