Mets trade for Rays lefty reliever Raley

December 8th, 2022

SAN DIEGO -- Edwin Díaz has a new member of his supporting cast.

The Mets on Wednesday acquired lefty reliever Brooks Raley from the Rays for pitching prospect Keyshawn Askew, New York announced. Raley, 34, is coming off a year that saw him produce a 2.68 ERA over 60 appearances for Tampa Bay, striking out 61 batters in 53 2/3 innings. He was particularly effective against lefties, holding them to a .482 OPS.

“Brooks is a high-leverage left-handed reliever, and he gets righties out too,” Mets general manager Billy Eppler said. “We want to have that balance. We’re happy with Brooks. He’s got a well-above-average slider. He knows what he’s doing, and he can pitch in some big spots. So that was a big add for us in the back end.”

In New York, Raley gives the Mets another established arm alongside Díaz -- whom the team recently re-signed to a five-year, $102 million deal -- and Drew Smith. The Mets have been active in talking to other teams about relief pitcher trades at the Winter Meetings. Prior to the Meetings, they were aggressive in acquiring less established pitchers off the waiver wire and through Minor League free agency.

Raley enjoyed a career renaissance this past season with Tampa Bay. Always adept at producing soft contact, Raley augmented those skills in part by relying more heavily on his slider and changeup. He rated in the 98th percentile in the Majors in hard-hit rate, according to Statcast data, and in the 99th percentile in barrel percentage.

“I do think it’s sustainable,” Eppler said.

In trading for Raley, the Mets hope they have solved one of their issues from last season, given Joely Rodríguez’s inconsistency facing left-handed sluggers. The Mets did not deal for lefty relief help prior to the Deadline, relying instead on Rodríguez and David Peterson down the stretch. But Rodríguez went to Boston in free agency and Peterson is expected to open the season as a starting pitcher.

Raley, meanwhile, is under team control through 2024. His deal includes a $6.5 million team option for that season with a $1.25 million buyout.

The return for Tampa Bay was Askew, a side-arming left-hander who was the Mets’ 10th-round Draft pick in 2021.

“There’s ingredients there,” Rays GM Peter Bendix said. “Certainly no guarantee that he's going to work, but you need that pipeline of starting pitching prospects. We’ve seen what it can do for our success, and to be able to acquire somebody that we think is a pretty good starter prospect and help balance our bullpen a little bit, that was kind of the impetus for this.”