Mets agree to deal with reliever Jorge López

December 14th, 2023

NEW YORK -- The Mets on Thursday announced their signing of right-handed reliever to a one-year deal, which a source confirmed is worth $2 million. It is the first fully guaranteed contract for a reliever the team has issued this offseason.

A veteran of eight big league seasons, López spent 2023 with three teams, posting a 5.95 ERA with 49 strikeouts in 61 games for the Twins, Marlins and Orioles. Some of López’s underlying metrics were stronger than his overall results, including a fastball that ranked in the 90th percentile in average velocity and a barrel rate that fell in the top quartile of the league.

After struggling as both a starter and reliever for his first six seasons, López immediately blossomed after transitioning into a full-time reliever with the Orioles in 2022. He was selected to his first All-Star team and later traded at the Deadline in a deal that brought Yennier Cano -- and three other pitchers -- to Baltimore. All told, López produced a 2.54 ERA and 72 strikeouts in 71 innings in ‘22.

But the right-hander struggled to build on that stellar season in 2023. After López posted a 5.09 ERA and a 5.92 FIP with the Twins in 37 games, Minnesota traded him to Miami in exchange for veteran reliever Dylan Floro. López subsequently struggled with the Marlins, posting a 9.26 ERA over a dozen outings. After Miami put López on waivers in September, the Orioles brought him back, and the righty posted a 5.25 ERA in 12 outings.

With a guaranteed MLB contract, the 30-year-old López figures to carve out a significant role in the Mets' bullpen behind closer Edwin Díaz -- who missed all of 2023 with a torn patellar tendon in his right knee -- as well as Brooks Raley and Drew Smith. The Mets are likely to add others as the offseason progresses.

In the interim, president of baseball operations David Stearns has been supplementing his bullpen with a slew of Minor League signings, including Austin Adams, Michael Tonkin, Kyle Crick and Cole Sulser. Those four will compete for jobs in camp along with returnees Phil Bickford, Reed Garrett, Grant Hartwig and Josh Walker.