Lefty specialist high on Mets' priority list
NEW YORK -- The Mets have a LOOGY problem.
Ever since Josh Edgin underwent Tommy John surgery last spring, the Mets have been unable to find a reliable LOOGY, or "left-handed one-out guy" -- a lefty specialist, essentially. Edgin filled that role for the Mets in 2014, posting a 1.32 ERA, but there are no guarantees he will be able to contribute consistently for the Mets next season.
When the Mets lost Edgin, they made up for it by trading for Alex Torres and Jerry Blevins, the former a left-handed changeup artist and the latter a specialist. Though Torres was never ticketed for a left-on-left role, he proved unable to retire right-handers as well, ultimately losing his roster spot early in the summer. Blevins was extremely effective, but twice broke his arm and wound up appearing in only seven games.
Others came and went. Rookie Jack Leathersich helped at times during two brief spells in the big leagues, but injured his elbow, underwent Tommy John surgery and was claimed off waivers last week by the Cubs. Eric O'Flaherty had potential as an August trade acquisition, but he proved ineffective and didn't come close to making the playoff roster. Dario Alvarez had a chance to state his case in September, but also suffered a season-ending injury. Jon Niese proved effective in a bullpen role in the postseason, but only briefly. The only lefty reliever to stick around the whole summer was Sean Gilmartin, a Rule 5 Draft pick who was more effective against right-handed batters than lefties.
All of that leaves the Mets, with Edgin still recovering, uncertain of their lefty relief situation heading into the winter. But they do have some options.
Blevins is a free agent now, and both he and the Mets have reportedly expressed mutual interest in a return. Though there is no guarantee how effective or durable he might be fresh off a twice-broken arm, Blevins made just $2.4 million last season and thus should be within the Mets' price range.
Then there is Josh Smoker, a recent 40-man roster addition who posted a 3.12 ERA over three Minor League levels last season. At the least, Smoker will compete for an Opening Day job in Spring Training, though he must prove he does not need any more seasoning at the upper levels of the Minors.
Other free-agent options include Antonio Bastardo and Tony Sipp, one of whom may well land in Flushing. Given their struggles filling the lefty-specialist role in 2015, look for the Mets to make that corner of their roster a priority this offseason.