NEW YORK -- A day after transforming their infield mix with the acquisition of Francisco Lindor, the Mets further bolstered that unit with the addition of another big league veteran. The team inked Brandon Drury to a Minor League contract, thereby providing a measure of depth behind Lindor and others.
The Mets on Friday also claimed left-handed reliever Stephen Tarpley off waivers from the Marlins.
Drury, 28, has struggled the past three seasons, batting .205/.254/.346 for the Yankees and Blue Jays. But he was a breakout player for from 2016-17 in Arizona, where he played under now-Mets general manager Jared Porter for the second of those campaigns.
Overall, Drury is a career .248 hitter with 47 home runs over six big league seasons.
In New York, Drury offers a measure of depth with infielders Amed Rosario and Andrés Giménez gone to Cleveland in the Lindor trade. Drury is capable of playing all four infield positions as well as both corner outfield spots, though the bulk of his work has come at second and third base. The Mets are relatively thin at those positions, with little of note behind 40-man roster players Jeff McNeil, Luis Guillorme and J.D. Davis. Earlier this offseason, the team lost starting second baseman Robinson Canó to a full-season PED suspension.
Even before that, the Mets had been aggressive in bringing in Minor League veterans to shore up their big league bench and Triple-A roster, hoping to counteract the thinness at the upper levels of their farm system. Among the infielders they’ve signed are Robel Garcia, José Peraza, Jake Hager, Luis Carpio, Wilfredo Tovar and now Drury.
Tarpley, meanwhile, is coming off a difficult season which saw him allow 11 earned runs in 11 innings to increase his career ERA to 6.65. But the 27-year-old posted a 3.13 ERA with the Yankees’ Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre affiliate in 2019, relying on his signature sinker to produce a 63.7 percent ground-ball rate. He is now on the Mets’ 40-man roster, giving him a chance to win a job in Spring Training.
Tarpley has made a career of keeping the ball on the ground, but his career walk rate of 5.8 per nine innings has prevented him from sticking in the Majors.
The fact that Tarpley is left-handed helps his chances to make the Mets’ Opening Day roster, considering both his roster status and the organization’s dearth of lefties. Tarpley will battle Daniel Zamora, Jerry Blevins, Tom Windle and perhaps prospect Thomas Szapucki for a spot in the bullpen; of those, only Tarpley, Zamora and Szapucki are already on the roster. Still, the Mets have a half-dozen or more right-handed pitchers locked into spots, leaving little room for multiple lefties.
With more than a month left in the offseason, the club is also likely to continue searching for additional bullpen help.
“I think overall roster depth is really important,” general manager Jared Porter said this week. “Always be in the hunt for more pitching. It never stops. You can never have enough, both starting pitchers and relievers. We’re going to continue to be creative, opportunistic, and see where the market takes us.”