SEATTLE — The Mets are clearly not planning on a long rebuild. A day after they began their much expected sell-off of veteran assets, they also began putting together some pieces for 2018, acquiring right-handed reliever A.J. Ramos from the Marlins Friday night for two minor leaguers.
Ramos, 30, has 92 career saves over six seasons with Miami. He has 20 saves this season in 40 appearances. With Ramos under team control for the 2018 season, Mets GM Sandy Alderson made a smart move and got an early start on his annual attempt to put together a bullpen.
After watching their bullpen implode under a heavy workload this season, Alderson had to do something. Now, he has a good foundation. Heading into 2018, the Mets bullpen will have Jeurys Familia under control and have a team option for lefty Jerry Blevins.
With the projected combined salaries of Familia, Blevins and Ramos around $21 million, it will also be a major financial commitment to the bullpen for 2018.
But, Ramos also gives the club cover for the rest of this season.
With Addison Reed, who will be a free agent after this season, most likely to be shipped out before Monday’s non-waiver trade deadline, Ramos could slide right into the de facto closer’s role. Reed, who has been generating the most interest among the Mets’ available assets, has been serving as the closer while Familia tries to come back from the disabled list.
Ramos can handle the job as closer for now and then slide into the setup role when Familia is ready to return.
An All-Star with Miami in 2016, Ramos has allowed 16 earned runs in 39.2 innings this season. He has a 3.63 ERA and 47 strikeouts in 40 games for the Marlins in 2017.
Ramos ranks fifth in the National League in save percentage, 20-of-22, and since the start of the 2016 season, Ramos has saved 60 of 65 chances, the sixth best mark in the league over that span.
Alderson got Ramos for a reasonable price, even considering the Mets’ depleted farm system.
They traded their No. 9 prospect, right-handed pitcher Merandy Gonzalez, and 19-year-old outfielder Ricardo Cespedes for Ramos. While Gonzalez was considered a good prospect for the Mets, he was years away from being able to contribute. Cespedes was even further.
Gonzalez impressed scouts this season, first with Class-A Columbia and then after he was promoted to High-A St. Lucie. The righty, who was named a South Atlantic League All-Star before being promoted to St. Lucie, is 12-3 with a 1.78 ERA in 17 starts.
Cespedes has played at three minor league levels in 2017 and is batting .255 with one home run and 15 RBI.
The Mets had to do something to rebuild the bullpen, which has been a constant disappointment during Alderson’s tenure, this season perhaps even more so after the Mets went out and re-signed Blevins and Fernando Salas.
While Reed has been solid stepping in for Familia, saving 18-of-20 games, the bullpen has been a problem this season. Heading into Friday night’s game against the Mariners, Mets relievers have the second worst ERA (4.82) in the National League, better than only the Nationals. They have issued the fifth most walks in the majors, 158, and given up the ninth most home runs (49).
The Mets began their expected sell-off of a disappointing 2017 team on Thursday. Heading into the series opener at Safeco Field Friday night, they were 14 games behind the Nationals in their division and 9.5 game behind in the race for a National League wild card.
On Thursday, Alderson shipped veteran first baseman Lucas Duda to the Rays for Drew Smith, a minor-leaguer they believe can be a back-of-the-bullpen reliever.
With under 72 hours to go until Monday’s 4 p.m. deadline, the Mets are expected to ship out Reed and try to at least flip outfielder Jay Bruce and infielder Asdrubal Cabrera for more pieces to put together a 2018 rebound.
Getting a deal on a solid major league reliever for 2018 was a good start for a quick turnaround.