Tyler Bashlor and the subtext of the Jeurys Familia deal

The Mets spent nearly $30 million on the four guys they thought would do the heavy lifting in their bullpen this year. Three of those guys have been disappointments or disasters and the fourth was just traded. Jeurys Familia leaves the Mets as the team’s holder of the single-season record for Saves with 51. He also leaves as the guy who blew the Wild Card game in 2016 and who had a poor World Series in 2015, even if he was mismanaged in that series.

In the immediate sense, the big question is who the team’s closer becomes now that Familia is gone. The first unofficial chance, since Familia was still in uniform, went to Robert Gsellman, who picked up his fifth Save of the season. It seems likely that Gsellman gets his shots and he’d probably do fine in that role. The issue is that the team counts on Gsellman to go multiple innings. Can they utilize him in that way if he’s also going to be the closer?

You could argue that the Mets don’t win often enough to worry about the need for a closer on back-to-back days. The more likely scenario is that Mickey Callaway will put into action the idea he floated in Spring Training – that multiple people will get a chance to close out games. Initially, many of us thought that meant AJ Ramos would work the ninth inning some, with an occasional Jerry Blevins appearance if the ninth featured a couple of lefty batters. But now Ramos is done for the year and the idea of using Blevins in a high-leverage spot is less than appealing.

So, who closes if not Gsellman? You have to figure that Seth Lugo will get some chances, too. But the same issues that apply to Gsellman will be in play here, as well. Anthony Swarzak has been horrible and Jacob Rhame hasn’t been much better. Tim Peterson has his fans because he works quickly and doesn’t walk guys. Those are two great traits but he’s nobody’s idea of a closer. A dark horse candidate will be Tyler Bashlor, who has the big fastball and who also has spent more time than the others as a closer in the minors.

When MLB instituted their current draft rules prior to the 2012 Draft, the Mets went cheap in the top of the draft to spend more in the double-digit rounds. It was a backwards way of doing things that they abandoned after two seasons. But in 2013, they gave a bonus $450,000 over slot to Bashlor, their 11th-round pick. Bashlor had a big arm and in his draft season, he fanned 18 in 15.2 IP for Kingsport.

Unfortunately, Bashlor needed TJ surgery and missed the next two years. He’s been working his way back ever since. In 2017, he took over as the closer for St. Lucie mid-year and got a late-season promotion to Double-A. This year he returned to that level and was the closer for an underwhelming Binghamton team which didn’t give him a ton of chances to rack up Saves. But he posted an 11.25 K/9 and allowed just two homers in 24 IP.

In the majors this year, Bashlor has averaged nearly 96 mph with his fastball, which is his main pitch. He also has a little slider and will occasionally toss in a change. In his brief 9 IP in the majors, he’s recorded just 5 Ks. He’ll need to do better in amassing strikeouts if he hopes to succeed.

Meanwhile, in a bigger picture sense, the loss of Familia means that the Mets will be getting that much less from their international signees, which was supposed to have been a strength for the once departed but now back Omar Minaya. The Mets picked up $1 million for international signings in the Familia deal, which may end up the biggest part of their haul. Here’s what Kristie Ackert of the Daily News said about the deal:

Most importantly, the Mets picked up $1 million to spend on international signings. That was an area they targeted for improvement last winter when they brought back Omar Minaya.

“The Mets have been aggressive internationally the last two years,” said Minaya in a statement released by the team. “This extra bonus pool money will be extremely helpful in acquiring potential top flight talent.”

The myth of Minaya hitting a home run in international signings while GM for the Mets far outstrips reality and the idea that he’s the guy to be running things in this area needs further scrutiny by the mainstream. While he spent considerable money and signed some at the time big names, the reality is that his success stories were Familia and Wilmer Flores, who’s yet to really carve out a full-time role for himself. Maybe Jenrry Mejia comes back next year to add to Minaya’s legacy in this regard.

So, the Mets have to figure out how to build a bullpen, a task they’ve failed at miserably for most of the last decade. Perhaps a new GM from outside the organization will come in and have success where his two predecessors did not. And the new GM will have to continue to build on the international pipeline that has seemingly taken a big step forward in the past four years.

Familia and Mejia, the last two closers for the Mets, were failed starters and international signees. Perhaps the way to build a pen is not to go out and spend money on free agents or acquire bullpen salaries from other teams. Perhaps the bullpen needs to be comprised of guys from your system, whether from the draft or international guys, who begin their careers as starters and move to the bullpen out of necessity.

10 comments for “Tyler Bashlor and the subtext of the Jeurys Familia deal

  1. b
    July 22, 2018 at 10:26 am

    total trash . 2019 is 6 months away . Joe Torre is sitting somewhere laughing at this lack of thought Process . Trade Seaver , Koosman . you will get top prospects . The mets then in 1977 , last year and now got hosed . stay tuned for this fall and winter . Garbage

    Editor’s Note – Please do not capitalize words in your post, as that is a violation of our Comment Policy.

    • Steve S.
      July 22, 2018 at 10:47 am

      I’m with you, b! All the talk about the Mets picking up salary was once again nonsense, as the A’s are responsible for the total of $3 million for Familia. Two very questionable prospects come back—one a 26 year old reliever with a good FB, who might be OK/might!; the other a 3Bmen with little power. The $1 million in international money was not enough to justify this deal. Jeff Wilponzi is still calling the shots, I think.

      Let’s see what they get for Cabrera….. I want to be proven wrong about the Mets, but am pessimistic.

      • Steve S.
        July 22, 2018 at 5:35 pm

        A possible correction on the savings for the Couponzis: I saw one estimate of over $4 million on Familia’s contract.

  2. July 22, 2018 at 10:58 am

    The whole trade and handling of the Ces and the Familia trade is beyond infuriating and not eating money to get a better return is terrible. While I don’t like the trade with Wall dominating AAA hitters why not call him up here instead of going with Rhame and Sewald?

  3. Chris F
    July 22, 2018 at 11:52 am

    Brian, what about Wahl? My understanding is he is pretty much major league ready, with 98 on the radar. I know he was assigned to AAA, ptobably to get look at, but Id be shocked if he wasnt in the relief and maybe even closer mix in a couple weeks.

    Jenrry Mejia. Lets hope that dirtbag never makes it back.

    • July 22, 2018 at 2:44 pm

      Maybe he’s good – maybe he isn’t.

      The A’s clearly felt they needed bullpen help. They’ve got a guy with a big arm putting up a 2.27 ERA and a 0.857 WHIP in the PCL and they don’t call him up. That’s got to mean something.

      • Chris F
        July 22, 2018 at 2:49 pm

        Sure, no playoff run and post season experience. But I hear ya. I think Wahl is up by early Aug.

  4. Name
    July 22, 2018 at 4:46 pm

    “So, the Mets have to figure out how to build a bullpen, a task they’ve failed at miserably for most of the last decade”

    It’s been miserable the last 2 years, but they had a decent stretch before that.
    Rank in NL bullpen ERA –
    2016 – 3rd
    2015 – 7th
    2014- 4th

    Every type you described has failed this year.
    The big money signing – Swarzak.
    The SP transition guy – Gsellman
    The internal reliever – Sewald
    The traded guy – Rhame
    The external closer – Ramos
    The trash pickup – Beck

    • July 22, 2018 at 5:28 pm

      And the years before that?

      2013 – 12th
      2012 – 15th
      2011 – 15th
      2010 – 5th
      2009 – 8th
      2008 – 12th

      Let’s see where Gsellman stands at the end of the year before we declare him a failure. He just went through his bad stretch. Is that a harbinger of things to come or is that a worse than normal bad stretch that all relievers go thru? His first 32 games he had a 2.79 ERA. His last six games he has a 2.35 ERA. In between is a stretch where he gave up runs in six straight outings with a 14.35 ERA.

      This year the average NL reliever has a 4.04 ERA. Right now Gsellman has a 4.36 mark. My opinion is that he’ll finish the year with a mark that’s better than league average.

    • Steve S.
      July 22, 2018 at 5:33 pm

      A good list, but think Gsellman has some potential.

      Do you also consider Lugo as a SP transition, or do you see him moving back to the starting rotation?

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