A club’s 40-man roster shows you what the organization has. It also shows you what they value. Obviously, it includes all of the players on the 25-man roster and it also shows 15 additional guys who the organization wants to keep under its control. Now, players can be in the organization for a certain number of years before they need to be added to the 40-man. Rule 11 outlines the circumstances for when a minor leaguer must be added to the 40-man or risk being lost to another club. Because of that rule, a team’s 40-man does not include the 40-best players in the org.
But even taking Rule 11 into account, the makeup of the 40-man also indicates organizational preference. Let’s take a look at the current 40-man roster for the Mets. By position/grouping, it breaks down as follows:
Pitchers – 24
Catchers – 3
Infielders – 8
Outfielders – 5
The 24 pitchers stands in stark contrast to the other three groupings. We would expect there to be more pitchers than elsewhere. But 24 seems a tad high. Picking a team at random, let’s check the Pirates. They have 22 pitchers on their 40-man. Checking another random team – the Mariners – also shows 22 pitchers. The Twins have 23.
If everyone is healthy, 13 of the 24 pitchers on the 40-man will be on the Opening Day roster. Let’s look at the final 11 pitchers and determine what they bring to the table and why they’re on the 40-man now.
Top prospects – Jordan Humphreys, Franklyn Kilome, Thomas Szapucki
SP depth – Stephen Gonsalves, Walker Lockett, Corey Oswalt
RP depth – Tyler Bashlor, Jacob Rhame, Paul Sewald, Drew Smith, Daniel Zamora
Ideally, you’d have a few more top prospects on your 40-man. But what probably irks most people is the collection of guys listed under RP depth. All five of those guys have seen time in the majors already and three or four of them have left us wanting more. A whole lot more.
Is it really the best use of resources to have five players on the 40-man who fit under the header of RP depth?
With the way the game is played as we enter 2020, you can certainly see why the Mets are operating this way. Last year, the club used 30 different pitchers and 21 of them were exclusively relievers. Additionally, three more combined to make eight starts and 25 relief appearances. That’s a lot of relievers.
But how much of that churn is due to the fact that the relievers the Mets tried, how shall we put this gently, were terrible? Would they have used 21 different relievers if two or three of them had come up and performed somewhat adequately? And how many times is it okay to go to the well fishing for the same guys and to expect different results?
The most successful guy listed under RP depth is Smith. In 2018, Smith gave the club 28 IP with a 3.54 ERA and a 1.429 WHIP. Unfortunately, Smith missed all of 2019 after he underwent TJ surgery in March. It’s unsure when he’ll be able to pitch again in the majors. And our remaining four guys are nowhere near this good. Here are their MLB stats:
Bashlor – 48 Games, 54 IP, 5.33 ERA, 1.407 WHIP
Rhame – 44 Games, 47.2 IP, 6.23 ERA, 1.615 WHIP
Sewald – 120 Games, 141.1 IP, 5.16 ERA, 1.309 WHIP
Zamora – 33 Games, 17.2 IP, 4.08 ERA, 1.358 WHIP
An optimist might say that at least the 40-man doesn’t have Flexen, Gagnon, Hanhold, Hart, Mazza, Nogosek and Pounders. Someone else might ask why the four listed above and not Sam Haggerty?
The Mets acquired Haggerty as part of the Kevin Plawecki deal. He’s a switch-hitter who’s primarily a second baseman but played the outfield last year, too, including center field. And he can run. If you look at the Mets infielders on the 40-man, there’s not a ton of speed to be found. And if you look at the outfielders, there aren’t a ton of guys to play center there.
But the Mets valued the relievers who put guys on base rather than the utility man. Is it the right move? It’s impossible to say now. The transactions list at ESPN says that the Mets released Haggerty on January 9. The Mariners picked up Haggerty on January 10. If the Mets had released any of the four relievers listed above, do you think they would have been picked up the very next day?
It’s good to have a guy or two on your 40-man that you can cut without a moment’s hesitation should someone better come along. The Bashlor Bunch certainly fit that bill. Haggerty would have fit that bill, too. The issue isn’t that they lost Haggerty. It’s that they prioritized a group of pitchers with little to no success as more valuable.
And it’s not like there’s not plenty more in the system who could give you what The Bashlor Bunch would. Lockett and Oswalt have relief experience in the majors. And in the minors but not currently on the 40-man are guys like Ryley Gilliam, Adonis Uceta and Steve Villines. Who’s in the high minors who can play the infield and outfield and steal a base?
Good luck, Haggerty, may you make your way back to the majors with Seattle. And may the times we have to see one of The Bashlor Bunch in the majors this year be few and far between. May the relievers who make the Opening Day roster be healthy and above average all season long.