A lot of times it feels like the Mets are trying to catch up to the rest of the league. At one point the trend in the game was to have power arms available in the bullpen to blow hitters away in the late innings. While other teams were loading up their pen with guys who could throw 97 mph, the Mets would trot out guys like Dana Eveland and Carlos Torres. Solid relievers, no doubt, but guys whose velocity was at least five mph slower.

Then when the club was waylaid by injuries in 2017, then GM Sandy Alderson traded off whatever assets he could, looking primarily to cut salary but also looking to stockpile righty relievers in the minors who could throw gas. Seemed like he picked up half a dozen of them and to date none of them have provided any elite innings in the majors for the Mets. Here’s a list of the guys acquired back then and what they’ve done for the club since:

Gerson Bautista – Acquired from the Red Sox in the Addison Reed deal, Bautista was the hardest thrower of the bunch. But his ability to throw 100 mph came with two other things which hurt his development. One, he had serious command/control issues which made his stuff play down, way down. And the other was that because of his potential, he was added to the 40-man before he was ready. He was already on the 40-man when the Mets acquired him. Decisions were made on his MLB usage because of his 40-man status, not his performance in the minors. He allowed 6 ER in 4.1 IP for the Mets in 2018 before he was included in the disastrous Robinson Cano following the season. He didn’t pitch well for Seattle, either, and also missed a good chunk of the year injured.

Jamie Callahan – Also acquired in the Reed deal, Callahan was thought to be the most MLB-ready pitcher of all the guys acquired at the 2017 deadline. He did come up and post a 4.05 ERA (107 ERA+) in nine games for the Mets in ’17. But the next year he was dogged by injuries and threw just a handful of innings at Triple-A all season long and was granted free agency following the 2018 campaign. He signed with the Giants, where he logged 23.1 IP across four different minor league clubs and did not distinguish himself at any of the levels he performed.

Eric Hanhold – Acquired from the Brewers in the Neil Walker deal, Hanhold moved to the bullpen in his second year in Hi-A prior to the trade and seemed to have revitalized his career. He was the player to be named later in the deal and didn’t join the Mets until the 2017 minor league season was over. But in his last 13 games, Hanhold put up a 0.96 ERA in 18.2 IP. Injuries slowed him the past two years but he did make it to Queens in 2018, where in three games he allowed 2 ER in 2.1 IP. The Mets put him on waivers following the 2019 minor league season and he was picked up by the Orioles. He’s now on Baltimore’s 60-man roster for the 2020 season.

Stephen Nogosek – The third and final player acquired in the Reed deal, Nogosek didn’t throw quite as hard as the others who came over from Boston yet still averaged 95 mph in his brief stint with the Mets last year. He allowed 8 ER in 6.2 IP for the Mets in 2019 and was outrighted to the minors after the season. Maybe there’s still time for him to provide some value but there’s got to be better wagers out there than this one.

Jacob Rhame – Acquired from the Dodgers in the Curtis Granderson deal, Rhame pitched parts of the last three seasons with the Mets. In 47.2 IP in the majors, he has a 6.23 ERA. Last year he finally was adequate but injuries cut short his time in the majors. Rhame was listed on the Mets’ original 60-man roster for 2020 but they ended up placing him on waivers, as he was out of options. He was claimed by the Angels, where he hopes to follow the Hansel Robles reclamation path.

Ryder Ryan – Received from the Indians in the Jay Bruce deal, Ryan was a converted infielder who transitioned to the mound due to a strong arm and a weak bat. He was solid last year in Double-A, putting up a respectable 3.05 ERA in 44.1 IP. But despite his 97 mph heat, he had just a 1.74 K/BB ratio in the minors last year. Ryan is still in the org but not likely at this point to become a major contributor.

Drew Smith – Acquired from the Rays in the Lucas Duda trade, Smith has had the most success of any of the righty relievers acquired in the 2017 deadline deals. In 2018, he put up a 3.54 ERA in 28 IP with the Mets. But he missed all of last year due to TJ surgery. He’s been throwing off a mound since March and the original prognosis was a mid-2020 return. He’s on the Mets’ 60-man roster but you would like his chances better if he could have gotten some minor league innings in this season. Mets fans have a positive view of Smith due to his 2018 performance, but that came with a 4.91 xFIP, so he clearly out-performed his peripherals.

*****

Nowadays, everyone seemingly throws 95 so you have to bring more to the table than just heat. Can Smith bounce back from surgery to be a solid bullpen piece for the club? Right now, he’s their best hope. Interestingly, Rhame might have been a better choice. To be sure, there was no shortage of anti-Rhame venom coming from this space. But Rhame showed some signs last year – a 101 ERA+ – and now he’s undergone the same ulnar nerve transposition surgery that Steven Matz did in late 2017. After putting up a 68 ERA+ in 2017, Matz has made 60 starts the past two years with a 98 ERA+.

According to mets.com reporter Anthony DiComo, “multiple teams had interest in claiming Rhame.” There’s the velocity but there’s also the spin rate on both his fastball and slider, which both ranked among the game’s best in his limited action last year. There’s the belief that small adjustments may lead to big differences in results. Maybe he never would have gotten there as a member of the Mets organization. But it seems like whatever slim chance there might have been, it would have to be greater than Tyler Bashlor’s chances of having MLB success.

But Rhame was out of options while Bashlor still has one remaining.

9 comments on “Drew Smith, Jacob Rhame and the 2017 deadline deal righty relievers

  • Mike W

    Thanks Brian. Another great article. It would stink if Rhame “gets fixed” by his new team, when we couldn’t do it.

    This is a long list of mediocrity. Would like to see a different type of a player in return on these deadline deals.

  • eric raffle

    Rhame always looked scared on the mound…good luck elsewhere.

    There are very few Bullpens that escape complaint, and the Mets Bullpen has been deserving of criticism. Hard Throwers…Softies…. I’d leave it at the fact that they have had lousy pitchers of all types out there.

  • Dan Capwell

    Let’s face it: Sandy Alderson wasn’t a very good GM. He made that nice trade with Toronto and did draft Conforto, but most of his other moves where mediocre at best, or as this article shows downright terrible. He was downright lucky with Carlos Gomez and even then it took an out-of-this-world performance from Daniel Murphy to get them past LA.

    I am no fan of BVW and that Cano trade hangs over everything like a stinky fart right now, but at least we’ve seen two pretty good drafts and a some boldness and creativity.

    Hopefully Steve Cohen can convince Theo Epstein to rescue this snakebitten franchise.

    • Brian Joura

      Alderson is on record as saying that since he asked the Wilpons to increase the budget that he felt obligated to prioritize salary relief in these deadline deals. Was this him giving cover to the Wilpons? Sure, that’s a distinct possibility. Regardless if you think the motivation came from Alderson or the Wilpons – it doesn’t seem fair to me to judge Alderson’s GM tenure by these trades, where his main goal wasn’t to amass talent but rather optimize financial considerations.

      He’s the guy who drafted Alonso, Kelenic, Lugo, McNeil, Nimmo and Smith and signed Rosario – so let’s not pretend that his only contribution to the team was Conforto.

      • TJ

        Alderson’s trading was clearly so-so, as finances played a major role. I think drafting and and development from his days have proven very fruitful. Those deals to restock power arms were always a stab in the dark with some lottery tickets, disappointing so far, but Smith and Nogosek still have a puncher’s chance, so the grades are not yet final. I think grabbing a few #20-#30 prospects was as good as could be expected at the time.

        Brodie’s Cano deal not withstanding, I like what I have seen (so far, of course) with his drafting of high ceiling arms. Time will tell, but as fans of baseball, part of the lure is looking for that next big prospect to become a star…we now have a few of those to follow.

        • Mike W

          Lets hope that he doesn’t trade this good young talent for a Carlos Santana.

  • Chris F

    That list is a complete indictment of failure.

  • TexasGusCC

    Pretty solid analysis but I’d like to add a few things:
    – Last year I read how the Yankees saw that starting pitching salaries were going through the roof – and still there was a shortage – but relievers were still relatively cheap in comparison. Therefore, they reasoned, instead of paying $25MM for one good starter, let’s go after three top relievers for that money and shorten the game. Alderson may have tried to one up them by building a cheap bullpen.
    – Bautista had been in the Boston organization four years but was constantly injured so he hadn’t progressed. That’s why they traded him to the Mets, he’d have to be protected from Rule 5. The Mets had the same choice and protected him so they won’t lose him. Once he’s on your 40, you need to waive him to option him and he wouldn’t clear.
    – Drew Smith supposedly had a very heavy fastball and that good in today’s homerun happy MLB.
    – Jaime Callahan was #16 in a very good Boston system and was a starter. The backlash to trading him was pretty good in RedSox Nation. Problem is he got hurt, and then… vanished.

    With several spots still open on the 60-man, if Rhame had so much interest why not keep him and try to trade him? Don’t know about that report. If his spin rates were so good, why were his pitches always landing so far away? If the Angels can teach him the Robles off-speed pitch however, that’ll mean more egg on the Mets’ faces.

  • MattyMets

    I’ve seen enough of Jacob Rhame and Tyler Bashlor and the like. A few years ago we were all prognosticating about whixh ine might emerge as a reliable bullpen arm. None of us supposed the answer would be “none of the above”. Some of the mosg effexcticce bullpen arms we’ve had over the years were not the hardest throwers – McDowell, Franco, Leach, Felciano, Reed, Sanchez, et al.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: