While examining the non-roster invites on the Mets’ official website you may notice there are quite a number of players who have a legitimate shot at making the club out of spring training.
Despite missing two full seasons after shoulder surgery Pedro Feliciano is also an option if he can prove he is healthy. It was Feliciano who set single season appearances records for the Mets from 2008-2010, with 86, 88 and 92 games respectively and Tim Byrdak would have been a possibility, but he won’t be useable until at least July as he recovers from surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule in his throwing shoulder.
Infielder Omar Quintanilla could play himself into a utility infielder’s role with a nice spring and outfielder Marlon Byrd has shown that he can produce some decent numbers in the past, although he may not have anything left according to my fellow Mets360 writer Charlie Hangley (https://mets360.com/?p=14829).
Every season an NRI turns in a great spring and makes a team’s opening day roster, but they do not necessarily last the whole season with the squad.
One name jumps out as a player who will not only make the Mets out of spring, but who could last with the team the entire season and be very effective along the way.
Yes, Hawkins is 40 years old, but he can still pump his fastball up to 92-93mph, while mixing in an effective slider, cutter and change-up combination.
The Angels received 42 innings of 3.64 ERA ball and a WHIP of 1.38 from the veteran last season, which wouldn’t be too shabby of a repeat performance for a guy the Mets would pay $1 million plus incentives if he makes the team out of spring.
Aside from breaking his pinkie finger fielding a ball – which put him on the shelf for several weeks – Hawkins had a pretty clean bill of health last season and before the break he had pitched to a 1.08 ERA in ten appearances. Who knows how well he would have continued to pitch if not for the setback.
Hawkins has been effective in his career against both lefties and righties (lefties hit .231/.296/.380, righties hit .263/.304/.363) and last season he was more effective against lefties than his career numbers show, holding them to a hitting line of .207/.267/.310, although righties lit him up pretty badly (.346/.400/.506).
He also brings a veteran presence to a bullpen that could feature youngsters such as Josh Edgin and Jeremy Hefner. Hawkins has been through the battles and pitched in different roles from starter to reliever to closer, so his knowledge and experience alone would provide added benefits to the team.
Despite his age and inability to get outs from righties last season, Hawkins is still effective in my opinion and could be a potential NRI who makes the Mets out of spring and helps them in a formidable role out of the ‘pen next season.
He’ll certainly be a player to watch during spring as the battle for open spots in the Mets’ bullpen should be an exciting one.