Ottavino Opting Out of Mets Contract – TechVerdant

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Adam Ottavino spent two years as an important, high-leverage arm in the back of the New York Mets bullpen. But he surprised many on Monday by opting out of the one-year, $6.75 million ($4 million deferred) left on his deal. New York entered the offseason with a serious lack of depth on the pitching staff. However, Ottavino opting out just created perhaps the biggest hole in the Mets bullpen.

Adam Ottavino Opting Out of His Contract

Ottavino experienced somewhat of a career revival in Queens after two average years with the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. In 132 games with the Mets, Ottavino tossed 127 1/3 innings with a 2.62 ERA (155 ERA+) with a 27.2 strikeout percentage. While he recorded 15 saves (12 in 2023), Ottavino mostly pitched in late and close games ahead of Edwin Díaz or David Robertson.

The New York native expressed a desire to return next season and stay close to home. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported that Ottavino attempted to negotiate his contract before Monday’s opt-out deadline. Sherman wrote that the almost 38-year-old “told The Post that he offered to take less than the $6.75 million for 2024 but with no deferrals and that he was open to discussing a two-year deal as well.” The Mets were not interested.

Ottavino did play an important role in the bullpen for two seasons. However, he seemingly was not a lock to return next season. Ottavino told Tim Healey of Newsday that his ties with the organization centered around the now-departed Buck Showalter and Billy Eppler. Additionally, the reliever said David Stearns could not guarantee that Ottavino would not get traded if he exercised his option.

What’s Next For The Mets?

That last sentence is important. Many expect the Mets to try to compete for a Wild Card spot next year. With so many holes to fill on the pitching staff, keeping the reliable Ottavino to start the season made sense. However, it seems that the new Mets regime viewed him as a legitimate trade option this winter. At this point, it’s fair to wonder if similar veterans on expiring deals are on the block.

In terms of direct replacements, Stearns can get creative. Ottavino opting out frees up millions of dollars to play with. A plethora of veteran relievers with high-leverage experience will be available in free agency this winter. With the bullpen anchored by Diaz and Brooks Raley, there is logic in signing one or two veteran arms. This would form a solid, experienced relief corps that can sneak a team into the playoffs.

On the flip side, teams place great value on bullpen arms at the trade deadline. Stearns can acquire established relievers this winter in hopes of flipping them for younger talent that will help the next championship-caliber Mets squad.

Stearns can also decide to spread money around and acquire several inexpensive options. He thrived in Milwaukee by finding and developing quality bullpen arms with minimal acquisition costs. While a Steve Cohen team should never go cheap, Stearns could go this route given his proven track record and all the holes to fill.

Ottavino opting out creates a legitimate void in the Mets bullpen. But, it should not be that huge of a deal. While New York is not rebuilding, the organization is definitely in a restructuring phase. There’s room for productive veterans on this team, but young talent must be emphasized.

 

Photo Credit: © Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports



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