This past Friday evening saw a handful of MLB trades. Of those trades, there were a couple moves that seemingly came out of nowhere. The one that garnered the most attention however, saw two NL East teams make a swap including a late inning relief pitcher. That deal is, of course, the one that sent AJ Ramos from the Miami Marlins to the New York Mets.
Both clubs currently sit with very similar records, both of which are below the .500 line. While a game separates the two, both teams are miles behind the NL East leading Washington Nationals, who held a 12.5 game edge over the second place Marlins before their second game on Sunday. As a result, both the Mets and Marlins were expected to be sellers this trading season.
So needless to say, people were caught off guard when the Mets sent their ninth and 22nd ranked prospects, pitcher Merandy Gonzalez and outfielder Ricardo Cespedes, to their division rivals for a player like Ramos. So that begs the question, what are the Mets planning moving forward.
As things stand right now, the team’s current closer, Addison Reed, is likely to be dealt by the deadline today at 4 p.m. EST. As a result, Ramos would then immediately step right into the closer’s role, which he has held in Miami the last three seasons.
Then looking ahead to next season, Ramos is set to enter his final season of arbitration. He will be 31 come the start of next season, meaning the Mets would have a solid closer who is still in a prime age in a contract year. However, there is one more wrinkle that needs to be factored in before we anoint Ramos the 2018 Mets’ closer.
His name is Jeurys Familia.
Familia has been the Mets’ closer full-time since 2015. However, this season did not go according to plan. After saving 43 and 51 ballgames the last two seasons, Familia opened this season with a suspension for violating MLB’s domestic violence policy. After serving his 15 game ban, he did not jump right into the closer’s role.
But upon his return, he did not stay on the field for very long. On May 11th, after pitching in just 11 games, Familia was diagnosed with an arterial clot in his pitching shoulder. He has not pitched this season since. On July 25th he did throw off a mound, but there is still no firm return date in place for him.
It is expected that he will be back in action before season’s end. One way or another, he would almost certainly be good to go come next season. Which would give the Mets one heck of a one-two punch at the back end of their pen in 2018. Between Ramos and Familia, there are 166 saves in 185 attempts during the 2015 and 2016 seasons (plus Ramos is 20 of 22 this season).
But with Ramos now in the fold, the Mets could also opt to dangle Familia in the trade market come this Winter. While the free agent market will feature names such as Wade Davis, Addison Reed and possibly Greg Holland (if he opts out of his deal), the Mets would still have an attractive trade piece in Familia.
Familia will be entering his age 28 season next year, which is right in the heart of his prime. He will be on a one year deal, as he is set to enter the final year of arbitration before becoming a free agent in 2019. He has proven himself to be one of the best closers in baseball in the past, with a career best 1.85 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in 2015 and then the 51 saves in 2016.
If he can come back and look sharp to close this season, he would certainly help his value. As things stand right now, the Mets may be reluctant to move him, as his injury has certainly brought his value down a bit. But a blood clot costing a player time won’t stop a team looking for pen help if a player of Familia’s caliber is out there.
So the real question would become, why would the Mets consider moving him?
Both Familia and Ramos enter next season on essentially one-year deals. This season, Ramos is making less than Familia. But given how this season has played out, Ramos will likely get a raise in arbitration to get him on a similar level as Familia.
So with two closer type arms making the same amount of money on one-year deals, the Mets would find themselves in a very good spot. The team has shown faith in the likes of Jeremy Blevins, whose option they will likely pick up. Add in someone like Paul Sewald, who is a big time strikeout arm, and the Mets could certainly have a solid pen even without Familia.
This is a franchise that needs to retool. Selling off pieces like Reed and Curtis Granderson would only do so much in terms of hitting the reset button. If you move someone with Familia’s talent at his age, and the team can add in a true difference maker to the club.
The Ramos deal allows them to do just that. So while many found the trade puzzling, it is clear the Mets have a plan. Sure they could go into next season with two closer type arms on one-year deals in hopes their dominant pen helps boost the win total. Or they can turn Familia into a young bat who can help turn their weak offense around.
What do you think Mets fans? Would you be open to moving Familia this Winter? Or would you prefer to keep both Ramos and Familia around? Tell us in the comments!