The New York Mets have agreed to a one-year deal with left-handed reliever Aaron Loup, as first reported by Joel Sherman of MLB Network.
A 33-year-old, nine-year veteran brings a much-needed southpaw presence to the Mets’ bullpen, which was made up entirely of right-handers outside the questionable Daniel Zamora and Stephen Tarpley with just three weeks until pitchers and catchers report to spring training.
Their top target, Brad Hand, declined the Mets’ reported two-year offer earlier this week and signed with the division-rival Washington Nationals instead as they were able to guarantee the closer’s role to him. In New York, the Mets have the likes of Edwin Diaz and Trevor May that could potentially compete for the coveted ninth-inning job.
Loup has been used mostly as a late-innings option between the seventh and eighth frames. He was with the defending AL-champion Tampa Bay Rays in 2020 where he posted a 2.52 ERA in 25 innings of work with 22 strikeouts.
Spending his first six-plus years with the Toronto Blue Jays before stops in Philadelphia and San Diego before heading to Tampa, Loup possesses a 3.38 career ERA and has been strong against left-handed batters. In 623 plate appearances against him, lefties are slashing .232/.301/.319 (.621 OPS) with just five home runs — the last coming in 2017. That’s a streak of 175-straight at-bats without allowing a round-tripper to a lefty.
While he provides a more proven and go-to southpaw option in the bullpen for the later innings, the Mets can potentially add lefties Steven Matz and Joey Lucchesi — recently acquired from the San Diego Padres — to come out of the bullpen to ensure Loup does not get overworked; a problem they recently had with Justin Wilson over the last two seasons.