The Mets find themselves in quite the predicament regarding their bullpen after star closer Edwin Diaz went down with a season-ending right-knee injury while celebrating Puerto Rico’s victory over the Dominican Republic on Wednesday night at the World Baseball Classic.
That leaves them scrambling with just two weeks to go before the start of the 2023 season to tweak their bullpen, which already was dealing with the injury bug. Lefty Brooks Raley is dealing with a hamstring issue while Sam Coonrod has a high-grade lat strain.
In need of additional bullpen depth, the Mets’ interest in veteran reliever Zack Britton is only intensifying. The Mets had already been assessing whether or not they would pursue the 35-year-old left-hander before Diaz’s injury. Now, team officials were in California to watch him throw a simulated game.
Mets manager Buck Showalter is certainly familiar with Britton seeing as he was his manager for the first seven-plus years of the southpaw’s career with the Baltimore Orioles. Under the skipper’s guidance, Britton was one of the most untouchable closers in the game during a three-year stretch from 2014-2016, posting a 1.38 ERA, 120 saves, and a 0.909 WHIP.
Injuries have since been prevalent throughout his career, dealing with forearm issues in 2017 before he was traded to the New York Yankees one year later. He returned to dominance from 2019-2020 as an elite set-up man, posting a 1.90 ERA across 86 appearances but would need Tommy John surgery after throwing just 18.1 innings in 2021.
He’s thrown just 0.2 innings in the majors since then.
Should his simulated game go well, the Mets should be seen as the favorites to sign him to bolster the bullpen as they face a season without Diaz. Britton could at least serve as a late-inning option with closer experience, though closing duties would likely go to David Robertson.