Mets sign reliever Michael Tonkin to 1-year contract as innings-eating option

Michael Tonkin Mets
Oct 1, 2023; Cumberland, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Michael Tonkin (51) pitches against the Washington Nationals during the ninth inning at Truist Park. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Mets’ winter of depth continues as they signed right-handed reliever Michael Tonkin to a one-year contract worth $1 million, per multiple reports. 

The 34-year-old spent the 2023 season with the Atlanta Braves, going 7-3 with a 4.28 ERA, 1.088 WHIP, and 75 strikeouts in 80 innings pitched. It was his first season in the majors since 2017 after stints in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball, Mexico, and with the independent Long Island Ducks.

With only Edwin Diaz, Brooks Raley, and Drew Smith as legitimate, veteran options still with the club after a nightmare 2023 season, the Mets are in need of a bullpen revamp that will ultimately require larger, more high-leverage options. 

However, Tonkin is a prime innings-eater option for a club that is also in the midst of building its starting rotation and has multiple workload limitations hanging over it already. 

Michael Tonkin Mets
Jun 24, 2023; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Michael Tonkin (51) pitches against the Cincinnati Reds in the fifth inning at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

The Mets have already signed Luis Severino to a one-year deal — the 29-year-old former Yankee coming off yet another injury-plagued season that has derailed a once All-Star-caliber career. 

Kodai Senga was the club’s ace in 2023 but he has had to increase his workload significantly since making the jump from Japan last winter, which will still be in progress this season. He’s lobbied for another Japanese superstar to join him in Queens as the club is heavy on Yoshinobu Yamamoto. The 25-year-old is an ace-level free agent and he pitched just 171 innings last season after eclipsing the 190-innings mark for the first time in his career in 2021 and 2022. 

Shota Imanaga, another NPB arm that was posted this winter and has been linked to the Mets, eclipsed the 160-inning mark just once in his eight-year pro career. Jose Quintana has pitched over 100 innings in a season just once since 2020.

Tonkin is another notable depth signing for New York, who has also brought in Joey Wendle as a utility infielder and Jose Iglesias along with Severino. The big name, however, has eluded president of baseball operations David Stearns thus far as the MLB Winter Meetings hit their midway point.

For more on Michael Tonkin and the Mets, visit AMNY.com