Billy Eppler hinted toward more moves Tuesday morning and another one came only a few hours later. The Mets and right-handed reliever Adam Ottavino are in agreement on a two-year, $14.5 million contract.
At the conclusion of the press conference the Mets held to introduce Justin Verlander at Citi Field on Tuesday, Eppler said the Mets were still working on putting together the 2023 roster and were looking to potentially add another pitcher.
“I’m going to be opportunistic and open-minded to adding where we can on the pitching side,” Eppler said. “So we’ll see what the next the end of this week brings. You don’t have travel plans, right? Because mine have been scrapped.”
The contract has an opt-out after the 2023 season and up to $1 million in performance bonuses each year. It makes sense with the Mets’ timeline and their preference for short-term contracts over the next few seasons, but also for a 37-year-old pitcher like Ottavino.
A Brooklyn native who went to the Berkeley Carroll School in Park Slope before playing for Northeastern University, Ottavino became one of the Mets’ most trusted high-leverage arms last season. He went 6-3 with a 2.06 ERA and a 2.85 FIP over 65 2/3 innings. He recorded three saves in three opportunities, as well as 19 holds. The Mets used him in 27 save situations.
This was a successful turnaround after a relatively mediocre season with the Boston Red Sox in 2021 (4.21 ERA, 3.96 FIP over 62 innings) and a bad season with the Yankees in 2020 (5.89 ERA). The slider remains his calling card but with the Mets, Ottavino began using his sinker more often and threw a changeup at times. He reduced his walk rate from 5.08 walks per nine innings to 2.19.
With Ottavino’s contract, the Mets’ historic 2023 CBT payroll is projected to be nearly $358 million. After the luxury tax bill and penalties, it could come in under $450 million. The club could look to trade someone like right-handed starter Carlos Carrasco or catcher James McCann, but they might have to eat some of the $24 million still owed to McCann.