Adam Rubin uncovers the news that Blaine Boyer has an out clause in his contract, meaning he could leave the Mets rather than be assigned to Triple-A.
Needless to say, that changes the picture with the adjusted bullpen odds posted here earlier this week. Boyer, a hard-throwing right-hander like Manny Acosta and Pedro Beato, has been the best in Grapefruit League play of the men vying for the last spot in the bullpen. It’s a tiny eight-inning sample and Spring Training stats are silly, but if the team deems all else equal, his 1.13 ERA could earn him a spot over Acosta or 38-year-old Jason Isringhausen.
But is all else equal? Since Beato is a 24-year-old Rule 5 guy with impressive stuff and the most upside of the four, Rubin assumes he has a leg up for one of the spots. That makes sense; of the candidates, he is the most likely to contribute to the Mets’ future, and it seems silly to risk losing that for a guy that might not be around come July.
Boyer and Acosta are comparable, serviceable arms for the back end of a bullpen. They are roughly the same age. Acosta has been more effective as a Major League reliever, with a 123 career ERA+ to Boyer’s 93. The Panamanian strikes out more batters, but he walks more too. Boyer has yielded a higher groundball rate across his career, and — though tons of sample size caveats exist — it might be worth noting that Acosta has yielded progressively fewer grounders in every season since his rookie campaign.
According to the Baseball Injury Tool, Acosta has been hurt only once in his career — a hamstring strain that required a DL stint in 2008 –. Boyer endured a shoulder surgery in 2006 and has suffered a host of minor back and trunk injuries. Boyer has more Major League service time and thus more time to accrue injuries. Though the tool tracks Minor League injuries, I am not sure to what extent.
Still, based on that information, I’d probably opt for Acosta over Boyer, though it’s kind of a toss-up. And that’s only based on information readily accessible on the Internet. The team has more than I do, no doubt, including a crucial piece: Knowledge of if Boyer would take the opt-out in his contract should he fail to make the team.
Plenty of clubs need bullpen help at this and every juncture; would Boyer find a spot on a Major League team if he left Mets camp on March 31? Hard to say. Would a Triple-A job with another organization be more desirable? I tend to doubt it — the Mets have plenty of uncertainty in the bullpen, and perhaps Boyer would accept an assignment to Buffalo knowing he will likely be the first-call replacement when one of the guys that breaks camp with the big club goes down.
I haven’t spoken to the man (or his agent) and I’m not certain it’s the type of thing a player would be eager to talk to reporters about anyhow. Maybe Boyer is hellbent on starting the season in the Major Leagues and certain some team would swoop him up as soon as he becomes available.
Plus there’s the whole Isringhausen thing to consider. Isringhausen, since he has proven he can be a great Major League reliever, offers the team the most short-term upside. Given Isringhausen’s age and injury history, though, it’s hard to expect him to be able to contribute to the club even for a full season.
In any case, the news about Boyer’s option doesn’t seem to bode well for Pat Misch or Mike O’Connor, especially the latter. Because this is how I entertain myself, I will post even further adjusted bullpen odds sometime later today, after I get a chance to do the math.