If the New York Mets are going to get back into the NL Wild Card race — to say nothing of the NL East — they’re going to have to get better just about everywhere. The lineup? 16th in wRC+ since the start of June. The rotation? A disaster behind Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Kodai Senga. The bullpen? Well, the bullpen may be worst of all.
There’s a lot to fix in Queens right now, but you have to start somewhere, and embattled general manager Billy Eppler swung a deal on Monday that he hopes will give his team some much-needed pitching depth. New York has reportedly traded for reliever Trevor Gott and swingman Chris Flexen from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for Minor League lefty Zack Muckenhirn:
The Mets have acquired Chris Flexen and Trevor Gott from the Mariners for lefty Zach Muckenhirn, sources tell @TheAthletic.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) July 3, 2023
Flexen was DFA’d just last week by a Seattle, and reports indicate that the Mets plan to do the same. The righty performed well between the rotation and bullpen in 2021 and 2022, but he regressed badly this year, posting an ugly 7.71 ERA across 17 appearances (four starts). He’s reportedly still owed around $4 million of his $8 million salary this season, and this appears to be an instance of the Mets eating money as part of the cost of acquiring a player they actually want.
That player is Gott, who’s pitched to a 4.03 ERA with 32 strikeouts in 30 appearances (29 innings) for Seattle so far this season, figures to slot right into the late-inning mix, where the Mets have been desperate for more options alongside Brooks Raley. Adam Ottavino and Jeff Brigham in particular have struggled of late, leaving Buck Showalter without a reliable bridge to closer David Robertson. Gott’s top-line numbers may not look like much, but the righty’s cutter/sinker combination is elite at missing barrels (95th-percentile barrel rate, 84th-percentile expected slugging percentage) and his 3.00 expected ERA suggests that he’s been the victim of some bad luck this year. It’s not the flashiest addition, but again, any viable options are welcome given the state of New York’s bullpen — which has posted the ninth-worst ERA in the Majors since June 1 — right now.
An 11th-round pick in the 2016 draft out of the University of North Dakota, Muckenhirn finally made his Major League debut with New York earlier this season, compiling a 6.00 ERA while allowing 11 hits and two walks over six innings of work. New York had just designated him for assignment earlier on Monday afternoon, and the lefty, who wasn’t ranked among the Mets’ top 30 prospects by MLB Pipeline, doesn’t project to be much more than Minor League depth.