The signing of lefty reliever Antonio Bastardo carried none of the pizazz of the Mets’ emergence as the winners of the Yoenis Cespedes sweepstakes.
But to general manager Sandy Alderson, it represented another example of the lower-profile moves this winter that the Mets hope translates into another run at the World Series.
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“Until we signed Yoenis, there wasn’t a lot of sizzle in what we did over the offseason,” Alderson said Wednesday during a conference call to announce the signing of Cespedes to a three-year, $75-million deal. “But I think there’s a number of understated improvements that will help us, and I think Bastardo is one of them.”
The Mets initially hesitated to give out a multiyear deal to bolster the bullpen. But in the case of the veteran Bastardo, they relented with a two-year, $12-million contract.
Bastardo, 30, was expected to receive a three-year contract. That belief was only bolstered by a robust free-agent market earlier in the offseason. But as they did with Cespedes, the Mets held out, with their patience translating to a more team-friendly resolution.
“It took awhile for the market to settle down a little bit, and we recognize that relief pitching had thinned out a little bit,” said Alderson, in his first comments since the signing was made official last week. “If we were going to get somebody that we felt was a significant improvement over what we had, we were going to have to go a little longer. So, we went to two years.”
Bastardo posted a 2.98 ERA in 66 appearances for the Pirates last season. His presence gives the Mets added protection in the bullpen, with lefty specialist Jerry Blevins coming off an injury-plagued season. Lefty Josh Edgin is coming off Tommy John surgery and is not expected to be ready by Opening Day. “We felt that this was an area that we needed to buttress so we went to two years, and we’re happy to have him,” Alderson said.
While it’s possible that the Mets sign one more reliever to a big league deal, a source said it’s more likely that the club offers minor-league contracts to add more depth . . . To make room on the roster for Cespedes, OF Darrell Ceciliani was designated for assignment.