LAS VEGAS — In searching for a new setup man, the Mets kept it all in the Familia.
Righthander Jeurys Familia passed his physical and officially became a Met again Friday after agreeing to a three-year, $30-million deal during the winter meetings this week.
“We are excited to bring Jeurys back to Flushing,” general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said in a statement. “Jeurys is a familiar face and an accomplished, elite reliever with experience that will fit well in our clubhouse.”
A one-time All-Star closer and the franchise single-season record-holder for saves (51 in 2016), Familia returns to Queens to play a different role, that of late-inning reliever ahead of closer Edwin Diaz, another offseason addition.
After talking to several available relievers, the Mets settled on Familia in part because of their familiarity with him.
“The better you know the player, the more comfortable you are with getting the performance that you’re projecting,” Van Wagenen said. “That goes with all the players. We have a handful of the higher-end bullpen arms that we were doing our diligence on. Clearly, he came with a little bit easier path to get that information.”
In his first go-round with the Mets, from signing as an amateur in July 2007 to getting traded to the Athletics in July 2018, Familia had a 2.66 ERA, a 1.21 WHIP and 123 saves (third in Mets history) over parts of seven major-league seasons. He also served a 15-game suspension under baseball’s domestic-violence policy in 2017.
Van Wagenen said Thursday that Familia’s deal likely marks the end of the Mets’ pursuit of high-end free-agent relievers, but the club is interested in adding at least one lefthander.
“Any areas where we can continue to balance our team out would be ideal,” Van Wagenen said. “But we’re going to have to wait and see how that plays out. Obviously, we still have some other shopping lists that we’d like to get done, and if a lefthanded reliever or two — whether it’s on the free-agent market or trade — come into play, we’ll explore.”
With plenty of good relievers available as free agents, only Familia and Joe Kelly have signed. Kelly — long touted as having good stuff but without the track record of success that Familia has — received $25 million over three years from the Dodgers.
Heading into 2019, Familia, Diaz, Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman are de facto locks for relief jobs, leaving about four bullpen spots open. The Mets have a large group of younger, optionable relievers who will compete for those jobs come spring training, including Tyler Bashlor, Eric Hanhold, Tim Peterson, Jacob Rhame, Paul Sewald, Drew Smith, Bobby Wahl (part of the return from Oakland in the Familia trade) and Daniel Zamora.
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