SAN DIEGO — The middle tier of free-agent starting pitchers, a corner of the market in which the Mets are involved as they seek to round out their rotation, saw noteworthy action Tuesday — and a couple of familiar names came off the board.
After spending the past two seasons with the Mets, righthander Taijuan Walker agreed to a four-year, $72 million contract with the Phillies, a source said. And lefthander Andrew Heaney, whom the Mets tried to sign, reportedly received a two-year, $25 million commitment from the Rangers.
Plenty of other options remain — Kodai Senga, Jameson Taillon, Chris Bassitt among them — but the market is moving.
“There has been movement there and it probably will continue,” Mets general manager Billy Eppler said. “It’s something we’re paying close attention to.”
Senga, a star Japanese pitcher, met with the Mets recently and impressed manager Buck Showalter, who noted that the righthander recently spent time in Manhattan to get a feel for what life in New York City might be like.
The tricky part, according to Showalter: How long of a contract should Senga receive?
“That’s what everybody is trying to figure out,” Showalter said. “It’s tough to project.”
Senga turns 30 in January and had a career 2.42 ERA across 11 seasons in Japan. Not every big-time pitcher who comes stateside succeeds. Among the major changes for those players are pitching once every five days in the majors after doing so once per week in Japan.
“But a good pitcher is a good pitcher,” Showalter said. “He's a good one. We've talked with him. And he's impressive. You can see why they think so highly of him. I enjoyed our little talk with him."
The Mets re-signed pitchers Tommy Hunter and Sean Reid-Foley to minor-league contracts. Hunter had a 2.42 ERA in 18 appearances last season; Reid-Foley had Tommy John surgery in May . . . MLB named Edwin Diaz the NL Reliever of the Year on Tuesday. He became the first Mets pitcher to win that award since its creation in 2014. Former Mets John Franco and Billy Wagner were on the voting panel of seven relievers, which selected Diaz unanimously . . . Showalter on the possibility of bringing back reliever Adam Ottavino: “We like Adam. And I think he kind of likes us. And we'll see if it fits in the scheme of trying to put a complete team together.” . . . Showalter went out of his way to mention the Mets re-signed replay analyst Harrison Friedland, among the manager’s most shouted-out team employees.