PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. - The Mets turned a glaring weakness into a potential strength Monday by acquiring lefthanded relievers Jerry Blevins and Alex Torres in a pair of trades that bolstered an ailing bullpen.
In need of an experienced lefty, the Mets sent centerfielder Matt den Dekker to the Nationals for Blevins. The move was announced a few hours after they acquired Torres from the Padres for minor-league righthander Cory Mazzoni and a player to be named.
"The additions we just made today are really going to help our bullpen," manager Terry Collins said.
Lefty relief had been an issue for the Mets since early in camp, when lefthander Josh Edgin had season-ending Tommy John surgery. An underwhelming group of internal options sent general manager Sandy Alderson into the trade market.
Now, Alderson said, the Mets might carry three lefthanders in the bullpen. In addition to Blevins and Torres, Rule 5 draft pick Sean Gilmartin has kept himself in the mix.
Each one gives the Mets a slightly different skill set.
Blevins, 31, profiles as a prototypical lefty specialist. In eight seasons with the A's and Nationals, he has held lefthanded hitters to a .212 average. In 64 appearances with the Nationals last season, he posted a 4.87 ERA, though lefties hit only .160 against him. He also brings the most experience to the group.
Torres, 27, has been more effective against righties (.186) than against lefties (.216) in parts of three big-league seasons with the Rays and Padres. He had a 3.33 ERA in 70 appearances with the Padres last season, though he battled command issues as he faded in the second half. The Mets envision him as more than a one-batter specialist.
Gilmartin, 24, was a minor-league starter until the Mets chose him in the Rule 5 draft with designs on making him a reliever.
He, too, could be used against righthanders. The moves add roughly $2.4 million to the Mets' payroll.Den Dekker, 27, hit .250 in 53 games last season. The Mets have a similar player in Kirk Nieuwenhuis, a lefthanded hitter who brings above-average defense to all three outfield spots.
Mazzoni, 25, was the Mets' second-round draft pick in 2006. He was 7-2 with a 4.68 ERA in 14 minor-league games last season, all starts, with most of them for Triple-A Las Vegas. He was ranked the Mets' 16th-best prospect by mlb.com.