July 21, 2024

In an effort to boost their struggling bullpen, the New York Mets traded for reliever Phil Maton from the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday, agreeing to exchange a player to be named later or cash.

Maton, who compiled a 4.58 ERA with two saves in 40 appearances for the Rays this season, has showed improvement lately after a rough start. He had 30 strikeouts and 18 walks in 35 1/3 innings.

The 31-year-old right-hander is scheduled to join the Mets on Wednesday or Thursday, according to David Stearns, the team’s president of baseball operations, ahead of the series against Washington.

“We’ve been discussing bullpen options for several weeks now,” he said. “We identified Phil as a target in the offseason. Despite a tough start this year, he has adjusted his approach recently, throwing more strikes and making effective use of his pitches. We’re pleased to add him to our bullpen.”

Maton has allowed just one earned run in his last 12 innings across 11 appearances. In his past eight games, opponents have managed only three hits in 29 at-bats against him, compared to 12 hits in 25 at-bats in the preceding seven games.

The Mets’ bullpen has been weakened by injuries to veterans such as Brooks Raley and Drew Smith, who were both sidelined for the season due to elbow injuries. Additionally, pitchers Sean Reid-Foley and Shintaro Fujinami are recovering from shoulder issues and are expected to return soon.

Previously, the Mets acquired left-handed reliever Matt Gage from the Los Angeles Dodgers for cash and sent him to Triple-A Syracuse. The Maton move comes before of Major League Baseball’s trading deadline of July 30.

“We’ll continue to explore options and evaluate our team in the weeks ahead,” Stearns told reporters. “At this point, given our injuries, workload issues, and some players struggling, it makes sense for us to consider adding reinforcements.”

As of now, the Mets have blown 16 of 37 save opportunities this season, and their bullpen has an 8.16 ERA in the last 14 games. Due to injuries and other roster changes, only three of the original eight relievers at the beginning of the season are still active in the bullpen.

Edwin Díaz, a star closer, was on the injured list from May 29 to June 11 due to a right shoulder injury. He also recently returned from a suspension for using adhesive substances in baseball.

“We’ve asked a lot of certain relievers, more than they’ve faced in their entire careers. Some males have recently gone through a difficult time. “Combining all of these factors has presented challenges,” Stearns said.

New York began the day with a winning percentage barely below.500, but it is still only 2 1/2 games away from a playoff berth in the National League. Tampa Bay, meanwhile, is two games below.500 and five and a half games shy of the last American League wild card place.


Phil Maton traded to New York Mets


Maton has eight seasons of major league experience, having posted a 17-14 record, 4.28 ERA, and four saves in 384 games with San Diego, Cleveland, Houston, and Tampa Bay.

In February, he signed a one-year, $6.5 million contract with the Rays, which contains a $7.75 million club option for 2025 and a $250,000 buyout clause.

The Rays’ president of baseball operations, Erik Neander, stated that the trade of Phil Maton will allow minor leaguer Manuel Rodríguez to join the team’s bullpen. Rodríguez performed well earlier in the season, with a 2.79 ERA in nine outings.

“The current team record and Phil’s recent performance weren’t what we hoped for,” Neander told me. “We want to extend Manuel Rodríguez’s time with the main league squad, despite Phil’s recent development. This deal was our selected method to do that.”

Joey Lucchesi, a left-handed pitcher, was designated for assignment to make room on the Mets’ 40-man roster for Phil Maton. Lucchesi has made one major league start this season and was pitching in Triple-A.

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