MLB Rumors: Mets re-sign veteran who fumbled the bag big time

Adam Ottavino is returning to the Mets, but he left a lot of money on the table

Adam Ottavino
Adam Ottavino / Dustin Satloff/GettyImages
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Nobody in baseball was happier to see the 2023 MLB season end than New York Mets fans. The Metropolitans spent a record amount on payroll, and all they had to show for it was a 75-87 record and a fourth-place finish in the NL East.

The list of things that went wrong for the Mets last year would ruin the internet's total bandwidth if I listed them all here. Arguably the biggest problem for Steve Cohen's team, though, was the bullpen. All-Star closer Edwin Diaz missed the entire season after blowing his knee out in a freak injury in the World Baseball Classic, which crippled a bullpen that was already not very deep. As a result, Mets relievers finished in the bottom third of the majors in ERA.

One of the few bright spots in relief was Adam Ottavino. The sidewinding righthander didn't quite match the peaks of his 2022 debut season with the Mets, but his 3.21 ERA still gave New York a reliable setup man to get the game to David Robertson in the ninth.

Robertson is gone, having been traded to the Marlins at the trade deadline last year, and though Mets fans held out hope for a reunion in free agency, his recent signing with the Texas Rangers (where he'll join former Mets Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer) put an end to that. Even without Robertson, though, New York's bullpen is getting an enormous boost with the return of Diaz, and after reportedly signing a one-year, $4.5 million deal, Ottavino is returning, too.

Ottavino's return is good news for Mets fans, but the veteran reliever cost himself over $2 million by opting out of his last contract

Sports fans have seen many instances of players opting out of a contract, only to sign somewhere else for less money in the open market. It's rare, though, to see a player opt out of a deal, then return to the same team for a lower number. That's what Ottavino ultimately did.

Ottavino could have opted in for $6.75 million this season, but he left that money on the table to test the waters of free agency. The market must not have been what he was hoping for, but the Mets, and Steve Cohen's overstressed wallet, will take it.

There's no need to shed any tears for Ottavino, who has made over $40 million in his career, and gets to return to the place he's called home the past two years (and four years in total, having pitched two seasons for the Yankees previously in his career) to pitch in his 14th major league season. $2.25 million sounds like a whole lot to most of us, but at least it's not in the same ballpark as the NBA's Dennis Schroder, who once turned down a four-year, $84 million deal with the Lakers, only to sign for one year and $5.9 million with the Celtics instead.

Spring training is around the corner, which means it's also the time of year that Mets fans (your humble author included) begin deluding themselves into believing that this year will be different. Maybe signing a solid relief pitcher isn't going to move the needle the way snagging Yoshinobu Yamamoto would have, but like Ottavino, Mets fans will take what we can get.

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