The Mets’ deadline sale has generated plenty of headlines over the past few days. New York moved a number of star players but also held a few veterans whose names had been floated in rumors — among them José Quintana, Brooks Raley and Adam Ottavino.
Ottavino is one of a trio of players still on the Mets’ roster who’d have the choice to become a free agent at year’s end. Carlos Carrasco is headed to the open market; Ottavino and Omar Narváez have player options for next season. (The club holds an option on Raley.) Narváez seems a lock to return on a $7MM salary after slumping to a .200/.295/.260 line and missing a good chunk of the season with a strained calf. Ottavino’s option seemed a closer call, but the veteran reliever indicated this afternoon he’s leaning towards exercising it.
The Brooklyn native tells Anthony DiComo of MLB.com he intends to return for a third season with the Mets. Ottavino suggested he was likely to trigger the $6.75MM option on his existing contract. He left open the possibility of trying to renegotiate the deal if he pitches well enough over the next two months, though he indicated he’d do so as a means of tacking on more years rather than prioritizing the average annual value. The Mets don’t have to consider a renegotiation, of course. There’s ostensibly still a chance that Ottavino looks to extend the contract, the Mets decline, and he’s left to reconsider the possibility of opting out.
That said, the hurler seemed quite committed to returning to Queens for his age-38 campaign. “I want to be here no matter what,” Ottavino told DiComo. “This is a good place for me. I love the organization. I love being able to play where I’m from.”
Next year’s Mets will be a quite different team from the one that entered this season. Owner Steve Cohen and GM Billy Eppler have each made clear the club doesn’t anticipate being as active at the top of the free agent market as they had been. Cohen frankly stated yesterday that the ’24 roster won’t carry the same expectations as this year’s group.
Ottavino doesn’t seem deterred by the organizational messaging. The right-hander opined he “(knows) that we’re not going to stink next year.” More broadly, he said he’d value team success more when it’s built on continuity. “I really want to win, but I’ve come to realize it means more to me when I feel invested with the team, when I’ve been with the team for a while,” he told DiComo. “I don’t like feeling like a hired gun. … When I came here, I really wanted to prove myself again and stay. Once I was able to do that, now I feel like I’m bought into everything we’re doing around here.”
While Ottavino has sole discretion on whether to play out his contract, his deal does not contain a no-trade clause. If he exercises the option, there’d be nothing prohibiting the Mets from exploring trade possibilities during the winter. Barring an excellent final couple months, however, New York likely wouldn’t find a huge prospect return if they put Ottavino on the trade market.
While the 13-year MLB veteran is having a solid season, his production has taken a step back from his first year in Queens. Ottavino owns a 3.48 ERA across 44 innings. He’s racking up ground-balls at a massive 58.1% clip but has slightly worse than average strikeout (21.6%) and walk (10.3%) tallies. Ottavino fanned over 30% of opponents against a meager 6.2% walk percentage en route to a sterling 2.06 ERA through 65 2/3 frames a season ago.
The average velocity on Ottavino’s sinker and sweeping slider are each down a tick relative to last season. That has contributed to a drop in whiffs, though his lower arm angle has remained a very challenging look for same-handed hitters. Righties have only four extra-base hits and a .273 slugging mark in 118 plate appearances against him.