LAS VEGAS — Everything for the past month had been about turning the page and moving on with a new GM and trying to build a new feeling around the franchise. Wednesday night, however, the Mets went back to the familiar, or Jeurys Familia. The Mets and their former closer agreed to a three-year, $30 million deal, an industry source confirmed.
It is the first big free agent signing of Brodie Van Wagenen’s tenure as a GM. The former player agent, got the deal done just before the end of the last full day of the annual MLB Winter Meetings. After bringing in Edwin Diaz, the American League Relief Pitcher of the Year, in a trade earlier this month, the Mets have now addressed the back-end of their bullpen.
Van Wagenen still needs to find an upgrade at catcher and a right-handed bat. But in light of the bold talk about winning in 2019, Van Wagenen has made serious progress.
With Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman, the Mets have a strong core of the bullpen to go with Diaz.
The deal, for $30 million, brings Familia back to Flushing after a brief stint in Oakland. In seven seasons with the Mets, Familia recorded 123 saves, including a single-season record 51 during his All-Star 2016 season.
The Mets were heavily criticized for the deal they made in July to send the big right-handed closer to the A’s. The Mets got two of the A’s lesser prospects in reliever Bobby Wahl and infielder WIll Toffey.
The deal capped what had been an “active,” and “aggressive,” Winter Meetings for the Mets, who teams said were “involved in everything.”
“We’re not viewing the Winter Meetings as a scoreboard of how many transactions we make,” Van Wagenen said. “We’re going to view it by how productive the conversations were we had and what we can do in the days and weeks ahead.”
And the Mets still have needs to fill.
Tuesday, after the Marlins aggressively shot down the idea of a three-team deal involving the Yankees and Mets that would bring all-star catcher J.T. Realmuto to Flushing and send Noah Syndergaard to the Bronx, Van Wagenen and Co. apparently broadened their approach. They are still pursuing Realmuto in a direct deal, but also talked to representatives of Yasmani Grandal, the top offensive free agent catcher available, and Martin Maldonado, a top defensive catcher available via free agency. Tuesday they also put out at least feelers on other catchers that may be available through trades.
Sources said Wednesday the Mets were “aggressive,” with Wilson Ramos and had some interest in Cubs catcher Willson Contreras.