New York Mets bolster struggling bullpen by acquiring Phil Maton from Tampa Bay Rays in trade

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Hunter Greene pitches in the 2nd inning

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

Maton, who posted a 4.58 ERA with two saves in 40 appearances for the Rays this season, has shown improvement lately after a challenging start. He recorded 30 strikeouts and 18 walks over 35 1/3 innings.

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

“We’ve been discussing bullpen options for several weeks now,” Stearns noted. “We had identified Phil as a target during 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.

His acquisition provides the Mets with a seasoned pitcher to bolster their fatigued bullpen, which has been affected by injuries to veterans like Brooks Raley and Drew Smith, both sidelined for the season due to elbow injuries. Additional pitchers Sean Reid-Foley and Shintaro Fujinami are recovering from shoulder issues and are expected to return soon.

Hunter Greene throws in first inning

Earlier, the Mets acquired left-handed reliever Matt Gage from the Los Angeles Dodgers for cash and assigned him to Triple-A Syracuse. The trade for Maton comes ahead of the July 30 trade deadline in Major League Baseball.

“We’ll continue to explore options and evaluate our team in the weeks ahead,” Stearns stated. “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 out of 37 save opportunities this season, and their bullpen has struggled with an 8.16 ERA over the last 14 games. Due to injuries and other roster moves, only three of the original eight relievers from the start of the season are currently active in the bullpen.

Star closer Edwin Díaz was on the injured list from May 29 to June 11 due to a right shoulder issue, and he recently returned from a suspension related to the use of sticky substances in baseball.

“We’ve asked a lot from certain relievers, more than they’ve faced in their careers before. Some guys have hit rough patches lately. Combining all these factors has presented challenges,” Stearns explained.

New York started the day just below a .500 winning percentage but remains only 2 1/2 games behind a playoff spot in the National League. Tampa Bay, meanwhile, is two games under .500 and 5 1/2 games out of the final American League wild card spot.

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

Blake Snell stands on the ground in the 4th inning

He signed a one-year, $6.5 million contract with the Rays in February, which includes a club option for 2025 worth $7.75 million with a $250,000 buyout.

Erik Neander, the Rays’ president of baseball operations, explained that trading Phil Maton will open up a spot in Tampa Bay’s bullpen for minor leaguer Manuel Rodríguez. Rodríguez had a strong showing earlier in the season with a 2.79 ERA over nine appearances.

“The current team record and Phil’s recent performance weren’t what we hoped for,” Neander commented. “Although Phil has shown improvement lately, we see Manuel Rodríguez performing well and we want to give him a longer opportunity with the major league team. This trade was our chosen path to make that happen.”

To add Phil Maton to the Mets’ 40-man roster, left-handed pitcher Joey Lucchesi was designated for assignment. Lucchesi had made one start in the majors this year and was pitching for Triple-A.


By Robert Jackson

An avid football fan (A red). And an Otaku by the definition of the word.

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