Grading Billy Eppler and the New York Mets front office at midseason

Dec 20, 2022; NY, NY, USA; New York Mets pitcher Justin Verlander (left to right) poses for a photo with Mets general manager Billy Eppler and his agent Mark Pieper during his introductory press conference at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 20, 2022; NY, NY, USA; New York Mets pitcher Justin Verlander (left to right) poses for a photo with Mets general manager Billy Eppler and his agent Mark Pieper during his introductory press conference at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /
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Brooks Raley.  John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports
Brooks Raley.  John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports /

Acquired or traded

So budget-focused was Eppler this past winter that he was only a casual participant in interactions with other teams. Since the conclusion of the 2022 season, he acquired four players via trade, purchase or waiver claim, but none of those four has played more than a peripheral role.

The most impactful of the four has been reliever Brooks Raley, acquired in a December deal that sent a minor leaguer to Tampa Bay. In a Mets bullpen hampered by the preseason injury to closer Edwin Diaz, Raley has been given 34 appearances covering 28 innings. That’s as close to being a situational lefty as it gets in these days of three-batter minimums.

He’s 1-1 with a 2.57 ERA and a +0.6 WAA.

Fellow reliever Jeff Brigham came over from Miami with Elieser Hernandez last November in exchange for two minor leaguers. Hernandez hasn’t seen big league time, but Brigham, like Raley, benefitted from the Diaz injury. The difference is that Brigham hasn’t been as effective as Raley. He’s packing a 4.50 ERA in 30 appearances encompassing 28 innings, all of that adding up to a -0.2 WAA.

When Eppler released Travis Jankowski to the Mariners on waivers late last season, it set off a chain reaction of moves that wound up with Jankowski contributing to the success of the Texas Rangers. Jankowski was released by Seattle nine days after being claimed, re-signed with the Mets and was released over the winter, then signed on with Texas in January. He’s a .298 hitter in Texas, producing a +1.4 WAA.

Earlier this week, Eppler also formally gave up on one-time third baseman Eduardo Escobar (0.0), dumping him to the Los Angeles Angels.