Mets’ interest in Liam Hendriks hinges on bigger MLB free agency idea

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The catching situation is set, but the Mets still could use additional arms to throw pitches into James McCann’s mitt.

But those arms don’t necessarily have to be limited to the starting rotation.

As the Mets examine the market for starters such as Trevor Bauer, Jake Odorizzi and Masahiro Tanaka, they could find room in their bullpen for another significant piece.

Already, the Mets have added Trevor May this offseason on a two-year deal worth $15.5 million. But there is a line of thinking within the organization, according to a source, that another high-end bullpen option — in a flooded market for relievers — could be feasible.

The Mets, according to a source, are among the teams showing interest in Liam Hendriks, who is regarded among the top relievers on the free-agent market. Other notable names include Brad Hand, Pedro Baez and Trevor Rosenthal.

But team president Sandy Alderson and new general manager Jared Porter’s appetite for such an addition could be dictated by whether the Mets add one or two starters to the rotation and at what level. For instance, if the Mets were to add two starting pitchers, they could fill a five-man rotation and comfortably move Seth Lugo back to the bullpen.

As it stands, the Mets have Jacob deGrom, Marcus Stroman, David Peterson and Lugo, with Steven Matz trying to prove he belongs in the conversation. Another starter, Noah Syndergaard, is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery and likely won’t be ready before June at the earliest.

“Who is getting to the seventh inning besides deGrom?” said a major league talent evaluator in making the case the Mets could use another high-end reliever, especially if they don’t sign Bauer. “I don’t think you have enough arms out there.”

The key pieces to that bullpen include May, Edwin Diaz and Jeurys Familia. Brad Brach and Dellin Betances are veterans trying to rebound from disappointing seasons, with Miguel Castro and Robert Gsellman also in the mix, along with lefty Jerry Blevins, who recently signed a minor league deal.

Both Diaz and Familia improved last season after struggling in 2019, but Alderson might not be beholden to either reliever given they are products of predecessor Brodie Van Wagenen’s regime. Diaz arrived in a trade that sent prospects Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn to the Mariners and Familia returned to the organization before the 2019 season on a three-year contract worth $30 million.

“How are Familia and Diaz looked at by Sandy and [Porter]?” the talent evaluator asked rhetorically.

Hendriks went 3-1 with 14 saves, a 1.78 ERA and 0.67 WHIP in 24 appearances for Oakland last season. The right-hander also struck out 37 batters in 25 ¹/₃ innings.

“If you were to get him and he’s not your closer, you have a pretty good bullpen,” the talent evaluator said.

McCann’s four-year contract was officially announced by the Mets on Tuesday. The 30-year-old catcher received a deal worth $40.6 million, according to an industry source. The team is tentatively planning to introduce McCann on a Zoom call Thursday.

“In the area of catching, they didn’t let anybody eat their lunch,” super-agent Scott Boras said in a virtual session with reporters. “They went out and got a Big Mac.”

The Mets agreed to a minor-league contract with right-hander Jerad Eickhoff, who spent the last five seasons with the Phillies.

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