In what is becoming a common theme in these Non-Roster Invitee articles, the Mets signed a lefty pitcher to a minor league contract with an NRI to camp this off-season. Today we’ll look at Hector Santiago, who unlike some of the other pitchers we already profiled in this season, has seen extensive major league time in his career and is trying to rebound at age 32.
Santiago was drafted by the White Sox in the 30th round of the 2006 draft and made his major league debut in 2011 getting into two games and tossing 5.3 scoreless innings. He would be come a regular pitcher, mostly a starter from that point on getting at least 61 innings of work from every season from 2012 to 2018.
After the 2013 season was part of a three team trade that sent him to the Angels (the more famous players in this trade include Mark Trumbo and Adam Eaton). In 2016 he was traded at the deadline to the Twins for Alex Meyer and Ricky Nolasco. He became a free agent in fall of 2017 and signed a free agent with the White Sox for a reunion of sorts. Now he’s a Met.
2018 MLB: 49 G, 7 GS, 102.0 IP, 4.41 ERA, 5.12 FIP, 6.37 DRA, 1.52 WHIP
Career: 238 G, 137 GS, 887.0 IP, 4.05 ERA, 4.86 FIP, 5.74 DRA, 1.37 WHIP
The obvious short term use for Hector is as a lefty reliever if the Mets need one, especially since he was signed before the Mets signed Wilson. What Hector really gives the Mets is a bullpen guy who can swing as a starter, where he spent most of his career. The two pitchers in the pen who can do that right now are Lugo and Gsellman (and Vargas in the rotation for the other way). If the goal is to stabilize both Lugo and Gsellman, especially without calling up a prospect too early (since the starter prospects are all too far away), there’s Hector. If he has a strong spring, he could fight his way into the 40 man. He’s a much more experienced option than bringing in Flexen to start two games in a row.