NEW YORK (AP) — The active New York Mets took two more steps toward restocking their pitching staff Friday night, finalizing contracts with free agents José Quintana and David Robertson.
Quintana signed a $26 million, two-year deal that adds another veteran arm to the team’s revamped rotation. The sides agreed to terms Wednesday during baseball's winter meetings in San Diego, pending a physical.
Robertson gets a $10 million, one-year contract that brings the veteran reliever back to New York after two previous stints with the Yankees. He gives the Mets an experienced setup man for All-Star closer Edwin Díaz as they rebuild their bullpen during a whirlwind offseason.
“We’re very excited to add a pitcher of David’s caliber,” general manager Billy Eppler said in a news release. “He has been pitching in high-leverage situations for teams with postseason expectations since his career started.”
Quintana, who gets $13 million in each of the next two seasons, was 6-7 with a career-best 2.93 ERA in 32 starts last season for Pittsburgh and St. Louis. He was terrific after he was traded to the Cardinals in August, posting a 2.01 ERA in 12 appearances for the NL Central champions. He worked 5 1/3 scoreless innings in his lone playoff start, but St. Louis was eliminated by NL champion Philadelphia.
The left-hander allowed 0.43 homers per nine innings this year, the lowest mark in the majors among qualified starters. He didn't give up a home run in his last 61 2/3 innings, the longest active streak in the big leagues.
Quintana, who turns 34 in January, joins 38-year-old Max Scherzer and fellow newcomer Justin Verlander (40 in February) in a New York rotation that also includes Carlos Carrasco (36 in March). David Peterson and Tylor Megill, both 27, are the top in-house contenders to round out the unit.
“Over the last decade, José has been one of the most dependable starting pitchers in the majors,” Eppler said in a separate news release. “Adding another left-handed option to our rotation, especially one with his durability, experience, and moxie, will give our starting staff quality depth.”
Quintana can earn $100,000 for World Series MVP and $50,000 each for League Championship Series MVP, Gold Glove and making the All-Star team. He would get $50,000 for winning a Cy Young Award, $25,000 for finishing second and $10,000 for third.
It's been a hectic week for Eppler and the Mets, who landed Verlander with an $86.7 million, two-year contract that includes a conditional $35 million player option for 2025. They also traded for lefty reliever Brooks Raley from Tampa Bay and agreed to bring back free-agent center fielder Brandon Nimmo on a $162 million, eight-year contract, subject to a successful physical.
Scherzer, Verlander and Quintana all started their team's playoff opener last season. The 2023 Mets will be the first club with three pitchers who each started his team’s first postseason game the previous year, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
New York has been overhauling its pitching staff following a playoff loss to San Diego in the wild-card round. Three starters became free agents: Jacob deGrom left for Texas, Taijuan Walker has a deal in place with Philadelphia pending a physical, and Chris Bassitt remains on the open market.
In the bullpen, all of New York’s top relievers besides Drew Smith became free agents, including Adam Ottavino, Seth Lugo, Trevor May, Joely Rodríguez, Mychal Givens, Trevor Williams and Tommy Hunter.
Díaz returned on a $102 million, five-year contract last month.
The 37-year-old Robertson pitched for the Yankees across town from 2008-14 and again from 2017-18. He spent last season with the Chicago Cubs and Philadelphia Phillies, going 4-3 with a 2.40 ERA and 20 saves in 58 appearances. The right-hander struck out 81 batters and walked 35 while giving up only 39 hits in 62 2/3 innings.
Robertson even closed out the World Series opener against Houston for the first postseason save of his career. He threw four scoreless innings in four outings during the Fall Classic for the Phillies, who lost to the Astros in six games. He is 6-0 with a 2.78 ERA in 41 career postseason games.
Díaz is the undisputed closer for the Mets after a dominant season that earned him the 2022 Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year Award. But with 157 saves in 14 major league seasons, Robertson provides short-term insurance in addition to his primary job filling a late-inning setup role. He is 57-36 with a 2.89 ERA in 731 career games with the Yankees, White Sox, Phillies, Rays and Cubs.
Eppler worked in the Yankees’ front office while Robertson was a valuable member of their bullpen, ultimately succeeding Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera as the team’s closer in 2014.
Robertson, nicknamed Houdini for his great escapes on the mound, has always been easily recognizable with his baseball socks worn high. He was out of the majors for almost 2 1/2 years because of an elbow injury in 2019 that required Tommy John surgery and a long rehab process.
Finally healthy, he earned two saves to help the U.S. Olympic team win the silver medal in Japan. He returned to the big leagues with Tampa Bay on Sept. 1, 2021.
Quintana broke into the majors with the Chicago White Sox in 2012. He is 89-87 with a 3.75 ERA in 315 games, including 289 starts, over 11 seasons with six teams. He earned his lone All-Star selection in 2016, going 13-12 with a 3.20 ERA in 32 starts for the White Sox.
As part of the deals, Quintana and Robertson get hotel suites on road trips.
AP Baseball Writer Jay Cohen contributed to this report.
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