Mets Officially Release Veteran Reliever to Roster J.D. Martinez

Phil Bickford

Getty Phil Bickford released by the New York Mets

The New York Mets have officially released 28-year-old relief pitcher Phil Bickford. Bickford was designated for assignment on March 23, according to the Associated Press. The move was made to make room on the roster for J.D. Martinez. Martinez signed a one-year, $12 million deal with the Mets on March 23, according to’s Anthony DiComo.

The Mets acquired Bickford in a trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2023. The Mets gave up cash considerations in exchange for Bickford and left-hander Adam Kolarek. While the trade for Bickford did not yield a long stint on the Mets, the club is excited about J.D. Martinez.

“J.D. is a veteran Major League player with a proven track record,” President of Baseball Operations David Stearns said in a statement, according to DiComo. “His valuable bat will provide protection and extend the lineup. His addition to the club continues our commitment to compete in 2024 and beyond.”

Implications of Releasing Bickford

Bickford made his major league debut with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2020. His stay in Milwaukee would be short as he was traded to the Dodgers in 2021. The Dodgers designated him for assignment in July 2023 when the Mets traded for him. Bickford is 11-8 in his career with a 4.43 ERA across 180.2 innings.

Bickford appeared in 25 games for the Mets in 2023. He pitched to a 4.62 ERA and a 3-2 record in his short stint in New York. Bickford had been struggling during Grapefruit League games. In five outings he had a 5.79 ERA in just 4.2 innings.

Bickford won his salary arbitration on February 6, according to the New York Post’s Joel Sherman. The Mets offered Bickford $815,00. An arbitrator determined a $900,000 salary. However, the Mets will only pay him $217,742 in termination pay after being released.

“Under baseball’s collective bargaining agreement, salaries determined in arbitration are not guaranteed. A player with a nonguaranteed contract receives 45 days’ termination pay if released within 15 days of opening day and 30 days’ pay if released earlier in spring training,” wrote the Associated Press.

Bickford is the second player released this offseason after winning an arbitration hearing. The San Francisco Giants released J.D. Davis after he won $6.9 million in arbitration.

Mets Bullpen Outlook

Closer Edwin Díaz highlights the Mets Bullpen. Díaz missed the 2023 season after sustaining a knee injury during the World Baseball Classic. However, he is ready to go in 2024.  He has a 2.45 ERA in 3.2 Grapefruit League innings this spring.

Outside Díaz, the Mets bullpen has veteran arms in Adam Ottavino, Brooks Raley, Drew Smith and Jorge López.

The Mets also added Shintaro Fujinami in free agency. Fujinami signed a one-year, $3.35 million deal with the Mets. However, Fujinami will start the year in Triple-A, according to DiComo. The Mets expressed their excitement to add Fujinami when they signed him. Ultimately, he will have to work his way up to the major league club after struggling in the spring. Fujinami had a 12.27 ERA in five Grapefruit League outings.

“We are excited to bring Shintaro into the organization,”  said Stearns. “He adds another power arm option to our pen and we’re looking forward to him continuing his progression as a major league pitcher.”

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