The Mets signed veteran lefty reliever Ricardo Rincon to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training.
Yes, it happened a few days ago and I’m a little late reporting it, but better late than never.
I like this signing, for several reasons. First of all, Rincon can pitch — when healthy — and the Mets can use all the lefties they can get to battle the lefty-heavy Phillies. Second, the minor league contract is an easy commitment — if he makes the 25-man roster, great. If he doesn’t, no big deal, and he’ll add to the depth in AAA. Third, he could give the Mets the flexibility to move Scott Schoeneweis in a trade if one presents itself. That last point may seem outlandish at the moment, but you never know what transpires in the next few months.
The negatives to this pickup are Rincon’s age (38) and his questionable health. He was a pretty solid LOOGY and occasional middle reliever before succumbing to arm woes after pitching in the World Baseball Classic for his native Mexico. Immediately after the Classic, Rincon complained of discomfort that led to BOTH elbow AND shoulder surgeries that ended his 2006 season after only five appearances. He tried to come back last season, but was struck down with a torn ACL while in AAA Fresno (Giants). Eventually, he was able to pitch in a handful of games at the tail end of the Mexican League season — where he was effective.
Look, Rincon is not going to be the lefthanded Duaner Sanchez. He could, however, be effective in a LOOGY role, which could free Pedro Feliciano to pitch more middle relief innings and push Scott Schoeneweis (either to better performance or out the door). Rincon’s arm injuries could very well decimate his skills to a point where he’ll never pitch at the MLB level again — or the surgeries could have the Steve Austin effect and give him a few more years. The knee injury, though, is a problem — Rincon is a short guy (5’9″) who has carried too much weight during his career (210+ lbs.). If he hasn’t trimmed the fat, the knee problem could turn chronic.
In the end, this is a good low-risk, medium-high reward signing. Rincon could be a “throwaway”, or he could be this year’s J.C. Romero. Even if he proves to be somewhere in between, it will turn out to be a decent deal.