For the Mets, Sun Sets on a Pair of Once-Promising Acquisitions

By Jacob Resnick

November 3, 2018 No comments

This wasn’t how it was supposed to end.

On Friday, two players acquired by the Mets in trades made nearly four and a half years apart came together to make their quiet exits from the organization. Jamie Callahan, who was outrighted off the 40-man roster, and Wuilmer Becerra both became minor league free agents and are now free to sign with another major league organization.

The moves were made as five players were slashed from the major league roster and 19 more left the pipeline as free agents.

Callahan, you might remember, was one of three hard-throwing relief arms acquired from the Boston Red Sox at the trading deadline in 2017 in exchange for Addison Reed. The Florence, SC native immediately joined MLB Pipeline’s ranking of the top 30 prospects in the organization, alongside his trade brethren Gerson Bautista and Stephen Nogosek. Callahan would make his major league debut that September, flashing an upper-90s fastball and tight slider in nine otherwise nondescript appearances.

The former second-round draft pick was quickly optioned to the minor leagues at the outset of this year’s Spring Training, but that would turn out to be the least of his problems in 2018. Callahan made seven outings with Triple-A Las Vegas in April, but something wasn’t right. In what would turn out to be his penultimate outing as a member of the organization, he faced 11 batters and allowed seven of them to reach base. Two days later, it would take him 21 pitches to record the final two outs in a 13-4 Las Vegas defeat.

The next day, Callahan went on the 51s’ disabled list. He would not return. In June, he underwent shoulder surgery. There was no guarantee that he would have been healthy enough to pitch in Spring Training games in 2019, and now there’s no telling whether he’ll be employed by a major league team by then.

Becerra, meanwhile, was the throw-in. Merely a name with 32 Gulf Coast League at-bats under his belt when the Toronto Blue Jays included him with Noah Syndergaard, Travis d’Arnaud, and John Buck in 2012’s R.A. Dickey deal, Becerra undoubtedly endured more ups and downs than any player to pass through the organization in the interim.

For a minute, it looked like the Mets had truly ripped off Alex Anthopolous and company. d’Arnaud and Syndergaard were expected to deliver, but anything Becerra provided? That was just a welcome bonus.

From 2o14 through 2016, he would hit .298, earn a pair of postseason all-star nods, and simply do enough to have his contract selected from High-A, protecting him from the Rule 5 Draft. The Mets were riding high, looking over at their prized young prospects and looking down at a 41-year-old making $12 million to provide league-average services north of the border.

Then, the injuries came. It began in that 2016 season, when a shoulder injury limited Becerra to just 65 games. Although he returned to the field for the majority of 2017, the ailment was clearly still hindering his performance, as he saw his average drop 45 points and was unable to play the field with any consistency until the second half of the season. 2018 was a similar story, as he toiled in extended spring training until the end of May, ultimately playing 59 games in the entire season.

Will another club give the former prospect another chance? That remains to be seen. Along with Callahan, Becerra serves as a reminder of what once could have been but never was. C’est la vie.