The New York Mets have designated Brandon Lyon for assignment, bringing an end to Lyon’s Mets career. Lyon, 33, was good but not spectacular for the Mets this season. He was sporting an ERA of 4.91 and a 1.60 WHIP with 23 strikeouts and 13 walks in 33 innings this season. However, Lyon had an ERA of 3.16 before giving up seven runs in 2/3 innings against the Washington Nationals last weekend.
Lyon was one of just two free agents Sandy Alderson gave a Major League contract to this past off-season, signing the right-hander to a one-year, $850,000 deal. However, his contract had incentive clauses that were about to kick in beginning at 40 appearances. He would have been paid $100,000 for every five appearances after 40 which makes this move seem like it was driven by finances rather than performance.
Thirty-year-old Greg Burke will be taking Lyon’s place on the active roster. Burke owns a 3.86 ERA and 1.47 WHIP with 19 strikeouts and seven walks across 22 games and 21 innings. The numbers don’t exactly dwarf Lyon’s in comparison. IF you take away Lyon’s dreadful appearances against the Nationals he was actually a pretty nice and effective piece in a bullpen that doesn’t have many of them.
Lyon was certainly better than Josh Edgin or Scott Rice but it was Lyon who finds himself on the short end. It wasn’t like Lyon was an elite set-up man or potential closer but he was, until the Nationals series, an effective and useful piece out of the bullpen.
Could the financial situation with the Mets be that bad where they are avoiding paying Lyon his incentives? Doubtful, but certainly not out of the question given the recent history of the team. Alderson is trying to rebuild a Mets roster with youth and Lyon was certainly not part of the Mets’ future plans, not at 33-years-old. It wouldn’t be surprising if Alderson tried to trade Lyon but had difficulty finding any takers which led to Lyon being designated for assignment.
At this point, it doesn’t matter if Lyon was designated for financial reasons or performance ones. He is gone now and Burke is taking his place. I am sure the Mets will say the move wasn’t financially motivated but it will be hard for them to convince people otherwise given their recent history.