One of the players the New York Mets received when they wisely traded Marlon Byrd and John Buck to the Pittsburgh Pirates was relief pitcher Vic Black. He was only with the team in September, during which time he made 15 appearances after spending most of the season in the Minors, making only three Big League appearances with the Pirates. After being with the Mets for just a month, what does his future with the team look like heading into 2014 and behind?
The Mets knew what they were getting what they traded for Black: a hard throwing reliever with late-inning potential, which is something the Mets need more of. Black has made it known that he wants to be a closer, but that doesn’t mean he’ll have that opportunity with the Mets. In fact, there’s no guarantee that he’ll even be assured of a roster spot next season.
Black is young and he throws hard, and the Mets certainly need more pitchers like him in their bullpen. However, Black has always had problems with his control, giving away too many walks, and that has prevented from him moving through the Minor Leagues faster and solidifying a spot on a Big League roster. Black allowed four walks in his 13 innings with the Mets in September, which is an acceptable amount, but his reputation for being wild precedes him and is something that he will have to contend with and prove wrong as his career moves forward.
Along with several other young relievers, the Mets will certainly hold onto Black through the winter and bring him to spring training next year, when he’ll compete for a spot on the opening-day roster. But beyond that, there are no guarantees for him.
Black has the potential to be one of their main setup relievers next season, and couple possibly be the closer if Bobby Parnell doesn’t return from his neck injury. But if Black can’t get over his control problems, he’s the type of pitcher that the Mets could send back to the Minors to start the season and then ship him back and forth between the big leagues and triple-A all season.
For a pitcher with so much promise, but who has a history of being erratic, the future is tough to predict for Black. But trading for him was a good move, as you can never have enough hard-throwing relievers. The Mets are certainly glad to have him, but just how much he’ll contribute to them next season and beyond remains to be seen, and depends on how well Black can control his pitches.