MLB Hot Stove Lowdown: Luis Severino lands with crosstown rival

With the Thanksgiving leftovers finally out of the fridge, the MLB world begins to look forward to the upcoming Winter Meetings, which begin on Sunday. We’ll have you covered with player news and updates throughout the entire week. Before that, let’s take a look at a few free agent signings that happened just before the festivities began in Nashville, TN.

Mets bet on bounce-back season from Luis Severino

After a shocking underperforming season, the Mets began retooling their pitching staff by signing Luis Severino to a one-year, $13 million deal. The 29-year-old was forced into a prove-it deal after posting one of the worst stat lines for a starter last season. His 6.65 ERA was the seventh-highest for starters who threw over 80 innings. Severino has been limited to 209 ⅓ innings since 2019, mainly due to ongoing struggles with injuries. Severino joins a Mets rotation that includes Kodai Senga, Jose Quintana, Tylor Megill, and Joey Lucchesi and moves to a friendlier venue in Citi Field. He has struggled with the long ball in the last two seasons in Yankee Stadium. He allowed 14 and 23 homers in 2021 and 2022, respectively, which is only three less than he allowed from 2017 through 2018, but he faced 741 more batters in those two campaigns.

Looking under the hood, the right-hander still has the makings of an above-average pitcher. He has three-plus pitches and hasn’t lost velocity despite his injury history. It has been a fall from grace for the once highly regarded hurler but a great season with the Mets could propel him into a more lucrative deal next offseason. Currently in NFBC Draft and Hold leagues, which are 15-team leagues and 50 rounds, Severino is 321st overall and is the 125th pitcher off the board, with Tyler Wells and Ricky Tiedemann going right ahead of them. If, and this is a big if, Severino is healthy along with the new venue he calls home and his talent, he could easily be a steal at that point in the draft.

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Ex-Marlins find new homes and similar contracts

The Mets also made another, albeit more minor, transaction the same day they announced the Severino signing.’s Mark Feinsand reported that the Mets and Joey Wendle agreed to a one-year, $2 million deal, which ends Wendle’s reign of playing for Florida baseball clubs. The 32-year-old began his career in Oakland before he was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays before the 2018 season. He doesn’t have much over-the-fence thump, nor is speedy on the base paths, but Wendle brings an above-average contract and doesn’t strike out often and will likely fill around the infield dirt. His final season with the Marlins was easily the worst of his career, slashing .212/.248/.306 across 112 games. His presence with the Mets might block Ronny Mauricio from making the opening day roster with the big league club unless the young 22-year-old lights the world on fire in Spring Training.

The Royals also entered the Hot Stove waters this week, inking speedster Garrett Hampson to a one-year, $2 million contract. The 29-year-old spent most of his career in the large confines known as Coors Park but spent last season with the Marlins. Once a highly touted prospect, Hampson has posted above 100 wRC+ twice in his six-year career. While with Miami, Hampson shifted between the infield and outfield, hitting .276/.349/.380 across 252 plate appearances. With his new team, he will likely fill the same role and give the Royals another low-power, speed option off the bench. He could make an interesting flyer in deeper draft and hold leagues looking for speed late in the draft, but fantasy managers shouldn’t expect more than that from him.

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Reds double dip in the free agent pitching market

Jeff Passan reported late Thursday night that the Reds and Nick Martinez agreed to a two-year, $26 million contract. It was a huge payday for Martinez, who opted out of his final two years with the Padres, earning $10 million more with the move. The deal also includes an opt-out after the first year, which could help Martinez earn more if he posts a great season with Cincinnati. Martinez has had an interesting road to this point in his career. He debuted with the Rangers in 2014, and after four seasons of underwhelming numbers, he landed in Japan, pitching for the Nippon Ham Fighters and Softbank Hawks. His final season with the Hawks was mighty impressive, posting a 1.62 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, and 146/39 K/BB ratio over 149 ⅔ innings (23 starts). He parlayed that season into a four-year deal with the Padres.

In his final year in San Diego, the 32-year-old split time between starting and pitching in relief, posting a 3.43 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, and 106/40 K/BB ratio across 110 ⅓ innings (nine starts). Not only does he leave the beautiful weather in southern California, but he is also leaving a pitcher’s paradise in Petco Park. Looking at park factors, Petco Park has a 98 park factor in wOBA, while his new home, Great American Ball Park, has the third highest factor at 1.04. However, since returning from Japan, the right-hander has been able to keep the ball on the ground, which should be gobbled up by the young Red infield, so the move east might not be as harsh for him.

The Reds also finalized a one-year, $8 million contract with Emilio Pagán, with an $8 million player option for 2025. Pagán, unlike Martinez, has had a homer problem since he entered the league with the Mariners in 2017, except, strangely, last season. Since 2018, his sophomore season, the 32-year-old hadn’t posted a HR/FB rate below 13.5 percent until his final season with the Twins, when it was 5.3 percent. It seems like bad things are lingering as the reliever will make his home in Cincinnati, which has the league's highest home run ballpark factor. He will likely be the setup man for closer Alexis Díaz but should be avoided in most fantasy leagues as it is hard to overlook his tendency to give up the long ball.