Based on their records it’s tough to tell which team is the buyer and which team is the seller here, but the 57-59 Red Sox have traded catcher Kelly Shoppach to the 55-60 Mets for a player to be named later.
Shoppach is an impending free agent, so the Mets are apparently picking him up in the hopes he can help them close what is a 9.5-game deficit for the Wild Card. Or something.
Meanwhile, the Red Sox are parting with Shoppach because they have minor leaguer Ryan Lavarnway waiting in the wings to fill the “part-time catcher who crushes left-handed pitching” role as the backup for Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
Shoppach was a nice offseason pickup for the Red Sox, hitting .250 with five homers and a .798 OPS in 48 games after signing a one-year, $1.35 million deal as a free agent. He’ll split time with the left-handed-hitting Josh Thole in New York.
The Mets signed left-hander Matt Purke to a minor league deal, the team announced Friday. Purke will also receive an invitation to spring training, where he could presumably beef up the club’s left-handed relief options alongside Jerry Blevins and Josh Smoker.
Purke has not appeared in the majors since 2016, when he was used in a dozen relief appearances by the White Sox. The 27-year-old racked up a 5.50 ERA, 6.0 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 in his first 18 innings with the team, and was demoted to Triple-A Charlotte in June to finish out the season. He spent the entire 2017 season in Triple-A as well, showing more promise with a 3.84 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 11.0 SO/9 in 48 appearances.
While Purke may not amount to much more than a depth piece in New York’s ‘pen, the veteran lefty figures to be part of the Mets’ new bullpen-first strategy next year. Reports from MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo indicate that the club will be focusing on improving their relief options in order to ease the workload of their starting pitchers, and will likely add a few more arms before the offseason comes to a close.