The Mets recently signed right-handed reliever Dominic Leone to a MLB deal after he opted out of his minor league contract with the Texas Rangers. Leone, 31, had a 1.59 ERA over 11.1 innings in Triple-A this season, striking out 15 and walking just two. The veteran reliever had a 4.01 ERA over 49.1 innings for the Giants in 2022, but in 2021 pitched to a 1.51 ERA in 57 appearances. Over the course of Leone’s career, he has a 3.67 ERA in 355 games between Seattle, Arizona, Toronto, St. Louis, Cleveland, San Francisco, and now New York.
Leone has already made two appearances in relief for the Mets since signing, striking out three over two scoreless innings with one walk and one hit allowed. Leone is one of the best relievers at getting chases and whiffs, as he was in the 100th and 96th percentiles respectively last year. He has struggled with walks, however, throughout his career, with an even 10.0% rate over nine seasons. Leone has a three-pitch mix of a fastball, slider and cutter, with his slider being the best in his arsenal. He struggled with his fastball more in 2022, leading to his regression from his big 2021 season for the Giants, allowing a slugging percentage over .600, but his slider was still a dominant pitch.
The Mets pitching staff has struggled with injuries and performance through the first month of the 2023 season, so Leone figures to have a chance to earn a prominent role in the Mets pen. His first two appearances have come in the seventh and eighth innings against the Tigers and Rockies, however, those were with the Mets losing, so exactly what role Buck Showalter will have Leone in is unknown. While there is a reason he had to settle on a minor league deal to start the year, Leone still has upside that could make this seemingly minor deal a big move for the Mets.