Ramos, 30, was an All-Star last year and is under team control next season. With high walk (22) and strikeout (47) numbers, he has 20 saves and a 3.63 E.R.A. this season, and is making $6.55 million. Most important, he could serve as a replacement for current Mets closer Addison Reed, a free agent at the end of this season who is likely to be shipped away by Monday’s nonwaiver trade deadline.
“As far as I know, I’m still here so I’m going to keep pitching until the phone rings and they call my name,” said Reed, who found out about the Ramos trade during the game.
The Mets could pair Ramos next season with the left-hander Jerry Blevins and closer Jeurys Familia, who is returning from blood clot surgery, to fortify the back end of the bullpen, one of the Mets’ weaknesses this season. And if the Mets can trade Reed, who is a free agent at the end of this season, ahead of Monday’s nonwaiver trade deadline, they could refill the prospect pool used to acquire Ramos.
As the Mets welcomed new and returning faces, outfielder Michael Conforto gave himself a grand homecoming at Safeco Field against the Mariners. Conforto, the team’s lone all-star who grew up near Seattle, smashed two home runs in front of many friends and family.
“It’s a dream come true for me to play out here, let alone hit two home runs and get a comeback win,” Conforto said.
The second pulled the Mets back to a 5-5 tie after starter Rafael Montero and reliever Josh Edgin squandered a 4-0 lead. Then singles by Curtis Granderson and Walker in the eighth inning provided a two-run advantage that held.
Walker went 1 for 4 in his first game back. Although he played third base during some of his minor league rehabilitation assignment, he returned to his natural position of second with Rivera out for at least the next few weeks.
While Manager Terry Collins said he expected Wilmer Flores to see the bulk of playing time at first base for now, Walker may be an option there, too. He can also shift around the infield.
“We don’t know what’s going to take place in the next two or three weeks, and he’s got to be able to give us some versatility,” Collins said.
The Mets may also open up a spot for top prospects like shortstop Amed Rosario or first baseman Dominic Smith if they are able to trade Asdrubal Cabrera. After starting the season as a shortstop, Cabrera was moved to second base after he struggled, and then to third base to showcase his abilities as potential trade bait.
Walker, who will be a free agent at the end of the season, could also be showcased, but he has a large salary ($17.2 million this season), and his recent injury history (back surgery last fall and a hamstring injury this season) could work against him.
Walker, who was hitting .270 with nine home runs, welcomed the possibility of adding versatility to his résumé. He was a third baseman for a time in the minor leagues and played some there early in his major league career.
“Moving into my 30s, I know that it would be beneficial for me and whatever team I’m with moving forward to play some second base, third base, first base,” he said. “I don’t know where we’ll go from now until the end of the season.”
Although the reaction time and positioning is different at third base, Walker said playing there may keep his legs in better shape because there is less movement than at second base.
Regardless of where Walker ends up playing the final two months, Rivera will have to contend with his damaged elbow ligament.
Rivera, who has hit .290 while playing first, second, third base and left field this season, had been dealing with some soreness in his arm over the past few weeks, but it worsened to the point that it prevented him from hitting Thursday.
Rivera received a platelet-rich plasma injection this week. Outfielder Juan Lagares dealt with a similar injury in 2015 and did not need surgery.
“If you strengthen the area, hopefully you can avoid any surgical procedure that pitchers go through,” Collins said, alluding to Tommy John surgery. “Until we see where he’s at in a couple weeks, we won’t know.”
By then, the Mets’ roster could look drastically different, all building toward another attempt at contending next season.
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