Peraza, 3 other Mets choose free agency rather than minors

NEW YORK (AP) — Reserve infielder José Peraza and three other New York Mets elected to become free agents Friday rather than accept minor league assignments.

The team sent Peraza, outfielder José Martínez, and pitchers Corey Oswalt and Robert Stock outright to Triple-A Syracuse. All four players declined and chose free agency instead.

Peraza batted .204 with six homers and 20 RBIs for the Mets this season. He appeared in 64 games and had 154 plate appearances, delivering a handful of clutch hits off the bench.

The 27-year-old Peraza handed Milwaukee Brewers closer Josh Hader his only blown save of the season with a tying, pinch-hit homer on July 7. Peraza, however, was on the injured list from July 20 through Sept. 14 with a broken middle finger on his right hand.

Martínez never played for New York after signing a $1 million, one-year contract in January. He got injured in spring training, had surgery for a torn meniscus in his left knee and was not reinstated from a minor league rehab assignment late in the season.

The 33-year-old outfielder and first baseman hit .182 with two homers and 10 RBIs for the Rays and Cubs in 2020. He was a productive bat earlier in his career for St. Louis, often in a part-time role, and has a .289 career average with 43 homers and 182 RBIs in four major league seasons.

Oswalt was 1-1 with a 3.48 ERA in one start and two relief appearances for the Mets this year. He went on the injured list July 5 with right knee inflammation and didn’t pitch in the big leagues the rest of the season.

Stock was selected off waivers from the Chicago Cubs in June and finished the season 0-2 with an 8.00 ERA in three starts overall — two for the Mets. His last outing was cut short by a right hamstring strain, and the right-hander didn’t pitch in the majors after July 20.

New York is still searching for a president of baseball operations. Once that front-office job is filled, the club plans to turn its attention to hiring a new manager — Luis Rojas was let go the day after the season ended.

Earlier this week, the Mets announced Jeremy Hefner will return as pitching coach next year. The team said it will exercise the option on his contract for 2022.

Most of the other coaches are expected to be replaced.

The 35-year-old Hefner has been the Mets’ pitching coach since 2020. His staff ranked ninth in the majors this season with a 3.90 ERA.

“Jeremy has done an outstanding job of working with the entire pitching staff and they’ve all benefitted from his leadership and expertise,” Mets President Sandy Alderson said in a statement. “He has blended analytics with his knowledge to provide players with tools for individual and team success.”

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