If the Mets want to employ an opener this season, Aaron Loup is willing to volunteer for duty.
The veteran left-hander, who arrived this offseason on a one-year deal worth $3 million, has appeared in 406 games as a reliever in his career, filling all roles, but still hasn’t started. Appealing to him is the idea of pitching the first inning and then calling it a day.
“Who wouldn’t want to be the guy to start the game and then get to sit in the clubhouse and drink a few brews on the back end and watch the rest of it?” Loup said Thursday on a Zoom call from Port St. Lucie, Fla.
Though manager Luis Rojas mentioned the possibility of an opener in comments this week, on Thursday he said it’s an issue that still hasn’t been discussed with pitching coach Jeremy Hefner and his lieutenants.
“But we definitely have individuals on our roster that can do something like that and have a follow-up and use a strategy against certain lineups, against certain teams,” Rojas said. “Those are conversations that are going to be engaged at some point, so I am going to say we are open-minded.”
Matt Allan and Francisco Alvarez are two of the prospects Rojas has had the chance to observe in the early days of workouts.
Allan, a 19-year-old right-hander, was the Mets’ third-round pick in the 2019 draft. Alvarez, a 19-year-old catcher, is regarded as the organization’s No. 1 or 2 prospect.
“Allan threw a side and he was impressive,” Rojas said. “It was his first side, but the ball looks really good coming out of his hand.”
Rojas added: “This kid Francisco Alvarez, I have seen him take BP a couple of times and he’s got some hit-ability at a young age.”
Rojas said he planned to call Tim Tebow, who announced his retirement from baseball Wednesday. The former Heisman Trophy winner played for Rojas when he managed Double-A Binghamton in 2018.
“Tim’s passion for the game is impressive — off the charts,” Rojas said. “I loved working with him on a daily basis. I did see improvement every day. The way he went about his business was impressive. I think guys learned, the way he went about it.”
Tebow, 33, got as far as Triple-A Syracuse for the Mets.
“He had some tools,” Rojas said.
Trevor Rosenthal came off the board as a bullpen option for the Mets, when the right-hander agreed to terms on a one-year deal with Oakland worth $11 million. The Mets had been engaged with Rosenthal’s representatives in recent days.