2016 salary projection: Mets closer Jeurys Familia

Pace Law School in White Plains won the sixth-annual Tulane National Baseball Arbitration Competition in New Orleans in 2013. This week, Dan Masi (Pace ’14), Steven Stieglitz (Pace ’16), W. Paul Alvarez (Pace ’16) and Bryan Kelly (Pace ’17) offer their salary projections for the New York Mets‘ arbitration-eligible players, including detailed analyses for Matt Harvey, Lucas Duda, Jeurys Familia and Addison Reed.

The Pace Law arbitration team is using the same methods agents and team officials employ.

On Day 3, here is an analysis of Familia’s projected 2016 salary.

There were many players who had an impact on the Mets in 2015, but arguably none was more unforeseeable than Familia's contribution. Entering the 2015 campaign, the Mets were in somewhat of a jam. One former closer, Bobby Parnell, was still rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. Another, Jenrry Mejia, ended up being suspended for a positive test for a performance-enhancing drug.

Familia, who missed the majority of the 2013 season due to injury, became the team's setup man in the 2014. He posted an admirable 23 holds with a 2.21 ERA. Entering his platform season as a first-time arbitration-eligible player, he was thrust into an unfamiliar role as closer. Despite the enormous pressure, Familia thrived and will be compensated appropriately.

Familia converted all nine of his save chances in April, and he only was getting started. In May and June, he converted an additional 12 saves in 14 opportunities. More impressively, he posted an ERA just above 1.00 in those months. In July, Familia ran into a bit of trouble. He blew three saves and posted a 4.61 ERA. However, in August, he truly shined -- going 9-for-9 in save chances and posting a 0.59 ERA. From July 31 through the National League Championship Series, Familia did not blow a single save. He ranked third in the majors with 43 saves in 2015 and posted a 1.85 ERA and 1.00 WHIP. While some people may remember the record three blown saves in the World Series, Familia entered the year an unproven commodity and left it as one of the top closers in baseball.

The three players Familia likely will be compared with in arbitration negotiations will be Zach Britton (2014), Kenley Jansen (2013) and Steve Cishek (2013).

Britton, much like Familia, was an unproven commodity entering the 2014 season with the Baltimore Orioles. Yet he posted great numbers and became one of that season's top closers. His 1.65 ERA and 0.90 WHIP were phenomenal for a closer. However, he was only compensated in the following season with a $3.2 million contract. The reason for this seemingly low number is because of his lack of career saves. After all, it was his first season as the closer. Further, his walk and strikeout rates were lower than expected for an elite closer. Familia strikes out 9.92 batters per inning, a huge number when compared to Britton’s 7.31. In addition, Britton walked several more batters. He put up a 2.71 BB/9, whereas Familia’s BB/9 was a mere 2.19. The Mets will try to limit Familia’s total salary by citing the similarities in their respective platform years and lack of experience in the closer role.

A comp that Familia will attempt to reach for is Jansen. Jansen’s platform year was similar, yet slightly better across the board when compared to Familia. Jansen outshines Familia when looking at his career statistics. He had 34 saves prior to his platform year and very respectable ERA, WHIP, and K/9 rates while doing it. Thus, his $4.3 million salary is unlikely to be matched by Familia in the upcoming arbitration.

Cishek is the ideal comp to base Familia’s 2015 arbitration value. In his platform season, Cishek pitched nearly 70 innings and posted a respectable 2.33 ERA with a 1.08 WHIP with 9.56 strikeouts per nine innings. He finished in the top half of closers in saves for the year with 34. However, Familia is better in each category. Familia bests his ERA by nearly half-run, while posting a better WHIP and K/9 rate. Over their careers, Familia approaches Cishek with only three fewer saves, while having a near-identical ERA and WHIP. With somewhat better platform season and nearly equal numbers over their respective careers, Familia should also be above the $3.8 million that Cishek received as compensation, thanks to his superior platform year and contributions to the Mets’ World Series run.

Projection: Familia will likely reach a settlement with the Mets near $3.85 million, just above Cishek.