MILWAUKEE — Jeurys Familia thought his Mets career was finished when he got traded three years ago, so he isn’t prepared to say it’s definitely concluding within the next 10 days.
But the veteran reliever, set to hit free agency for the second time, also understands the team might not consider him as part of the 2022 equation and that his value could be higher elsewhere.
“I like it here — I love it here,” Familia said this week. “This is the team that gave me an opportunity to see my dream come true, but this is a business and anywhere I go I am going to try to do my best.”
Familia, who turns 32 next month, arrived in the major leagues with the Mets in 2012, emerging as the closer three years later. That season included Familia blowing three saves in the World Series against the Royals, most notably throwing a quick pitch that Alex Gordon blasted for a tying homer in the ninth inning of the Mets’ loss in Game 1.
In 2016 he set a franchise record with 51 saves, but with the team removed from contention two years later, he was dealt to Oakland at the trade deadline.
His return to the organization came the following winter, when the Mets — under former general manager Brodie Van Wagenen — gave him a three-year contract worth $30 million to set up for Edwin Diaz. Over the life of that contract, Familia has pitched to mixed results. This season he is 9-4 with a 3.79 ERA and 1.40 WHIP in 62 appearances.
“My season, honestly for me, I think I’ve had some ups and downs,” Familia said. “But I have been working hard, every time I get an opportunity to do my job, but other than that I feel good.”
Diaz, Seth Lugo and Trevor May are among the Mets relievers under club control or signed through next season, and it would be surprising if the team didn’t make a push to re-sign lefty Aaron Loup, who has dazzled with a 1.00 ERA. Whether Familia fits will be left to whomever the Mets hire as president of baseball operations.
Pitching coach Jeremy Hefner — who was Familia’s teammate in 2012 and ’13 — said he admires the transition the right-hander has made from All-Star closer to versatile bullpen piece.
“I think given where he was and especially what he’s done for this organization, he had 51 saves that one year, to not be the closer and take the ball when he’s asked, whether it be an up-two game or down-five game or up-six game, he’s always said yes,” Hefner said.
“And for a guy — he was probably the best closer at that point, in 2016 — to take the ball now and do the job, I think it speaks a lot about who he is as a person and also what he’s meant to the team, because he’s done some really nice things for us: gotten out of some jams, gotten some big outs, a lot of positive things.”
Familia’s unofficial duties have also included serving as a sounding board for Diaz, who has weathered his own inconsistency in three seasons as the Mets’ closer.
“I think the most important thing for relief pitchers is trying to forget quick,” Familia said. “If you have a bad game today, come in tomorrow in the same situation and try to do your best and [Diaz] has done a pretty good job with that.”
Familia was asked how he would like to be remembered with the Mets if his time with the organization is about to finish.
“From the team, everybody knows how hard I work and I am not going to say how they are going to remember me, because I know how hard I work and how serious I take my job and I think my name is going to be remembered for some guys here,” Familia said.
“Anywhere I go, I will be OK. I want to be here, but this is part of the game, you know?”