In a contractual formality, the Mets released reliever Ryota Igarashi on Friday, following two disappointing years with New York. The Mets also outrighted first baseman Valentino Pascucci and relievers Dale Thayer and Manny Alvarez to Triple-A Buffalo, removing them from the 40-man roster.
Though Igarashi's two-year, $3 million contract with the Mets technically expired this month, the reliever would have remained under team control if not for a clause requiring the Mets to release him barring agreement on a new deal -- a prospect that both parties considered extremely unlikely.
"I don't think a good offer would come up here," Igarashi said in September.
The Mets faced an identical situation last winter with left-hander Hisanori Takahashi, who left New York to sign with the Angels.
In his second big league season, Igarashi, 32, posted a 4.66 ERA in 45 appearances, shuttling frequently between New York and Triple-A Buffalo for the second straight year. Unscored upon over his final six outings, Igarashi managed to improve on a 2010 campaign that saw him post a 7.12 ERA as a rookie. He also produced a 0.87 ERA in 31 innings with Buffalo, but was unable to translate that success to the big leagues with any sort of consistency.
Upon signing Igarashi away from the Yakult Swallows of Japan's Central League in 2010, the Mets hoped they had found a reliable setup man for then-closer Francisco Rodriguez. That much never materialized.
Yet despite his lack of success stateside, Igarashi has indicated that he would like to remain in the United States next season, even if it means hooking on with a new team through a Minor League deal.