LAS VEGAS – Alright, the Mets have gotten their closer and if nothing else happens during the next day at the Bellagio, the Winter Meetings have to be considered a success.
That said, there’s still more work to do to make this a successful off-season. Besides their bullpen makeover, which includes an eighth inning setup man, the Mets need at least one starter.
With both Pedro Martinez and Oliver Perez free agents, there are obvious holes in the Mets rotation. As of right now, the team seems content to allowing Jon Niese a spot, one that Jerry Manuel said may be bestowed upon him based on his September, rather than earned in Spring Training.
“He pitched in some great games, which again is a good time to evaluate,” Manuel said. “Again, you don’t know the growth that he has from here until there. But that experience that he gained was very important for him. So do I think that he can start the season as a fifth guy for us and be consistent enough where we can keep him there? I feel very confident about that.”
If that’s the case, the Mets need a front line starter. Jon Heyman reported on SI.com that Perez is seeking a five-year, $70 million deal, which may seem high, but after the Yankees gave CC Sabathia a seven-year, $160 million contract, that number may be the market.
“Usually the top guys set the market,” Minaya said. “There are more signings after that because there’s only going to be one winner with those guys and two or three losers. And the two or three losers do address a need.”
Other options may even be higher. Numbers for Derek Lowe have been in the $90 million range for five seasons and he’s 36 years-old. Also A.J. Burnett is going to command some high numbers.
If the Mets think they can get away with Mike Pelfrey as their No. 2 starter, then they may look at former Phillie Randy Wolf, who has killed the Mets over the years.
Of course none of these decisions will be finalized until after the meetings, since the Mets spent their time on Rodriguez.
Yet, Minaya is working and he’s looking to upgrade the rest of the bullpen after the K-Rod signing.
“Last year we lost Billy Wagner for the last two months of the season and we were short one game,” Minaya said. “Unfortunately the bullpen was in disarray with guys pitching in roles they are not accustomed to. [K-Rod] stabilizes the back end of the bullpen for us. But we need to find a way to fill in the other roles.”
There have been talks about signing Brian Fuentes and Trevor Hoffman for the eighth inning, but that seems unlikely right now. Huston Street could be had, but according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, an offer of Aaron Hellman was turned down, although that can be revisited. Also there is talk about Diamondbacks Juan Cruz or Pirates Matt Capps.
In the outfield, the Mets have had talks with Raul Ibanez, but they are comfortable with Daniel Murphy and Fernando Tats in right. Yet, they may trade Ryan Church in the right deal and put Ibanez in right.