With the recent additions of John Lannan and Daisuke Matsuzaka shoring up the team's rotation depth, New York Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson appears ready to shift his focus to the team's bullpen. The Mets are still looking to replace veteran reliever LaTroy Hawkins, who departed at the beginning of the winter for a multi-year contract with the Colorado Rockies. The Mets were in the hunt for reliever Grant Balfour before he chose to sign with the Tampa Bay Rays, and now the team has reportedly been talking with free agent reliever Fernando Rodney, ESPN New York's Adam Rubin reports.
Rodney, 36, has spent the last two years of his career as the closer for the Rays. Rodney recorded 37 saves for the Rays in 2013 while pitching to a 3.38 ERA, and is two years removed from a brilliant 2012 campaign when he pitched to a 0.60 ERA and recorded 48 saves. Rodney is now out of a job in Tampa now that Balfour has signed there, and the Mets are one of four teams interested in his services. Rodney would likely become the team's primary set up man and offer valuable insurance in the event Bobby Parnell is not ready for Opening Day.
Rodney made 2.5 million dollars in 2013, a figure around where the Mets likely have a veteran reliever budgeted. The Mets are looking seriously at bullpen candidates, as the team reportedly matched Tampa's two year, 12 million dollar offer to Balfour earlier in the week. While Balfour turned the Mets down to remain close to his Florida home, Rodney is someone who could be a match for the Mets. The fact the Mets are looking at relief pitchers of Rodney's quality instead of sifting through veteran retreads is an indication that Alderson's payroll of 87 million dollars is not set in stone and can be moved up for the right piece. The Mets are clearly interested in Rodney, but a lot will depend on how his market shapes up in the coming days.
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