2012 MLB Trade Deadline: 5 Closers the Mets Should Target
The Mets have surprised everyone this year by playing very well so far in 2012. Many people had projected them to not play well during what was supposed to be a rebuilding season.
However, the Mets have gotten a lot of great results out of their lineup, and their rotation in particular. David Wright is a strong MVP candidate, R.A. Dickey is the NL Cy Young Award favorite right now and Johan Santana made huge headlines by giving the Mets their first no-hitter in franchise history.
One troubling area for the Mets though has been their bullpen.
It got off to a great start overall at first, but closer Frank Francisco has been inconsistent all season. He has had occasional meltdowns, both with his pitching and with his emotions. Even when Francisco has picked up his 18 saves, he has walked the tightrope and not made his job look particularly easy by allowing a ton of hits and walks. This would explain why his ERA is at 4.97, despite the 18 saves.
Beyond Francisco, most of the other relievers have struggled at times.
Jon Rauch has been inconsistent and has recently gotten demoted from his set-up role. Ramon Ramirez had struggled at times before getting hurt while celebrating Santana's no-hitter. Bobby Parnell got off to a slow start, but has improved his pitching a lot as of late. Miguel Batista has had his bad moments, although he has pitched well for the most part as a reliever. The only reliever that has been rather consistent is the veteran lefty specialist Tim Byrdak, who has stranded most of his inherited runners.
If the Mets really want to stay in the contention, it is imperative that they improve their bullpen significantly.
Getting a new closer would be huge so that the Mets can have a dependable pitcher that will consistently get the job done. Francisco is a good closer, but the Mets could certainly use a better one if they plan on playing in October. If they are unable to land a better closer, they should at least trade for better bullpen depth.
Here are five closers that the Mets should target before the trade deadline.
1. Jonathan Broxton
When the Royals signed Jonathan Broxton to a one-year, $4 million contract, they expected him to be their set-up man. Unfortunately, Soria ended up hurting his elbow, which would require Tommy John surgery and end his season. By default, Broxton was named the new closer.
After having a career season in 2009 with 36 saves, Broxton faltered in 2010 and was hurt for most of 2011. As a result, the expectations of him weren't particularly high, compared to other closers that are more established.
However, Broxton has surprised many by racking up 18 saves in 21 chances with a 1.57 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP. There's a good chance he will be earning an All-Star nomination in a few weeks as well.
It's clear that Broxton is not part of the Royals' long term plans and that the Royals will not be contending this year. Thus, look for the Royals to trade Broxton to a contender and for the Mets to be one of the teams asking for him.
2. Matt Capps
Another AL Central closer that is likely to be available by the Trade Deadline is Matt Capps of the Twins.
The Twins signed Capps to a one-year contract worth $4.75 million with a club option for 2013. With Glen Perkins viewed as the Twins' closer of the future and the team not expected to contend this year, Capps is very likely to get dealt.
Capps has 14 saves so far in 15 chances and a 3.55 ERA. While that ERA may be higher than that of some other closers, he is still one of the more dependable closers across the league.
Capps is not likely to be the top closer on the Mets' radar, but he is still someone that they should definitely consider if their more preferable choices do not work out.
3. Brett Myers
Myers has 16 saves, with only one blown save this year. He has a 3.86 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP. Although there is a lot of depth among National League closers, Myers does have a good shot at making the NL All-Star team this season.
While Myers should be a closer that the Mets should target, his price tag could be beyond the Mets' limits. He is owed $12 million this season and has a vesting option for the 2013 season.
Being that the Mets' financial flexibility is not particularly great, a trade for Myers may not work simply for that reason alone. Nonetheless, the Mets should still at least give Myers a good look.
4. Huston Street
Yet another veteran closer that could be on the move is Huston Street of the Padres.
Street battled a shoulder strain that caused him to spend some time on the disabled list this year, but he is healthy now. He is a perfect 9/9 so far in save chances, with a 1.69 ERA and a miniscule 0.81 WHIP.
The Padres are not going to be contending this year as they continue their never-ending rebuilding project. Thus, it's very likely Street and maybe even set-up man Luke Gregerson both get traded by the trade deadline.
Street is a closer with postseason experience, which the Mets could definitely use and the 2005 AL Rookie of the Year has a pretty good track record as well. If Street is indeed available and the Padres don't ask for any of the Mets' top prospects, Sandy Alderson should definitely pull the trigger and bring some legitimate credibility to the Mets' bullpen.
5. Rafael Betancourt
Another NL West closer that is likely to be available at the trade deadline is Rafael Betancourt of the Rockies.
Unlike the other closers mentioned, Betancourt is in his first season as a full-time closer. He had been a middle reliever and set-up man his entire career prior to this season. As of right now, Betancourt has 11 saves in 14 opportunities, plus a 3.16 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP.
The Rockies are not likely to contend this year, so if they decide to rebuild, Betancourt would likely be one of the first players they would trade away.
One noteworthy fact about Betancourt though is that his current contract with the Rockies lasts through 2013 along with a 2014 option. As a result, Betancourt is not likely to be a top choice to trade for, but if the Rockies are willing to pay at least a good chunk of Betancourt's 2013 contract, the Mets could afford him without having to give up any top prospects.