The New York Mets bullpen kept their fans on the edge of their seats for the majority of the 2012 season. It seems like it is becoming an offseason ritual for the Mets to try and improve their bullpen. As we move towards the 2013 season, it seems as nothing has changed, and the Mets will be looking to do the same this winter.
There wasn't a single Mets fan that can look you in the eye, and tell you that they were confident that the Mets were going to win a game (assuming they were leading), if Terry Collins decided to turn to the bullpen. It was a typical chain of events to see a walk, followed by a hit and the opposing team start a conga line around the base paths when the Mets relief pitchers took to the mound.
The Mets can use another power arm at the back end of the bullpen. Who knows how many games could have been wins, instead of losses, had the bullpen been a tad more reliable. There are a number of free-agent relief pitchers available this winter for the Mets to consider. Here is a list of the top five arms that could make an immediate impact in the Mets bullpen in 2013 (ranked backwards based on likelihood of the Mets signing them).
As the old adage says, one man's trash is another man's treasure. In this case, we are referring to one team's trash becoming another team's treasure. The Tigers have become completely frustrated with Valverde, and he will be available this offseason, as the Tigers have decided to move on.
But he is still one of the more dominant closers in the game.
There is still loads of value when it comes to Valverde. Some team will be looking to sign him on a discount coming off what was considered a very disappointing season. Jose turns 35 years old before the start of the next season, but he is showing no signs of breaking down. If the Mets can lock up Valverde to two-year deal for around $13M, it would be worth considering adding him. Still, it is a long shot he ends up in Flushing, New York this season.
Prediction: Valverde ends up in New York, as the Yankees will be looking to replace Rafael Soriano and add insurance for Mariano Rivera coming off of knee surgery.
Madson, a Scott Boras client, may be out of the Mets price range. That doesn't mean he's not worth considering as a potential fix to the Mets' bullpen woes. Madson is coming off a one-year deal that paid him $8M last year, with an option year for 2013 to pay him $11M.
Madson has decided to decline that option, which can only mean he will be looking for a pay raise this offseason. This is strange considering he is coming off Tommy John surgery and missed the entire 2012 season.
Madson recently turned 32 years old in August, and if the Mets are serious about being contenders again as early as 2014, they should consider signing Madson to a long-term deal.
The Mets may not have much money to spend this offseason, but they can try and get creative and sign Madson to a back-loaded deal. Knowing that the money from Johan Santana's and Jason Bay's contracts will be coming off the books at the end of the 2013 season, why not start spending the money now in order to improve the bullpen?
Prediction: Madson ends up with the Phillies, who are another NL East team in desperate need of bullpen help.
Jonathan Broxton is coming off a very solid 2012 campaign. His strikeouts were down last year, but he was still very effective. Broxton is said to be looking for a long-term deal as a closer.
There are a lot of teams being rumored as interested in Broxton's services. This isn't surprising, since teams are always looking to add reliable arms to their bullpen. Broxton is coming off one of his best campaigns, which will certainly make him a hot commodity this winter.
Prediction: Broxton ends up replacing Valverde as the closer of the Detroit Tigers.
Joakim Soria has been a name floating around circles of Mets fans since the end of the 2012 season. Soria, who is coming off Tommy John surgery, had his option for the 2013 season declined by the Kansas City Royals, making him a free agent.
One Tommy John surgery is scary enough. But two?
Yes, Soria is coming off his second Tommy John surgery. While one Tommy John surgery tends to scare off suitors, two injuries of that severity may scare just about everyone away. Well, almost everyone.
The Mets could capitalize on the situation and get an All-Star caliber closer at a major discount. This kind of signing would scream "Moneyball." Soria is still on the better side of 30, and with limited funds to spend this offseason, Soria may be worth the Mets taking the risk.
Prediction: Soria wants to stay in Kansas City, but the "Mexicutioner" ends up with the New York Mets.
It's rumored that Peralta wants to remain with the Rays this offseason, but his ultimate landing spot is with the New York Mets. The Mets are looking to bolster the bullpen, and when Sandy Alderson stated in September that there would be "wholesale changes" this winter, he was most likely referring to the bullpen.
Peralta will join Soria this offseason as the Mets re-tool the bullpen. He had 84 strikeouts in 67 innings pitched in 2012, which is an awesome ratio. Mets fans are looking for any type of help after a disappointing bullpen performance in 2012. If there is enough money to go around, Peralta and Soria are exactly what the Mets need. However, if money becomes an issue, the Mets will opt to sign Peralta over Soria.
Prediction: Peralta ends up with the Mets.