Mets Make a Deal: Francisco Rodriguez Comes to Flushing

Michael GasparinoCorrespondent IDecember 10, 2008

Like a zit on the forehead, the Mets' most glaring need this offseason was relief pitching, beginning with the closer. Francisco Rodriguez was the biggest fish out there, coming off a record 62-save season for the Angels of Anaheim, but talk of a five- or six-year deal made it seem that the Mets would have to settle for less.

The Mets, luckily, had the market working in their favor, and with the supply of closers exceeding the demand, K-Rod would find nothing close to the five-year, $75 million contract his agent had his sights set on.

So K-Rod "settled" for three years and $37 million from the Mets, who could have the second coming of Mariano Rivera locking down games for them while the original article continues to break down across town.

Despite the whispers of declining velocity and a downward trend in certain statistics, K-Rod was hands-down the top closer available and has been one of the top closers in the game the last several seasons—and he turns 27 in January.

Omar Minaya has now landed two elite pitchers in their prime in each of the last two seasons. Not bad for a guy who also signed Luis Castillo.

You can’t argue with the cost or the terms. The value of a good closer was hammered home last season, when the Mets blew a mind-boggling 29 saves. Had a couple of those been converted, they win the division and not the Phillies, who enjoyed a perfect season from Brad Lidge.

The Mets certainly aren't done. Another starter is needed, and there's still a chance that they can keep Oliver Perez. Anyone but Jon Garland, please. And if the rumors are true that the Cubs and Mets have discussed Aaron Heilman for Jason Marquis, you do that deal in a heartbeat, even if the Cubs aren't willing to eat as much of Marquis' contract as the Mets would like.

Perhaps Step Three in the Mets' retooling is to land Orlando Hudson, who reportedly wants to come to New York. He'd be a terrific addition to the lineup and would allow the Mets to leave Dan Murphy in the outfield, where he could platoon with Fernando Tatis or another low-rent option.

Another reliever or two would also help, but getting K-Rod was the most important piece of the puzzle, and he should flourish at Citi Field. He obviously has amazing stuff, but he also has plenty of confidence and flair. Between Jose Reyes dancing in the dugout and K-Rod's exultations after closing a game, teams will hate the Mets more than ever.

Which is just fine. It will make winning that much sweeter.