A new closer has become one of the Mets' top priorities during an offseason in which the team is desperately trying to lower its payroll.
In fact, a new closer may be one of the only players that general manager Sandy Alderson will sign to a multi-year contract this offseason.
Here are five potential candidates to fill the Mets' opening at closer.
Jonathan Broxton is one closer that could be a very good fit for the Mets and is not likely to ask for a large multi-year contract.
Having been injured for most of the 2011 season, Broxton will likely aim for a one-year incentive-laden contract, with a potential option for 2013. With Javy Guerra and Kenley Jansen anchoring the Los Angeles Dodgers' bullpen, it's very unlikely that the Dodgers will re-sign Broxton, so the Mets could definitely look to snatch him up as their new closer for the next year or two.
Assuming he's healthy by the start of the 2012 season, look for Broxton to be the favorite as the Mets' new closer.
Another potential option is Heath Bell, who spent the first three seasons of his career with the Mets before getting traded after the 2006 season to the Padres, where he's thrived as their closer since 2007.
According to Bell, the Mets' minor league system did not believe in him, but the Padres made him into one of the best closers of the past five years.
Bell is now a free agent for the first time in his career, and it's very unlikely he will re-sign with the Padres. Bell has stated that he wants to be on a winning team, which makes the Red Sox the favorites to land him. However, he's also said that he wouldn't mind returning to New York, this time as an established closer.
Don't be surprised to see Bell in a Mets uniform again.
Another potential closer the Mets could go after is Brad Lidge. But this option might not be the most popular one for the Mets, simply because Lidge was the Philadelphia Phillies' closer for the past four seasons.
Lidge will not be the Phillies' closer in 2012, now that Jonathan Papelbon has signed with the team, but he could return in a setup role. He hasn't been as dominating from 2009 to 2011 as he was in 2008, and he has been hurt for parts of the past two seasons. If the Mets are unable to land a better closer, look for Lidge to potentially sign with them down the road.
Yet another possibility is the veteran Francisco Cordero, who is unlikely to be re-signed by the Reds.
Cordero has been one of the more durable closers in the past five seasons, but he has also been known to blow saves during crucial moments. It's unlikely that he'll be the Mets' top choice, but like Lidge, if another month in the offseason goes by and the Mets still don't have a closer, Cordero would definitely be someone to target.
Due to his age, Cordero is most likely to get a one or two-year contract at most, so if the Mets are looking for a temporary stopgap in the bullpen for 2012 and possibly 2013, Cordero could be a good fit.
Last but not least, Francisco Rodriguez is someone else the Mets could turn to, even though they recently traded him to the Brewers last July.
With John Axford as the Brewers' closer of the future and the team likely to either re-sign Prince Fielder or pursue a premier hitter to replace him, it's almost guaranteed that Rodriguez will not be wearing a Brewers uniform in 2012.
As a result, Rodriguez will now be a free agent again, and although the Mets are unlikely to pursue him for a second time, particularly because of the money he will want, don't rule anything out.
Rodriguez is still one of the best closers in baseball, and he is likely to start hitting his prime as he turns just 30 this coming January. This could be a high-risk/high-reward option for the Mets, but if all goes well, the Mets could definitely benefit by having Rodriguez anchoring the bullpen once again.