The New York Mets have made it quite clear over this off-season that they do not want to go into the 2013 season with Frank Francisco taking the closer’s chair, and have been doing their fair share of work to overhaul a bullpen that features only hard-throwing Bobby Parnell as a legitimate alternative option in the ninth.
They have gone and added depth/specialist types in Scott Atchison and LeTroy Hawkins recently, but neither truly solves their ninth-inning conundrum.
Brandon Lyon may change that. The team is reportedly hot in pursuit of the 33-year old righty, with at least one source from reporting that the two sides are quite close to getting a deal done:
Mets are quite confident that deal with Lyon will get done.
— Andy Martino (@MartinoNYDN) February 3, 2013
Lyon, who began his MLB career with the Toronto Blue Jays and who made a return engagement north of the border in 2012, was something of a minor revelation after missing almost the entire 2011 season with a rotator cuff injury and tendinitis. Though he has never been much of a hard-thrower, the veteran set a career-high by striking out batters at a 9.30 K/9 rate over 61 innings between the Blue Jays and the Houston Astros, posting a 3.10/1.25 ERA/WHIP in the process.
As important as it might be to have the kind of reliability in the bullpen that Lyon provides, where he will be the most important to the Mets is that he will provide a legitimate option in the closer’s role. With 79 saves over his career, the Lyon would provide the Mets an opportunity to go into Spring Training with a competition for the ninth inning in earnest, as opposed to having to watch a Frank Francisco-led two horse race.
That will have to wait until the deal is done, though. There had been rumblings that other teams have shown interest in Lyon, including the Blue Jays, who wanted to retain him but is reported to not have the payroll space to do so.
If a deal is not struck with Lyon, the Mets is expected to continue to look for a reliever to add to the ninth-inning mix, and has been linked to names like Jose Valverde, Francisco Rodriguez, and Brian Wilson (who apparently did not impress GM Sandy Alderson earlier this winter).