Despite a substantial offer, the New York Mets missed out on their chance to sign relief pitcher Grant Balfour as he ended up signing with the Tampa Bay Rays. But now that Balfour is off the market, rumors indicate that the Mets are turning their attention to Fernando Rodney.
After ignoring their bullpen for much of the offseason, the Mets are suddenly pushing to sign a late-inning reliever. This is due in part to prices coming down on players as pitchers and catchers are due to start reporting to spring training in a few weeks. But it could also be an indication that the Mets aren’t sure about the health of closer Bobby Parnell who missed the final two months of 2013 and is returning from surgery to repair a herniated disk.
After failing to get Balfour, Rodney may be the best reliever that’s still available. Rodney has spent the past two seasons in Tampa Bay, saving 85 games for the Rays, but he’s obviously not returning to Tampa now that Balfour has signed there. However, the Mets aren’t the only team interested as the Baltimore Orioles have a vacancy in the closer role and could be pursuing Rodney as well.
If Parnell proves himself to be healthy at the start of the season, the Mets are unlikely to bump him from the closer spot. This could make it difficult to sign someone like Rodney who prefers to be a closer and may not be willing to sign with a team that won’t commit to him in that role. Meanwhile, the Mets are understandably looking for insurance in case Parnell isn’t completely recovered from his injury.
Rodney isn’t coming off a great season as he had eight blown saves and an ERA over 3.00 in 2013, but there aren’t a lot of quality relievers left on the free agent market. If Sandy Alderson and the Mets can strike a deal with Rodney, they would be wise to go ahead and sign him to help shore up their bullpen after losing out on Balfour.
If the Mets can’t find a veteran to solidify the back end of their bullpen they’ll be left with Parnell, who may or may not be completely healthy, and a group of unproven and inexperienced youngsters in their bullpen. That’s not what they want heading into the 2014 season.