Mets Sign LaTroy Hawkins to Minor League Deal; What Other Relievers are Still Available?

Sandy is going nuts with all these free agent signings! About a day after announcing the team agreed to a minor league deal with former Red Sox reliever Scott Atchison, they have also reached an agreement for 40-year-old reliever, LaTroy Hawkins. His contract is also a minor league deal, which includes an invite to Big League camp.

I think this is another good signing by Alderson; even though Hawkins is up there in age and the Mets would be the tenth team he takes the mound for if he makes the squad out of camp, he’s still an effective reliever. He’s posted an ERA under 4.00 every time since 2007, except for one year. Despite the fact that he’s only saved 12 games in that time frame, he’s finished 81, and has had experience as a closer throughout his 18-year-career in the Major Leagues.

July 14, 2012; Bronx, NY, USA; Los Angeles Angels relief pitcher LaTroy Hawkins (32) pitches during the eighth inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Yankees won 5-3. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

This is yet another low risk, high reward signing for the Mets, but I wonder if Sandy completed this deal in case New York isn’t able to sign a reliever to the back-end of the rotation to a guaranteed contract. Rumors said they were interested in giving Roy Oswalt a Big League deal to be that guy (which I thought was ridiculous in itself), but who else is available through free agency that possibly get a Big League contract from the Amazins? Let’s take a quick look:

Jon Rauch- He had his ups and downs in Flushing last season, but despite battling through some injuries, Rauch had a solid year for the Mets. His record isn’t very pretty (3-7), but he appeared in 73 games (finishing 22 of them), threw 57.2 innings, and posted a 3.59 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, and struck out 42 hitters. After the rough stretch he experienced in the first half, he ended up being one of the most consistent relievers in the (not so) Amazin’ bullpen. Plus, he has a strong relationship with the Mets’ front office, and since Alderson has money to spend, he could give Rauch $2 or $3 million if he wanted to.

Brian Wilson- Like we haven’t talked enough about the bearded wonder. We know Sandy is planning on going back to give Wilson another look, as he hopes he shows improved velocity, compared to the first workout they watched earlier this month. If he can prove himself healthy enough to earn a Big League contract, the Mets should jump at the chance to sign him, and I really think they would. He’s a three-time All-Star closer with a World Series ring, and before his 2012 ended after only two appearances, he enjoyed four straight seasons of 35+ saves. Plus, his unique personality is something this young team could use in the clubhouse heading into the season, almost as much as they could use his arm on the mound.

Jose Valverde- Yes, he flamed out hardcore in the playoffs last season and doesn’t have good career numbers in October, but he’s been good enough in the regular season to help his team get to that point numerous times. The last I heard from Valverde was that he wasn’t sure of his 2013 plans, but if the right opportunity came up, I would assume he’d take it. He’s also a three-time All-Star closer, and is durable, appearing in at least 60 games five times in the last six years, while racking up 30+ saves four times (lead the league three times). It’d be worth a thought.

Matt Capps- After getting his $6 million option declined by the Twins, there hasn’t been an incredible amount of interest in him, but the Marlins have recently been kicking the tires on him. So, you know that means he’ll come real cheap for 2013. Last season was cut short due to injuries (30 appearances and 29.1 IP), but he’s had lots of experience as a closer, posting double-digit save totals every year since 2007.

So, these are just a few pitchers that could command guaranteed deals that the Mets could go still go after despite their recent signings. That’s not even counting relievers like Francisco Rodriguez (I know, I know), Brandon Lyon, and Bobby Jenks. I truly think that Alderson prefers to give Wilson a guaranteed contract, and is giving him every opportunity to prove himself. However, he needs to also cover himself for the season by having enough relievers to choose from if none of these potential signings pan out. Either way, it doesn’t look as if they have much confidence in giving Frank Francisco the ninth inning.

Do you think Alderson will still look to sign one more reliever, or do you think he’s done with the bullpen?

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Topics: Brian Wilson, Jose Valverde, LaTroy Hawkins, New York Mets

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