Aside from Brian Wilson, which other intriguing relief pitcher are left on the free-agent market?
Brian Wilson might be a good fit for the Mets' bullpen this year, but he's certainly not the only relief pitcher left on the market. There's no doubt that the Mets could use at least another arm or two in the bullpen, as only Frank Francisco, Bobby Parnell, and Josh Edgin appear to be safe bets for medium-to-high-leverage situations.
Let's take a look at some of the other relief pitchers on the market who might be good options for the Mets this year and, potentially, beyond.
Perhaps the best thing that can be said about Capps is that he's been able to keep his ERA respectable over the past three seasons despite an ever-declining strikeout rate. He's still just 29 years old after playing in the big leagues for seven seasons with the Pirates, Nationals, and Twins, but the last time his strikeout rate looked good enough for late-inning relief was before he was traded from Washington to Minnesota. It's tough to see a rebound in strikeouts, but the upside to Capps's recent past is that he's cut his walk rate. On paper, his career trajectory looks pretty similar to that of Jon Rauch at this point.
Farnsworth is now 36 years old and struggled mightily with the Yankees from 2006 through 2008. Since then, though, he's been better. As a member of the Rays in 2011, he had his best season since 2005, which he split between the Tigers and Braves. He's not a lock to put together a great season, but he's still throwing hard striking out opposing hitters. For what it's worth, Farnsworth's the owner of a 3.46 FIP against right-handed hitters and a 4.31 FIP against lefties.
Over the last decade or so, the Mets have made a habit of running their left-handed relief pitchers into the ground. The last time Feliciano appeared in a big league game was in 2010, wearing a Mets uniform. Since then, Feliciano signed a two-year, $8 million contract with the Yankees but missed all of the last two seasons following surgery on his left shoulder in 2011. He may not pitch in Major League Baseball again, but he'd certainly be worth a minor-league contract since he was formerly one of the better left-handed specialists in the game.
Drafted by the Mets in 2002, Lindstrom was sent to the Marlins along with Henry Owens for Adam Bostick and Jason Vargas after the 2006 season. He cracked the Marlins' roster in 2007, his age-27 season, and has been above-average in four of his six seasons in the big leagues. He won't set the world on fire with strikeouts, but Lindstrom — a hard-throwing right-handed pitcher — has kept his walk rate somewhat low and been excellent at preventing home runs.
The Mets' former high-paid closer has basically been the same pitcher that he was with the Mets since he was traded to the Brewers in the middle of the 2011 season. According to PITCHf/x data, his average fastball velocity bounced back a bit last year, but his strikeout rate declined while his walk rate increased. Rodriguez's first season in the majors began nearly ten years ago, but he's still just 31 years old and not yet out of gas.
He was absolutely over-hyped in 2011 when he went 49-for-49 in save opportunities for Detroit, but Valverde has posted an ERA above four only twice in his career, most recently in 2006. For his career, he's the owner of a 3.11 ERA and 3.53 FIP. On the downside, though, his strikeout rate fell off the table in 2012. Still, he would probably present an upgrade for the Mets this year.
In short, there are still several veterans on the market who could help the Mets build a better bullpen this year, potentially on the cheap. It doesn't seem likely that the Mets will look to bring back 2012 relief pitchers Jon Rauch and Ramon Ramirez, but each pitcher is still on the market and might be willing to sign a modest deal to return.