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The Mets and the Closer Market

On the whole, the closer market seems to be echoing its Wall Street counterparts, as the prospective cost of high-end commodities has been dropping by the day. Francisco Rodriguez may have scared off potential suitors when it was leaked that he'd be looking for a five-year deal this winter, which was instantly affixed to a $15 million annual salary, and everyone and his brother soon realized that a five-year, $75 million deal for a relief pitcher was not the sort of prudent investment general managers were looking to make.

Rodriguez set the major league saves record last season, and even if that mark overvalues him to some extent, he is still a very, very good pitcher. The Mets gave Billy Wagner something like four years, $40 million when they signed him over the 2005-2006 offseason, so it's not out of the question that they could get Rodriguez down to that neighborhood. He's only 26, so even a three- or four-year deal now would make him a free agent again before his 30th birthday.

A new name on the scene is Bobby Jenks, whom the Mets are reportedly interested in. Jenks is a bit of a husky fellow, but his numbers have generally been very good save for 2006 when he ran into some control problems. He hasn't been much of a strikeout pitcher these past couple of seasons, but his walk rates are very low and his strikeout rates are downright minuscule considering that he plays his home games in the second best homerun park in all of baseball (if you correctly guessed that Camden Yards was the homer-happiest park in the bigs last season, you just earned yourself a cookie). The White Sox have been scouting Eddie Kunz and Bobby Parnell in Arizona, though even their scouts said that Kunz has looked a little "ruff" (ed. note: this comment might have been taken out of context, mis-spelled for comic effect, or just invented out of whole cloth). Perhaps a package deal for Jenks and Javier Vazquez could be in the offing (Jermaine Dye is also rumored to be available, with the Sox trying to push him as well).

The Rockies may look to move Huston Street, but he has to be the Mets' fourth or fifth best option at this point. Given his homerun rate and precipitous slide into mediocrity over the past couple of seasons, the Mets should have tepid interest in him, at best.

The Brian Fuentes hot stove is barely at a simmer, though I still think he might be the most attractive name out there. He's a little bit older than Rodriguez and Jenks, but he has been dominant in the not-so-friendly confines of Coors Field and should come with a lower price tag than Rodriguez in both years and annual salary.

We've also got Trevor Hoffman, who has more saves than anyone in history (whatever that's worth), and has recently been shown the door in San Diego. Given his age, Hoffman would only be looking for a one-year deal at reasonable money, so if the Mets don't like how the math works out on some of the other guys out there, Hoffman would be more than adequate in the short-term.

Whatever happens, the Mets are in a position to not have to overpay for their guy, whomever that turns out to be. It's a buyer's market for closers this year, and conditions are such that the Mets can set the bar wherever they want.