Sandy Alderson has a big task in front of him this winter. He has to rebuild a bullpen who really struggled last season. They will almost certainly turn to the closer role to address first. Here are some of the options the Mets could explore in the free agent market:
- Chad Qualls- Qualls will probably be the cheapest options of the ones I will list due to his inexperience as a closer. Qualls has 51 career saves, including a career-high 24 in 2009 with Arizona. He is nothing special, but will give the Mets quality innings and will consistently be an average to above average closer at a relatively low price.
- Matt Capps- Capps is a step above Qualls. Capps, who is 28, has 124 career saves. He had his best season in 2010, saving 42 games between Washington and Minnesota. He had 15 saves last year with the Twins, but he stopped closing in the middle of the season due to a resurgence by Joe Nathan, who was coming off of Tommy John surgery. Capps is on the young side and is much healthier than some of the other older options out there. He averages 25 saves per season, but if given a chance, he could reach 30 easily.
- Brad Lidge- Brad Lidge is one of the biggest question marks of this year’s reliefpitching free agent class. Lidge has been inconsistent for most of his career and his ERA is 4.73 since his “perfect,” 41 for 41 season in 2008. Lidge has tremendous upside, but health is a key here. After past seasons plagued by injury, the Mets will not want to take an injury risk, especially in the already sub-par bullpen.
- Jonathan Broxton- With the Dodgers’ financial troubles as glaring as ever, Frank McCourt will likely try cutting payroll this winter, which means reluctantly letting go of Jonathan Broxton. Broxton has only had one full season as a closer, but he has proven himself to be a solid arm out of the bullpen that can be relied on for 60-80 innings every year. The Mets may end up not using him as a closer, but he is definitely an alternative that the Mets should consider.
- Joe Nathan- Nathan will be attempting a comeback as a full-time closer next season, and is looking for a team like the Mets who will grant him that role. The four-time All-Star is the epitome of an experienced pitcher. Nathan, who will be 37 on Opening Day, has 261 career saves, 260 of them coming with the Twins. From 2004-2009, Joe had six straight seasons of 35 or more saves. Nathan may cost the Mets a good deal of money, but for an experienced pitcher with a chip on his shoulder and something to prove, it may very well be worth it.
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