Mets belatedly come around to K-Rod

Tim Brown
Yahoo! SportsDecember 9, 2008

LAS VEGAS – Francisco Rodriguez walked through the lobby at the Bellagio hotel after meeting with the New York Mets on Monday and didn't give the impression that he'd been bowled over by an offer.

"I'm open to anything," he said.

Later in the evening, "anything" had a definition: The record-setting closer who entered the offseason seeking five years and upwards of $65 million settled for a three-year, $37 million deal from the Mets, with a vesting option for a fourth year at $14 million.

This, after squirming in his chair while GM Omar Minaya initially offered two years and $25 million, with an option for a third year.

Rodriguez left on a flight to New York on Tuesday evening to take a physical, after which there will be an announcement.

The oral agreement completed a stomach-churning month for Rodriguez, who understandably believed that his record 62 saves for the Los Angeles Angels last season and 206 saves the last five seasons would merit something more.

On Monday, with every step K-Rod took through the opulent lobby after his initial meeting with the Mets, it seemed as if he was finally realizing the riches he envisioned weren't forthcoming. He might have felt pangs of regret for spurning a three-year, $34 million extension offer from the Angels a year ago.

There are several less expensive closers without jobs and there is a prevailing opinion among team executives that grooming a ninth-inning reliever from within is an appealing alternative to doling out a multi-year contract worth more than $10 million a year.

The Mets desperately needed a closer with Billy Wagner out for the 2009 season with an injury and the painful memory of blowing game after game in the late innings last season. But rather than overpay in a soft market, Minaya used the glut of free-agent closers to his advantage and struck a deal that might leave the Mets with enough money for a starting pitcher or hitter.

RANGERS SHOPPING YOUNG

The Texas Rangers are quietly shopping shortstop Michael Young, said an AL executive whose team is in the market for a shortstop.

Young, 32, will start to draw on a five-year, $80-million contract extension in 2009. The contract grants him full no-trade rights next season, then limited protection the following two seasons, by which time he'll have 10-and-5 rights.

The executive said the Rangers seek pitching – preferably young pitching – for Young, who is batting .300 with a .788 OPS in eight seasons. It's too early to determine the possible destinations, but the Blue Jays, Orioles, Cubs and Dodgers would have the need and financial wherewithal to make it work.

On the other hand, the Rangers might be better off waiting a year, when the free-agent shortstop market is thinner.

DODGERS SIGN LORETTA

The Dodgers have reached an agreement with utility infielder Mark Loretta on a one-year deal worth $1.3 million, a clear indication they don't plan to bring back Nomar Garciaparra.

Loretta, 37, grew up in Southern California and has batted .297 during a 15-year career. He spent the last two seasons with the Houston Astros and last season batted .280 in 101 games while playing all four infield positions.

The Diamondbacks also made a one-year offer to Loretta.