Francisco will close for now, but Sandy looking for options

Frank Francisco road polaroidAccording to Dan Martin of the New York Post, Sandy Alderson said while Frank Francisco is the team’s current closer, he continues to weigh options which remain on the open market.

“Confident? I’m willing,” Alderson said in regards to Francisco’s ability to close. “There’s still a lot out there and we’re looking.”

In late December, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports said the Mets were “scouring the relief market,” noting there were plenty of good options left including those who can close, such as Francisco RodriguezMatt Capps, and Jose Valverde.

Francisco – who will earn $6.5 million in 2013 – recently underwent surgery to remove a bone spur from his throwing elbow. He is expected to be ready for Opening Day.

Francisco went 1-3 with a 5.53 ERA in 48 relief appearances in 2012, having allowed 26 earned runs, 47 hits, 21 walks with 47 strikeouts in 42 1/3 innings in 2012 – he was shutdown after September 16 after being diagnosed with right elbow soreness.

Michael Baron, Contributor

Between what happened last year with Francisco and the status of his elbow, the Mets need reinforcements for the back-end of the bullpen. Francisco started off strong last year but began to falter almost immediately. He reached a low point in Miami in early May when he blew two saves in three days. He seemed to bounce back after that, but then he injured his oblique, missed six weeks, and never got on track. He was intended to solidify the back end of the bullpen, but he did anything but in 2012.

As far as options are concerned, Valverde could be an intriguing alternative for the Mets. After a dominant 2011 season, Valverde struggled in 2012 and ultimately lost his closer job late in the year. He began pitching to a lot more contact. His velocity dipped a little bit which might have contributed to his struggles, but he still throws hard, and has been both a colorful and intimidating closer in his career. I wonder if Valverde might be interested in taking a one-year deal from the Mets to rebuild his value; Valverde could have a pretty good shot at becoming the team’s closer almost immediately, especially if Francisco suffers any setbacks and isn’t ready to start the season.