J.P. Howell drawing interest from teams

LHP J.P. Howell told Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times he is drawing interest from a number of teams.

Howell said he is interested in returning to the Rays, but isn’t sure how quickly a decision on a new deal might come.

Howell, 29, went 1-0 with a 3.05 ERA in 55 relief appearances for the Rays in 2012. He held left-handed hitters to a .200 average last season.

Howell signed a one-year, $1.35 million contract with the Rays last January to avoid arbitration.

At the end of the season, Terry Collins said he would like the Mets to have a veteran left-handed reliever in the bullpen next season.

Michael Baron, Contributor

I wonder if the Mets could be one of those teams. He would be a good fit from the left side and fits the mold of what Terry Collins is seeking in the bullpen. Howell is a sinkerballer who doesn’t throw hard but works with a lot of movement on that in his curveball, his two primary pitches. He missed all of 2010 with a shoulder injury and badly struggled in his return in 2011. But he turned a corner in 2012, keeping his walk and home run totals down in a division which pitchers are prone to the long ball. He looked more like the Howell before his shoulder surgery, which could mean he has put the injury completely behind him.