In a matter of two hours Tuesday night at the winter meetings, the New York Mets made three moves and added three relievers. With so little money to play with -- between $10 and $15 million -- the Mets could not really add any of the big free agents, but they did prioritize one aspect above all else: the bullpen. The final move on a busy night was inking Frank Francisco to a two-year, $12 million contract, according to multiple reports. It's the second former Toronto Blue Jays reliever to be signed on the night; Jon Rauch was the first.
The right-handed Francisco, 32, immediately becomes the frontrunner to assume the Mets' closer role. In 50 2/3 innings last season with the Blue Jays, the fireballer allowed 49 hits, fanned 53 and walked 18, finishing with a 3.55 ERA and 1.32 WHIP. He was tabbed Toronto's closer for much of the year, but had two very bad months so he was often relieved of his duties (Rauch took over, amassing 11 saves himself) until he found his stuff: May (8.68 ERA) and July (5.59 ERA). Beyond that, he was exceptional, finishing August and September with 18 innings thrown, just three earned runs and more importantly was 7-for-7 in save opportunities. Overall (six years with the Texas Rangers, one with the Blue Jays), he has logged 334 innings, given up 286 hits, while striking out 368. He has a career 3.72 ERA and 1.29 WHIP.
Francisco will throw a lot of hard stuff -- primarily his mid-90s four seamer, but he'll sprinkle in his sinker and cutter, as well.
To give someone like Francisco a two-year deal worth that much money indicates the Mets see him as their stopper, but also as someone with some upside. He's a darkhorse guy who could end up being a very nice addition to the bullpen and a good closer to boot. With the collection of arms now, which include Rauch, Ramon Ramirez (acquired from the Giants) and Bobby Parnell, the Mets have totally redesigned the bullpen to the point it should be plus for them. With the state of the rotation, it will need to be.
The Mets spent about $9.5 million, according to ESPN NY's Adam Rubin, meaning they'll have about $5 million to add some outfield and starting rotation depth before the season starts.