UPDATE: Mets agree to contract with reliever Jon Rauch

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UPDATE III: The Mets might not be done addressing their bullpen. Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the they are working on a 2-for-1 deal that is described as a “change of scenery” for all parties. Stay tuned.

UPDATE II: Jim Duquette of MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM reports that the deal is done, pending a physical. It’s reportedly worth $3.5 million and includes some performance-based incentives.

Joel Sherman of the New York Post confirms the report while adding that the Mets still hope to add another late-inning option to compete with Rauch for the closer role during spring training.

Rauch, 33, posted a 4.85 ERA and 36/14 K/BB ratio over 52 innings with the Blue Jays this season. The 6-foot-11 right-hander was 11-for-16 in save opportunities.

UPDATE: Adam Rubin of ESPN.com reports that the Mets are making progress in talks with free agent reliever Jon Rauch.

Andy Martino of the New York Daily News asked a source whether the two sides were closing in on a deal and was told, “You’re on the right track.”

5:50 PM: Joel Sherman of the New York Post and Andy Martino of the New York Daily News are both reporting that the Mets are picking up their search for relief help. In fact, Martino hears that they could make a deal as soon as tonight.

The Mets have been connected in talks for free agents like Francisco Rodriguez, Brad Lidge, Jon Rauch, Frank Francisco, Francisco Cordero, Octavio Dotel, Chad Qualls and Todd Coffey, but general manager Sandy Alderson told Adam Rubin of ESPN New York this afternoon that he is more inclined to sign two second-tier relievers as opposed to spending significant money on a high-profile name.

“I’d be surprised if we throw all of our money at one guy,” Alderson said. “Our bullpen is such that we definitely need somebody at the end. We can use more depth in our pen also. I think if we can do it, it probably would be better to be a little bit conservative with our top-end guy and still have some money to provide depth.

New York’s bullpen was 28th in the majors last season with a 4.33 ERA. While Bobby Parnell was given a chance to audition for the closer role following the trade of K-Rod, his six blown saves in 12 chances during the second half of the season has caused the Mets to look outside the organization for an alternative.

The Pirates are, not surprisingly, leaning against trading Andrew McCutchen

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Over the winter there was serious talk about the Pirates trading Andrew McCutchen to the Washington Nationals. His move to left field to allow Starling Marte to take over center further served to make McCutchen a less important part of the Pirates long term plans.

Then the season began, Marte got suspended for PEDs and, after a bumpy start, McCutchen caught fire. He hit .411/.505/.689 in June he has a .333/.444/.561 line in the month of July. For the year he’s now at .292/.384/.507 with 17 homers and 57 RBI. Even with Marte back on the roster, McCutchen is the Pirates’ center fielder. What’s more, the Pirates, after beginning the season slowly have righted the ship somewhat and are now only three games back in the NL Central.

All of which makes this, from Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, unsurprising:

That option is a quite reasonable $14.5 million, so it seems sorta crazy that they wouldn’t pick it up. Of course if they remain coy enough about it for now perhaps someone will bowl them over with an offer. Letting McCutchen walk seems insane. Unloading him for a hefty haul would, well, still be kinda crazy given how popular McCutchen is with the fan base, but not truly insane.

The Brewers are talking to the Tigers about Ian Kinsler, Justin Wilson

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The Brewers were rumored last week to have been “aggressive” in talks for Tigers reliever Justin Wilson. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports, however, that the talks are a bit more wide-ranging than that.

Crasnick says that the two clubs are also discussing Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler, potentially in a package deal with Wilson. Crasnick says that the Brewers “would love to have Kinsler,” but their main focus at the moment is pitching help. Of course, the Brewers current second baseman — Jonathan Villar — is hitting a meager .223/.285/.348 in 334 plate appearances.

Kinsler is having a down season for him — .237/.331/.400 — but he’s better than that and, of course, would represent an improvement. He’s under contract through the end of this year but he has a very affordable, $10 million club option for 2018. Wilson will be arbitration-eligible this offseason, so he’s still under team control as well. As such a Kinsler/Wilson package would likely cost the Brewers a high price, so you have to think they’d try to exhaust cheaper options before making such a deal.

The Brewers had been in first place in the NL Central since June 7, but the Cubs caught them yesterday. They’re in a virtual tie, with Chicago percentage points ahead. This should prove to be a very interesting week for the Brewers’ front office.