UPDATE: Mets agree to contract with reliever Jon Rauch


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.

MLB games were six minutes shorter this year

Pitch Clock
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According to STATS, INC., the average game in 2015 was 2 hours, 56 minutes. That’s six minutes faster than games in 2014.

The gains came in the first half, when games averaged 2:53. Second half games averaged three hours even. One can probably thank the expanded rosters in September for that, as games then see many more pitching changes. Of course, it’s likely that second half games were faster in 2015 than 2014 as well given the rules changes.

Those changes: agreement to enforce the rule requiring a hitter to keep at least one foot in the batter’s box and the installation of clocks timing pitching changes and between-inning breaks in ever ballpark.

It remains to be seen if MLB stays satisfied with that modest improvement or if chooses to go the way Triple-A and Double-A leagues did. They installed 20-second pitch clocks and started penalizing violators with balls and strikes. Triple-A’s two leagues, the International and Pacific Leagues, saw game-time decreases by 13 and 16 minutes, respectively.

Billy Beane promoted to VP, David Forst named A’s general manager

billy beane getty

I’m so old I remember when general managers used to run baseball operations departments. Now they’re basically assistants.

The latest example: the Oakland Athletics have promoted Billy Beane to vice president of baseball operations and have named David Forst general manager. Forst has been with the A’s for 16 years and has been Beane’s assistant for 12 years, so it’s not exactly a situation in which Forst will be making the final calls. The official move came today, though the move has been in the works for some time, it seems.

Someone with a lot of good front office access is going to write a good story this winter about the title inflation going on in Major League Baseball over the past year. And it’s gonna be great when one of his or her sources breaks the pattern of saying “well, baseball transactions are so much more complex these days . . . ” and admits “hey, if Theo gets a fancy title and La Russa gets a fancy title I WANT A FANCY TITLE TOO.”

Not that it’s much of a secret as it is.