Mets maintaining interest in reliever Jose Valverde

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Ken Davidoff of the New York Post has the goods:

The door remains “slightly ajar” for free agent Jose Valverde to join the Mets as their closer, an industry source told The Post.

As with the Mets’ pursuit of Michael Bourn, you bet against this actually happening. But this is considerably less complicated than the Bourn endeavor.

Less complicated because signing Valverde does not mean forfeiting a draft pick, and because the 34-year-old right-hander should come pretty cheap (on a one-year contract) after failing to attract any legitimate offers on the open market this winter.

Valverde registered a decent 3.78 ERA, 1.25 WHIP and 35 saves across 69 innings last season for the American League-champion Tigers. He could serve as the Mets’ ninth-inning man while Frank Francisco recovers from lingering elbow problems. Which would mean Bobby Parnell remaining in a setup role.

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UPDATE, 3:44 PM: According to Andy Martino of the New York Daily News, the Mets expect Valverde to sign a contract elsewhere but will “maybe consider him later” if he doesn’t wind up getting an offer.

Mike Rizzo and Shawn Kelley almost got into a physical confrontation

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A few weeks back the Washington Nationals designated reliever Shawn Kelley for assignment the morning after he threw his glove into the ground and glared at the Nats dugout in frustration after giving up a homer in a blowout win against the Mets. He was later traded to the Athletics. Nats GM Mike Rizzo said at that time that he thought Kelley was trying to show up his manager and that there was no room for that sort of thing on the team, offering an “either you’re with us or you’re working against us” sentiment in the process.

Today the Washington Post talks about all of the Nationals’ bullpen woes of late, and touches on the departure of Kelley as being part of the problem. In so doing, we learn that, on the night of Kelley’s mound tantrum, he and Rizzo almost got into a physical confrontation:

Rizzo headed down to the clubhouse and confronted Kelley, according to people familiar with the situation. The argument became heated, including raised voices, and eventually it almost became physical, according to people familiar with the exchange. Adam Eaton got between the two of them and separated them before things could advance further . . .

Might I point out that, the fact of this emerging now helps to vindicate Brandon Kintzler who, the day before, was traded away, some say, for being the source for negative reports from inside the Nats’ clubhouse?

That aside, the article does not make anyone look good, really. Rizzo had the backing of his team with the Kelley incident, but the overall story — how did the Nats’ bullpen, which was once a strength — get so bad? — does no favors for Rizzo. Mostly because he seems to have thought that they had so much extra bullpen depth that they could afford to deal away Kintzler, which he says was a financial move, not a punitive trade for being a media source.

Question: when was the last time you heard a baseball man say he had too much relief pitching? Especially today, in which the bullpen has assumed such a prominent role? Seems rather unreasonable to cut relievers when you’re trying mightily to come back from a sizable deficit in the standings, yes?