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Mets add reliever Scott Atchison

The Mets have signed veteran reliever Scott Atchison

The Mets have signed veteran reliever Scott Atchison to enhance their bullpen. (Credit: AP)

The Mets signed veteran relief pitcher Scott Atchison to a minor-league contract, the club announced on Tuesday, in hopes that the low-cost move will add some needed depth in the bullpen. Atchison, who turns 37 in March, has been invited to spring training.

When healthy, Atchison could give the Mets a needed boost, just as he did with the Red Sox last season when he posted a career-best 1.58 ERA in 51 1/3 innings. But injuries have been an issue, just as they were again last July, when he suffered a partial tear to the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. He passed on Tommy John Surgery and returned to pitch again in September.

Atchison is 7-7 with a 3.48 ERA in 155 career appearances with the Mariners, Giants and Red Sox, who declined to offer him a contract this winter, making him a free agent.

The Mets may still be in the market for more bullpen help. But they may hold off on making any major league signings until they've concluded talks with free-agent outfielder Michael Bourn.

Earlier in the offseason, a source indicated that the club wants a handle on how much they will spend on bringing on an outfielder before committing dollars toward relievers. The Mets have interest in former Giants closer Brian Wilson and have not dismissed the possibility of bringing back right-hander Jon Rauch, though the market is still rife with other options even with less than two weeks remaining until spring training starts.

But resolving the outfield situation appears to be the priority. General manager Sandy Alderson and assistant GM John Ricco even took the step of traveling to Houston last week, the New York Post reported on Tuesday, so they could meet with Bourn and agent Scott Boras over dinner.

Nevertheless, the two sides remain far apart and an agreement seems out of reach. A source said on Monday that Bourn wants a deal of at least five years and the Mets have balked at a contract of that length. Still, they appear prepared to wait on Bourn in hopes that his asking price might fall.

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