Mets general manager Sandy Alderson watched former Giants closer Brian Wilson throw during a workout at UCLA on Saturday, sources confirmed Sunday, though it's still unclear whether the team will offer him a big-league contract.
Wilson, 30, is one of several closers available in an unusually deep free-agent market for relievers. That supply makes it easier for the Mets to wait for price tags to fall as spring training nears. Nevertheless, just how much they can spend for a bullpen arm appears tied to what they invest to fill their needs for a righthanded-hitting outfielder and a fifth starter for the rotation.
"It's not as simple as line up the relievers and pick one," a person with knowledge of the Mets' thinking said. "You have to kind of do it in tandem with the outfield and the starter."
From 2008-11, Wilson racked up 163 saves and posted a 3.00 ERA. His distinctive beard and free-spirited personality made him a fan favorite in San Francisco, as did his prominent role in helping the Giants to the World Series championship in 2010.
Nevertheless, when the three-time All-Star missed nearly all of last season recovering from Tommy John surgery, the Giants passed on offering a contract that was projected to be worth upward of $8 million. Sergio Romo did a superb job filling in as closer as the Giants won it all.
The Mets already have a closer in Frank Francisco, but elbow issues down the stretch and his shaky performance when healthy weakened his grip on the job. Francisco is expected to be healthy in spring training after minor elbow surgery during the offseason.
Still, the Mets have maintained their desire to add another arm to the back end of the bullpen. According to a source, they haven't ruled out bringing back righthander Jon Rauch, who went 3-7 with a 3.59 ERA in 73 appearances for the Mets last season.