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Mets announce signing of righthander Escobar

The Mets gave former Angels pitcher Kelvim Escobar

The Mets gave former Angels pitcher Kelvim Escobar a $1.25 million major-league contract (September 26, 2006) Photo Credit: AP

The Mets made official Monday their most recent move intended to improve their bullpen, announcing the signing of righthander Kelvim Escobar to a one-year deal.

Escobar, 33, is a reclamation project, having appeared in only one game in the last two seasons because of shoulder problems. But the Mets liked what they saw of him in Venezuela this offseason and were comfortable enough to sign him to a major-league contract for $1.25 million plus incentives.

Escobar is expected to compete to be Francisco Rodriguez's setup man.

It was another low-risk, high-reward bullpen move by general manager Omar Minaya, who previously signed righthander Ryota Igarashi to a two-year, $3-million contract that will pay him $1.25 million this season and righty Clint Everts to a one-year, $400,000 deal.

There still has been no progress with the one big-money free agent with whom the Mets are involved. They continue to wait on Jason Bay, who is mulling their four-year offer for about $65 million.

Escobar saved 38 games for Toronto in 2002 but went into the Blue Jays' rotation the following season, starting 26 games and going 12-8. His best season came in 2007 when he was 18-7 with a 3.40 ERA for the Angels, including three complete games, before his season was cut short because of injury.

Escobar had surgery in 2008 to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder and pitched in one game last season.

He is known to have a plus fastball and a good splitter and curve, and he generally has good control. He had 160 strikeouts and 66 walks in 2007 and struck out 147 with 50 walks the year before that.

As is the case with so many Mets, it's all about keeping him healthy.

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