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Mets continue search for bullpen parts

New York Mets relief pitcher Tyler Clippard

New York Mets relief pitcher Tyler Clippard (46) delivers a pitch in the eighth inning during Game 1 of the World Series against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2015. Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Mets made it clear throughout these winter meetings that they had little interest in paying a premium for upper-echelon relief help.

That belief was borne out again on Thursday, when the Astros re-signed lefty Tony Sipp to a three-year, $18-million deal. Despite a need for help in the back end of the pen, the Mets were never contenders.

“We looked into it but never really engaged with him,” assistant general manager John Ricco said.

Nevertheless, the Mets will continue to seek out at least one reliever. An experienced righthander to create a formidable trio with Addison Reed and closer Jeurys Familia ranks high on their priority list, as does acquiring a lefty specialist.

“Our goal is definitely to continue to add, and continue to add at least one more piece in the pen, preferably someone who’s a veteran and that can help us in the back end,” Ricco said. “You never know how it’s going to go, but that’s the goal.”

What’s less clear is whom the Mets may be targeting in their search.

Even before the winter meetings, sources said the Mets would keep an eye on Steve Cishek, the one-time Marlins closer who was non-tendered by the Cardinals. But Cishek will likely get better opportunities — such as a shot at closing — elsewhere.

Free agent Tyler Clippard, whom the Mets acquired at the trade deadline, had been a possibility to return, but the Mets seem less enthused about a reunion.

As for lefty relief help, mutual interest still exists with lefty Jerry Blevins, who missed almost all of last season with a broken arm after the Mets acquired him from the Nationals in a spring training trade.

The Mets continue to pursue a reunion with veteran righthander Bartolo Colon, who would begin the season in the starting rotation. But part of the Mets’ interest stems from the possibility of shifting Colon to a bullpen role once Zack Wheeler returns from Tommy John surgery midseason.

“As we move forward, we’ve gotten a little bit more substantive in terms of the conversations, and I think we’re in a good place,” Ricco said. “We know the landscape. It’s just a matter of deciding where we’re going to target and be aggressive. We’ll head back to New York, regroup with Sandy [Alderson], and decide what the strategy is from here.”

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