DALLAS -- On the eve of Jose Reyes donning a Marlins jersey for the first time, Sandy Alderson went to work last night to change the conversation from the departure of his homegrown shortstop to the future of the Mets.
Although what the GM did won't erase the memory of Reyes' defection, his flurry of deals was at least an effort to move forward. In the span of roughly two hours, Alderson agreed on a one-year deal for setup man Jon Rauch, reportedly for $3.5 million, a two-year, $12-million contract for Frank Francisco -- his anticipated closer -- and also shipped Angel Pagan to the Giants for centerfielder Andres Torres and reliever Ramon Ramirez.
Just a day after talking up Pagan as his leadoff replacement for Reyes, Alderson showed that he could be flexible in taking care of his offseason priorities -- at Pagan's expense. The arbitration-eligible Pagan was expected to receive roughly $4.5 million, and Alderson believed he could better allocate that money after the centerfielder's disappointing season.
Both Torres, who like Pagan is coming off a down year, and Ramirez are eligible for arbitration. But their expected salaries combined for 2012 are not much more than what Pagan was likely due.
Only four months after the Mets shipped Carlos Beltran to the Giants for pitching prospect Zack Wheeler, they sent his centerfield replacement to the Bay Area as well. Pagan regressed defensively last season, and his reluctance to bat leadoff with Reyes on the DL didn't sit well with team officials either.
Torres will be an upgrade defensively in centerfield, and even with the Citi Field fences pulled in, the Mets need an excellent defender between Jason Bay and Lucas Duda. The concern is whether Torres, who turns 34 next month, can bounce back from a subpar offensive season, when he batted .221 with a .312 on-base percentage. In 2010, Torres hit .268 with a .343 OBP and 16 home runs.
Ramirez is clearly the prize of the swap with the Giants. The 30-year-old righthander had a 2.66 ERA in 66 appearances for San Francisco last season. Alderson said that his priority this winter was to dramatically improve the bullpen -- after attempting to re-sign Reyes, of course -- and he did a large chunk of that by acquiring three relievers last night.
Shortly after the Mets agreed with Rauch, who had 11 saves for the Blue Jays last season, they secured his bullpen mate in Francisco, who had 17 saves for Toronto. While a member of the Texas Rangers in 2004, Francisco was involved in an incident during which he threw a folding chair into the stands during an altercation with fans. He was arrested and sentenced to anger management training.
In one day, Alderson accomplished just about everything he needed at these meetings. The Mets did not make any official announcements as both the Mets and Giants were awaiting the results of physicals.
"I'd be surprised if we threw all our money at one guy," Alderson said earlier yesterday. "Our bullpen is such that we definitely need somebody at the end, but we can use more depth in our pen also. So I think if we can do it, it probably would be better to be a little bit conservative with our top-end guy and still have some money to provide depth."
The Mets talked with the agents for a number of closers, even mentioning Francisco Rodriguez, despite his considerable baggage, both on and off the field with the Mets.