Minnesota Twins pitcher Carl Pavano looks on during a spring...

Minnesota Twins pitcher Carl Pavano looks on during a spring training game in Fort Myers, Fla. (April 1, 2012) Credit: AP

The Mets have lost out on free-agent pitcher Francisco Liriano, whom they had identified as a candidate to fill the rotation spot left by the trade of Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey. The lefthander reportedly signed a two-year deal worth roughly $13 million with the Pirates Friday.

Nevertheless, the Mets have expressed confidence about finding a potential replacement for the rotation, one who can be secured with a low-risk, one-year contract. The Mets have identified a pool of candidates, which includes the well-traveled Carl Pavano.

According to a source, the Mets have engaged in a preliminary discussion about signing Pavano, whose career includes an injury-plagued four-year stint with the Yankees. In 2012, a shoulder injury limited him to 11 starts with the Twins in which he went 2-5 with a 6.00 ERA. Pavano, who is 108-107 with a 4.39 ERA overall, will turn 37 on Jan. 8.

The Mets could simply fill the rotation spot with internal options such as righthander Jeremy Hefner, but they hope to find more upside by taking a chance on the free-agent market, even on pitchers who carry injury risks such as Pavano.

The Mets could wait for prices to fall in the market, though the source said the club could move "rather quickly" if presented the right signing.

Said the source: "It's a matter of feeling out the market for the best value."

Even without Dickey to anchor the staff, starting pitching is the organization's strength. Top prospect Zack Wheeler is expected to join the rotation sometime later in the season.

Nevertheless, the Mets have put a priority on bolstering their pitching depth.