Minaya meets with K-Rod in Vegas
On eve of Meetings, Mets GM continues pursuit of closer
LAS VEGAS -- Call it ambition, desire or just plain need, but the Mets wasted little time pursuing their top free-agent targets at the Winter Meetings.
Merely hours after landing in Las Vegas on Sunday night, general manager Omar Minaya met with closer Francisco Rodriguez, according to a person familiar with the situation. Minaya is expected to make concrete offers to many of the team's top free-agent targets before the conclusion of the Meetings.
"In the next four days, we will probably be more aggressive with dialogue with agents," Minaya said earlier Sunday, before meeting with Rodriguez. "And at the same time, we have some potential trades that are out there that we might be able to get done."
Minaya has indicated throughout the offseason that acquiring a closer to replace the injured Billy Wagner is his top priority. And Rodriguez, 26, who saved a Major League-record 62 games last season, is statistically the best available option.
Rodriguez's agent, Paul Kinzer, said last month that he didn't expect to receive offers for his client until the Winter Meetings, which run from Dec. 8-11 in Vegas. Minaya arrived at the Bellagio hotel shortly after 5 p.m. PT, and met with K-Rod only hours later.
The situation is a unique one. Rodriguez is one of many closers available through the free agent and trade markets this season, and the Mets are the only Major League team whose top priority is a closer. If negotiations with Rodriguez stall, the Mets could conceivably sign Brian Fuentes, formerly of the Rockies, or Kerry Wood, formerly of the Cubs. Or, if those plans don't materialize, they could trade for one of several available closers.
Already, the Mets have been rumored to be interested in J.J. Putz of the Mariners, Jose Valverde of the Astros and Bobby Jenks of the White Sox.
"It's an area that we're trying to address," Minaya said. "We've been talking to different agents and we've been talking to different clubs, and I feel that this week there's been a lot more dialogue going on than there has been in the past."
Minaya said that he expected such dialogue only to increase in the coming days, when he is scheduled to meet in person with Fuentes, Trevor Hoffman and the agents for other players. Sunday evening's meeting with Rodriguez was simply the week's first -- though even before it took place, Minaya seemed encouraged by previous talks.
"You feel that you're in the ballpark," Minaya said of contract negotiations. "But things can turn around. Things can change."
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.