Mets, Cards in the running for Dotel

The Mets are strong players for right-handed reliever Octavio Dotel, according to a person with knowledge of the discussions. Dotel, who celebrated his 38th birthday last week, posted a 2.61 ERA for the Cardinals in October after compiling a 3.28 ERA, 32 strikeouts and five walks for St. Louis in 24 2/3 innings this season.

A former closer who saved 21 games for the Pirates in 2010, Dotel could potentially assume that same job in New York or slide into a setup role. General manager Sandy Alderson has not ruled out signing more than one free-agent reliever to bolster the back end of his bullpen.

But the Mets are not the only team wooing Dotel . The Cardinals have also expressed interest after the 13-year veteran played a significant role in their World Series run following a midseason trade from Toronto.

The Mets have made it clear that they have no desire to give up compensatory Draft picks in order to sign ranked free agents, which originally precluded them from pursuing Dotel. But Dotel’s Elias ranking was recently reduced from Type A to Type B as part of baseball’s new Collective Bargaining Agreement, meaning the Mets would not have to give up a Draft pick to sign him. The Cardinals did not offer Dotel arbitration, but will receive a supplemental-round pick should he sign elsewhere.

As for the Mets, they have already missed out on Joe Nathan and Jonathan Broxton, two former closers coming off injuries who signed with the Rangers and Royals, respectively. Still, plenty of closer candidates remain at large, including Dotel, Brad Lidge, Matt Capps, Frank Francisco and Francisco Cordero.

The Mets originally signed Dotel as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 1993. He made his Major League debut for them as a starting pitcher six years later, before making his career as a reliever with the Astros, A’s, Yankees, Royals, Braves, White Sox, Pirates, Dodgers, Rockies, Blue Jays and Cardinals.

–Anthony DiComo

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