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Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Source: Mets, Ronny Paulino agree

By Jorge Arangure Jr.
ESPN The Magazine

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The New York Mets have agreed to a one-year, $1.3 million deal that includes performance-based incentives with backup catcher Ronny Paulino, a source close to the situation said Tuesday.

Meanwhile, right-handed reliever D.J. Carrasco has agreed to a two-year, $2.5 million, a source with knowledge of the talks told ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin.

Both deals are pending physicals.

Last season, the right-handed hitting Paulino hit .259 with a .665 OPS for the Florida Marlins but had a .745 OPS against left-handed pitchers, which suggests he would likely serve as left-handed hitting Josh Thole's platoon against lefties.

Paulino, 29, was suspended 50 games last year by Major League Baseball after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance. Paulino served 42 games of that suspension last year and will miss the first eight games of this season. Paulino said last year he believed the suspension was caused by a diet pill he took.

Paulino's signing would mark the first free-agent major league signing by Sandy Alderson, the Mets' new general manager. Alderson has told reporters that he didn't expect the Mets to be big players during this week's winter meetings. The Mets are still looking at several low-cost relief options to shore up their bullpen, according to the source.

The Marlins non-tendered Paulino after signing free agent John Buck. In addition to hitting .259 last season, Paulino had four home runs and 37 RBIs in 2010.

His best season was his rookie campaign with the Pirates, when he batted .310 with six homers and 55 RBIs. In six seasons with Pittsburgh and Florida, he's batting .273 and has thrown out 31 percent of baserunners.

The Mets had an unsettled catching situation last season with Rod Barajas getting the most work, appearing in 74 games. He batted only .225 and signed with the Dodgers in the offseason.

Thole, who appeared in 73 games and batted .277, likely will get his chance to get the bulk of the work behind the plate.

Jorge Arangure Jr. is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin was used in this report.