Mets trade Angel Pagan to Giants

Updated: December 7, 2011, 2:05 AM ET
By Adam Rubin | ESPNNewYork.com

DALLAS -- A night before New York Mets fans watch shortstop Jose Reyes officially introduced as a Miami Marlin at the winter meetings, their beleaguered team made a flurry of moves to shore up the bullpen Tuesday.

The Mets agreed to send Angel Pagan to the San Francisco Giants for fellow center fielder Andres Torres and reliever Ramon Ramirez, and also agreed to terms with Frank Francisco and Jon Rauch.

Francisco's two-year deal is worth $12 million while Rauch's one-year contract is for $3.5 million, industry sources said.

"I think our biggest priority when we came to these meetings was to try to strengthen our bullpen," Mets manager Terry Collins told ESPNNewYork.com. "We knew we had to rebuild it. To get it done the way it happened today, I'm amazed by it. Those were three very, very good arms -- power arms. It's going to give us huge depth down there now. And I think it's going to make a difference."

Pagan's low baseball IQ, including consistently missing cutoff men and throwing to the wrong base, often agitated Mets officials.

The organization originally leaned toward non-tendering him at the Dec. 12 deadline if they could not trade him beforehand. But the center-fielder market was not deep and was costly and more recently Collins had been resigned to Pagan returning and leading off while manning center field.

Pagan made $3.5 million in 2011 and was arbitration eligible. He had never embraced leading off.

"We're going to miss Angel. Played great here," Collins said. "But again, our target was to rebuild the bullpen and he was a piece that they wanted badly."

Pagan was a frequent fill-in for mentor Carlos Beltran in recent seasons until taking over the everyday job in center this year. Beltran shifted to right in spring training before he was traded to the Giants in late July.

A switch-hitter with speed, Pagan hit .262 with seven homers and 56 RBIs this year, down from .290 with 11 homers and 69 RBIs in 2010. It's unclear whether Giants general manager Brian Sabean will continue to pursue bringing back Beltran. The GM called it a "fluid" situation last week.

The 33-year-old Torres, a longtime minor leaguer who had a breakthrough season in 2010, when the Giants won the World Series, will assume center field and the leadoff spot for the Mets. Torres started in the leadoff slot 78 times for the Giants last season. He earned $2.2 million last season and also is eligible for arbitration.

"One of the things it's going to do, it's going to allow us to let Ruben (Tejada) hit down in the order a little bit, because it's a different situation for him this year," Collins said. "He's not backing up anybody. He's the guy. And I want him to be a little comfortable and relax. And Torres knows how to lead off. I mean, he did it a couple of years ago -- Boch (Giants manager Bruce Bochy) told me.

"As a matter of fact, it sounded like the same thing that Angel went through. In 2010 they both had big years. And in 2011 they tried to duplicate it and more instead of just doing what they did the year before."

After resolving to spread their limited available dollars among multiple bullpen arms rather than concentrate the funds in one closer, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson swiftly took action to shore up a suspect bullpen by adding Francisco, Rauch and Ramirez.

Collins also confirmed Rauch would handle the eighth inning and Francisco would close, with Rauch getting saves when Francisco was unavailable.

"Wow! This is no joke!" one Mets player texted ESPNNewYork.com on Tuesday night. "This bullpen is coming together nice now."

Still, the Mets face an uphill battle in a rapidly improving NL East. The division boasts elite closers, with Heath Bell signing with the Marlins, Jonathan Papelbon with the Phillies and rising stars Craig Kimbrel with the Braves and Drew Storen with the Nationals also closing.

As for Rauch, Mets infielder Daniel Murphy noted his 6-foot-10 frame makes him more imposing.

"I always felt like he was one of the tougher guys to face because he's got such good stuff, plus the fact it feels like he is handing the ball to the catcher," Murphy said.

Rauch, 33, went 5-4 with a 4.85 ERA in 53 relief appearances and posted 11 saves in 16 chances for the Toronto Blue Jays last season. He had 21 saves for the Minnesota Twins the previous year. Rauch was sidelined in August with appendicitis. He was shut down for the season after a Sept. 4 appearance with torn cartilage in his right knee.

Francisco, 32, went 1-4 with a 3.55 ERA and had 17 saves in 54 relief appearances for the Blue Jays last season.

Ramirez, a 30-year-old right-hander, was 3-3 with a 2.62 ERA this year, holding right-handed hitters to a .203 average and lefties to a .240 mark. He came to the Giants at the trade deadline in 2010 -- when general manager Brian Sabean added a band of "castoffs and misfits" as they became known to help the franchise to its first World Series title since moving West in 1958.

"I know one thing: He gets lefties out. He's got the good sinker," Collins said. "We're going to be able to spread out all the workload."

Adam Rubin covers the Mets for ESPNNewYork.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Adam Rubin has covered the Mets since 2003. He's a graduate of Mepham High School on Long Island and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He joined ESPNNewYork after spending 10 years at the New York Daily News.
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