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Francisco Rodriguez had a record 62 saves in 2008.
Robert Beck/SI

LAS VEGAS -- While a person familiar with the Mets' search for a closer suggested things have "loosened up a bit'' on the trade front, it appears that these are the team's top four closing options as general manager Omar Minaya heads to the winter meetings.

1. Francisco Rodriguez. K-Rod, by virtue of his history as a master saver in a major market, gets the nod if his price isn't well above second choice Brian Fuentes. While there are internal concerns over a loss in velocity (he's down to 93 from 97), those worries are tempered by K-Rod's continuing success. The goal would be to keep him to a three-year deal with a fourth-year option and avoid anything longer than that.

2. Fuentes. Mets people seem to like the fact that Fuentes' stuff held up throughout the 2008 season and that he's throwing as well as ever (82 strikeouts in 62 2/3 innings). At 32, he's considerably older than K-Rod though.

3. Kerry Wood. Baseball people generally say his stuff trumps the other two. But the Mets are understandably worried about past arm troubles since their first star closer, Billy Wagner, is on the shelf. No way do they want to have more than Wagner's $11 million in closing monies on the disabled list.

4. A Trevor Hoffman-Huston Street combo. This is an idea a lot of Mets people seem to like. If they can acquire Street from the Rockies via trade, the idea would be to sign Hoffman to share closing duties. They don't see either pitcher as a slam-dunk closer for them. But together, they could do the job, Mets people think.

The list is actually longer than this, as Minaya is in search of a closer at just the right time. There are several good ones available, either through free agency or trade, and only a few other teams competing for these closers. (Others include the Indians, Rangers and Cardinals.)

Another plus for the Mets is that most of the other teams looking for a closer aren't major-market teams that could compete with the Mets. Some other options could be trades for J.J. Putz, Bobby Jenks or Jose Valverde, though the Mets and White Sox appear to have made little progress on Jenks and the Mets don't love Valverede's contractual situation.

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