According to FOXSports.com's Ken Rosenthal, the Mets have reached an agreement in principle with free-agent left-hander Oliver Perez on a three-year, $36 million contract, presumably removing them from the discussion for Perez's free-agent counterpart, Ben Sheets.
Both Sheets and free-agent left-hander Randy Wolf represented fallback options for the Mets in the event of Perez rejecting their most lucrative offer to date; had that happened, we can surmise that New York would have severed talks and summarily redirected their attention to Wolf, with whom the Mets had made a "little progress" over the weekend.
Rosenthal, for what it's worth, suggests that Sheets could still end up with the Rangers, but "only on the club's preferred terms." According to a baseball source, talks between Sheets's agent, Casey Close, and Texas have apparently lost some momentum over the last 10 days, but the fact that no other teams have publicly expressed even moderate interest in Sheets still bodes well for the likelihood of a deal ultimately being completed.
It also insinuates that the state of his pitching arm is perhaps far more lamentable than any of us actually realize.
Additionally, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram is reporting this morning that the Rangers have reached a preliminary agreement with free-agent left-hander Eddie Guardado on a non-roster deal (MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan first wrote that the Rangers were close with Guardado on Monday afternoon), which is significant in that it protects the Rangers' 40-man roster flexibility by leaving one roster spot open in the event that a deal is still consummated with Sheets:
"Eddie is a guy we'd like to have back," general manager Jon Daniels said Monday. "We like Eddie's ability, he's left-handed and what he brings to a team. The way he pitched last year, he wasn't just a specialist, he pitched well against both left-handers and right-handers. He's someone we remain interested in."
Guardado could ultimately bank in excess of $3 million if he makes the major league roster and achieves all of his performance incentives; the deal could also include some form of no-trade protection. Arguably the club's second-best reliever behind only Frank Francisco in 2008, the 38-year-old southpaw posted a 3.65 ERA and 1.11 WHIP over a 49.1-inning span with the Rangers last season before being dealt to the Twins in late August for right-hander Mark Hamburger (who celebrates his 22nd birthday on Thursday).