Mets prepare to jump into fray for corner outfielder
Left-handed power hitter Granderson among possibilities on free-agent market
ORLANDO, Fla. -- As the Mets begin to get a handle on how their offseason will play out, general manager Sandy Alderson said on Tuesday that he is preparing to join the crowd of big league clubs scrambling for face time with corner outfielders.
"We might bring in more than two starting outfielders," Alderson said. "Who knows how things are going to break? I'd be surprised if that happens, only because there's so much interest in corner outfielders among many clubs."
Alderson said that he was not surprised by the two-year, $16 million deal that former Met Marlon Byrd landed with the Phillies on Tuesday, noting that the Mets did not have extensive discussions with Byrd. The signing does, however, confirm the financial levels that the Mets will have to navigate this winter as they attempt to upgrade their offense.
"There haven't been that many signings, but this one is consistent with the others," Alderson said.
Curtis Granderson's name continues to be connected to the Mets, presenting an attractive option who wields a power left-handed bat as well as some defensive range. Granderson is coming off a season that was shortened by two fluke hit-by-pitch injuries, and he declined the Yankees' one-year, $14.1 million qualifying offer on Monday.
While some of the 115 home runs Granderson hit over his four years with the Yankees would undoubtedly have been erased by Citi Field's deeper dimensions, it is notable that Granderson slugged 37 homers away from Yankee Stadium during his last two healthy seasons. The Yanks have some interest in retaining Granderson, who has also been connected to both Chicago clubs.
Speaking in general terms, Alderson said that "even if power is discounted a little bit in our ballpark, it's still tremendously valuable. In fact, if you assume it's harder to hit home runs in our ballpark, I think it becomes even more important to be able to do it -- even at a reduced number."
Alderson said that the Mets do not have a meeting set with Granderson's agent, Matt Brown, but Alderson expects to meet with several agents and teams before the GM and Owners' Meetings wrap up on Thursday.
That includes Scott Boras, who represents slugger Shin-Soo Choo, though Alderson was clear this week about the Mets' reluctance to bid on contracts surpassing the $100 million mark. Newsday reported on Tuesday that the Mets are also showing interest in free-agent outfielder Chris Young.
Depending on the Mets' success in pursuing corner outfielders, Eric Young Jr.'s role seems to be flexible at this time. Alderson assured that Young is part of the blueprint, but it is too soon to say exactly how manager Terry Collins will be using him.
"I think Eric's going to be a part of our team," Alderson said. "What his exact role might be will depend on our final roster, no question about that. It might also depend on how things go in Spring Training, but I expect he'll be a valuable part of our team.
The Mets are also in the market for a shortstop and pitching, and while they could gravitate to a veteran backup catcher to help mentor Travis d'Arnaud, Alderson said that he is happy with Anthony Recker.
"The backup catcher is not really a high priority for us. It's nice to have, but we've got some other need-to-have holes to fill," Alderson said.
Alderson said that he thinks the offseason is picking up steam, but believes the free-agent market needs more time to play out before clubs will seriously be willing to dig in on trade proposals.
"Sometimes, the trade market is a derivative of the free-agent market, and so it takes a while to develop, because everything is a function of what has transpired in the free-agent market," Alderson said. "Until certain guys come off the board, trades don't develop as fully as they can."