Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |
The Mets spoke on Tuesday with the representatives for free agent first baseman Carlos Santana because that's what baseball teams do in November: they take meetings and canvas the market. The same goes for free agent outfielder Lorenzo Cain and the many other names sure to trickle from loose-lipped agents in the early part of the offseason.
But, according to sources with direct knowledge of New York's thinking, Santana is very unlikely to become a Met. The team remains more focused on finding a reliever, a second baseman (via free agency or trade) and an outfielder who can also play first base.
Some reasons for this approach...
- The Mets tentatively expect Asdrubal Cabrera to be their everyday third baseman, and they like him better there than at second base.
- Dominic Smith, despite his disappointing debut last season, remains promising enough that the team is disinclined to block him for four or five years by signing a player like Santana. The Mets could trade Smith, changing the equation, but that is not their current plan.
- The front office views Wilmer Flores as a still-improving player, particularly offensively, and is comfortable with Flores as a first baseman if Smith begins the season in Triple-A.
- With Michael Conforto almost certain to miss the beginning of the season, the Mets are thin in the outfield. It therefore makes more sense to spend their resources on a player who can contribute there, particularly at the corner spots.
- With payroll set to come down compared to last season, GM Sandy Alderson is unlikely to spend most or all of his budget on one high-profile player.
As far as first base options, free agent Logan Morrison fits Alderson's stated priorities more than Santana or Eric Hosmer -- and Alderson always prefers two-year deals over longer commitments to premium free agents. Yoenis Cespedes was the exception to this approach, and that only happened because his market cratered two winters ago.
More broadly, it's useful to remember that the Mets, like nearly every other team, are at the early stage of the offseason where their main goal is to get a feel for the market. Beginning this week, they are chatting with agents and rival executives, learning what it will take to sign or trade for a potential target, and then huddling internally to update their plans. i.e., they are currently in the information-gathering portion of the program.
This process will likely continue for a few weeks, leading into the MLB Winter Meetings in December, when transactions and league business tends to accelerate.