I've heard from all sorts of people at the Winter Meetings -- including people in media, people in baseball that have talked with the Mets, agents, and connected friends of friends -- and here's my best, educated guess on what Sandy Alderson is trying to do...
It sounds to me like he's hustling to trade Ike Davis and/or Daniel Murphy. The goal is either to acquire an inexpensive shortstop or second baseman in the deal, or at least free up enough money where he can sign a meaningful shortstop on the open market. At the same time, I think he'd like to sign an established starting pitcher, as well as someone else on a lesser deal to compete for the fifth spot in the rotation. I guess if this can be accomplished in the deal with Davis or Murphy, great, but I don't think anyone expects that to happen. I also think Alderson is trying to acquire a set-up man with the ability to close.
I'm told the team's ownership will support a slight increase in spending, but only if the deal makes sense for the long- and short-term good of the franchise. The front office, management and ownership all see eye to eye on not trading their top young pitchers, which I take to mean Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard, among others.
I'm not going to speculate on the likelihood of specific players being acquired, but I now understand why we keep seeing rumors about Bronson Arroyo and Stephen Drew, as well Matt Joyce and Cliff Pennington, and now Dustin Ackley, Chris Perez and Mitchell Boggs, all of which are legit options, according to people familiar with the market. It also makes sense that we'd hear of Alderson asking for guys making the league minimum and not J.J. Hardy and others with a long-term contract.
"The Mets, like most teams, do not have one plan in place," a person who has dealt with them this week told me on Tuesday. "The goal for these meetings, for every team, is to create options. This way, when a road opens up, even if it's not perfect, as long as it gets you where you need to go, you have the opportunity to be better."