Considering they first courted him as a closer, the Mets might have to offer more money if they want to Fuentes to take a lesser role. Street, of course, would have to come in a trade for prospects.
-Free-agent reliever Chad Cordero will meet with the Mets about a set-up/situational role. Cordero is coming off shoulder surgery so there is trepidation.
-Houston GM Ed Wade to ESPN.com: “I don’t like to talk publicly about potential trades, but I can assure that (Jose) Valverde is not being traded.’’
-The Mets do not have a meeting scheduled with Kerry Wood.
-The Mets have talked to Brian Fuentes and have mentioned money. However, there has not been an offer.
The Mets also plan on meeting with free-agent closers Brian Fuentes and Trevor Hoffman today. There is also a chance they’ll meet with Kerry Wood, too.
Reports also have the Mets talking trade with Seattle for J.J. Putz, Houston for Jose Valverde, the White Sox for Bobby Jenks and Toronto for B.J. Ryan.
“In the next four days, we will probably be more aggressive with dialogue with agents,” GM Omar Minaya said. “And at the same time, we have some potential trades that are out there that we might be able to get done.”
Meanwhile, the Mark Healey from Gotham Sports is reporting the Yankees are talking trade with Robinson Cano to the Dodgers for Matt Kemp.
“I expect to leave with players,’’ Minaya said last night. “I think there’s a chance that hopefully we can get something done here.’’
Here’s a position-by-position breakdown of the Mets’ needs and options:
The situation: The Mets blew 29 save opportunities last season, seven of them in the ninth inning. A closer is desperately needed, but so is the bridge to that closer. Aaron Heilman, Duaner Sanchez, Scott Schoeneweis, Joe Smith and Brian Stokes are under contract for next year, so it’s not likely there will be an overhaul.
Options: They’ve targeted Rodriguez as their first choice, but would be willing to go elsewhere if the price is right. There’s a lot to like about Rodriguez, but there are concerns with his diminished velocity and violent delivery that could make him vulnerable to injury. Fuentes would be less expensive, and Hoffman would command fewer years. Hoffman could be had for a year plus an option, and by that time the Mets might know more about Bobby Parnell and Ed Kunz. The Mets like Kerry Wood, but his injury history makes him a risk. The Mets also like Colorado’s Huston Street, but are waiting for the price to drop.
The situation: The Mets are three deep with Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey and John Maine, but the latter is coming off surgery. That leaves two holes if they don’t bring back Oliver Perez. Jon Niese will compete for the fifth spot in the rotation.
Options: The Mets aren’t players for CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett, and had targeted Scott Boras client Derek Lowe. However, his asking price is a reported $18 million, and they’ll have to compete with Boston and the Yankees. The Mets might end up overpaying for Perez, go with Niese in the fifth spot, and there’s always the chance of bringing back Pedro Martinez for a year. Brad Penny and innings-eater Livan Hernandez are also in the market.
The situation: The Mets envision a platoon of Daniel Murphy and Fernando Tatis in left field. Their needs for pitching and the asking price would seem to preclude them from Manny Ramirez, whom they sought several years ago.
Options: Raul Ibanez, Bobby Abreu and Pat Burrell are out there, but the Mets don’t seem enamored with them. And, the Mets figure to hold consistent to spend on pitching before adding a bat to the line-up, that although inconsistent, still was second in the National League in scoring.
The situation: David Wright and Jose Reyes aren’t going anywhere, and neither will Carlos Delgado, who has a no-trade clause. Dealing Delgado merely creates another hole. The Mets would love to rid themselves of Luis Castillo’s contract.
Options: The same reason the Mets want to deal Castillo is why they won’t. An aging, injury-prone and non-productive player aren’t on many teams’ wish lists, so the Mets will retain the status quo.
The situation: The Mets would like to upgrade if they could from Brian Schneider, but it’s not regarded as a necessity.
Options: With other priorities, they won’t likely do anything here.
The more I think about it, the more I believe Omar Minaya is playing this closer hand the right way. Patience is the way to go.
The Mets are the contender in the most dire need of a closer, so they’ll market. The asking price for Francisco Rodriguez should go down from the original five years at $75 million. If that’s the guy they really want, having Brian Fuentes on the market (there doesn’t seem to be a line outside his door) should keep Rodriguez’s salary in line, more like three years.
I believe the Mets will come away with a closer, but it makes no sense to throw out huge bids right now when the market isn’t even set.