Mets unlikely to consider $100 million free agents
GM Alderson says club is in a better position, but probably can't go after top players
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Sandy Alderson packed a punchline into his opening statement at the General Managers Meetings on Monday, saying that he'd been busy with a special project in the Mets' suite at the JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes.
"I was upstairs stacking our money," Alderson said. "Don't get excited: They were all fives."
The quip carries a splash of reality for the Mets, who are pleased that they indeed do have additional money to spend this winter. However, those funds are not unlimited, and Alderson later issued a sense of where the constraints may rest.
Though Alderson believes the Mets have arrived in a better position to use their resources on the free-agent and trade markets, he also stated that the Mets are "probably not" willing to consider a contract in the $100 million range for a free agent this winter.
That reluctance to wade into the deepest end of the free-agent pool may rule the Mets out for large-ticket players like Jacoby Ellsbury and Shin-Soo Choo.
"We've been in that stratosphere once recently with David Wright, under special circumstances," Alderson said, speaking of the captain's eight-year, $138 million extension.
"It would be difficult to duplicate that again -- not from a financial standpoint, just in terms of team building. It's difficult to concentrate those kinds of resources into very few players. It's not generally the way you build a quality, winning, sustainable team, I don't think."
A different name that the Mets appear to be gravitating to is outfielder Curtis Granderson, who declined a $14.1 million qualifying offer from the Yankees on Monday.
Mets assistant general manager John Ricco said that the club has interest in speaking to Granderson's agent, Matt Brown, and a meeting could take place this week.
"I think a lot of teams are just doing their due diligence like we are, talking with clubs and free agents," Ricco said. "You're trying to balance the free agents that are out there and the trade opportunities, and until you start gathering that information, it's hard to start moving forward."
Evaluating his team's situation as he prepares to do business in Orlando, Alderson said that the Mets now wield accomplished players at the Major League level as well as some additional cash in the budget.
"I think in those terms, we're better armed this year than we have been to do some things," Alderson said.
Alderson suggested that because the Mets' first-round pick in next year's Draft will be protected, the Mets may hold "a significant advantage" should they pursue a free agent with compensation attached this winter.
"The fact that others may have to give up a Draft pick may cause others to think twice," Alderson said. "The fact that we only have to give up a second-round pick, it may give us a little bit of an edge."
And the Mets appreciate that, given their shopping list. Because Matt Harvey will be absent from the top of the rotation for all of 2014, Alderson said that the Mets are hunting for additional pitching, either via trade or free agency.
Alderson said there is also "no question" the Mets would like to upgrade at shortstop. They need to add power to their lineup, something they may be able to accomplish even while gauging the trade markets for first basemen Ike Davis and Lucas Duda.
"We've got two guys who have demonstrated flashes of their potential," Alderson said. "At some point as they get more experienced, you've got to make a choice. We're in the process of doing that, to some extent. It's early in the process."