Mets general manager Sandy Alderson and assistant GM John Ricco flew to Houston last week to have dinner with free-agent outfielder Michael Bourn and his agent, Scott Boras, according to the New York Post. But the meal “was more a getting-to-know-you session than a dollars-and-cents negotiation,” according to the newspaper, “at a time when the dollars and cents remain among the most significant hurdles in doing a deal.”
Alderson has made it clear to MLB.com and other media outlets that he is not willing to give up the Mets’ 11th overall draft pick as compensation in order to sign Bourn. So barring some successful 11th-hour rules appeal, it’s difficult to envision a deal happening — secret dinner or not.
Right-hander Kip Wells wants to pitch again in 2013. A baseball source said the Mets are among three interested teams, logical because of ties the Mets’ braintrust and Wells both have to San Diego.
Wells turns 36 in April and went 2-4 with a 4.58 ERA in a seven-start reprise with the Padres last season. Next year would be his 13th in the big leagues.
Wells has been training all winter but of late has had to give special attention to his 3 1/2 year-old son, who’s set to undergo heart surgery.
– Evan Drellich
Both New York teams, as well as three other clubs, have contacted the representative for free agent outfielder Ben Francisco, according to Mark Hale of the New York Post.
Agent John Boggs tells Hale that he and his client are looking for the “best opportunity” for Francisco “and who will offer the most at-bats.” Francisco, 31, batted .240 with four home runs and 15 RBIs in 82 games last season with the Blue Jays, Astros and Rays.
The Mets and Yankees have also both expressed interest in signing Scott Hairston as they seek a right-handed hitting outfielder, but Hairston is believed to want at least a two-year deal.
– Bryan Hoch
The Yankees fielded a call from agent Scott Boras last month asking if they’d be interested in re-signing reliever Rafael Soriano to a one-year deal, according to Bob Klapisch of the Bergen Record.
According to Klapisch, the request was “flatly denied.”
Yankees GM Brian Cashman has said that he is not looking for any upgrades in the bullpen, with Mariano Rivera’s one-year, $10 million deal restoring the all-time saves leader to the closer role. New York also has Joba Chamberlain, David Robertson, Boone Logan and David Aardsma among those who will compete for setup slots this spring.
Soriano opted out of his contract with the Yankees following the season, forfeiting the remaining $14 million he was owed for 2013 in favor of a $1.5 million buyout. The Yankees made Soriano a qualifying offer of one year at $13.3 million, which he rejected.
Because of that qualifying offer, there is draft pick compensation attached to Soriano, which appears to have impacted his free agent market.
– Bryan Hoch
Lance Berkman told MLB.com on Saturday he had agreed to a one-year with deal with a vesting option for 2014 with the Texas Rangers, pending a physical. Berkman said he was mulling retirement and wouldn’t have played if the circumstances weren’t right.
The Rangers proved to be the perfect fit for several reasons, Berkman said.
“There is a lot of things,” he said. “One is the opportunity to DH. I think that’s going to be really good for me from a physical standpoint in terms of staying healthy for a full year and obviously geography – I’m a Texas guy all the way – so I could get back to the home state and being close to home is huge for me and my family. I think the Rangers have an excellent chance to win. I think they have a very solid team, so all those things kind of add up and it makes a lot of sense.”
Berkman, who turns 37 on Feb. 10, was considering retirement after an injury-plagued 2012 with the Cardinals. He underwent two surgeries on his right knee and played 32 games, hitting .259 with an .826 OPS, two home runs and seven RBIs. Berkman appeared in only six games and started two after July 29 and was left off St. Louis’ playoff roster.
– Brian McTaggart