Three days after their initial offseason meeting in San Diego, the Mets and Curtis Granderson are deep in talks to bring the free agent outfielder to Flushing.
One person familiar with the situation said the two sides were “in the process” late Wednesday afternoon, confirming that talks began simmering not long after general manager Sandy Alderson met Granderson for an introductory dinner Sunday evening. But the source stopped short of calling anything imminent. With the Red Sox, White Sox, Cubs and Mariners all reportedly interested in him, Granderson may take his time making a decision.
Mets general manager Sandy Alderson and Granderson’s agent, Matt Brown, did not return messages seeking comment. The negotiations may be centering around the Mets’ willingness to give Granderson a four-year deal as opposed to three.
Granderson, 32, was limited to 61 games last season due to a broken right forearm and broken left pinkie, each the product of hit-by-pitches. He hit 84 homers with the Yankees from 2011-12.
Last month, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson dined with Robinson Cano’s agents, including Jay-Z at a posh Manhattan hotel. A few weeks later, Alderson continued his dinner circuit with what appears to be a more serious pursuit of outfielder Curtis Granderson.
Alderson dined with Granderson Sunday night in San Diego, touching base with a power-hitting outfielder who could fill one of the team’s most pressing needs.
“We ate a nice meal and it was great to enjoy some salmon,” Granderson said on a conference call Tuesday to announce Tony Clark’s appointment as executive director of the MLB Players’ Association. “Other than that, it was kind of what you would expect: a conversation, a Q and A, and continue the process moving forward.”
Asked if he had any additional meetings on his calendar, Granderson quipped that he had one scheduled with union executives later Tuesday afternoon. Neither Alderson nor Granderson’s agent, Matt Brown, returned messages seeking comment.
Seafood aside, a marriage between Granderson and the Mets would make sense on multiple levels. Granderson, 32, is accustomed to playing in New York, having spent the past four seasons with the Yankees. He took to the city, hitting 84 homers from 2011-12 before multiple injuries derailed his 2013 season.
The Mets, meanwhile, are searching for a corner outfielder to pair with Chris Young and Juan Lagares, potentially pushing Eric Young, Jr. into a utility role. Granderson’s left-handed power would also make it easier for the team to part with first basemen Ike Davis or Lucas Duda, perhaps in a deal for starting pitching.
But no marriage is perfect. There are significant questions regarding Granderson’s ability to transition from Yankee Stadium — arguably the most left-handed power-friendly ballpark in the Majors — to more neutral Citi Field. Granderson will also be 33 on Opening Day and is coming off an injury-plagued season.
Then there is the matter of money. The Mets have openly balked at the prospect of handing out nine-figure deals to top free agents Jacoby Ellsbury and Shin-Soo Choo, and are not expected to pursue marquee free agents at any position. While Granderson would certainly come cheaper than Ellsbury or Choo, the industry assumption is that he can land a four-year deal in the neighborhood of $60 million.
A popular clubhouse presence in New York, Granderson has already been linked to the Yankees, Cubs and White Sox, among others.
“The free agent market has been enjoyable,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it. I’m excited about what the next step and chapter is in my baseball career.”
Last month, Alderson, assistant GM John Ricco and COO Jeff Wilpon met with Cano’s representatives at a Manhattan hotel. The GM later defined the meeting as more of an introduction to Jay-Z, who recently founded the talent agency Roc Nation Sports, than a negotiation session.
Mets general manager Sandy Alderson met Sunday with free agent outfielder Curtis Granderson, according to FOX Sports.
Granderson would fill the Mets’ obvious hole at one of their corner outfield spots, even if Citi Field’s spacious dimensions would strip him of the 40-homer power he displayed for years at Yankee Stadium. He could be out of the Mets’ price range if he is seeking a lucrative multi-year deal, but would likely come cheaper than top-of-the-line free agent outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury and Shin-Soo Choo.
Granderson, 32, hit .229 with seven home runs in 61 games last season, missing much of the campaign with a broken finger. He hit 84 homers combined over his previous two seasons in New York.
The Mets began addressing their outfield vacancies on Friday morning, signing Chris Young to a one-year contract pending a physical, according to two sources with knowledge of the negotiations. The Mets have not commented on the signing because it is not yet official.
Young, 30, hit .200 with 12 home runs and 10 stolen bases last season, his first in Oakland after seven years with the D-backs. His best year came in 2010, when he hit .257 with 27 home runs and 28 steals, making his only All-Star appearance.
Though Young has played mostly center field throughout his career, he also played 26 games in right field last season and 24 games in left. If the Mets choose to keep Juan Lagares in center in 2014, they could plug Young into either corner.
Mets general manager Sandy Alderson has been scouring the free agent market in recent weeks, trying to acquire a shortstop, at least one outfielder, at least one starting pitching and some bullpen help.
So far, he is horrified by what he sees. According to the New York Post, the Mets are being afflicted by a severe case of “sticker shock” in the early days of free agency. The Post in particular reported that the Mets hoped to acquire shortstop Jhonny Peralta for two years and $20-25 million, but Peralta’s camp is seeking a three-year deal worth $45 million.
Alderson has somewhat backed himself into a corner, saying publicly on multiple occasions that he expects to spend freely this winter. He also said this week that the team’s payroll will increase from last season.
For that to happen, the Mets will either need to pay premiums for free agent players, or hope that their prices quickly begin to start falling.
Mets owner Jeff Wilpon, general manager Sandy Alderson and assistant GM John Ricco dined Monday evening with representatives for free agent second baseman Robinson Cano, including the rapper Jay-Z, according to the New York Post. A Mets spokesman declined comment on the report.
The Post was first to report that agents Jay-Z, Brodie Van Wagenen and Juan Perez initiated a meeting with Mets executives at a Manhattan hotel. Cano, according to the report, did not attend.
The meeting took place less than a week after Alderson publicly said he would “probably not” sign any players to nine-figure contracts this winter, making the timing somewhat curious. Cano, whose initial asking price from the Yankees was reportedly 10 years and $310 million, is a sure bet to sign the richest contract of any free agent this winter, well beyond the range of what Alderson has indicated he is willing to offer.
When asked last week if he would ink any player to a nine-figure contract this offseason, Alderson referred to the eight-year, $138-million contract third baseman David Wright signed last winter.
“We’ve been in that stratosphere once recently with David Wright,” Alderson said. “Those were special circumstances. I think it would be difficult to duplicate that again — not from a financial standpoint, just in terms of team-building. I think it’s difficult to concentrate those kinds of resources into very few players. It’s not really the way you build a quality, sustainable, winning team, I don’t think.”
Over his first three offseasons as Mets GM, Alderson has not given out a free agent contract larger than Frank Francisco’s recently-expired two-year, $12-million pact.
Cano, 31, hit .314 with 27 home runs this season for the Yankees, his fifth consecutive year with at least a .300 batting average and 25 homers. He recently joined on with Jay-Z’s new Roc Nation sports agency, which is partnered with Van Wagenen’s Creative Artists Agency.
The Mets’ incumbent second baseman, Daniel Murphy, hit .286 with 13 home runs this season. He is arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter, and should receive a contract of around $5 million.
Though the Mets are still not close to playoff contention despite playing better of late, they may (rather counter-intuitively) be more likely to buy than sell at this year’s Trade Deadline.
Simply put, the Mets do not have many pieces to sell that would be of use to contenders. Their best trade chip, starting pitcher Jon Niese, is out indefinitely with a shoulder injury, sapping him of any short-term value. Closer Bobby Parnell is another desirable chip, but the Mets have already expressed a desire to hang onto him. And starter Shaun Marcum’s salary ($4 million plus incentives) and on-field struggles may prove prohibitive.
What the Mets do have a surplus of are pitching prospects, from Rafael Montero to Noah Syndergaard to Michael Fulmer, Domingo Tapia and others. Packaging several of them together could land them an elite outfield prospect, or even a veteran outfielder at the big league level.
“If [a high-profile trade offer] came up this year, would we talk about [the top Minor League pitchers]? That’s a good question,” assistant general manager John Ricco recently told the New York Post. “Knowing what we have now, we could go either way on it. You could basically say, ‘Hey, we’re going to see this through with pitching and just go all in that way and just try to address the hitters through free agency or lower-level trades,’ or we could say, ‘Hey, we’ve got enough, we think — with the pitching we have now — we have enough to move one of the other guys.’”
Ricco went on to say that in any event, the Mets will practice prudence.
“It’s one thing to look for somebody to help us this year,” he told the Post. “To find someone to help for the long term, it’s a much smaller universe of players. … I think it might be tougher to do a deal like that.”
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.
R.A. Dickey’s storybook three-year run with the Mets may be coming to an end. The Mets are seriously discussing a trade of the reigning Cy Young Award-winner, according to multiple people involved in the negotiations, and could strike a deal as soon as Saturday. The Blue Jays are reportedly frontrunners for his services.
But people involved with the negotiations said Friday evening that nothing was imminent. For at least one more night, the Mets expected Dickey to remain in their employ.
The Jays, who possess surplus catching and outfield depth, have long been considered natural trade partners for the Mets, and now appear to be closing in on his services. Some combination of catchers Travis d’Arnaud or J.P. Arencibia, in addition to outfielder Anthony Gose, could land Dickey.
MLB.com reported late Friday afternoon that the Rangers, long considered serious suitors for Dickey, are no longer in the running. And despite rampant speculation that Josh Hamilton’s arrival in Orange County could prompt the Angels to trade some of their outfield surplus, a deal with the Halos appears no more likely now than it was at the beginning of this week.
With Zack Greinke off the free agent market and James Shields gone from the trading block, teams searching for top-tier starting pitching have one obvious place left to look: New York, where R.A. Dickey remains available.
He won’t come cheaply. Apparently general manager Sandy Alderson was not bluffing when he said last week that he is looking for a “difference-maker” in exchange for Dickey; various local and national reports indicate that Rangers top power prospect Mike Olt, for example, would not be enough in a deal. FOX Sports speculated that the Blue Jays could entice the Mets with a package of catcher J.P. Arencibia and center fielder Anthony Gose, but not with Arencibia alone.
If the Mets do not find a package they like, they can still simply keep Dickey and try to extend him for a reasonable price — the knuckleballer is reportedly seeking no more than two years and $30 million. But the Mets have made it clear they are willing to deal him, and offers may increase now that other top options are off the market.