If the Mets as an organization maintain that position, that could severely limit or perhaps even eliminate their chances to land free-agent outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, who they appear to covet.
Several people with Mets connections say the team from Queens has identified Choo as a top target. But the way this market looks at the moment, it's very possible Choo may turn out to be a pie in the sky for them.
Choo's agent Scott Boras made clear he is targeting at least Jayson Werth's $126 million, seven-year deal, signed three years ago, as one comp for Choo. Boras, who also represents Jacoby Ellsbury (he doesn't fit the Mets as well since they are happy with Juan Lagares in center field), said in regards to his two top-tier free-agent outfielders, "Carl Crawford (who signed for $142 million over seven years) lives. And Jayson Werth signed for seven years at age 32."
Of course, one beautiful thing about free agency is that you never know.
No one expected the Mets to get in the mix for Michael Bourn last winter, and eventually they at least were a player -- though in the end, they didn't offer a fifth-year option and wouldn't guarantee their $48 million, four-year offer until after a hearing could be held to determine whether they might retain the draft choice. This year, the Mets do hold an advantage in that they wouldn't lose a draft choice for signing Choo since they finished with they have the 10th pick, a protected choice.
Should Choo's price be too steep, other big-name free-agent outfielders include Curtis Granderson, Nelson Cruz and their old star Carlos Beltran. There will be outfielders on the trade market, though the three potentially available Dodgers outfielders -- Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier and Carl Crawford -- all make big money as well, and a Mets person suggested that trio isn't at the forefront of their internal talks, at least at the moment.
All indications are that Choo is. Though the Mets may remain skittish about free agency following some notable misses, such as Jason Bay, Ollie Perez and Luis Castillo.
Boras said he has meetings planned so far with six owners at the GM/owners meetings in Orlando next week but he didn't say whether the Mets are one of the teams he plans to meet. The Mets haven't laid out their plans yet, either -- thought it's well-known they like Choo, a high on-base (his .423 mark was second best in the National League) corner outfielder and left-handed hitter who could bat third and would make a nice complement to franchise player David Wright.
Boras, though, won't automatically meet with every team with an interest if he feels the interested team isn't serious enough (i.e. won't be competitive financially).
The crosstown Yankees have emerged as a player for Choo, as was first reported here, while the incumbent Reds remain interested, and it is believed the Astros, Nationals, Cubs, Rangers and Mariners are among other possibilities for Choo.