The New York Mets, who entered Friday in first place in the National League East with a 41-36 record, are in the market for a new third baseman, according to Andy Martino of SNY. The Mets figure to continue their search up until the July 30 trade deadline, but Martino notes they've already engaged with the Minnesota Twins on "very preliminary talks" concerning Josh Donaldson.
It's unclear how serious the Mets are about pursuing Donaldson, given that they "still prefer to remain under the $210 million luxury tax," per Martino. Donaldson is in the second year of his four-year, $92 million contract. That deal carries with it a competitive balance tax calculation of $23 million over a full season, or around $11.5 million in a half season. The Mets, according to Cot's Contracts, have around $13 million in breathing room, meaning they'd be cutting it close if they wanted to make any additional trades.
Theoretically, the Mets could ask the Twins to eat some of Donaldson's contract, but that would involve parting with a greater prospect package. The Mets could also look to shed money through other trades, though that would also seem difficult given their desire to balance their competitiveness.
As such, the Mets may have to turn their sights elsewhere if management can't convince owner Steve Cohen to pay the trifling penalty that comes with exceeding the luxury tax threshold.
Donaldson, 35, has hit .250/.345/.486 (131 OPS+) with 13 home runs over his first 63 games this season. He recently found himself in a spat about sticky substances with Chicago White Sox pitcher Lucas Giolito.
It's worth noting that the Mets' two top third-base options, J.D. Davis and Jonathan Villar, recently began rehab assignments. Davis has been out since May 1 because of a finger injury, while Villar has missed nearly two weeks because of a strained calf muscle. In their absences, the Mets have turned to utility infielder Luis Guillorme as their everyday third baseman.