It had been less than 24 hours since the Mets shocked the baseball world by slamming the brakes on a trade for Carlos Gomez, claiming to be scared off by a hip condition.
They maintained that their reasoning was based on medicine, not finances -- as had been suggested by at least one published report.
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The Mets' assertions, however, took a hit Thursday night when the Astros green-lighted a deal for Gomez on the eve of the non-waiver trade deadline.StatsMets vs. Padres boxscoreColumnBest: On Flores, the Mets and developing newsStorySources: Mets nixed Gomez over hip concern
The move punctuated another trying day for the Mets, who found themselves trying to piece together another move. According to a source, the Mets and Reds have engaged in talks for slugger Jay Bruce -- and for the second time in two days, pitcher Zack Wheeler could be on the move. Wheeler and Wilmer Flores had been the pieces included in the trade for Gomez that fell through.
The Mets left themselves open to a new round of criticism for killing the trade, which would have rounded out a lineup in need of one more impact bat.
Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said the team's reasoning behind pulling the plug on the deal was "simple."
"Our doctors thought the health risk was too great," Alderson said in an email. "Houston's doctors apparently feel otherwise. End of story."
But a report in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel painted a different story -- and skeptics would argue a familiar one -- about the Mets' hesitance stemming primarily from the Brewers' refusal to make any financial concessions.
"I don't have no problems," Gomez told reporters in Milwaukee. "I'm playing, and I feel really sexy about it."
Agent Scott Boras took a swipe at the Mets' decision to pass on Gomez, whom the Astros acquired along with pitcher Mike Fiers in exchange for prospects Brett Phillips, Domingo Santana, Adrian Houser and Josh Hader.
"The Brewers' medical staff is as expert and qualified as its reports," Boras told FoxSports.com. "Apparently in New York it is viewed as cheesehead medicine."
According to a source, the players involved in the deal had been agreed upon well before first pitch Wednesday night. Centerfielder Juan Lagares had been discussed, but he was taken off the table.
The Mets pushed the Brewers to include money in the deal to help cover some of Gomez's remaining salary -- $2.9 million this season and $9 million next year. The teams also explored other alternatives to even out the deal, according to a source, such as the Brewers including their pick in the competitive balance draft or even an international bonus slot.
Wheeler, who remains in Florida for his rehab, told Newsday that he is happy about staying with the Mets. "Pretty simple," said Wheeler, who was acquired in a 2011 deadline deal that sent Carlos Beltran to the Giants. "I have been here with the Mets through the rebuilding part and I want to finish it with these guys. I want to be a part of this pitching staff and team."
By making a play for Gomez, the Mets telegraphed their desire for a player capable of playing centerfield, and a source said that remains the team's preference. It is not a requirement, though, as evidenced by the team's interest in Bruce.
The 28-year-old rightfielder is hitting .258/.342/.487 with 17 home runs and 59 RBIs. He's owed another $12.5 million next season, a significant financial commitment that could prove to be a stumbling block.
As Friday's 4 p.m. trade deadline draws near, a source said it's possible that a lack of options could nudge the Mets to circle back toward players they previously passed on pursuing.
Yoenis Cespedes, Carlos Gonzalez and Justin Upton are among the more prominent players who could wind up switching uniforms.