In their pursuit of Curtis Granderson, the Mets may be forced to answer a $64-million question.
According to an industry source, the free-agent outfielder has been seeking a four-year deal worth roughly $16 million per season. The price would be steep for the Mets, who nonetheless are involved in serious discussions to bring the former Yankees outfielder across town.
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[12 p.m. Friday UPDATE: Mets, Curtis Granderson agree to a deal.]
It remains unclear what dollar figures Granderson has discussed with the Mets. According to multiple reports, the team has refused to budge from a contract longer than three years, while Granderson is insisting on a fourth.
Officials have expressed some optimism about ultimately striking a deal, even though one source said a signing might not be close yet.
According to the source, the Mets view Granderson as their best option to secure some much-needed firepower for a lineup that has languished without an established bat protecting third baseman David Wright.
Free-agent outfielder Nelson Cruz theoretically also might fit for the Mets. But the source said they have channeled their efforts toward signing Granderson, an indication of the team's clear preference.
Granderson, 32, hit .229 with seven homers in 61 games for the Yankees in 2013, enduring a season that was shortened when he twice was hit by pitches. In his previous two seasons with the Yankees, he totaled 84 homers.
Granderson rejected a $14.1-million qualifying offer from the Yankees to test the free-agent waters. The Mets have emerged as the most aggressive suitor, with general manager Sandy Alderson traveling to La Jolla, Calif., to meet with him.
Talks have progressed since. A source said yesterday that "the process is ongoing" to bring Granderson into the fold.
An agreement would represent a stark departure for the franchise, which has been dogged by payroll restrictions in the aftermath of the Bernard Madoff financial scandal. In recent years, the club has avoided long-term free-agent deals.
Since Alderson took over in 2010, his largest free-agent contract has been a modest two-year, $12-million deal given to reliever Frank Francisco, who endured injuries and ineffectiveness in his two years with the Mets.
If the Mets ultimately meet what's believed to be Granderson's asking price, it will be the largest contract they have given an outfielder since the ill-fated signing of Jason Bay to a four-year, $66-million deal. Bay hit .234 with 26 homers in three dreadful seasons in Flushing. The Mets bought out Bay's fourth season rather than keep him on the roster.
Last offseason, the Mets offered free-agent outfielder Michael Bourn a four-year, $48-million deal, but the Indians signed him because of their willingness to include a vesting option for a fifth year.
According to sources, the Mets believe Granderson's power will translate even with the move away from cozy Yankee Stadium to spacious Citi Field. The club also values Granderson's proven ability to play in the spotlight of New York.
Though Granderson has been a centerfielder for the vast majority of his career, a source said the Mets view him primarily as a corner outfielder.
Thus far, the Mets appear to be the most aggressive suitors for Granderson, who also has been linked to the Mariners, Cubs and White Sox.
Lagares checking out knee. Juan Lagares tweeted that he's headed to New York for a knee examination. Lagares, 24, emerged as an elite defensive centerfielder for the Mets in 2013. He has been playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic.