The Mets, viewing Bengie Molina as their top catching choice on the free-agent market, are exploring trade options, as well, according to a person in the loop.

Though it's not clear who among the available catchers interests the Mets the most, they have expressed interest in the past in Detroit's Gerald Laird and Arizona's Chris Snyder. The person said that Pittsburgh's Ryan Doumit was not a major target, but the Pirates are open to trading Doumit.

The status of Molina will become clearer Tuesday when the Giants must decide whether to offer arbitration to their catcher. San Francisco is likely to do so, and once Molina has that arbitration offer, it means another team signing him would have to surrender a draft pick. The Mets, who draft seventh overall in the 2010 amateur draft, would give up their second-round pick.

There are other free-agent catchers available - such as Rod Barajas, Ivan Rodriguez and Gregg Zaun - who wouldn't cost a draft pick. The Mets like Molina better than those players, but they also recognize that, needing to upgrade their farm system, they shouldn't hand over too many draft picks this winter.

Laird, 30, is largely a no-hit, good-glove catcher who is eligible for arbitration after making $2.8 million in 2009. He put up a .306 on-base percentage and .320 slugging percentage with the Tigers, who are looking to cut payroll. The Mets and Rangers spoke about Laird last winter, when Laird still was on Texas' roster.

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Earlier this offseason, the Mets inquired about Snyder, 28, who had a .333 on-base percentage and .352 slugging percentage in just 61 games for the Diamondbacks in 2009. Snyder has $4.75 million coming to him in 2010 and $5.75 million in 2011, so the Mets would likely look for some financial relief were they to pursue such a deal.

The Mets have re-signed utility infielder Alex Cora for a one-year, $2-million contract, and The Associated Press reported that Cora has a vesting option for 2011 (for $2 million) if Cora starts 80 games in 2010. The Mets, therefore, are banking on Luis Castillo and Jose Reyes to be healthy so that they won't owe Cora another season.

Veteran catcher Henry Blanco is reportedly close to joining the Mets as a backup, and the Mets are in discussions with former Phillies catcher Chris Coste on a minor-league deal.