Patience pays off for GM Sandy Alderson, Mets

Atlanta Braves outfielder Michael Bourn takes a swing

Atlanta Braves outfielder Michael Bourn takes a swing in a game against the Baltimore Orioles. (June 17, 2012) (Credit: AP)

Discipline served the Mets well this offseason.

With a healthy dose of patience, general manager Sandy Alderson squeezed choice prospects from the Blue Jays in the R.A. Dickey trade, shaped the contract extension signed by David Wright and rebuilt a shoddy bullpen on the cheap simply by waiting for prices to fall.

"Sandy and his staff have an idea of what they want," chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon said Monday. "They held out until they got what they wanted and pulled the trigger."

With that in mind, the Mets still are holding out for free-agent outfielder Michael Bourn.

Once righthanded reliever Brandon Lyon rounds out the bullpen by signing his new one-year deal, which is expected to occur in the next few days, Alderson indicated the Mets likely will be finished adding players this offseason.

The exception might be Bourn.

Critical obstacles stand in the way of that signing. First is the money. The two-time All-Star entered the offseason hoping for at least a five-year deal; a source said the Mets aren't likely to go past three. Secondly, it's unclear whether the Mets will be forced to forfeit their 11th overall draft pick as compensation for signing Bourn. The Mets contend their pick should be protected because they originally were slated to choose in the top 10.

The chances of the two sides coming together appear remote. Nevertheless, Alderson refused to dismiss the possibility.

Despite what clearly is a flawed roster, Alderson has insisted throughout the offseason that the Mets might not be far from being competitive and that a few impact moves could hasten the process.

Said Alderson: "We probably wouldn't be talking with them if it didn't have that potential."

During his tenure, the Mets have generally shied away from long-term free-agent deals. But Alderson said "targets of opportunity" sometimes can emerge unexpectedly in the market. The Mets never expected Bourn to be within reach. But he is, and the team has demonstrated a willingness to wait.

Johan eyes WBC

Johan Santana intends to explore pitching for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic in March, a person close to the pitcher confirmed Monday, though his odds of gaining eligibility appear slim.

Because he spent the end of last season injured, Santana's participation in the tournament hinges on whether he can be insured. His contract guarantees him at least $31.5 million from the Mets.

Santana has been working out with the knowledge that he could pitch in the WBC.

No Tejada drama

A year ago, manager Terry Collins was disappointed that shortstop Ruben Tejada neglected to arrive at spring training early. This year, Tejada will arrive in Port St. Lucie on Saturday, exactly a week before position players are required to report.

"Last year is history," said Tejada, who has been in New York since Jan. 24 to train with Jose Reyes.

During the workouts, Tejada said he has emphasized becoming more of a threat to steal bases.

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