INDIAN WELLS, Calif. -- The Mets still remain confident David Wright will finish his career in Flushing, and to that end, Sandy Alderson cautioned Thursday not to make any comparisons between the freeze-out of Jose Reyes a year ago and the slowly progressing negotiations with Wright.
"Much more engagement," he said. "Let's put it that way."
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The market floor for Wright was set in spring training when the Nationals signed Ryan Zimmerman to a six-year extension worth $100 million. On top of his expiring contract, that brings his total value to $116 million through 2019.
Wright is sure to eclipse that deal, with a package more in the $125-million range, but it's now taken longer than first anticipated. Alderson said he visited with Wright last month at his home in Virginia, but otherwise refused to disclose much about the talks, other than to say "conversations are ongoing."
The GM didn't answer a direct question about there being a firm offer on the table to the franchise third baseman -- citing the request from both sides to keep the discussions private. But he made a special point to say these talks are far different from what went on with Reyes, who never received an offer from the Mets and ultimately signed a six-year, $106-million contract with the Marlins.
"Perhaps it was a little unrealistic on my part that we got something done [earlier]," Alderson said. "But I think it was important for me to emphasize that we were going to get going early in order to avoid any speculation about a Jose Reyes-type approach to this. In that sense, it was probably a good idea to emphasize speed, but unrealistic to expect this was all going to be concluded quickly."
The Mets initially believed they would finish up with Wright by the World Series, but Alderson didn't sound deterred by the stalled pace, which he described as "inevitable" based on the outside influences after the season ends.
"Interestingly, we talk about trade options in the context of what the club is doing, and to some extent, the trade options come into the players' thinking as well," he said. " So I think there's almost an inevitability that things slow down as there's public commentary and there's a variety of other things written."
Wrapping up things with Wright would help the Mets turn their full attention to other pressing matters, like figuring out what to do with R.A. Dickey and patch a number of holes. The GM always has eyed 2014 as the Mets' first legitimate shot at contention, and looking at the current roster -- even in November -- suggests a bleak outlook for 2013.
When asked if the disarray in the Mets' outfield seemed daunting to him, a grinning Alderson replied, "What outfield?" then added for comedic effect, "We're going to bring those fences in another 150 feet."
The only outfielder Alderson even mentioned by name was Lucas Duda, who had surgery this week to repair a fractured wrist -- the result of a furniture moving mishap. The GM used that to poke some fun as well. "He does come with a lot of furniture, though -- I mean baggage," he said. "I think he's very definitely in the mix. We're counting on him at this point."
As for where he might get more outfield help, Alderson paused for a moment before adding, "A cardboard box?"
Even Scott Boras took a few shots. A year ago, he mentioned the cash-strapped Mets and Dodgers as shopping in the "fruits and nuts section" of free agency. Now, he said the Dodgers have "bought the store." And the Mets? "I think maybe the best thing you can say is they might be in the freezer section."