Teams showing interest in Niese

Jonathon Niese #49 of the New York Mets

Jonathon Niese #49 of the New York Mets reacts after giving up a solo home run against Michael Young #10 of the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. (June 25, 2011) Photo Credit: Getty Images

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DALLAS -- After letting Jose Reyes walk and trading Angel Pagan, the Mets seemed prepared to further reshape the roster Wednesday as they spoke with teams about potential deals for Jonathon Niese. The talks were described as mostly exploratory by one team official, who added that he would be "surprised" if the lefthander were traded.

The Red Sox may have shown the most interest, according to a person familiar with the situation, with the Rockies, Padres and Yankees also reportedly getting involved.

Say this much for Sandy Alderson's front office: After humbly bowing out of the Reyes negotiations on Sunday, the general manager has stayed active through the winter meetings, and that won't stop once the Mets' contingent leaves Dallas.

Wednesday, Alderson officially announced the trade of Pagan to the Giants for Andres Torres and Ramon Ramirez. The Mets also will send cash or a player to be named to complete that deal. But with physicals pending, the signings of Jon Rauch and Frank Francisco remained under wraps.

As for dumping Pagan, who was a disappointment last season, Alderson said he needed a centerfielder in return because his top prospect at the position, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, is at least a half-season away from getting to the majors.

"I think there was fair interest in Angel beyond the Giants," Alderson said. "To their credit, they wanted to move and do something quickly and they were able to do that."

The Mets envision Torres taking over the leadoff spot, despite his career .318 on-base percentage, with Terry Collins saying that Daniel Murphy -- the current choice for second base -- likely is penciled in for the No. 2 slot. After losing Reyes and Pagan, the Mets are going to need some offense from second base, which is what Murphy is expected to deliver.

Collins said he recently spoke with Murphy, who asked him where he would be playing in 2012. At that point, the manager said it was up in the air, with leftfield even a possibility.

Obviously Murphy needs to improve his second-base play, if only to survive an entire year at the position. His last two were cut short by season-ending knee injuries, both from runners sliding into him. Now that the Mets have added a closer, and anticipate using Murphy at second, Alderson still has some holes to fill, and probably less than $10 million remaining in his budget.

"We have to make some decisions about an additional infielder and maybe even our backup catching situation," Alderson said. "So I think our offensive picture could change a little bit between now and the time we pull out the projected 25-man roster. If we get the power back, we have a chance to be as good offensively as we were this year."

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