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Cards' pursuit of Holliday could affect Mets-Bay

Matt Holliday is open to playing in any

Matt Holliday is open to playing in any part of the country next season. Credit: David Pokress

The Mets intend to wait on Jason Bay and not deliver any competing offers to either Matt Holliday or John Lackey in the meantime, a person familiar with the situation said Friday.

But with Bay mulling over the four years and roughly $65 million from the Mets, it was revealed that the Cardinals also made an initial offer to Holliday - along with a Sunday deadline to respond.

St. Louis clearly wants to re-sign Holliday, who has added value to a team trying to protect three-time MVP Albert Pujols in the middle of the lineup. But the odds of the Scott Boras client taking the first offer are practically zero. Should Holliday walk, the Cardinals could turn their focus to Bay, who anticipates offers from the Red Sox and Mariners.

Just because Omar Minaya targeted Bay and catcher Bengie Molina for the club's opening bids does not mean that's the only path he can take this offseason. Despite the Mets' preference for Bay and their reluctance to get involved in drawn-out negotiations with Boras, they could be forced to pursue Holliday if Bay signs elsewhere.

Bay turned down a four-year, $60-million offer from the Red Sox before unrestricted free agency began in November, a pretty good indication the Mets probably will need to add a fifth year. Boras has suggested that he wants an eight-year deal in the $180-million range for Holliday, but if teams balk at his number, the gap between him and Bay could tighten - and affect the Mets' thinking.

"We have a pretty good idea of what we want to do," Minaya said Thursday at the conclusion of the winter meetings in Indianapolis. "We hope to get our Plan A done. But you have to be ready for a Plan B and you have to be ready for a Plan C."

Even with a two-year offer to Molina believed to be in the range of $10 million to $12 million, the Mets have a fallback available in Yorvit Torrealba, whose talks with the Rockies have stalled. Even with Torrealba as leverage - he's indicated he'd take a one-year deal to come to New York - the Mets would be hard-pressed to get Molina to take less than two years, even with a vesting option. Jason Kendall became the latest catcher to accept a two-year contract when he agreed to join the Royals Friday, following Ivan Rodriguez (Nationals) and Brian Schneider (Phillies).Notes & quotes: The Mets re-signed Elmer Dessens to a minor-league contract . . . J.J. Putz, who pitched in only 29 games for the Mets last season because of elbow surgery, signed a one-year, $3-million contract with the White Sox.

Saturday at midnight is the deadline for teams to tender contracts. Tim Redding and Jeremy Reed are the most obvious candidates to be cut loose by the Mets.

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