Signing George Springer would have topped off a terrific offseason for the Mets, because he’s a righthanded-hitting centerfielder, a winning player and a Connecticut native who was said to be interested in returning to the area.
But the Mets didn’t want to pay the 31-year-old centerfielder the $150 million he agreed to take from the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday night. That contract agreement is pending a physical, according to The Associated Press.
The Mets’ best offer, according to MLB.com, was for six years and $120-$125 million.
Owner Steve Cohen confirmed the end of the Mets’ pursuit of Springer on Wednesday afternoon in an answer on Twitter to a Mets fan who ungrammatically tweeted at Cohen: "I would of went to 155 for this guy."
"Too late now," Cohen replied. "You missed it . . . [Springer] went for 150."
Team president Sandy Alderson – who last week said the Mets were "loosely" engaged with Springer -- still has multiple options to consider, if he wishes.
Alderson, who is acting as the de facto general manager after Jared Porter was fired on Tuesday, proved with the Francisco Lindor / Carlos Carrasco trade that he is willing to act boldly, get creative and take on money. Alderson said after that trade the Mets were "closer to [being] one player away" than when he took the team president job in November.
The Mets would like to employ a better defensive centerfielder than Brandon Nimmo, who could switch to left.
Available free agents for centerfield include lefthanded-hitting Jackie Bradley Jr., who won the AL Gold Glove award with Boston in 2018. The market for the 30-year-old Bradley should heat up now that Springer is headed to Toronto and corner outfielder Michael Brantley agreed on Wednesday to a two-year, $32-million deal to remain with Houston.
Brett Gardner is still a free agent. Would Alderson consider the 37-year-old Yankees veteran as a one-year stopgap to platoon with a righthanded-hitting free agent such as Kevin Pillar or Jake Marisnick? It’s not as sexy as signing Springer, but would cost far less than $150 million.
Milwaukee’s Lorenzo Cain could be available in a trade if the Mets are willing to take on the two years and $35 million left on his contract (perhaps offset by the Brewers kicking in money or taking back an onerous Mets contract, such as Jeurys Familia’s one year at $11.6 million). Cain, an NL Gold Glove winner in 2019, opted out of the 2020 season after five games.
The Mets are hopeful the owners and players will agree to allow the National League to continue use the designated hitter next season and beyond. That would allow Pete Alonso and Dom Smith to share first base and DH duties rather than forcing Smith to play leftfield.
The Mets, who are believed to be about $27 million under the $210 million luxury-tax threshold, could leave their starting outfield as is and pivot to two very available star third basemen via trade.
Kris Bryant of the Cubs and Nolan Arenado of the Rockies are both coming off subpar 2020 seasons. Bryant is signed for one year at $19.5 million and then will be a free agent. Arenado has six years and $199 million left on his deal.
Bryant could make more sense. The Cubs are in retool mode and are looking to change the makeup of their team. Acquiring Bryant heading into his free agent walk year could help him return to the form that won him NL Rookie of the Year in 2015 and NL MVP in 2016.
Happ agrees to Twins deal. Former Yankees lefthander J.A. Happ has agreed to a one-year, $8 million contract with the Minnesota Twins, according to multiple reports. Happ, 38, went 2-2 with a 3.47 ERA in nine starts for the Yankees in 2020.
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