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Mets add righty bat off bench with John Mayberry Jr. signing

The Toronto Blue Jays' John Mayberry Jr. slides

The Toronto Blue Jays' John Mayberry Jr. slides into home during the 10th inning of a game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park in Boston on Friday, Sept. 5, 2014. Photo Credit: AP / Winslow Townson

SAN DIEGO -- The Mets crossed one item off their winter to-do list Thursday, signing outfielder John Mayberry Jr. to a one-year deal worth $1.45 million.

The move won't be official until Mayberry passes a physical Friday, according to a source who confirmed the move. Nevertheless, the Mets accomplished at least one goal before departing the winter meetings.

Plenty of work remains on other fronts. Their search for a shortstop likely will drag into January, they must acquire an experienced lefthander for the bullpen, and they still need to trade a veteran starting pitcher to clear a logjam in the starting rotation.

Despite talks with multiple clubs about a deal for Dillon Gee, the conversations generated little traction and the veteran righthander remains on the roster. He is one of many options in a crowded market for pitching.

In Mayberry, the Mets secured a righthanded hitter off the bench with a long track record of punishing lefthanded pitchers, a major weakness for an offense that languished in the middle of the pack in the National League.

General manager Sandy Alderson declined to comment on Mayberry, though he reiterated the Mets' motivation for seeking a player with a strong track record against lefties.

"The reason we've been looking for a righthanded bat is to be more effective against lefthanded pitching," Alderson said. "It would give us another option if we had another solid righthanded bat and another guy to come off the bench."

Mayberry, who turns 31 next month, is a career .241/.305/.429 hitter during a six-year career spent with the Phillies until his trade last season to the Blue Jays.

Mayberry boasts a .269/.324/.533 line against lefties compared to .224/.293/.365 against righties. The Mets expressed interest last week when he was non-tendered by the Blue Jays.

With Mayberry in the fold to face lefties, the Mets have the flexibility to play him in rightfield, where he covers more ground than Michael Cuddyer. In that scenario, Cuddyer could be shifted to first base to shield Lucas Duda against tough lefties.

Of course, the Mets could use one more tough lefty of their own for the bullpen, a process that Alderson said could last until January.

The Mets came away from the meetings with only lukewarm interest in the free-agent market for lefties. Seemingly in response, they made at least one move Thursday to secure one more fallback option.

In the Rule 5 draft, the Mets selected lefthander Sean Gilmartin from the Twins. Along with Scott Rice, who agreed to a minor-league deal with the Mets on Wednesday, Gilmartin will be expected to compete for a roster spot in spring training.

"We like his athleticism and we like his makeup," Alderson said. "He's got a chance to pitch against righties and lefties."

Gilmartin, 24, once was a highly regarded prospect. The Braves selected him 28th overall in the 2011 draft before trading him to the Twins last December. At Double-A and Triple-A, Gilmartin posted a 3.71 ERA in 145 2/3 innings as a starter. He held lefties to a .201 average.

While the Mets filled a bench need and added options for the bullpen, they departed the meetings without a resolution at shortstop. Wilmer Flores remains the most likely starter because of a shortstop market that the Mets consider limited.

"We have to be realistic," Alderson said. "There just aren't a lot of options, or attractive options."

Notes & quotes: The Mets lost pitcher Logan Verrett to the Orioles, who selected the righthander in the Rule 5 draft. Verrett, a third-round pick in the 2011 draft, had a 4.33 ERA in 162 innings for Triple-A Las Vegas . . . In the Triple-A phase of the draft, the Mets lost righthanders Greg Peavey (Twins) and Randy Fontanez (Dodgers), shortstop Juan Gamboa (Padres) and catcher Cam Maron (Reds), a product of Hicksville High School . . . The selection of Gilmartin brought the Mets' 40-man roster to capacity. They will be forced to clear a spot when Mayberry completes his physical.


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