PHOENIX - After making an early splash with the signing of outfielder Michael Cuddyer, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said his next goal is to explore an upgrade at shortstop.
But he could have his hands full, with the Mets facing a problematic free-agent class and a trade market that may force them to part with a young arm.
Free agent Hanley Ramirez appears to be out of the Mets' price range, and a source said the team has little appetite to extend multiyear deals required to lure options such as Asdrubal Cabrera and Jed Lowrie.
The trade market will likely be the Mets' focus and they've started exploring leads, though few appear promising for now.
The Mets have dabbled with trading for the Rockies' Troy Tulowitzki, but a source said a deal remains an extreme long shot. The Mets also briefly flirted with the idea of trading for the Phillies' Jimmy Rollins, a source confirmed, though it proved to be a dead end because the veteran would have blocked a move.
White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez is on the Mets' radar. But a source said concerns about his cost and declining defense make him a low priority.
Meanwhile, the Cubs have yet to give any indication that they'd part with Starlin Castro or any of their glut of shortstops.
The Diamondbacks also have shortstops to offer and have received calls on Didi Gregorius. But to consider moving a shortstop, GM Dave Stewart said he'd need an offer that he considers "earth shattering."