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Mets eye veteran starting pitcher, most likely to a one-year deal

Johan Santana looks on from the dugout against

Johan Santana looks on from the dugout against the Colorado Rockies at Citi Field. Credit: Jim McIsaac, 2012

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- If the plan unfolds as envisioned, the Mets' next wave of talented pitching prospects will arrive sometime next season, completing a dynamic starting rotation that has been at the center of the team's designs for sustainable success.

Part of that process involves adding a veteran arm to begin the season in the rotation, thus easing any pressure on the Mets to prematurely promote the likes of Rafael Montero or prized prospect Noah Syndergaard. But general manager Sandy Alderson said Monday that the Mets would be "hesitant" to award a multiyear contract, preferring instead to seek out candidates willing to take one-year deals.

That desire likely will steer the Mets away from the upper-tier arms on the market, including Ervin Santana, Matt Garza, Bronson Arroyo and 40-year-old Bartolo Colon, whose representatives met with team officials Monday, though a source said he likely will be out of the Mets' price range.

The Mets' rotation features Jon Niese, Zack Wheeler and Dillon Gee, with two spots up for grabs. The addition of an affordable veteran would leave the fifth spot open for a competition that likely will feature a group including righthander Jenrry Mejia.

As for potential fits, Alderson said Daisuke Matsuzaka, 33, is among those on the Mets' list, though the club has had no significant dialogue with his agents. He went 3-3 with a 4.42 ERA last year. He pitched well down the stretch after signing with the Mets in August.

A reunion with Johan Santana remains "a possibility," Alderson said, though the lefthander still is rehabbing from shoulder surgery. Regardless of specific targets, the Mets still appear more likely to wait out the pitching market with the expectation that viable options will remain later in the winter.

Meanwhile, the Mets devoted much of the day sorting through potential trades.

"They're open for business," said a rival executive, who characterized the Mets as being far more active this winter than in recent years.

First baseman Ike Davis appears to be the focal point. According to a source, Brewers officials visited with their Mets counterparts Monday regarding the first baseman, who is coming off a down season after hitting 32 homers in 2012. The Brewers are one of four or five teams to remain engaged in talks, the source said.

The Mets also remain open to trading second baseman Daniel Murphy, though a source said he hasn't been aggressively shopped.

If Murphy is traded, Wilmer Flores and Eric Young Jr. will be considered at second base. Shortstop Ruben Tejada also might be an option to move to second base, Alderson said.

Speaking generally, Alderson acknowledged "preliminary meetings" with clubs regarding deals.

"Could we do something?" he said. "Yeah, I think we have that ability. Whether we do it or not is a function of what we can get, what the other options may be for us now and later."

Notes & quotes: Curtis Granderson completed his physical, making his deal official. He is expected to be introduced at a news conference today at the winter meetings . . . Cesar Izturis has been discussed as a potential backup infielder, according to a source . . . Former Indians reliever Chris Perez is a bullpen option, according to a source.


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