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Could Nolan Arenado or Francisco Lindor be coming to Mets?

Mets general manager Sandy Alderson speaks at a

Mets general manager Sandy Alderson speaks at a news conference to re-introduce outfielder Jay Bruce at Citi Field on January 17, 2018. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Without mentioning either player by name — he isn’t allowed to do so, per MLB rules — Mets team president Sandy Alderson this week has not-so-subtly left open the possibility for a blockbuster trade for the likes of Cleveland shortstop Francisco Lindor, Colorado third baseman Nolan Arenado or a similarly talented player.

Alderson reiterated Thursday that the Mets’ focus is on free agency. But he acknowledged that there are "some interesting players" available via trade and said the Mets have to "make sure that we’re actively engaged in both areas."

Asked about the Mets’ third-base depth chart, Alderson said the Mets have options but no firm answers.

"If you’re talking about defensively, our third-base situation is probably a little bit up in the air," Alderson said during a video conference call with reporters, mentioning J.D. Davis and Andres Gimenez. "Is it as glaring a need as like a third or fourth starter? I don’t think so. But look. We’re going to look for targets of opportunity. And if there are ways to make our team better in areas where we’re not the weakest but could use an upgrade, then those are things that [general manager Jared Porter] and the organization will have to consider."

Acquiring Arenado, 29, could plug the Mets’ third-base spot for a long time. The five-time All-Star and eight-time Gold Glover has six years and $199 million left on his contract.

Acquiring Lindor, 27, could make the Mets better for 2021. He is due to be a free agent after next season. If the Mets put him at shortstop, they could use some combination of Jeff McNeil, Gimenez, Davis and Amed Rosario at second and third. Davis was the Mets’ starter at third in 2020.

The Mets, of course, prefer not to trade prospects, having done plenty of that under the previous regime. But Alderson said sometimes it is worth it.

There also is the option of trading from the major-league roster. If the Mets added a big-time shortstop or third baseman, it would mean less playing time for their in-house shortstops (Rosario and Gimenez) and third baseman (Davis).

"We don’t want to give up prospects and we’re going to be very careful about doing that," Alderson said. "There may be something out there that causes us to say, OK, with respect to this particular deal, this makes sense to us and while we don’t want to give up prospects, maybe there’s a way we can do this."

Those comments came a day after Alderson said on WFAN that he expects the Mets to be involved in the trade market — particularly in cases where the prospect cost should be low, such as when a traded-for player is due to receive a lot of money or has one year of team control left. Arenado and Lindor fit those categories, respectively.

"Some situations, it might be better to give up a prospect, take on money, not have a long-term obligation and be able to turn that money around the following year either in an extension or an investment in some other player," Alderson said. "I view that part of the trade market as akin to the free-agent market. It’s more about money than it is about prospects."

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