PHILADELPHIA — The latest chapter of the crosstown drama between the Mets and the Yankees played out in the tiny manager’s office here Thursday before the Mets hammered the Phillies, 10-0.
That’s when Mets general manager Sandy Alderson challenged the notion that the sides are so averse to doing business with one another that he passed up a potentially better deal with the Yankees for Jay Bruce.
Alderson took the extraordinary step of publicly hinting at a trade between the two clubs that fell apart just minutes before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, which multiple sources later confirmed involved second baseman Neil Walker. Though the sides had agreed to split what was left of Walker’s deal, sources said the Yankees nixed the deal because of concerns about the infielder’s medicals.
Still, Alderson used the near-trade as evidence that the two sides can make a deal, even as sour feelings seemed to linger.
A source said the Yankees maintain their contention that their package was more competitive, and that a comparison of the return from the Indians “was not even close.” The Yankees’ last proposal included two prospects — who have not been revealed — and $1 million in salary relief.
The Mets, a source said, saw the Yankees’ package as a toss-up compared to what the Indians offered. Their return included minor-league reliever Ryder Ryan, 22, and full relief of Bruce’s roughly $4 million in remaining salary.
“My responsibility is to get the best deal possible, and when we look at an opportunity from one club versus an opportunity from another club, it’s not just a function of well ‘gee, two versus one,’ ” Alderson said. “There are other considerations including cost. Taking all that into account, that’s the direction we wanted to go.”
Alderson also disputed the notion that dealing Bruce for Ryan — a hard-throwing but raw former 30th-round pick — was little more than a salary dump. The deal, he indicated, was a baseball decision. “Upside,” he said. “He’s a young guy. He doesn’t have to be put on the roster. He’s got a good arm.”
Alderson stopped short of saying that the Mets treat the Yankees like most other teams. The two sides have not swapped players since 2004. Instead, Alderson likened a deal with the Yankees to one with the Nationals, in which making a trade to a division rival would be a factor in his decision-making process, albeit not a definitive one.
“It would be foolish for me to say it doesn’t matter,” Alderson said. “But at the same time, is it prohibitive? No.”
In this case, the Mets’ motivation was to create another spot for a young player who will help in 2018. Indeed, Alderson announced the promotion of Dominic Smith, the 2013 first-round pick who has long been one of the Mets’ top prospects.
“Our goal was not to save money,” said Alderson, who noted that the Mets took on salary to acquire reliever AJ Ramos from the Marlins, a move geared toward competing in 2018.
Alderson indicated that trading Bruce also was a function of the Mets’ decision that a prospect and salary relief was better compensation than the third-rounder they would receive if Bruce eventually declined a qualifying offer in the offseason. Also, sources said trading Bruce will not impact the Mets’ thinking about potentially re-signing the outfielder, who will be a free agent after the season.
But even as Alderson pondered matters for the future, he couldn’t escape the present.
Jacob deGrom left last night’s game after 6 2⁄3 innings when he was struck on his right triceps by Nick Williams’ 99-mph line drive. He was diagnosed with a contusion — his triceps had a mark left by the baseball’s seams — but X-rays were negative.
“It didn’t feel good when it hit me,” said deGrom, who expects to make his next start. “But it’s all right now.”
Wilmer Flores hit a three-run homer and Walker — who had been minutes from being a Yankee — hit his first homer since coming off the disabled list with a hamstring injury.
Michael Conforto also hit a three-run homer on a day in which Terry Collins said he will be moved from the leadoff spot to the middle of the lineup. The homer was Conforto’s 24th. Curtis Granderson added a two-run shot.