Once again, Mets -- not pitchers -- hold all the cards

7:23 AM

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Flash back a month, to when the Mets were negotiating with free-agent closers. By the time the winter meetings opened in Vegas, Omar Minaya knew he'd be getting one of the top guys on the market at a price he liked. He had them ranked (Francisco Rodriguez was the Mets' top choice from the group that also included Brian Fuentes, Kerry Wood and Trevor Hoffman), and he hoped to get his first choice, but he'd surveyed the market and knew he'd get a closer he liked for a deal he liked.

There was nobody else looking to spend big money on a closer. (Witness: two-year deals for Fuentes and Wood, no deal yet for Hoffman, who's talking one- and two-year proposals with the Dodgers and Brewers.) The Mets knew they were in charge of the free-agent closer market, and they let it work for them. Their patience got them the guy they wanted for a three-year deal and even left them in a position to snatch JJ Putz away from the Mariners a day later to set up for him.

OK, so back to the present, where Scott Boras is meeting today with the Mets about Derek Lowe and Oliver Perez. Boras is a tough negotiator, as everyone knows, and he wants more than the three years and $36 million the Mets have so far offered for Lowe. But he's not too likely to find it today at Citi Field.

The Mets made their offer after surveying the market. They don't see another team that's willing to beat their offer for Lowe. The Braves, Phillies, Red Sox and Yankees -- all teams that had Lowe on their November and December radar -- have all moved on to other things. The Mets think their offer is the highest out there and see no reason to raise it. Maybe they talk vesting option, or some perks, or even a fourth year if they can drop the AAV, but the fundamental parameters are unlikely to change much. And if Lowe wants to go somewhere else and try to find more, the Mets have an offer ready for Perez (likely three years and closer to $10 million per year).

And if Boras doesn't like that one -- if he barks about how young Perez still is and how good he is in big games and how he's had success in New York -- and he wants to take Perez out and try to get him more somewhere else, then the Mets will move on to Randy Wolf, who they believe they could probably get for two years. And they'll play on Tim Redding and maybe even Pedro Martinez, with the idea of bringing five or six proven guys to camp to compete with Jon Niese for that last rotation spot.

Talking to Mets people in recent days, they feel really good about where they are. They believe this is the closer market repeating itself. They have Lowe ranked as their top choice, but if he won't come for the deal they want to give him, they're prepared to call his bluff. Go sign with that mystery team, Derek. Go ahead.

This is a buyer's market, folks, and so far the Mets are playing it almost perfectly.

Almost, I said. I still think they should be trying to get Manny Ramirez.

Hey, Boras has him too. You think he'll bring him up today?

1 Response to "Once again, Mets -- not pitchers -- hold all the cards"

Az said :
January 7, 2009 at 11:17 PM
Dan, I'm thrilled I can continue to read what you write. Glad you decided to start this up. Now let's spread the word and get you some pageviews.

FYI: We retired the Pride of the Yankees blog at nj.com -- perhaps temporarily, perhaps not. Otherwise, I'd be linking to you all the time.

(Side note: I'm not sure, but I presume that mysterious David that found his way to this here site is my brother...)

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