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Mets claim they had legitimate interest in Michael Bourn, Justin Upton
As @KFCBarstool pointed out on Twitter earlier this month, barring further moves from general manager Sandy Alderson, the Mets will enter the 2013 season with a Mariner and a retired 50-year-old as their highest-paid outfielders. Left fielder Lucas Duda, center fielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis, right fielder Mike Baxter, and the projected reserves, Collin Cowgill and Jordany Valdespin, are all set to earn the league minimum. And while the group has some talent, whether any member of the crew will provide much in the way of surplus value remains an open question.

John Harper, a columnist for the New York Daily News, spoke with multiple team and rival sources over the weekend, and discovered that Alderson and company once had much higher hopes for their now-bleak outfield picture. Myriad rumors connected the Mets to Bourn, and many believed—in advance of the former Brave’s four-year, $48 million deal with the Indians—that Major League Baseball would eventually agree to protect the 11th overall draft pick that stood between him and a ticket to Queens. Meanwhile, although the Braves were generally considered a likelier destination for Upton, Harper’s sources added that the Mets had a more realistic chance of landing him than the volume (or lack thereof) of buzz might have suggested.

Mets insiders told Harper that the culprit that saddled manager Terry Collins with his current mess was timing. ESPN’s Adam Rubin reported in the wake of Bourn’s signing with the Indians that the Mets had a similar offer on the table but were unwilling to cross the T’s without knowing the fate of their first-round selection, and an impatient Scott Boras pushed Bourn to head to Cleveland. On the Upton front, the Diamondbacks overcame a failed trade with the Mariners by securing a Martin Prado-based package from the Braves, leaving the Mets—who had considered parting with Daniel Murphy or Ruben Tejada during the lull between those deals—in the dust.

Your opinion of the Mets’ outfield outcome depends largely on whether you believe that Alderson’s interest in Bourn and Upton was genuine (as the team claims), or if you think the third-year general manager was merely trying to spice up a drawn-out rebuilding period. Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler will soon fortify New York’s rotation, but based on the prospect list from Jason Parks and our minor-league staff, there is little high-upside outfield talent on the immediate horizon. And that’s why, as Harper noted, plugging those three holes could be Alderson’s most formidable challenge when ownership places him “under the gun” in 2014-2015.

Giancarlo Stanton extension on the backburner for Marlins
Meanwhile, down in Florida, Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria fielded questions from reporters on Sunday night in an effort to calm tensions between the organization and its enraged fan base. With ticket sales predictably foundering, both in terms of season tickets and single-game demand, Loria and president David Samson seem hopeful that a bit more transparency could help persuade fans to turn out, even in the wake of the latest fire sale.

Palm Beach Post beat writer Joe Capozzi relayed Loria’s comments in a blog post, and the most salient remarks concerned Stanton, who publicly expressed dismay when news of the blockbuster trade with the Blue Jays broke over Twitter in November. The 23-year-old Stanton has logged two years and 118 days of major-league service time to date, which means that at this time next winter, his representatives at Wasserman Media Group could seek a hefty sum in arbitration. Unless the sides get to work on a long-term pact, that may be the likeliest path, assuming that Stanton does not join the export list.

Loria told reporters that he holds no “negative feelings” toward Stanton stemming from the aforementioned tweet, though it is unclear if Stanton’s distaste for the man upstairs has similarly dissipated. When asked about the situation by Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports, Stanton replied with two rhetorical questions: “What are you gonna do? Honestly, what?” That does not sound like a player eager to negotiate an extension, and Larry Beinfest and Loria may have decided to table talks with the hope that time will heal the past offseason’s wounds.

Stanton is under the Marlins’ control through the 2016 season, so there is no immediate rush to lock him up beyond that point. On the other hand, lingering tensions with management could pave the way for an ugly arbitration battle, one that would stand in stark contrast to this year’s hearing-less February, detailed yesterday by our own Maury Brown.

Loria said on Sunday, referring to the idea of extension discussions with Stanton, that the organization “will cross that bridge at the appropriate moment.” We should have a better idea next winter of whether Stanton—who possesses a rare power profile and could hit the market ahead of his age-27 campaign—will even consider letting his current boss pay the toll.

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NJTomatoes
2/26
sorry to be ignorant, but who's the retired 50-year old OF pulling down the bucks? anyone?
teddysalad
2/26
Bobby Bonilla gets 1.2 mill a year until 2035. If he's in shape they should make him come back. He could improve this bunch ;)
Robotey
2/26
Does anyone think the Braves would have dealt Upton for a package built around Tejada or Murphy? I thought every team talking to the Mets wanted Wheeler.
statsrath
2/26
Harper does say in his article that the Diamondbacks were holding out for Wheeler, but it's possible that they would have settled for a Murphy- and/or Tejada-led package if Alderson had offered to include a lower-level pitching prospect (such as Noah Syndergaard, who came over from the Blue Jays, or Rafael Montero).
DavidHNix
2/26
After the past season and winter, why in the world would ANYONE sign a long term deal with the Marlins? All it means is that you lose the opportunity to decide where you will be working after they dump your coontract.
statsrath
2/26
The Marlins certainly will need to contend with their reputation in any extension talks or free-agent negotiations, but if they are the high bidder, some players may overlook the drawbacks that come with signing there. That said, if you couple that with Loria's comments about the payroll staying well below $100 million for the foreseeable future, big-ticket additions seem doubtful.
wollkind
2/26
Is anything less meaningful or more pathetic than teams talking big about the players they tried hard and failed to get in an off season. It's the team you put on the field, not the one you fantasized about, that you're going to be judged on, Mr. Alderson.
mhmosher
2/26
Not sure what the big deal is. They admitted they looked into Upton. At the price of Wheeler or Syndergaard and Montero, I wouldn't have done it either. Upton is too much of an enigma. As far as Bourn, for the Mets and their present situation, he wasn't worth four years. A 30HR hitting outfielder might be, not Michael Bourn.
BarryR
2/26
I totally disagree. This team has no CF and no leadoff hitter, with neither on the horizon. We will be fielding an OF likely to start zero major league caliber players. They are neither adequate offensively or defensively. I have been a Met fan for over 50 years. I am used to periods of ineptitude. I am used to rooting for the Mess (as you put it) or the Mutts, or whatever other clever play on their name someone wishes to coin. But in an era when 1/3 of the teams make the playoffs, for a team in NY to not compete for years at a team because the owners have no business owning a team, is a disgrace. Met fans should be organizing a boycott, in order to force the Wilpon scum out. But no, they whine, they complain, and they accept a franchise clearly not dedicated to competing. We will be trotting young and promising pitchers out there the next couple of years; pitchers who will get little run support and less defensive support from their OF. Michael Bourn would have solved multiple problems for this team - filling the leadoff role, giving us speed, and giving us quality defense in CF. Losing him to the Cleveland Friggin' Indians is an embarrassment and a slap in the face to Mets fans.
mhmosher
2/27
I look at it like lets wait for a better option rather than giving Bourn that kind of money. Bourn is much better than what we have but 2013 isn't their year anyway. The thought of paying a speed-only guy into his mid-30s makes me nauseous.
BarryR
2/27
Do you have any evidence that speed players age worse than power hitters through their early 30s? Because I believe that is not true - in fact, I think it is the opposite of true. And you don't have to go far for examples, as the two highest-paid outfielders on our payroll, Jason Bay (off the cliff at 31) and Bobby Bonilla (35), will do just fine.
mhmosher
2/27
Just not a fan of a team that is rebuilding giving 4-years and an option to a guy that is 30 and not a run-producer. The Mets need run producers, not Michael Bourns. I just don't see what we missed out on. We dodged a bullet.
mhmosher
2/27
My point is more that Michael Bourn brings little to the table other than good defense and speed. He has no power whatsoever. He's a singles hitter. Instead of "speed-only" player I should have said "two-dimensional" player.
BarryR
2/27
amazin - players who get on base and score are also run producers - remember that Reyes guy?
davescottofakron
2/26
I've heard Boras called many things, but this is the first time I've read "Impatient."
BarryR
2/26
I think the Kyle Lohse thing has him very nervous.
statsrath
2/26
Heh — Boras was willing to wait until early February with Bourn, but what I meant is that the draft-pick saga might have carried over until close to Opening Day. It's possible that Bourn indicated a preference, above all, to be in camp with his new teammates ASAP, which in turn would have put the pressure on Boras to nail things down. Advantage Indians, even if Bourn, ceteris paribus, preferred the Mets.