In the last few days, I have talked with a collection of people close to the Mets, Mariners and MLB, and it sounds to me like Omar Minaya and the Mets are in a tough spot.
From what I can gather…
- The Mets feel like they need a starting pitcher right now.
- Minaya really, really, really does not want to give up his best prospects, such as Jon Niese, Ike Davis, Jenrry Mejia or Fernando Martinez, though there are several players in the mid–to-lower levels he is equally excited about.
- The Mets will consider trading Wilmer Flores, knowing it will be at least five years before he’s a regular, proven, every day major leaguer… though they’d prefer to keep him, obviously.
- The Mariners would prefer to wait until after the All-Star break to make any deal, with any team, for Cliff Lee, who the Mets are very interested in acquiring.
- The Mets value Lee as a rental player – yes, they’d like to resign him, but they’re looking at him like any other free agent, knowing he’s going to test the open market and seek at least a five-year deal.
- The Mets – like most teams - do not like to commit more than three years for a starting pitcher who will turn 35 years old while under contract, like Lee… note, Johan Santana turns 34 in the final year of his deal.
I have heard from people in baseball who think Minaya must be pressuring Jack Zduriencik, essentially making the following pitch: ‘Here’s what I’m offering today, no other team will be as eager as we are, take what I have or lose us in the bidding, it’s up to you,’ because the Mets might be just as likely to trade for a pitcher tomorrow, from another team, then wait four weeks to get Lee.
The Twins are interested, but do not want to trade Wilmer Ramos; the Yankees are ‘keeping tabs on Lee,’ but are not yet ready to make a move; the Dodgers and Rangers are a financial mess; and other teams are just interested in acquiring offense as they are in pitching, like the Padres.
And so, I have talked to some people in baseball who feel the market will build for Lee, and the Mets will never have a chance to get him, and there are other people who believe the Mets, right now, might end up being Seattle’s best option, assuming Minaya will part with Mejia and Wilmer Flores.