NEW YORK -- On the Mets' list of offseason priorities, first base lags well behind second base and the bullpen. General manager Sandy Alderson has indicated in recent weeks the club could wait until January to add a first baseman. He has likewise reaffirmed confidence in Dominic Smith's future at
NEW YORK -- On the Mets' list of offseason priorities, first base lags well behind second base and the bullpen. General manager Sandy Alderson has indicated in recent weeks the club could wait until January to add a first baseman. He has likewise reaffirmed confidence in Dominic Smith's future at the position.
Still, as the first-base market begins to simmer around the Majors, the Mets are not ignoring it. A source confirmed that the team has reached out to the agent for Adrian Gonzalez, whom the Braves released shortly after acquiring him from Dodgers in a salary-shifting deal.
Talks do not currently appear serious between the Mets and Gonzalez, a five-time All-Star who, at age 35, played in just 71 games in 2017 due to injury. But Gonzalez represents a budget option for the Mets, given that they would only be on the hook for $545,000 of the $22.4 million he is owed in the final year of his contract.
The downside is that even if Gonzalez is healthy in 2018, there is doubt as to what he might provide after hitting .242 with a .287 on-base percentage this year for the Dodgers. As a left-handed hitter, Gonzalez could not platoon with Smith, a fellow lefty. He would simply cut into the younger player's at-bats.
One other first-base option went off the board on Wednesday in Matt Adams, a recent non-tender who reportedly agreed to a $4 million deal with the Nationals. Although Adams would have fit more snugly into the Mets' plans given his productive 2017 season, similar options remain on the market in Adam Lind and Logan Morrison.
The Mets' ideal is to acquire a first baseman capable of playing the outfield -- another box that Gonzalez does not check. Lind and -- to a lesser extent -- Morrison do, giving the Mets fallback options if Michael Conforto's recovery from left shoulder surgery stretches into April. And if Jay Bruce's asking price falls from a four-year deal, he remains yet another free-agent possibility for the Mets.
As for Smith, the Mets do not want to block their young first baseman, who hit .198 with nine home runs in 49 games as a rookie. But they do crave a measure of insurance at the position in the event that Smith continues to struggle -- a possibility that Alderson hinted at in questioning the youngster's status last month.
"Dominic is still very much in the mix," Alderson said last week at the Winter Meetings. "I wouldn't expect us to do something that totally eliminates Dominic as a possibility. We're still very high on Dominic, some of my comments earlier in the offseason notwithstanding. So I'd be surprised if we did anything that absolutely precluded him from having an opportunity in Spring Training."
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook.