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Sizing up candidates to bolster Mets' infield

Club would prefer to improve via free agency, not trade market
MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

NEW YORK -- While the Mets continue pondering the acquisition of another starting pitcher or even, potentially, a reliever, their main focus remains in the infield. Between now and the start of Spring Training, they are likely to acquire one more bat to round out their lineup.

Four primary candidates remain, according to people with knowledge of the situation, each candidate replete with pros and cons. Here is a look at whom the Mets might acquire:

NEW YORK -- While the Mets continue pondering the acquisition of another starting pitcher or even, potentially, a reliever, their main focus remains in the infield. Between now and the start of Spring Training, they are likely to acquire one more bat to round out their lineup.

Four primary candidates remain, according to people with knowledge of the situation, each candidate replete with pros and cons. Here is a look at whom the Mets might acquire:

Neil Walker: The most familiar candidate to the Mets is Walker, who slashed a productive .275/.344/.462 over parts of the last two seasons with the Mets. Walker struggled with health issues -- most notably back trouble that forced him to undergo surgery in 2016.

• Hot Stove Tracker

Industry sources noted earlier this offseason that there could be some friction between the Mets and Walker; the parties were unable to work out a contract extension last spring, then butted heads when rumors surfaced that the Yankees scuttled a trade for Walker due to concerns about his health. (The Mets later dealt him to Milwaukee, where he thrived down the stretch.) But as Walker enters February without a job, it's possible he'll put any grievances aside for another crack in New York. When healthy, the Mets know, Walker profiles as a clubhouse leader who is also productive on the field.

Video: Ken Rosenthal on Mets' infield possibilities

Eduardo Nunez: Even on the relative scale of this year's quiet Hot Stove, Nunez has garnered little attention. One of the Majors' most productive second basemen last season, Nunez batted .313 with 12 home runs, 24 steals and an .801 OPS for the Giants and Red Sox. But he is a below-average defender and owns a .320 career on-base percentage.

If the Mets believe Nunez's uptick in that department in 2017, his age-30 season, was sustainable, they could take a chance. Otherwise, they'll focus on one of their other options.

Video: ATL@SF: Nunez shows versatility with homer, nice dive

Todd Frazier: The only third baseman on this list, Frazier would force Asdrubal Cabrera to move to second -- a swap the Mets want to avoid, even though Cabrera told the New York Post this week that he actually prefers that position. Those details aside, the 40 home runs Frazier hit for the White Sox in 2016 make him perhaps the most intriguing name on this list. But Frazier, a strong defender, has hit just .220 over the past two seasons, and the Mets already employ several low-average, high-power players like him.

Josh Harrison: Defensively, acquiring Harrison would be a coup for the Mets, who could use him at second base, third base and the outfield. But Harrison profiles as merely an average offensive player, despite his career year in 2017. And as the only potential acquisition who is not a free agent, he would come at greater cost -- the Pirates' asking price is reportedly Brandon Nimmo, a former first-round Draft pick with five more years of team control.

Video: Must C Classic: Harrison ends no-no with walk-off HR

The Mets have maintained for weeks that their preference is to acquire a free agent, parting with money instead of talent. While they still have interest in Harrison, he is perhaps the most unlikely on this list to be a future Met.

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook.

New York Mets