The Yankees are in the market for a first baseman, and while A's All-Star Yonder Alonso remains on their radar, the answer to their problems might be just a few miles away.
According to a source, the Yankees have reached out to the Mets to discuss Lucas Duda, who is headed for free agency after the season. The Yanks are also interested in reliever Addison Reed, another impending free agent.
The Mets have received "lots of interest" in Reed, though no deal appeared to be close -- "Nothing's hot," the source said -- as of Tuesday afternoon.
Unless the Mets get an offer they can't refuse, they'll likely wait until the final day or two before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline to move the reliever.
As for Duda, the Yankees are the lone buyer that has a clear-cut hole at first base, so they can afford to take their time and not be bullied into a deal with either the Mets or the A's.
"He is a good fit for them," the source said of Duda. "He would cost less and has a better track record."
The Mets and Yankees have not made a trade of note since they swapped left-handed relievers Mike Stanton (Mets to Yankees) and Felix Heredia (Yankees to Mets) on Dec. 3, 2004, and they have been trading partners a total of 14 times in the Mets' 55 years of existence.
Alonso is having a breakout season at age 30, hitting 21 home runs with a .921 OPS through 83 games, and MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi reported earlier Tuesday that the Yankees have interest in the left-handed slugger.
Duda, 31, has 16 homers and a .905 OPS in 66 games this year. Alonso is the superior defender, but while Oakland might try to sign its first baseman to an extension to keep him in the Bay Area, the Mets are unlikely to bring Duda back, turning first base over to Dominic Smith, their No. 2 prospect.
It's also worth noting that changes in the Collective Bargaining Agreement could encourage teams to sell at the Deadline. Under the previous CBA, if a team gave a qualifying offer to a player and he signed elsewhere, it would get a supplemental first-round pick (right after the end of the first round). That is no longer the case.
Under the new rules, the only way to get supplemental pick after the first round is if three conditions are met: 1. You extend a qualifying offer and the player signs elsewhere; 2. You receive revenue sharing; 3. The player signs a deal with another team that is worth more than $50 million in total. It's possible Alonso and the A's could meet all three conditions, but the $50 million deal is no guarantee. On the flip side, the Mets don't receive revenue sharing, and therefore the best they can do is a supplemental pick after Competitive Balance Round B, and that only happens if they extend a qualifying offer and Duda (or Reed or Jay Bruce for that matter) signs with another team. So if they want to clear first base for Smith and receive something for Duda, they have incentive to trade him now.
• CBA compensation FAQ: Deadline edition
As a result of all this, the Yankees are unlikely to pay a huge price for either first baseman, as the sellers don't have a wide range of buyers to choose from.
"The Yankees need a first baseman; who else does?" an American League executive said. "It's hard to believe they'll give up anything major for any of these guys."
Three weeks ago, Twins general manager Thad Levine told MLB.com that while Minnesota probably wouldn't spend big on rental players, the club would be "very open" to spending aggressively on controllable assets.
Now, with the Twins entering Tuesday only 1 1/2 games behind the Indians in the AL Central and a half-game behind the Yankees for the second AL Wild Card spot, it appears that philosophy hasn't changed.
A source said the Twins are scouring the market for controllable players, staying away from any impeding free agents who are available. Minnesota doesn't appear to be close to making any deals, but the club remains engaged with several teams about potential trades.
• The package the Cubs sent to the White Sox for Jose Quintana has essentially set the market for pitchers such as Sonny Gray and Gerrit Cole. The fact that several teams in search of starting pitching have deep farm systems should put potential sellers in great position to bring in a huge haul of prospects.