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Mets in touch with free agent at GM Meetings

Reports link Peralta to club; Alderson hopes to strike early on open market

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The Mets reported to the General Managers Meetings expecting to meet with agents and chat with other clubs, setting the groundwork for future moves. It's a bonus that they were able to schedule face-to-face time with a free agent.

General manager Sandy Alderson confirmed Wednesday that the club unexpectedly met with a player during their stay at the JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes. That player was shortstop Jhonny Peralta, according to multiple reports.

"It just happened," said Alderson, who did not identify Peralta by name. "He was here with his agent, but anytime you get to meet directly with players, it's a positive thing."

The Mets have been looking for an upgrade over Ruben Tejada at shortstop, so Peralta's visit to the GM Meetings may have been fortunately timed.

The 31-year-old batted .303 with 11 home runs and 55 RBIs in 107 games for the Tigers last season, serving a 50-game performance-enhancing drug suspension for his connection to the Biogenesis clinic.

The meeting with Peralta was likely one of the "four or five balls in the air" that Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon mentioned to reporters Wednesday morning. Wilpon also said the Mets might have "something cooking later," sparking speculation that a deal could be imminent.

Wilpon later amended his statement, backing off the immediacy of a deal. Alderson said the Mets have sensed a certain amount of hesitation on the parts of agents and clubs at this early point of the offseason, but there are promising indications that player movement could take place before the Winter Meetings in mid-December.

"There are some agents and players, I think, who are interested in getting something done sooner rather than later," Alderson said. "We just have to see how things develop."

Also on Wednesday, the Mets responded to pointed comments from agent Scott Boras, who held court with reporters for more than a half-hour in the hotel lobby. Boras has attempted to use the impromptu news conferences as a platform to nudge clubs into spending, particularly those residing in large markets.

"The Mets are like NASA," Boras quipped. "They have big rockets, a lot of platforms and very few astronauts.

"Astronauts are hard to find. They've got one guy with the 'Wright' stuff, that's for sure. And they've got a lot of Arm-strongs, too. But they're certainly a club that, I'm sure, that's in pursuit of a higher level of talent."

Informed of Boras' statement, Alderson replied: "I don't think his intergalactic metaphor is exactly right."

On a more serious note, Wilpon noted that the asking prices early in the free-agent market are "definitely a little scary," but Alderson said the Mets may not need to overpay players to lure them to Citi Field.

"There are a lot of players who want to play there; a lot of players who love their experience in New York," Alderson said.

Though the Mets are ready to spend more than in the past few seasons, that doesn't necessarily mean they must drain that budget in the wintertime. Wilpon said the club's philosophy is to keep some cash in its back pocket for moves near the July 31 Trade Deadline, but obviously this would be a good time to start.

"I think all things being equal in our situation, we'd like to do something early," Alderson said. "It'd be great, if it's the right move, and if that kind of thing is possible. It may be, it may not be. We're working at it."

Alderson said the fact that the Mets are actively engaged with agents at the GM Meetings presents a different situation from recent years, giving them "more credibility in the free-agent market."

"Certainly, we're in a different position this season than we have been the last two or three," Alderson said. "Are we in a better position to be competitive this year than we have been the last couple of years? Potentially, I think the answer is clearly yes. Hopefully we will be."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat.
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