LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- A sluggish few weeks of free-agent signings received a jolt Sunday, when those filing into the lobby of the Dolphin Hotel for the start of the Winter Meetings learned that relievers Brandon Morrow and Luke Gregerson had reportedly agreed to deals with the Cubs and
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- A sluggish few weeks of free-agent signings received a jolt Sunday, when those filing into the lobby of the Dolphin Hotel for the start of the Winter Meetings learned that relievers Brandon Morrow and Luke Gregerson had reportedly agreed to deals with the Cubs and the Cardinals, respectively.
The Mets, who for weeks have trumpeted relief pitching as their most significant need, did not follow suit with a move of their own. Instead, general manager Sandy Alderson tempered expectations that his team will make a significant bullpen splash.
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"We think there are some values out there," Alderson said. "And to the extent that the market gets overheated, I don't think that we'll jump into the inferno."
Alderson did not specify what constitutes an "inferno," only that there is a "cut line" for reliever contracts that he will not pass. Morrow, one of the top setup men available on the market, and Gregerson both reportedly received two-year deals. The Mets, under Alderson, have typically hesitated to give multiyear deals to relievers. (Exceptions such as D.J. Carrasco and Frank Francisco have tended to vindicate that philosophy with their struggles.)
"You have to recognize that bullpens are a more critical part of the overall success of teams than they were 10 or 15 years ago," Alderson said. "On the other hand, that doesn't mean you have to chase relief pitchers, and overpay or overcommit."
Overpaying and overcommitting are not things the Mets plan to do much of this offseason. To that end, Alderson explained Sunday why the Mets never pursued reigning National League MVP Award winner Giancarlo Stanton, whom the Marlins recently traded to the Yankees, saying, "With Brandon Nimmo in right field, we just felt like we didn't have a need there."
The implication was clear: The Mets, who only have about $30 million to spend this offseason, could ill afford to dump all of it on an outfielder, with more pressing needs at second base and in the bullpen.
In relaying his thinking, Alderson noted that the Mets feature a sturdy back half of their bullpen already, with Jeurys Familia, AJ Ramos and Jerry Blevins penciled in as the core. A year ago at this time, they felt confident in just Addison Reed and Familia, who was facing a likely suspension.
Despite Sunday's signings, plenty of relievers still remain on the open market, including Wade Davis, Greg Holland, Reed and Bryan Shaw. But the Mets have shown no indications that they will make the type of splash required to land the former two pitchers, both of whom are premier closers. And they should face plenty of competition for the others from teams with larger budgets.
Still, Alderson preached patience in the Mets' bullpen search.
"We're in a much better position as we stand here today than we were last year at this time," he said. "So we're not going to chase players. There are a lot of guys out there."
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook.