ATLANTA -- The Mets' flirtation with Cuban free agent Yulieski Gurriel will last at least a bit longer. The team's private workout with Gurriel is scheduled for next week, according to assistant general manager John Ricco, though it is not yet settled if Gurriel will come to Citi Field or
ATLANTA -- The Mets' flirtation with Cuban free agent Yulieski Gurriel will last at least a bit longer. The team's private workout with Gurriel is scheduled for next week, according to assistant general manager John Ricco, though it is not yet settled if Gurriel will come to Citi Field or the Mets will go to him.
It could make for some interesting timing, given that shortstop Jose Reyes is due to clear waivers and become a free agent on Saturday, according to an industry source. The Mets have expressed public interest in Gurriel and plenty of private curiosity in Reyes, though team insiders said Thursday that one does not necessarily have to affect the other. The organization is discussing Reyes more as a super utility player who could appear at three positions, whereas Gurriel profiles as a starting third baseman.
The Mets have been checking into all types of third-base help since David Wright underwent likely season-ending neck surgery last week. Gurriel is perhaps the best player available at present, but could need significant time to round into game shape after not playing at all for the past few weeks. Like all foreign players, questions also linger about his ability to transition to the big leagues.
Reyes, by contrast, could be available immediately, and has an All-Star track record. But Reyes struggled last year with a .688 OPS, and he has not played in the Majors in 2016 due to a league-issued domestic violence suspension. The Mets' ideal situation would be to sign Reyes to a Minor League deal, allowing them to give him reps at third base -- a position he has not played since he was a teenager -- before joining the big club.
A third option would be to trade for a veteran such as A's third baseman Danny Valencia, but the Mets would likely pay a premium for entering that market more than five weeks in advance of the non-waiver Trade Deadline. Prices tend to fall as the Deadline nears, and out-of-contention teams grow more desperate to sell off tradeable assets.
The appeal of both Gurriel and Reyes is that neither would cost the Mets prospects to acquire, though Gurriel is reportedly in the market for an eight-figure contract. The Cuban defector worked out for the Dodgers in Los Angeles on Wednesday, according to MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez, and other teams are sure to enter the sweepstakes as well.
Reyes, by contrast, would cost the Mets close to the Major League minimum to sign. But he carries the stigma of his domestic violence arrest last winter, which prompted the Rockies to cut ties with him last week.
For now, Wilmer Flores will continue to start at third base most days for the Mets. The 24-year-old entered Thursday's play hitting .296 with two home runs in 18 games since taking over for Wright, but was also in the midst of an 0-for-11 slump.
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.