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Patience the key in Mets' bid to acquire a shortstop

GM Alderson will wait to capitalize on 'ebbs and flows' of market
MLB.com

PHOENIX -- The Mets moved quickly to address one of their most pressing concerns this offseason, signing free-agent outfielder Michael Cuddyer to a two-year, $21 million contract on Monday.

Checking off some of the other items on their wish list, especially upgrading at shortstop, may take a little longer, Sandy Alderson warned Wednesday on the last full day of the annual General Managers Meetings at the Arizona Biltmore. And that's all right, he said.

PHOENIX -- The Mets moved quickly to address one of their most pressing concerns this offseason, signing free-agent outfielder Michael Cuddyer to a two-year, $21 million contract on Monday.

Checking off some of the other items on their wish list, especially upgrading at shortstop, may take a little longer, Sandy Alderson warned Wednesday on the last full day of the annual General Managers Meetings at the Arizona Biltmore. And that's all right, he said.

"I certainly don't feel any [pressure to make another move quickly]. I don't think the organization does. I think we're happy with the move we made. There's always a desire to keep the momentum up. But inevitably, there's going to be a lull, whether it's now or later. So at this point, I think the fact that we've made one move gives us a little more breathing space and chance to be patient with what comes next.

"It's really going to depend on how things work out over the course of conceivably the next two months. It could be that long. It could be into January before it's resolved with some of these players. I think the market ebbs and flows. Demand ebbs and flows. Supply. So you just really have to sit there and analyze where things are and where they're going. But at the moment, I think it's really too early to be definitive about what's going to be there and what is not."

Alderson described the shortstop market as "limited" at the moment.

Free agents include Hanley Ramirez, Asdrubal Cabrera, Jed Lowrie and Stephen Drew. Big-name shortstops whose names have been bandied about in trade rumors include Troy Tulowitzki of the Rockies, Starlin Castro of the Cubs and Jimmy Rollins of the Phillies.

By signing Cuddyer, the Mets are still well-positioned to make a trade for a shortstop.

"We still have assets [to deal]," Alderson said. "I think we have more than enough if that's what we choose to do."

The fact that so many front offices have been restructured recently may also be providing a drag on the trade market.

"With those changes, I think any new front office staff would be maybe reluctant to jump at something unless they felt overwhelmed by a deal," Alderson said. "And you try not to overwhelm other teams. Nobody does. So I'd say, yes, it's probably going to be slower."

Alderson agreed with the premise that teams are generally less willing to trade prospects these days, but he quickly added that there are exceptions to every rule.

"I think the market for players has definitely changed," Alderson said. "You start with the fact that the free-agent market is thinner today than it was five, six years ago. So you start with that notion and the expectation that that will continue to be the case, it makes sense to be more careful about the players that you have.

"On the other hand, it is about winning at the Major League level. It's not about stockpiling prospects. It's a means to an end. At some point, you have to make the tradeoff, which is what we did with the Draft pick [given up as compensation to sign Cuddyer]. I think clubs are generally being more cautious about younger players across the board, but that doesn't mean things are going to be prohibitive at any single transaction."

In short, the Mets remain cautiously optimistic that they'll be able to make a deal for a shortstop. They'll just have to be patient.

Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

New York Mets