Alderson: Flores the shortstop; starter could be dealt
Mets GM hints at potential trade, with Gee still the likely candidate
NEW YORK -- First in October, then in November, then again in December, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said that Wilmer Flores is the team's most likely option at shortstop.
Now it's January, and nothing has changed.
"We have obviously not added anyone," Alderson said this week in a telephone interview. "To this point, we just haven't found anything attractive. That's true with respect to free agents. It's true with respect to trade possibilities. Given all that, I think we do know a little more now than we did a few weeks ago about what's available. And I still believe when we start Spring Training, we will have what we currently have."
The free-agent market for shortstops dwindled to practically nothing on Tuesday evening, when Stephen Drew signed a one-year deal with the Yankees. That leaves the trade market as the Mets' only recourse, and Alderson has yet to see any semblance of a deal that he likes.
The GM does, however, hope to complete a deal on a different front. With exactly six weeks to go in the offseason, the Mets have one agenda item that stands above the rest: doing something about their starting-pitching surplus.
Not only does Dillon Gee remain the most likely of New York's six big league starters to go, according to a source, but most around baseball expect the market for him to heat up this month. One league executive compared Gee to Aaron Harang, who signed a $5 million base deal with the Phillies on Monday. Gee, who remains under team control for three more years, is set to make roughly that same amount through arbitration, and he has posted similar overall numbers to Harang over the past two seasons.
Several teams that checked in on Gee during the Winter Meetings -- including the Rangers and Rockies -- are still in need of starting pitching. When asked if the team might go into Spring Training with all six of its starters, Alderson replied simply, "Probably not."
If the Mets do manage to ship Gee out of Flushing -- thereby settling on a rotation of Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Zack Wheeler, Jon Niese and Bartolo Colon -- it may be the only major move they make for the rest of the winter. When the Mets signed John Mayberry Jr. to a one-year deal, they effectively finalized their bench. And Alderson said the team is no longer necessarily looking to bring in an established second left-hander for its bullpen, preferring to let Scott Rice, Rule 5 Draft pick Sean Gilmartin and a "depth of young right-handed pitching" battle for what appear to be two open bullpen spots.
"It's not just seeing who might compete for a second lefty job," Alderson said. "It's also who's competing for that last bullpen slot, and it could be a right-hander."