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Not every player the Mets want will be coming to Queens this season.
George Springer, whom the Mets had targeted for most of the winter as a center-field upgrade and needed right-handed bat for the lineup, and the Blue Jays agreed to a six-year contract worth $150 million, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reported Tuesday night.
The Mets and Blue Jays were the only two teams consistently tied to the 31-year-old Springer throughout the offseason.
Springer’s addition to Toronto’s lineup could leave the Mets looking at a less expensive center-field option such as Jackie Bradley Jr., a defensively superior player who would bring another left-handed bat to the outfield, joining Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo (provided the DH returns to the National League, which would Dominic Smith and Pete Alonso to play in the same lineup).
Springer, who grew up in New Britain, Conn., and starred at UConn, was thought to prefer playing close to home, but the Mets’ offer topped out at $120 million to $125 million for six years, according to MLB Network’s Mark Feinsand.
As it stands, the Mets are about $27 million under the luxury tax threshold. Adding Springer, while attempting to address other needs, would have taken the Mets just about to the $210 million threshold.
Missing on Springer doesn’t sting nearly as much for the Mets after they completed a trade this month that brought Francisco Lindor and Carlos Carrasco from Cleveland. In the deal, the Mets surrendered Amed Rosario, Andres Gimenez, Isaiah Greene and Josh Wolf.
Lindor, who can become a free agent after the season, recently avoided arbitration with the Mets by agreeing to a one-year deal worth $22.3 million. The star shortstop has indicated he is open to negotiating a contract extension, but only before the season starts. There is thought within the industry he could receive a 10-year deal worth upwards of $300 million.
The Mets could also use the added financial flexibility from not signing Springer in trying to extend Conforto before he reaches free agency next offseason. But Conforto is represented by super-agent Scott Boras, who traditionally has pushed his top clients toward testing free agency.
If the Mets are content to continue with Nimmo in center field (a position at which he is underwhelming), they could look toward a lost-cost right-handed bat such as Kevin Pillar and shift focus to third base, where J.D. Davis is expected to be the starter.
In the bullpen, the Mets could use a left-hander to join a crew that includes Edwin Diaz, Trevor May, Jeurys Familia and potentially Seth Lugo, who might be moved from the starting rotation. Brad Hand is the top available lefty reliever on the market and will likely command a two-year deal.
The Mets signed May to a two-year contract worth $15.5 million before upgrading the catching position, giving veteran James McCann a four-year deal worth $40.6 million. Marcus Stroman returned to the rotation after accepting the Mets’ qualifying offer for $18.9 million.
On Tuesday, the Mets officially announced the arrival of another potential rotation piece in left-hander Joey Lucchesi in a three-way trade with the Padres and Pirates. In the deal, the Mets sent minor league catcher Endy Rodriguez to the Pirates.
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