Mets general manager Sandy Alderson revealed that he offered Michael Bourn basically the same four-year, $48 million contract that the speedy center fielder ended up signing with the Indians.
So why did Bourn choose Cleveland over New York? Because the Indians also gave him a fifth-year team option for 2017 that vested at $12 million with 550 plate appearances in 2016 and Alderson was unwilling to include that in the Mets’ offer.
“We viewed [it] as a fifth year in the contract at the levels we were talking about or that they were talking about,” Alderson told Jorge Castillo of the Newark Star Ledger. “And we weren’t prepared to go to five years and they had known that for some time so the vest was a big issue for us.”
Trying to predict how many plate appearances a 33-year-old Bourn would get in 2016 is tough, but the fact that he’s racked up 703, 722, 605, and 678 in the past four seasons suggests he’d top 550 if healthy. Toss in the Mets’ reluctance to forfeit the 11th overall pick in the draft to sign Bourn and Alderson’s reasoning for not matching the Indians’ entire offer is pretty clear.
The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.
Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.
As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.