Alderson: 2014 will be “a new day” for the Mets

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Mets GM Sandy Alderson recently said he won’t target players expected to take home a nine-figure contract, like Jacoby Ellsbury or Shin-Soo Choo, but he did state that the 2014 season will be “a new day” for the franchise. Newsday’s Marc Carig writes that Alderson spent 45 minutes on the radio, between WFAN and ESPN New York, reassuring fans that the team will have an active off-season, especially compared to their dormant winter following the 2012 season.

“No,” Alderson said of skimping on players. “No way. Why would we want to do that? I’ve got to watch all those games too, you know.”

The Mets are reportedly seeking a veteran to lead the rotation and another veteran to slot into the back of the bullpen, as well as a shortstop and a corner outfielder to take the place of Lucas Duda when he takes over first base full-time. They have also explored the possibility of trading Ike Davis and Daniel Murphy.

After opening up the 2009 season with a payroll approaching $150 million, poor play from the team and the Madoff scandal forced them to cut it down to $93-94 million over the past two seasons. Additionally, they were paying off the end of the Johan Santana and Jason Bay contracts, reducing their flexibility even further, but both are off the books now.

Seattle Mariners to make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani

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Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a team-sponsored podcast the other day that the M’s will make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani. To that end, Dipoto said that the M’s would be willing to let the two-way star to pitch and to hit, which is something Ohtani is interested in doing in the United States. Not all clubs are likely to let him do this, with most likely seeing him as a starting pitcher only.

Ohtani, who is expected to be posted by his Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, possibly as early as today, can sign with anyone he wants. He is, however, subject to the international bonus pool caps, so the bids on him will be somewhat limited. The Texas Rangers and New York Yankees have the most money available: $3.535 million for the Rangers and $3.5 million for the Yankees. The Twins ($3.245 million), Pirates ($2.266 million), Marlins ($1.74 million) and Mariners ($1.57 million) are the only other teams with more than $1 million left. Twelve teams — including the Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals and Astros — are limited to a maximum of $300,000, having met or exceeded their caps for this signing period already.

Ohtani, however, is said to be less motivated by money than he is by finding the right situation. While a lot of guys say that, the fact that Ohtani is coming over to the U.S. now, when his financial prospects are limited, as opposed to waiting for two years when he is not subject to the bonus caps and could sign for nine figures, suggests that he is telling the truth. As such, a team like the Mariners that is willing to allow him to hit and pitch could make up for the couple of million less they have in bonus money to spend.

As for how that might work logistically, Dipoto said that the team would be willing to play DH Nelson Cruz a few days in the outfield to accommodate Ohtani, allowing him to DH on the days he’s not pitching. That might be . . . interesting to see, but given how badly the Mariners could use a good starting pitcher, they have an incentive to be creative.

Ohtani, 23, suffered some injuries in 2017, limiting him to just five starts and 65 games as a hitter. In 2016, however, he hit .289/.356/.547 with 22 homers in 342 at-bats and went 11-3 with a 3.24 ERA, and a K/BB ratio of 146/51 in 133.1 innings as a starter.

Five clubs have more money to spend on Ohtani than the Mariners do. None of those teams are on the west coast, which some Asian players have said in the past they preferred due to faster travel back home. The Mariners, owned for a long time by a Japanese company which still retains a minority interest in the club, and long the home for high-profile Japanese players such as Ichiro and Hisashi Iwakuma, likely have a better media and marketing reach in Japan than most other teams as well, which might be a factor in his decision making process. Is all that enough to sway Ohtani?

We’ll find out over the next couple of weeks.