Ushering in a “new day” for the Mets is a bit more difficult than GM Sandy Alderson anticipated. Per Mike Puma of the New York Post on Twitter, the Mets are dealing with “sticker shock” in the current free agent market. Puma writes that the Mets were hoping to pursue free agent shortstop Jhonny Peralta on a two-year deal but were disappointed to find out he is asking for three years.
If the season were to start tonight, the Mets would be utilizing Ruben Tejada at shortstop. Tejada posted a .519 OPS in 227 plate appearances in the Majors in 2013.
Puma is also hearing that the Mets are eyeing free agent Phil Hughes over Bronson Arroyo at this point, which makes sense if the Mets are surprised by the market. Hughes is looking to rebuild his value after a disappointing seven-year stint in the Bronx. Arroyo, who turns 37 years old in February, is looking for what may be his last free agent contract after posting a sub-4.00 ERA in each of the past two seasons.
On Monday, Baseball America reported that MLB is prepared to expand to Portland and Montreal. We talked about that at length yesterday. One of the most common responses to that piece has been “Portland? Really?”
There’s good reason for that response. Baseball-to-Portland has been talked about for years, but there has never been any real traction. Past initiatives have failed, significant public funding for a stadium seems to be a political impossibility and, heck, Portland wasn’t even interested in keeping its Triple-A team, turning its stadium into a much more successful soccer venue and not missing the Beavers all that much.
It would seem, however, that the reports are not mere speculation and there is a genuine baseball-to-Portland initiative afoot once again. From the Oregonian:
On Tuesday, former Trail Blazers broadcaster Mike Barrett confirmed to The Oregonian/OregonLive that he is part of the Portland group.
“I am officially involved with a campaign to bring Major League Baseball and a stadium development to Portland,” Barrett said. “There is also a formally organized, sophisticated and seasoned management group running this initiative. We will keep you fully apprised of any/all developments as this project progresses.”
One guy — a broadcaster no less — saying he’s part of a group is not exactly a major needle-mover, of course. But it does contrast with past Portland initiatives that have been well-publicized grassroots affairs. While those may have been more broad-based and while their public nature may have provided some refreshing transparency, the simple fact of professional sports ownership in the 21st century is that well-monied groups who play things close to the vest are more likely to make waves. We’re in an age when technocratic hedge fund-type guys make things happen in this arena, not in an age when flamboyant public personalities do.
None of which is to say that baseball in Portland is a lock or that expansion anywhere is a short term proposition. It’s just to note that, yeah, there is a bit more going on, it seems, than just pointing at a map and saying “yeah, a team would make sense here.”