The Mets haven’t ruled out signing Ivan Rodriguez…or have they?

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UPDATE: Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com was told by multiple Mets’ sources that a deal with Rodriguez is unlikely. In fact, one source told him: “We are not bringing Ivan here.” The club appears content to go with Mike Nickeas or Rob Johnson as Josh Thole‘s backup.

6:48 PM: 40-year-old Ivan Rodriguez is still out there looking for work and though a signing doesn’t sound imminent, he does have one potential lead.

According to Mike Puma of the New York Post, a Mets official spoke with Ivan Rodriguez as recently as 10 days ago and the club “hasn’t ruled out the possibility” of signing him a backup to Josh Thole. As of now, Mike Nickeas is the favorite for the spot.

The Mets have roughly $2 million left in their budget, according to Puma, but they want to make sure that Johan Santana is healthy before making any more moves. If Santana has any setbacks with his surgically-repaired shoulder this spring, they will likely try to add a starting pitcher. In the meantime, the Mets have told Rodriguez to “stay in shape.”

Rodriguez batted .218/.281/.323 with two home runs, 19 RBI and a .604 OPS over 137 plate appearances last season with the Nationals while throwing out 52 percent (13-for-25) of attempted basestealers. He is 166 hits shy of 3,000 for his career.

Tony Clark: Universal DH ‘gaining momentum’ among players

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Major League Baseball Players Association executive director Tony Clark met the press late this morning and covered a wide array of topics.

One of them: free agency, which he referred to as being “under attack” based on the slow market for free agents last offseason.

“What the players saw last offseason was that their free-agent rights were under attack on what has been the bedrock of our system,” Clark said. He added that they “have some very difficult decisions to make.” Presumably in the form of grievances and, down the road, a negotiating strategy that seeks to claw back some of the many concessions the union has given owners in the past few Collective Bargaining Agreements. CBAs, it’s worth noting, that Clark negotiated. We’ve covered that territory in detail in the past.

Of more immediate interest was Clark’s comment that the idea of a universal designated hitter is, among players, “gaining momentum.” Clark says “players are talking about it more than they have in the past.” We’ve talked a lot about that as well.

Given that hating or loving the DH is the closest thing baseball has to a religion, no one’s mind is going to be changed by any of this, but I think, practically speaking, it’s inevitable that the National League will have the DH and I think it happens relatively soon. Perhaps in the next five years. The opposition to it at this point is solely subjective and based on tradition. People like pitchers batting and they like double switches and they like the leagues being different because they, well, like it. If the system were being set up today, however, they’d never have it this way and I think even the DH-haters know that well. That doesn’t mean that you can’t dislike a universal DH, but it does mean that you can’t expect the people who run the game to cater to that preference when it makes little sense for them to do it for their own purposes.

Anyway, enjoy convincing each other in the comments about how the side of that argument you dislike is wrong.