Mets to give Wagner the grand tour

Mets to give Wagner the grand tour

NEW YORK -- The Mets' powers of persuasion with Billy Wagner will be enhanced dramatically next week. The club will make full use of one of its strongest allies in an effort to coax the free agent reliever to accept the offer it has yet to make. Before the Mets show Wagner the money, they will show him the city and, more importantly, all that surrounds it.

In order to bring Wagner's dominating left-handed fastball to Queens, the Mets will take the veteran closer to Connecticut and Westchester County and let the real estate there -- real estate Wagner undoubtedly will be able to afford soon -- work its magic. Wagner, his wife and his agent are to take the grand tour next Monday and Tuesday.

Wagner, who considers himself a country boy, may be impressed with the bright lights of Manhattan, but more than likely it will be the more rural areas of the greater New York market that will grab him.

The Mets' hope is that Wagner will settle his family -- he has three young children -- there and, at the same time, settle their closer issue.

The club has made three successful free agent pitches in the last three years, signing Tom Glavine in 2002, and Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran last offseason. They Mets know how to sell what they have.

"Absolutely. They know how to present their case," Glavine said.

Speaking from his home outside Atlanta, Glavine said, "The tour can be pretty persuasive. They did their homework with me. They knew it was important for us to be close to my parents [in Massachusetts], so they showed us property in Connecticut. That was a big part of the equation.

"There was a lot of quality-of-life stuff. And I wouldn't be surprised if that's what they'll emphasize with Billy, no matter what kind of setting he's looking for. New York is great for that. Everything is available. You can drive for an hour and get from downtown to really beautiful, natural areas.

"I guess it's kind of like a college recruiting trip -- with a lot more at stake."

The Mets probably will enlist Glavine and other veteran players to attract their primary offseason target, as they did when Glavine was a free agent.

"I spoke with Al [Leiter], Johnny [Franco] and Mike [Piazza] when I was out there in the market," Glavine said. "You get to answer some questions only players can answer."

There were indications Monday that the Mets would prefer to make the first offer to Wagner to reinforce that they are his most ardent pursuer. But the pitcher is to meet with the Phillies on Wednesday. And new general manager Pat Gillick doesn't want one of his first days on the job spent launching a search for a successor to Wagner.

But the Phillies had yet to broach the topic of a third year in their contract talks, and the Mets are quite prepared to offer a third year.

Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.