Clubs appear to prefer Granderson over Bruce

Mets reportedly show interest in Orioles reliever Brach

Clubs appear to prefer Granderson over Bruce

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- As the first day of the Winter Meetings drew to a close, the Mets reached something of an impasse regarding their desire to trade an outfielder. After spending Monday talking to the Orioles and other teams about potential deals, the Mets came away believing clubs are more interested in Curtis Granderson than Jay Bruce.

That does not jive well with a Mets front office that vastly prefers to trade Bruce, with an eye toward using Granderson on a regular basis in center field.

"It's still early," general manager Sandy Alderson cautioned Monday afternoon.

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The market for outfielders, however, is nonetheless beginning to take shape. Multiple reports on Monday revolved around the Mets' interest in Orioles reliever Brad Brach, a 2016 American League All-Star who posted a 2.05 ERA while striking out more than 10 batters per nine innings. But one Mets source shrugged off the notion that the Mets would trade a 30-homer outfielder such as Granderson for a one-inning reliever -- even one with Brach's pedigree.

If that's the price, the Mets are more inclined to deal Bruce for a package of prospects than to trade for a reliever, knowing they can always fill their bullpen gaps through free agency. Most of the Mets' talks with agents thus far at the Winter Meetings, Alderson said, have centered around relief pitching.

Now that Mark Melancon's four-year, $62 million contract with the Giants has set that market, the Mets could look to pursue smaller deals for Fernando Salas, Jerry Blevins, Brad Ziegler or someone of that caliber. The Mets' preference is to stick to one-year deals. They find the rising price and general volatility of relief pitching off-putting.

"I think what it reinforces is the notion that by and large, you need to build a bullpen from within," Alderson said. "That's certainly part of our plan for this year, and we've been more successful doing that than we have been going out and getting other pieces -- although with Addison Reed as an acquisition, and Jerry Blevins and so forth, we've had some success there. But I do think it underscores the importance of building from within."

To that end, Alderson has discussed building a bullpen around Jeurys Familia, Reed, Hansel Robles and perhaps even starting pitchers Robert Gsellman or Zack Wheeler. While relief pitching remains the Mets' greatest outstanding need, Alderson prefers to address it on the cheap, all while keeping one eye toward the trade of an outfielder.

"We've had a number of meetings today with a number of teams on a variety of topics," Alderson said Monday afternoon. "At this point in the Meetings, we haven't focused in on any particular type of transaction. We've talked with clubs. We've talked with agents today. And we'll continue to do that."

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.