Alderson expects offseason pace to pick up

Alderson expects offseason pace to pick up
NEW YORK -- On Monday, the Mets remained the only team in the Majors that had not signed a big league free agent. That will eventually change, general manager Sandy Alderson said in a telephone interview Monday evening, though the Mets are not close on any deals for pitchers.

And the roster will not necessarily change in a big way. Nothing will. Though the Mets hope to add a starting pitcher and at least one veteran reliever before Opening Day, they may be done adding hitters.

"The free-agent market for outfielders has shrunk," Alderson said, noting that he does not plan to acquire any additional Major League infielders or catchers. "We've watched that happen. We think that the free-agent market for outfielders was almost as overpriced as the market for starting pitching. But be that as it may, we're still looking.

"We may go into the season with what we have; we may add someone. But the inventory of free-agent outfielders is low."

Alderson offered some skepticism that the Mets will add any such outfielder to the roster, despite not ruling it out. Beyond Scott Hairston, who would be a snug fit for the Mets, few impact players remain available. So while the GM figures to fill out his bullpen and rotation holes via free agency, a trade is more likely in regards to the outfield -- if the team takes any action at all.

"We certainly could trade prospects if we desired, if we thought that a Major League player we acquired would help us more short-term," Alderson said. "Of course there are some prospects we wouldn't trade. But really, the purpose of accumulating prospects is, one, to have them develop at the Major League level, but also to use them to acquire Major league talent. So it's something we could do."

As currently constituted, the Mets will come to camp with outfielders Lucas Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Mike Baxter, Collin Cowgill and Andrew Brown all vying for playing time, along with perhaps rookie Matt Den Dekker.

Alderson did say he considers outfield help more of a priority than starting pitching, though that is simply because so many viable back-of-the-rotation starters -- Chris Young, Carl Pavano and Shaun Marcum, to name three -- remain available, while few viable outfielders do. The Mets are still discussing "a half dozen or so" starting-pitching options, according to Alderson.

The same logic applies in the bullpen, where the Mets could add any combination of available veteran arms. Alderson figures the Mets will sign one or two on Major League deals, in addition to one or two more on Minor League contracts. Money, Alderson said, "is not an issue at this point."

"We continue to look at what's available and who we think might help us most," Alderson said. "We still think there are very cost-effective options."

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDicomo. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.