Mets finalize Alou's 1-year deal, decline Glavine's option
San Francisco Giants
The 40-year-old slugger finalized an $8.5 million, one-year contract on Monday with the NL East champions, who also declined their $14 million option on left-hander Tom Glavine and swapped young pitchers with the Florida Marlins in a four-player trade.
Alou's deal includes a $7.5 million club option for 2008 with $1 million buyout. The six-time All-Star, who gets a $7.5 million salary next season, said he turned down two-year offers from other teams to join the Mets.
"The length of my contract doesn't really matter at this point in my career," Alou said. "I wanted to come here because this year -- I wanted to win this year."
New York reached Game 7 of the NL Championship Series this year before losing to the St. Louis Cardinals, who went on to win the World Series. Glavine was a big part of that success, going 15-7 with a 3.82 ERA during the season and 2-1 with a 1.59 ERA in three playoff starts.
But he will be 41 when next season begins and is deciding between staying in New York and trying to return home to Atlanta. Earlier this month, the two-time NL Cy Young Award winner declined his $7.5 million option to stay with the Mets, who would like to keep him for the right price.
"I really don't anticipate anything until he gets back this weekend," said Glavine's agent, Gregg Clifton. "I think this really is going to be his evaluation period. By early next week, he should finish his analysis and know what he wants to do."
When Glavine restructured his deal this year, the Mets agreed not to exercise their $14 million option if he hadn't yet decided where he wanted to play. The move Monday -- the deadline for the team option -- was a formality.
"We hope to continue to speak with the agent, negotiate, and hopefully be able to bring Tommy back," general manager Omar Minaya said. "We let them know ahead of time that we were going to make this move."
Even if Glavine departs, the Mets will have plenty of veterans on the field next year. They recently re-signed 41-year-old pitcher Orlando Hernandez to a $12 million, two-year contract and retained 37-year-old second baseman Jose Valentin with a $3.8 million, one-year deal.
They brought in 37-year-old backup infielder Damion Easley, adding him to a bench that already includes 48-year-old Julio Franco.
Vargas and Bostick are both 23. Owens and Lindstrom are both right-handers.
Limited to 98 games last season because of ankle and back injuries, Alou hit .301 with 22 homers and 74 RBI in 345 at-bats for San Francisco. He takes over in left field for popular veteran Cliff Floyd, hobbled by an Achilles tendon problem for much of the year.
"That's the only reason why I'm back playing in '07. I was a little frustrated last season because of the little injuries that I had," Alou said, adding that he's completely healthy now. "I felt great after July. I feel good at the plate. I feel strong. I feel young."
His right-handed bat should help balance a potent lineup that struggled at times against left-handed pitching late last season. Alou batted .349 (29-for-83) against left-handers this year and is a .301 career hitter with 319 homers and 1,229 RBI in 15 major league seasons with Pittsburgh, Montreal, Florida, Houston, the Chicago Cubs and Giants.
"I'm still producing," Alou said.
With Alou in left, Carlos Beltran in center and Green in right, the move leaves touted prospect Lastings Milledge in limbo. The Mets could look to trade Milledge, who had a difficult rookie season and appeared to be at odds with some teammates, or send him back to the minors for more seasoning.
Whatever happens, Minaya said he's more comfortable now with Milledge's potential role.
"We don't have to feel that his right-handed bat has to be a run-producing bat when he's only 22 years old," the GM said. "I didn't really feel like I wanted to put that kid in that situation."
Which means Milledge could wind up back in the minors next year.
"Any young kid that's not playing every day in the major leagues, I'm more open to the kid playing every day in the minor leagues," Minaya said.
In other moves, the Mets also claimed right-hander Jason Standridge off waivers from Cincinnati and purchased the contract of outfielder Carlos Gomez from Double-A Binghamton.
Standridge was 1-1 with a 4.82 ERA in 21 relief appearances with Cincinnati this year. Vargas went 1-2 with a 7.33 ERA in 12 appearances for the Marlins, including five starts.
"I see him contending for a major league spot," Minaya said.
Bostick split the season between Double-A Carolina and Triple-A Albuquerque.
Owens, 27, appeared in three games with the Mets last season. He also was 2-2 with 20 saves for Double-A Binghamton.
The 26-year-old Lindstrom went 3-4 with 13 saves and a 3.38 ERA in 46 games last season between Binghamton and Class-A St. Lucie. He showed off a 99 mph fastball in the All-Star Futures Game in July, striking out two for the save.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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