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Mets finalize Alou's 1-year deal, decline Glavine's option

11/21/2006 - MLB Moises Alou New York Mets + more

NEW YORK -- Moises Alou gives the New York Mets a proven
right-handed hitter to play left field -- and another aging regular.

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.

All-Star catcher Paul Lo Duca will turn 35 in April, and right
fielder Shawn Green is 34. Two of New York's best players, however,
are 23: David Wright and Jose Reyes.

The Mets did add a pair of young pitchers Monday, acquiring
left-handers Jason Vargas and Adam Bostick from Florida for
hard-throwing prospects Henry Owens and Matt Lindstrom.

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.