PORT ST. LUCIE – The Mets worked harder and were more serious in talking to try to find Cleveland's Francisco Lindor in the off-season, but they made numerous calls and exchanged various concepts with the Red Sox about Mookie Betts, the Post learned.
The Mets saw Lindor as a lack rather than a necessity, as the team felt more comfortable with Amed Rosario as a stopover. But the Mets saw Lindor as an upgrade enough that they pursued him diligently, even with permutations that Rosario had in some offers.
Apart from his talent, Lindor had the attraction that he had two seasons left, so it became more palatable for the Mets to forego controllable talent.
Betts meet the needs of the Mets to a greater extent – Center Field and Leadoff Hitter. But the fact that he was only in control for a year was a big hurdle. The Mets were worried about giving up significant talent and topping up their payroll, and then – at worst – what if Betts got hurt?
That's why Jeff McNeil gave up and wasn't a starter for the Mets. They didn't want to give up what they expected to have five years of control over what the Mets see as all-star performers for one year of Betts – as great as they see Betts. And McNeil was an integral part of the Red Sox.
In the previous postseason, the Rays focused on McNeil in trade discussions with three teams that J.T. Realmuto from the Marlins to the Mets. At that time, Chaim Bloom was the senior vice president of baseball operations for the Rays. When the Mets and Boston talked regularly in December, he was already the managing director of Red Sox – and McNeil remained attractive to him.
The Mets offered packages around Brandon Nimmo or J.D. Davis and one of their top infield prospects, Andres Gimenez or Ronny Mauricio. But that wasn't enough, especially since the Mets had to counter the $ 27 million Betts salary in 2020 to get a business going, probably with the involvement of Yoenis Cespedes and Jed Lowrie.
One of Boston’s goals was to be below the $ 208 million luxury tax threshold, which would probably not have happened if the Mets had taken over the entire Betts Pact, and certainly not if Cespedes and / or Lowrie were in any store would have been included. The sites continued to talk about other permutations, but the talks never got serious again after December. Ultimately, Boston got prospects and got below the threshold by including half of David Price's contract with Betts in a trade that brought them three Dodgers youngsters into a deal that went official on Tuesday.