Money matters, Taka on clock, AFL

October, 24, 2010
Josh Byrnes still has five years remaining on his contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks. And that means he likely would cost the Mets significantly less than the other GM finalist, Sandy Alderson.

The Mets could not pay Byrnes $1 annually for five years, but they would only be responsible for a "reasonable" payment. That's because every dollar Byrnes gets from the Mets is deducted from the amount Byrnes would receive from his Diamondbacks contract -- so Byrnes gets the same amount either way.

Needless to say, the Diamondbacks are rooting for Byrnes to get the job, too. That's because whatever the Mets pay him is less out of their pockets.

There is no indication that financial consideration is a dominant factor. But if two qualified candidates end up being neck-and-neck, perhaps potentiially saving $1 million or more a year on GM and using that for player procurement could come into play.

ON THE CLOCK: Bidding on other teams' free agents doesn't start until five days after the World Series under the revised guidelines (down from 15 days afterward), but the Mets face a hard deadline looming with left-hander Hisanori Takahashi.

When the Mets signed Takahashi to a minor-league deal in February, they guaranteed to make him a free agent after Oct. 31 if he was not signed to a longer-term deal by then. And if the Mets do cut Takahashi loose next Sunday per that obligation, they would not be able to re-sign him to a major-league contract and use him in the big leagues until May 15, as The New York Times noted this morning.

So, essentially, if Takahashi is not re-signed by the Mets by next Sunday, he's going elsewhere.

Even if Takahashi had more success as a reliever, he could be particularly valuable to the 2011 Mets because of his versatility given the uncertainty over when Johan Santana might be fully recovered from shoulder surgery. Also, the Mets' other primary left-hander in the bullpen, workhorse Pedro Feliciano, is a pending free agent.

UNDER CONTROL: Right-hander Brad Holt, the 33rd overall pick in the 2008 draft out of UNC Wilmington, finally appears to be putting things together in the Arizona Fall League. Holt, who turned 24 on Oct. 13, struggled with control during the regular season, prompting a demotion from Double-A Binghamton to Class A St. Lucie. His combined numbers between the levels: 3-14 with an 8.34 ERA, 111 hits and 79 walks in 95 innings.

In three AFL starts, Holt has yet to allow an earned run over nine innings. His line: 2-0, one run (unearned), four hits, four walks, nine strikeouts.

Also in the AFL, center fielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis returned Saturday. He struck out in both at-bats after entering in the fourth inning. Nieuwenhuis had been out four days because of a wrist injury suffered during a slide.

SECOND COMING: Daniel Murphy, who had worked at second base in Fort Myers, Fla., during the instructional league, has moved on to winter ball with Aguilas in the Dominican Republic. Murphy has started Aguilas' first two games at second base. He is hitless so far in eight at-bats.

While it's difficult to forecast Murphy's 2011 role before a GM and manager are named and without viewing the spring-training competition, some combination of Murphy and Ruben Tejada could be viable at second base. That would serve as a lefty-righty/offensive-defensive complement.

At the least, by getting proficient at second base, Murphy would be a more valuable lefty pinch-hit bat for the bench, since he conceivably could fill in at three infield positions and left field.

Murphy missed the entire 2010 season at the major league level because of a pair of MCL injuries to his right knee.

BLANC SLATE: Henry Blanco has started three of the past four games for Margarita in Venezuela. Blanco will be a free agent, although it's conceivable he returns to the Mets. If Josh Thole is going to be the No. 1 catcher, the Mets can use a righty-hitting backup, so Blanco fits the bill. And Blanco was popular with the pitching staff. One reason for caution: Blanco does turn 40 next season.

Adam Rubin

ESPN Staff Writer
Adam Rubin has covered the Mets since 2003. He's a graduate of Mepham High School on Long Island and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He joined ESPNNewYork after spending 10 years at the New York Daily News.
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