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Mets lowball Delgado


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January 21, 2005 -- The Mets only slightly improved their month-old offer to Carlos Delgado yesterday, coming in just below what Florida had already bid.

During a three-hour meeting in Puerto Rico, the club only barely sweetened the pot to three years and $34 million ? still less than the $35 million the Marlins currently have on the table.


Perplexing? Sure. A deal-breaker? Nope.


In spite of the club's lowball maneuvering, Delgado's agent, David Sloane, apparently came away impressed from the powwow. It's further proof this might truly be Omar Minaya's winter to remember.


"Everything went extremely well," Sloane wrote via e-mail. "Having Jeff Wilpon join us for this meeting made it possible to discuss the issues regarding our respective proposals that we felt needed clarification.


"Due to the better understanding we now have as to the challenges making this deal presents, [it] will certainly make it easier for us to proceed.


"I anticipate having further conversations with Omar very soon in an attempt to move things forward from here."




Through Mets spokesman Jay Horwitz, Minaya and Wilpon declined to comment. Calls and e-mails to those Mets officials were not returned.


The day didn't start off well, as Mets officials were delayed because of a travel snafu in the Dominican Republic. They showed up between 60-90 minutes late, according to sources.


And financially, the two sides remain worlds apart. The Mets originally offered three years and about $30 million a few weeks ago. Earlier this week, the Post's Mark Hale reported the agent's counter-offer was for five years and $80 million.


One report stated the Mets were preparing to offer four years and approximately $45 million, but that wasn't the case yesterday, according to a source. A baseball official for another team thought the Mets would at least make an offer with a fourth-year option, but that also was not the case.


This latest negotiating tactic is curious, to say the least. It's more curious when you consider the Mets hastily arranged the meeting in order to get in town a day before the Texas front office, which will meet with Sloane and Delgado today.


The Mets have already allocated $172 million on the signings of Pedro Martinez and Carlos Beltran. Beyond Minaya's magic touch, the Mets secured those players because they offered the most money.


Whether they can land Delgado without doing the same is questionable.


Although four suitors officially remain for Delgado, baseball observers think the Mets and Marlins are in the lead for the 32-year-old. The Rangers are probably the bronze medalists in this field, although owner Tom Hicks leads their contingent.


A Texas-based report said Hicks has "a glint in his eye" for Delgado, and he famously overpaid for Alex Rodriguez in December 2000. On the other hand, Mark Teixeira is entrenched at first and Delgado would probably be an everyday DH with the Rangers.


Baltimore is fading into non-factor status, according to one Washington-based report.


If the Mets don't sign Delgado, they'll probably pursue Travis Lee. John Olerud and Doug Mientkiewicz have also been mentioned.


In other Mets news, the team is interested in signing righty reliever Jeff Nelson to a minor-league contract.

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