The New York Mets, who signed outfielder Jay Bruce to a three-year, $39 million deal Wednesday night, nearly had a deal worked out with the Cleveland Indians for Jason Kipnis, according to sources. And in fact, there were people on both sides who thought they had a deal.
But apparently it was killed by someone at the top, very likely over money.
While Mets higher-ups didn’t see Kipnis as good value — he has $30.5 million guaranteed over the next two years off an uncharacteristically so-so year — they weren’t afraid to pay even more to bring back Kipnis’ Indians teammate, Jay Bruce, who is coming back to the Mets on a $39 million, three-year deal. The Mets have been accused of being cheap, and their payroll, which isn’t expected to rise from the $155 million range, is light for a big-market club,. But they will spend— if they see value.
Kipnis would have solved the Mets’ second base issue, and the Mets wouldn’t have had to give the Indians much in the way of prospects to get it done, but Kipnis has $30.5 million to go over the next two years, including a $2.5 million buyout on the 2020 option, and isn’t coming off a typical season.
Second base remains an area of interest. But the Mets believe they have a multiple holes to fill even after signing Bruce, so they want to be careful on how much to spend on each hole. The Mets haven’t seemed interested in the eminently available Starlin Castro, and word going around is that Neil Walker would prefer not to return after a sticky breakup.
The Yankees may actually be more likely for Walker; they in fact thought they were close to a deal for him last summer when the deal was canceled over how much money the Mets were to send (eventually, the Mets traded Walker to the Brewers). Josh Harrison, who has $10.25 million to go through this coming season, remains one possibility. But if the Mets decide they’d rather spend elsewhere, they could bring back longtime Met Jose Reyes on a lower deal. He is believed to want to return.