In the past few years, Mets fans have seen numerous successful international players sign with other teams with very little rumbling that the Mets expressed much interest: Jose Abreu. Rusney Castillo. Aroldis Chapman. Yasiel Puig. Jorge Soler. Masahiro Tanaka. Yasmany Tomas.
According to Sandy Alderson, that might be a thing of the past. "We haven't been in that category," he said Monday at the Winter Meetings, referring to the Mets' activity in foreign markets. "I expect we will be in that category, soon."
We don't know when "soon" is, but there are encouraging signs that "soon" might be as close as the next few weeks. The Mets have been linked to Korean shortstop Jung-Ho Kang and Japanese shortstop Takashi Toritani. Though neither player is likely to receive a fraction of what some of the above-mentioned players received, the Mets reportedly being interested in both is an encouraging sign.
Intriguingly, Alderson added, "These international shortstop possibilities—at least the ones that are more or less major league ready—probably don't fit in that category." In other words, while the Mets may or may not be interested in the two previously mentioned players, they may be planning on spending large sums on international rookies.
The first name that comes to mind that fits this category is Cuban defector Yoan Moncada—though certainly many other players fit the bill, including but not limited to Jorge Despaigne, Andy Ibanez, Yoan Lopez, and others.
The Mets began the 2014-2015 signing period with a bonus pool of $2,697,800, the tenth-highest sum assigned to any MLB team. At this point, the Mets have spent roughly $2 million on a handful of rookies—infielders Kenny Hernandez ($1,000,000), Yoel Romero ($300,000), and Edgardo Fermin ($250,000); outfielder Tulio Garcia ($175,000); and pitchers Daniel Guzman ($140,000) and Jhoander Chourio ($130,000)—and have made numerous lesser signings where no specific dollar amount has been mentioned. As such, the team has roughly $700,000 left in their 2014-2015 pool and will be penalized for every dollar spent beyond that.