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Mets Morning News: Rumor mill still churning, Nationals complete pricey trade

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Your Thursday morning dose of New York Mets and MLB news, notes, and links.

MLB: Winter Meetings Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Meet the Mets

Zack Wheeler is feeling great and open to pitching out of the bullpen.

The Mets’ payroll currently stands at $150 million, but general manager Sandy Alderson expects that number to drop.

Just how is that $150 million being spent? Here is a breakdown of the players’ salaries.

One way to get payroll down is to trade one of the expensive outfielders, which could free up space to address needs elsewhere on the team.

However, the Mets’ preference is to trade Jay Bruce, but they will not do it as a salary dump.

The Mets will not be looking to upgrade the offense and believe it can get better from within. They think both Travis d’Arnaud and Michael Conforto can rebound from their down years.

Manager Terry Collins won’t commit to anything beyond 2017, but he is excited to try to get back to the World Series next season.

Hitting coach Kevin Long is a bit more optimistic about Tim Tebow than most scouts.

Around the NL East

The Braves are interested in White Sox starter Jose Quintana.

The Marlins re-signed pitcher Dustin McGowan and signed A.J. Ellis as a backup catcher, and they reportedly made a huge offer to closer Kenley Jansen.

Despite the White Sox getting a nice return for Adam Eaton, the Phillies should not trade Odubel Herrera.

The big trade of the day was the Nationals acquiring outfielder Adam Eaton from the White Sox for some top prospects. Bryce Harper had a rather ambiguous reaction to the trade. Manager Dusty Baker weighed in on the team’s closer situation.

Around the Majors

The Rockies signed Ian Desmond to a five-year deal, and are looking for a top notch starter to round out their team. They may have found that starter in Toronto.

Bill King won the Ford C. Frick award for excellence in broadcasting, the award for which Gary Cohen was also nominated.

The Mariners traded for pitcher Chris Heston from the Giants.

The White Sox have completely overhauled their farm system with two blockbuster trades.

Aroldis Chapman went back to the Yankees on a five-year deal.

Yesterday at AA

The Mets announced a new manager for the Rumble Ponies.

Steve Sypa continued his countdown of the Mets’ top prospects, and number six was Brandon Nimmo.

Max Gelman wrote about how the Hall of Fame ballots will be made public starting in 2018. He also covered the Royals asking for Amed Rosario if the Mets were to trade for Wade Davis.

Lukas Vlahos looked back on Juan Lagares’s promising, though short, season.

Jason Mast discussed Josh Smoker’s rookie season.

Milo Taibi reported on the Mets discussing a trade with the Rangers that involved Jay Bruce.

Chris McShane covered the big Nationals trade and Aroldis Chapman signing with the Yankees.

This Date in Mets History

The Mets traded Bob Bailor and Carlos Diaz for Sid Fernandez in 1983.