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Why Kris Bryant Is Still A Possibility For Mets

Report: The Mets are still interested in one of the remaining big bats on the free agent market.

As of Thursday, Dec. 2, we officially entered a lockout.

But prior to the decision of a work stoppage made by MLB owners, the Mets, Los Angeles Angels and San Diego Padres were among the clubs that were expressing interest in free agent infielder/outfielder Kris Bryant.

MLB Insider Jon Heyman reported of the interest in Bryant from these teams, and went onto reveal that the Seattle Mariners, Philadelphia Phillies, Houston Astros and Colorado Rockies checked in as well.

For now, all player negotiations and transactions are frozen until a new collective bargaining agreement is reached. This means Bryant and the rest of the remaining free agents will have to wait until after the lockout ends to sign with a new team.

During the Mets' introductory press conference of ace pitcher Max Scherzer yesterday, GM Billy Eppler addressed the possibility of potentially pursuing another big bat.

"We do feel pretty good about this position player group, but want to remain opportunistic as we navigate the rest of the winter and look for areas that we can improve the club," Eppler said.

According to Eppler, the Mets want to be mindful of not harming their long-term future in order to gain ground in the short-term.

Even still, New York was willing to go as high as $125 million in an attempt to retain infielder Javier Báez, per SNY. But instead, Báez chose to sign with the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday for six-years, $140 million with an opt-out after the second season.

And the figure that the Mets offered to Báez could signal that there is some wiggle room left to strike a deal with Bryant.

Bryant is set to turn 30 in January, and maybe there is a window to meet at five-years, $125 million if there are incentives or options included in the contract.

Signing Bryant would add an additional $25 million to their payroll in 2022, which would bring the Mets up to a $289 million commitment for next season. Not to mention, they are still in need of another starting pitcher, multiple relievers and a slew of depth pieces.

But when asking a number of executives and agents around the game whether they believe that Mets owner Steve Cohen would be willing to sign Bryant after committing a total of $254.5 million to their current offseason free agent class, I received a similar answer from each individual.

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"If Cohen wants him, he will get him," said one agent.

"Anything is possible with an owner that is willing and capable of spending whatever it takes to win," said an executive. 

So, in the end, the industry is echoing to not rule out the possibility of Bryant coming to Queens. 

When the Mets held their second introductory press conference of the day on Wednesday for newly signed position players Starling Marte, Eduardo Escobar and Mark Canha, Eppler stressed the importance of positional flexibility.

“I love players that can play on the dirt and the grass,” Eppler said. “I think it opens up so many different options for the manager. It also helps to provide off days for somebody that has maybe played 11, 14 games in a row. If we can do that and feel good about the names going in, I think that’s going to serve the club well.”

Given his versatility [third base, first base, outfield], Bryant fits the bill for the type of player that the Mets are looking to add to their roster.

Last season, Bryant made the All-Star team for the fourth-time in his career. He also slashed .265/.353/.481 with a .835 OPS, 25 home runs and 73 RBIs in 144 games for the Chicago Cubs and San Francisco Giants.

And he has put together a more than illustrious résumé, winning the National League MVP Award in 2016 and NL Rookie of the Year trophy in 2015. In addition to these impressive accolades, he played a crucial role in helping the Cubs end their 108-year World Series drought in '16 as well.

The Mets tried trading for Bryant in a blockbuster deal at the deadline in July, but ultimately settled for Báez once they discovered that ace Jacob deGrom's return to the mound last season was in doubt.

New York already completed a historic deal with Bryant's agent Scott Boras earlier in the week when they landed Scherzer on a three-year, $130 million contract.

So, this could leave the door open for the Mets to go back to the table with Boras regarding Bryant, who would be the final piece of the puzzle in making New York an offensive juggernaut in 2022 and beyond.