Sports

Mets may turn first-base over to Sexson

ANAHEIM, Calif. — The New York Mets have a huge hole at first base, and Richie Sexson is certainly big enough to fill it.

General manager Omar Minaya spoke with Sexson’s agent, Casey Close, on Saturday at the winter meetings, perhaps a signal that the Mets have picked the player they want to solidify a position that’s been problematic for years.

“Are you close? I don’t want to give you false hope that we’re close on anything,” Minaya said. “I think you can leave these meetings and still be able to get a deal done.”

The 6-foot-7 Sexson is coming off an injury-shortened season with the Arizona Diamondbacks. He hurt his left shoulder twice and did not play after May, batting .233 with nine homers and 23 RBIs.

Still, his proven power makes him an attractive free agent. Sexson, who will turn 30 on Dec. 29, hit 45 homers for Milwaukee in 2001 and 2003, and he has four career 100-RBI seasons.

“Most of the conversations that are being had with free agents, you’re getting closer to some kind of resolution,” said Minaya, who didn’t want to comment about specific players. “I’d rather come home with nothing than come home with a bad deal.”

The Mets have tried Mike Piazza, Mo Vaughn and Jason Phillips at first base the past few years, but with little success.

Piazza is expected to be a full-time catcher again next season, and Minaya said Friday he would like to have a strong defensive first baseman to complement a young infield that includes shortstop Jose Reyes, third baseman David Wright and second baseman Kaz Matsui.

“I don’t think the team that we have right now is the team that we’re going to start with,” Minaya said. “Some of the agents have told us, look, we’re not ready to make deals.”

The Diamondbacks sent six players to the Brewers for Sexson last year, including Lyle Overbay. Sexson, who received $8.6 million for his 23-game season, filed for free agency last month and has given no indication that he plans to return to a team that lost 111 games last season.

Arizona offered him salary arbitration on Tuesday, and the two-time All-Star has until Dec. 19 to accept the offer.

The Mets are still pursuing Pedro Martinez, who was expected to re-sign with the Boston Red Sox. Minaya spoke with the pitcher’s agent, Fernando Cuza.

“I think we’ve moved forward in these discussions,” Minaya said. “What I can do, whether it’s with Pedro or anybody else, is get to a point where this is my last offer. We’re getting close to that, but I don’t want to say we’re there yet.”



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