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Mets contract priorities now include Noah Syndergaard

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PORT ST. LUCIE — As much as this first Mets spring training of the Steve Cohen Era will be about preparing for 2021 greatness, it will also be about the franchise’s long-term talent base.

And Michael Conforto and Francisco Lindor aren’t the only objects of the Mets’ desire.

Mets president Sandy Alderson said Monday that, in addition to impending free agents Conforto and Lindor, the Mets also intend to engage a third walk-year guy, Noah Syndergaard, who will begin this season on the injured list as he works his way back from 2020 Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.

“Noah’s contract expires at the end of the year,” Alderson said on a Zoom call. “It would be natural for us to talk about the possibilities, the options. We will do that.”

Syndergaard very well might want to wait to re-establish his market value with a strong return from surgery. Nevertheless, this marked the first time Alderson has raised such a prospect.

As for Lindor and Conforto, Alderson said, “I think those conversations will start relatively soon in both cases.”

The Mets acquired Lindor as well as pitcher Carlos Carrasco from the Indians in a January mega-swap.

“We made the trade,” Alderson said. “That doesn’t mean necessarily we are guaranteed to have him long term, but I think we are committed to talking about it.”

Mets Noah Syndergaard contract Sandy Alderson
Noah Syndergaard at Mets spring training on Feb. 27, 2021.
Corey Sipkin

As for Lindor’s stated request that such negotiations conclude by the end of spring training, “Francisco has said he doesn’t want to negotiate after the season starts. We’ve taken that at face value. We’ll make every effort to see what can be done between now and then. On the other hand, if things don’t work out by the end of spring training, hopefully we can continue to communicate…We’ll try to make that timetable as best as we can.” Alderson praised Lindor for the leadership he has displayed early in camp.

Conforto’s agent Scott Boras has established his brand through free agency, although some of his clients, among them Stephen Strasbrugh with the Nationals and Jose Altuve with the Astros, have bypassed free agency and landed lucrative extensions. 

“We’ve had Conforto for many years,” said Alderson, who drafted Conforto 10th overall, as Mets general manager, in the 2014 amateur draft. “He has not only become an excellent player, but also part of the leadership group within the clubhouse. He’s represented the Mets for a long period of time and represented us well. I think if it’s possible, we will make the effort to keep Michael with us.”

Alderson defended the Mets’ busy winter, in which they added both top-shelf and roster-depth-filling talent yet didn’t add any of the top free agents (Trevor Bauer, DJ LeMahieu, J.T. Realmuto or George Springer), a surprise to the industry.

“I’m very comfortable with the way it shook out,” Alderson said. “We acquired Lindor and Carrasco from Cleveland. These were big acquisitions. We had to be mindful of the negotiations with which we might engage with Lindor, with Conforto, possibly with Syndergaard. There are lots of opportunities for us to spend money long term.”

Discussing the Mets’ decision to sign James McCann at catcher over Realmuto, Alderson said, “Had we not pivoted to McCann, we might not have acquired Lindor and Carrasco after having spent a lot of money on someone else,” referring obviously to Realmuto.

It’s widely believed that Springer, a Connecticut native, wanted to join the Mets. He signed a six-year, $150-million contract with the Blue Jays after the Mets offered him $125 million over five years.

“I think it all came down to five yeras versus six,” Alderson said. “In our case, we had to be constantly aware of players already on the team who were going to be in a similar position and how many of those deals we could actually negotiate and complete and not hamstring ourselves going forward. Had we signed Springer, it’s probably less likely we’d re-sign Conforto.

“At some point even Steve Cohen runs out of money.”

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Bulls’ Zach LaVine called cops on ‘obsessed’ fan at his home

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Zach LaVine had an unwanted visitor.

The Chicago Bulls star had to call the police after an “allegedly obsessed” woman showed up to his Chicago home and refused to leave on Thursday night, according to TMZ. 

The woman reportedly traveled from out of state, demanding to speak with the first-time All-Star, who was home at the time.

Police took her a local hospital for mental evaluation, and she has not been formally arrested or charged with a crime.

LaVine, 25, wrapped up first-half action with the Bulls on Wednesday and was drafted to Kevin Durant’s All-Star side for Sunday’s festivities in Atlanta.

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Blake Griffin a free agent after Pistons buyout

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Blake Griffin will be free to sign with the Nets or another interested NBA team after agreeing to a contract buyout with the Detroit Pistons.

The six-time All-Star forward “has interest from most of the NBA’s top playoff contenders and is expected to make a decision on his next team after conversations with prospective teams,” ESPN reported.

The Nets, Lakers, Heat, Warriors and Clippers – his former team — are among those that have expressed interest, according to the New York Times. ESPN.com added that the Blazers are interested

The 31-year-old Griffin hasn’t played since Feb. 12 while the Pistons attempted to trade him before the March 25 deadline, but they found no takers due to the remainder of his $36.6 million salary for this season and the $39 million he’s owed for 2021-22.

Blake Griffin was released by the Pistons on March 5, 2021
Blake Griffin was released by the Pistons on March 5, 2021
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Griffin is averaging a career-low 12.3 points and 5.2 rebounds in 20 games this season. He was dealt by the Clippers to Detroit in 2018, during the first season of a five-year extension worth $171 million.



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Broncos send a pretty strong warning to Drew Lock

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Drew Lock is no lock to remain the Denver Broncos’ starting quarterback in 2021.

General manager George Paton and coach Vic Fangio both said Thursday that the team expects to bring in competition for Lock, possibly with the ninth pick in the NFL Draft.

“Obviously we’re always looking to bring in players at all positions that can raise the level of competition, and the quarterback is no different in that regard,” Fangio said, according to the team’s website.

“Until we get or until Drew proves to be the next great quarterback, like the ones that the Denver franchise has been used to in years past or certain teams around the league … are used to, we’re going to always try and bring in competition. But I have confidence that Drew can continue to improve.”

Lock made 13 starts in 2020 and tied with Carson Wentz for the league lead with 15 interceptions. He finished 32nd in the league among qualifying quarterbacks with a 75.4 passer rating, ahead of only Dwayne Haskins, Wentz and Sam Darnold.

Drew Lock faces the Patriots on October 18, 2020.
Drew Lock faces the Patriots on October 18, 2020.
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“Very talented, was inconsistent at times, has a lot to work on,” Paton said Thursday. “But I’ve spoken with Drew, I see him every day. He’s here early. He’s working. He really wants to be great. And we’re always going to try to bring in competition at every position, and quarterback as well. But I like the track that Drew’s on.”

Lock, the Broncos’ second-round pick in 2019 out of Missouri, had started five games as a rookie, winning four of them. Denver went 4-9 with him as the starter last season.

“I’m confident that Drew’s going to continue to improve,” Fangio said. “Drew’s had a great offseason up to this point. There’s not a lot you can do, but he’s working hard on his own, coming over here and getting workouts, and I know he’s doing a lot at home by himself, watching video by himself. He’s got a good setup over there. And he’s doing anything and everything he can to improve, even in February and now in March.”

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