With Sosa over, Mets will turn elsewhere

With Sosa over, Mets will turn elsewhere

The Mets' hunger for Sammy Sosa appears to be a thing of the past. <P> The team has moved away from negotiations to bring the 36-year-old slugger to New York, according to a source, a decision that was punctuated by discussions among club officials during this week's organizational retreat to Rye Brook, N.Y.

Instead, the Mets appear to be gunning for a return of Richard Hidalgo. GM Omar Minaya said Friday that the team had been involved in active negotiations with Hidalgo's agent, Peter Greenberg.

The Mets still appear likely to move Cliff Floyd (who would have gone to the Cubs as part of a Sosa deal) this offseason, and as such have interest in free agents Magglio Ordonez and Moises Alou.

Minaya said Friday that the Mets would prefer that 22-year-old prospect Victor Diaz start the year at Triple-A Norfolk, although the team does consider him an option if the Mets don't acquire a corner outfielder.

The Mets will upgrade either their outfield or first base with a legitimate power hitter this offseason, which means that if Diaz gets the nod in right field, the team could be free to make a run at Richie Sexson or Carlos Delgado.

Otherwise, don't count out a return of free agent John Olerud, who showed that there was still plenty of life left in his bat after signing with the Yankees this year.

Mets Notes

The Mets have prematurely ended their seven-year contract with the New York University Hospital for Joint Diseases, The New York Times reported Saturday. The team was reportedly dissatisfied with the treatment their players – most notably oft-injured infielder Jose Reyes – received, and a return to the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan is likely.

The Mets are also negotiating with the agent for reliever Mike DeJean, while they appear willing to let Ricky Bottalico walk. Minaya confirmed Friday that he will offer salary arbitration to at least one player, pitcher Victor Zambrano.

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