Free agents hit the open market

Jose Valentin may return as a starting player.

Sunday marks the first day that free agents can begin to negotiate with new teams, and while the Mets have made progress with a number of their own, all 14 players will be available on the open market this winter.

While the Mets' main priority remains re-signing left-hander Tom Glavine, stabilizing a pitching rotation that is prepared to go into 2007 without counting heavily on the injured Pedro Martinez, there are other issues of importance.

New York has negotiated with the agents for right-handers Chad Bradford and Orlando Hernandez, although their respective situations continue to remain unsettled.

The team has also reached out to infielder Jose Valentin, according to the New York Daily News, although they are now among a group of a half-dozen teams, agent David Elston told the newspaper.

The remaining 11 free agents on the Mets' roster have dubious chances of returning.

The team would have had significant interest in re-signing right-handed reliever Guillermo Mota – who posted a 1.00 ERA in 18 relief appearances down the stretch – before Mota tested positive for a performance-enhancing substance, earning a 50-game suspension effective at the beginning of the 2007 season.

Cliff Floyd is interested in coming back but the Mets are thought to desire a younger corner outfielder, and the Mets weren't all that impressed with what reliever Roberto Hernandez gave them in a second tour of duty.

Steve Trachsel tied with Glavine for the team lead with 15 victories, but his aborted effort in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series at St. Louis seems to have been his last start for the Mets.

Trachsel, the longest-tenured Met in 2006, was passed over for a start in Game 7 of the NLCS and never totally appeared to earn manager Willie Randolph's trust, even before the postseason.

Other free agents from the Mets' roster include Mike DiFelice, Yusaku Iriki, Ricky Ledee, Darren Oliver, Michael Tucker and Chris Woodward.

  • Manny Acta, who has served as the Mets' third base coach for the past two seasons, will be named as the next manager of the Washington Nationals, multiple sources reported Sunday. According to MLB.com, Acta will be given a two-year contract.

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