SAN DIEGO - If the Mets make a splashy acquisition this winter, it will likely come by finding an upgrade at shortstop over Wilmer Flores. But after two days of the winter meetings, the chances of such a move appear to have taken a hit.
The trade market had been considered the Mets' best bet for bolstering their talent at shortstop. But general manager Sandy Alderson said his trade possibilities have become "increasingly limited."
Alderson narrowed down what he considered viable trade options to just two or three players at most. According to a source, among that group are a pair of Mariners shortstops, Brad Miller and Chris Taylor.
Miller, 25, began last season as the Mariners' starter. But he hit just .221 with 10 homers and struggled defensively. However, Miller boasts plenty of offensive upside.
Taylor, 24, hit .287 and played solid defense following his promotion from the minor leagues.
Though both remain on the Mets' radar, it remains unclear whether the Mariners are willing to deal either. Meanwhile, a much-speculated megadeal involving the Rockies' Troy Tulowitzki is highly unlikely and the Mets have reservations about others believed to be on the trade market.
With few choices, Alderson said the Mets will most likely upgrade through free agency, if at all.
That could prove problematic for the Mets, who haven't been enamored by the crop of free agents, which includes Jed Lowrie, Asdrubal Cabrera and Stephen Drew. According to a source, the Mets' interest is still limited to one-year deals, meaning that any signing would almost certainly come later in the offseason.
Alderson said the Mets won't be in a hurry.
"Not to say that these players are interchangeable, but from our standpoint, there's no one situation that stands out over all others," Alderson said. "So I think we're comfortable sitting tight for the moment."
The Mets haven't ruled out exploring international free agents Takashi Toritani of Japan and Jung-Ho Kang of South Korea, though they're not aggressively pursuing either player.
Alderson reiterated that he's "reasonably comfortable" beginning the season with Flores alongside second baseman Daniel Murphy, even though both have defensive limitations.
Of course, the Mets might not have a choice.
On the starting pitching front, Alderson said no trade is imminent, one day after Dillon Gee emerged as the most likely pitcher to be dealt.
"We've had conversations but not extensive conversations," said Alderson, who has made no secret of the Mets' desire to trade a veteran starter before spring training. "So I think if anything's going to happen, there's still work to do, so I think those rumors are premature."
Mets officials met with free-agent lefthander Craig Breslow Tuesday, a source confirmed. But the Mets don't appear to be seriously pursuing the 36-year-old reliever, who is coming off a down year (5.96 ERA in 60 appearances) for the Red Sox.
Meanwhile, Alderson said the Mets' efforts to fill their need for an experienced lefty reliever and a righthanded bat off the bench has centered on free agency.
Notes & quotes: Ian Lewin has been promoted to farm director, replacing Jon Miller, who will leave the organization at the end of the year. T.J. Barra will replace Levin as manager of baseball analytics . . . Alderson played down the notion of having Ruben Tejada compete with Flores for the shortstop job, one day after manager Terry Collins raised the possibility.