|Pagan has dropped the ball|
The team is still debating whether to cut ties with its center fielder.
If they decide to proceed without him, the Mets could shop Pagan and, if that fails, nontender him. In that scenario, which has been a solid possibility since midsummer, the Mets will likely seek a strong fielder - and an affordable one.
Team insiders - While noting that Pagan might still return, have not shot down the notion, and point out that Ankiel, the free agent who earned $1.5 million last season with the Washington Nationals, might be precisely the type of short-term replacement for Pagan that the Mets are seeking.
The difference in salary between Pagan, 30, and an alternative such as Ankiel is key. The Mets are trying to cut payroll by about $30 million, a project that requires trimming around many edges. Pagan is talented and enjoyed a breakout year in 2010, but will likely be awarded about $5 million in salary arbitration this winter.
Ankiel, 32, batted .239 last season, with a .296 on-base percentage and a cannon arm in the outfield. The offensive numbers are far from quality, but Pagan’s on-base percentage was just .322, he pursued fly balls in circuitous fashion and lobbed them toward the infield, all while alienating his manager and many teammates with what they perceived as a sour disposition.
Several times last season Terry Collins tried to connect with Pagan, calling him into the office and asking why he was sulking. A positive clubhouse presence the year before, Pagan seem troubled by his dip in performance in 2011. Although he enjoyed a far better season at the plate than Ankiel did, some Mets officials strongly believe that Pagan will not be a good fit next year.