PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- No negotiations were involved. Equipment manager Kevin Kierst simply approached outfielder Andrew Brown and told him that his No. 47 jersey was now No. 30.
In retrospect, Brown says, "I wish I could have been able to negotiate" with reliever Jose Valverde, an 11-year big league veteran who has worn No. 47 for seven of those years. Valverde settled for No. 46 from 2010 to 2013 with the Tigers, who have not assigned No. 47 since Jack Morris' retirement in 1990. But now that he's with the Mets on a Minor League deal, he jumped at the opportunity to reclaim his old number.
Not that Brown is complaining. He wanted a lower number anyway, since he spent most of last season lumped with high-numbered pitchers in visiting clubhouses around the country. It may be customary for free agents to purchase their old uniform number with an expensive gift such as a watch, but Brown did not consider that necessary.
"Everyone's happy," he said of his transaction with Valverde. "That's all that matters."
Mets signing Drew remains unlikely
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Even on the off chance that the Mets trade Ike Davis this spring or free up payroll some other way, signing free-agent shortstop Stephen Drew would remain unlikely.
Quite simply, the front office is not sold on Drew's ability to produce at a significantly higher level than that of incumbent Ruben Tejada, according to a team executive familiar with general manager Sandy Alderson's thinking. So unless Drew's asking price drops significantly, the Mets will not pursue him.
"At the numbers he's looking for, we don't think he's worth it compared with what we have," the source said.
The executive went on to say that "there's no guarantee Drew's going to be as good" as he was last season and that the Mets "don't think Ruben's going to be that bad."
Drew, 30, hit .253 with 13 home runs and a .777 OPS in 124 games for the Red Sox last season, the third consecutive year in which injuries shortened his campaign. Tejada, 24, missed even more time in 2013 due to a quad strain and a broken leg, hitting .202 with no homers and a .519 OPS when healthy.
The gap between the two is statistically significant. But from 2011 to 2012, Drew hit .238 with a .687 OPS in 165 games, whereas Tejada averaged .287 with a .690 OPS over 210 games. Drew was the better defender on paper, though not by a significant margin, which explains another aspect of the team's hesitation regarding a player who could command upward of $10 million per season.
If the Mets do make any major personnel moves, they are far more likely to trade Davis -- though that, too, remains a long shot.