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Mets move closer to landing Alou

Posted: Saturday November 18, 2006 6:32PM; Updated: Saturday November 18, 2006 6:36PM
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By Jon Heyman, SI.com

NEW YORK -- The New York Mets are closing in a deal to sign free agent outfielder Moises Alou, SI.com has learned. It is believed the deal could be for one year plus an option.

An announcement could come early next week, after the physical.

Alou, 40, is expected to replace Cliff Floyd in left field and could also free up Lastings Milledge to move in trade. The Mets never entered the high-priced Alfonso Soriano or Carlos Lee derbies.

The signing is something of a coup for the Mets, as the bidding was spirited for Alou, a career .301 hitter with a lifetime .516 slugging percentage. The Texas Rangers and Cleveland Indians are believed to have made two-year offers for more money. The Oakland A's were reportedly also looking at Alou as a potential replacement for Frank Thomas, who signed with Toronto. Barry Bonds is another player Oakland will consider.

The Mets' deal with Alou is believed to include a team option for 2008 and a buyout.

The Mets badly wanted another big right-handed bat, and Alou slugged .571 last year. He is a versatile hitter and can bat almost anywhere in a lineup but looks likely to bat behind rising star David Wright with the Mets. While Alou was limited to 98 games in 2006, he is generally seen as sturdier than Floyd, the man he replaces. Floyd had hoped to return, but the Mets preferred a right-handed bat and a less-injury prone player.

General manager Omar Minaya has long been an admirer of Alou's, and the Mets have targeted Alou for months and actually had a trade in place last July before the Giants decided they were too close to the race to sign off on it. Alou his .301 last year with 22 home runs and 74 RBIs.

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