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Lugo a Met? Not Just Yet…

07.21.09 at 1:46 am ET

Several reports in recent days have indicated that shortstop Julio Lugo, whom the Red Sox designated for assignment on Friday, is expected to sign with the Mets next week. The Sox have 10 days from last Friday to either trade or release Lugo, and presuming that there are no takers for him on the trade market, it would appear likely that he will gain his free agency after clearing waivers (which would be requested on July 27) on July 29.

Yet it would appear that his signing with the Mets, while possible, is not a foregone conclusion. According to a major-league source, the Red Sox contacted the Mets earlier this season and sought little to nothing in return for Lugo, at a time when the Mets’ injury situation was sufficiently dire that the team seemed like it needed middle infield help. Moreover, at that time, the Mets were still very much in the division race, with more incentive to make a deal than they have now (as they try to determine whether to be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline). Even so, at that time, the Mets had sufficient reservations about the shortstop that they declined the trade offer for him, even at minimal cost.

While there is a chance that the Mets might sign Lugo once he is released, the team has shown little urgency to acquire him when given prior opportunities. As for reports of Lugo’€™s presence at the Mets academy in the Dominican, that should not necessarily be interpreted as a sign of an imminent deal. Lugo worked out at the Mets’ facility in Boca Chica ‘€“ which was opened last summer, and is considered an excellent one ‘€“ this past winter, when he was still a member of the Red Sox. A deal certainly could happen for Lugo and the Mets, but it appears somewhat premature to treat such a development as a certainty.

If Lugo is released and signs a major-league contract with another team, the Sox would be on the hook for the remainder of his salary minus the prorated amount (likely a percentage of the league minimum) for which he signs. If Lugo signs a minor-league deal, the Sox do not begin getting salary relief unless or until he is called up to the majors.

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