Sandy Alderson said the gap from when a free agent reaches agreement on terms with the Mets until when that deal is announced is longer this offseason because the Mets are doing more intricate pre-signing physicals.
Rather than just the orthopedic look, the Mets now are conducting all bloodwork and other internal-medicine tests on prospective signees before a deal is announced rather than wait until routine spring-training physicals.
Alderson said the motivation was last year's debacle with Ronny Paulino. Paulino passed an orthopedic physical, but his blood screening in spring training turned up anemia and he was unavailable for part of the early season beyond the remaining time on his performance-enhancing drug suspension. Now, conceivably, issues like that will be flagged before the team agrees to a deal.
"They're getting, essentially, a full physical, which requires a blood panel and so forth," Alderson said. "So from the time a [signing] rumor starts until something perhaps is confirmed might be a little longer than usual. But we feel it's important to do a complete physical on anybody that we potentially sign and not wait for the internal medicine, the non-orthopedic aspects, until spring training with regard to these potential free agents."
Alderson said he was unaware how many teams do physicals this intricate on free agents before deals are announced.
"I don't know that it's something that every club does, but I think it makes sense to do it with regard to free agents, where we don't have a complete or a direct medical history, or medical association with the player," Alderson said. "... As we found out last year, it just makes sense to get it all done and out of the way prior to the contract being guaranteed. I mean, it's prudent to do, particularly where there's a possibility of some sort of illness that may be prevalent in a particular player's offseason area of residence."