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Mets engage Braves on Andrelton Simmons, but asking price too steep

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- The New York Mets have engaged the Atlanta Braves multiple times about a potential trade for shortstop Andrelton Simmons, including as recently as Thursday morning as the GM meetings were concluding at the Boca Raton Resort & Club.

For now, though, Atlanta's asking price for Simmons is way too steep, namely one of the Mets' core-four young pitchers: Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard or Steven Matz. Perhaps at some point the demand will pivot to Atlanta-area native Zack Wheeler, who is expected to return from Tommy John surgery in June or July. That might make a trade potentially have more legs.

Simmons, 26, hit .265 with four homers and 44 RBIs in 535 at-bats in 2015. He was beaten out by Brandon Crawford for the National League Gold Glove at shortstop.

Simmons is signed through 2020 at salaries of $6 million, $8 million, $11 million, $13 million and $15 million.

For now, the Mets are focused on the outfield and trying to find a way to offset the expected departure of Yoenis Cespedes. They likely will add a lefty hitter who can man center field and complement Juan Lagares.

Mets officials note that they reached the World Series with Wilmer Flores and Ruben Tejada as the shortstops. They are content with that duo plus prospect Dilson Herrera forming a middle-infield combination in 2016.

Mets assistant general manager John Ricco on Thursday morning acknowledged dialogue with the Braves, while not specifying individual players involved in talks. Ricco added that in-division trades can be difficult, especially involving higher-profile players. Nonetheless, the Mets have swung trades this year with the Washington Nationals (Jerry Blevins for Matt den Dekker) and Braves (Juan Uribe and Kelly Johnson for two minor leaguers). Going back several years, the Mets successfully acquired Carlos Delgado and Paul LoDuca in separates trades with the Marlins.

"We've had a number of conversations with the Braves, as with other clubs about a number of different players," Ricco said. "In division, it's always difficult to make deals. We have, over the years, made deals in the division. Bigger deals are even harder to make. That certainly is something to consider when we deal with teams in our division. We'll see. We're kind of in different places. They're rebuilding. We're looking to win now. So it's possible there might be a fit. Nothing right now, though."

Asked if shortstop is a focal point, Ricco added: "We've been talking about shortstop for a while, but we did get to the World Series with our current combination. So we're just looking to get better. And if we can get better there, we'll certainly look at it."