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Friday, December 20
Updated: December 21, 11:48 AM ET
Floyd brings punch to upgraded Mets

Associated Press

NEW YORK -- The New York Mets have added a big bat to go with their upgraded pitching staff, agreeing in principle with Cliff Floyd on a $26 million, four-year contract Friday.

Cliff Floyd
New York Mets
146 520 86 28 79 .288

Floyd, who declined salary arbitration from the Boston Red Sox on Thursday night, must pass a physical Saturday to make the deal official.

Floyd is the third big free-agent acquisition for the Mets this offseason as they try to rebound from a last-place finish in 2002.

They signed left-hander Tom Glavine to a $35 million, three-year deal to be the ace of their staff and lefty Mike Stanton to a $9 million, three-year contract to bolster their bullpen.

Floyd batted .288 with 28 homers, 43 doubles and 79 RBI last season for Boston, Montreal and Florida. He had a .388 on-base percentage and slugged .533.

He will be a major upgrade over Roger Cedeno or Jeromy Burnitz in one of the corner outfield spots. The Mets probably will try to trade Cedeno or Burnitz.

New York was last in the majors in batting average in right field and second-to-last in the NL in both homers and RBIs in left field. That was a big reason they finished 13th in the league in scoring.

Floyd will be a formidable bat in the middle of the lineup, along with Mike Piazza. Floyd struggled with injuries early in his career but has played 295 games in the last two seasons. He is a .284 career hitter with 132 homers and 508 RBI in 908 games.

Like the Mets' other free-agent acquisitions, Floyd probably would not have signed with the team had manager Bobby Valentine not been replaced by Art Howe.

Both Glavine and Stanton said they would not have come to New York if the volatile Valentine were still in charge of the team. Valentine and Floyd feuded in 2000 over the manager's initial snubbing of Floyd for the NL All-Star team. Floyd later made the team.

It's Amazin'
The Mets' projected lineup and starting rotation for the 2003 season:

Roger Cedeno, LF
Roberto Alomar, 2B
Cliff Floyd, RF
Mike Piazza, C
Mo Vaughn, 1B
Ty Wigginton, 3B
Timo Perez, CF
Russ Johnson, SS

Tom Glavine, LHP
Al Leiter, LHP
Pedro Astacio, RHP
Steve Trachsel, RHP
Mike Bacsik, LHP

The deal with Floyd is the latest big move made by owner Fred Wilpon, who took over sole ownership of the team in August from Nelson Doubleday.

The Mets still need to find a starting third baseman to replace Edgardo Alfonzo and a shortstop to play until rookie phenom Jose Reyes is ready to take over.

The Mets said Friday night that Nakamura backed out of a deal to come to the major leagues and will remain in Japan instead.

``We had an agreement in principle with the player. He changed his mind after successfully completing a physical with us,'' Mets general manager Steve Phillips said in a statement. ``We respect his decision to change his mind and wish him nothing but the best of luck in the future.''

Nakamura hit .294 with 42 homers and 115 RBI last season in Japan's Pacific League.

Now they will turn their attention to free agents Bill Mueller and Jose Hernandez.

``Despite Mr. Nakamura's decision, today was a productive day for the Mets' organization,'' Phillips said.

Also Friday, the Mets announced that they did not offer contracts to right-handers John Thomson and Doug Nickle, making them free agents.

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