With Delgado gone, Mets deal for Mientkiewicz

NEW YORK – Carlos Delgado's decision to sign with the Florida Marlins sent a ripple effect through the Mets front office Tuesday, but the team was primed for a fall-back plan.

The Mets have completed a trade with the Boston Red Sox for first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz and a deal could be announced as soon as Wednesday.

The price may have been a steep one for the Mets, however, as multiple reports peg the minor leaguer going back to the Red Sox as first base prospect Ian Bladergroen.

Ranked as New York's No. 4 prospect by Inside Pitch, the 21-year-old Bladergroen started last season at Single-A Capital City and had one of the most powerful starts to his season of any Mets prospect in recent memory.

Bladergroen, a 6-4 left-handed slugger, played just 72 games for Capital City before ending his year early to repair torn cartilage in his wrist. He finished batting .342 with 13 home runs and 74 RBI, ranking among the South Atlantic League leaders in a number of categories.

"It really blows my mind where I could have been had I not had the injury," Bladergroen told Inside Pitch in December. "I'm thinking, because of the injury, that I'll most likely start off [2005] in St. Lucie, and that's fine. My goal for next season is to get to Double-A at some point. My ultimate goal is to get to Shea and I know I will get there. It's just a matter of when."

A connection has long been rumored between the Mets and Boston for the 30-year-old Mientkiewicz, with published reports suggesting in recent weeks that the Red Sox originally asked for top pitching prospect Yusmeiro Petit.

With Petit having been the opening volley from Red Sox GM Theo Epstein, it was unlikely Mientkiewicz would come cheaply, despite the fact that Mientkiewicz had the worst offensive season of his career last year. In 127 games for Boston and the Minnesota Twins, the defensive whiz hit .238 with six homers and 35 RBI.

Mientkiewicz's name has appeared in the news in recent weeks regarding his ownership of the ball that shattered Boston's 86-year World Series drought, which he caught from Keith Foulke to end Game 4 in St. Louis.

Though legal experts have defined Mientkiewicz's claim to the ball as tenuous, Mientkiewicz wants to keep the prized collectible. The Red Sox would like it back for display, and the affair has not made Mientkiewicz a popular figure in Boston – with Kevin Millar in line to play first base, Mientkiewicz is also expendable.

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