There is some indication that the physical will be more than a formality. MartÃnez has been on the disabled list four times in the past six years, and even though he did not miss a start last season, he is believed to have a damaged labrum in his right shoulder, the one he uses to pitch. A major league executive involved with the negotiations said last week that the Mets had some concerns about MartÃnez’s health and wanted him to go through a thorough physical, which would include a magnetic resonance imaging exam. All players are given physicals when they sign as free agents and many are given an M.R.I. MartÃnez is believed to have agreed to take the exam for the Mets.
Because MartÃnez is 33, lost about 5 miles an hour off his fastball last season and has displayed continued evidence of wear and tear in recent seasons, the Mets know they will face considerable criticism for giving him such a lucrative and long-term deal. In recent years, the Mets have gambled on a number of veterans who were at least a little bit past their prime, and they were burned when the players failed to produce.
“It’s been a tough few years, and quite honestly, I’ve felt their pain,” said Steve Phillips, the former Mets general manager who traded for Vaughn and Alomar and signed Glavine. “I know how badly they want to do well, and this is a big move for them. My view is that the risk is O.K. in the first couple years of the contract. Years 3 and 4 are what worry me.”
Phillips, who is now covering the MartÃnez story for ESPN, said yesterday that the Mets would not be able to get insurance on MartÃnez’s balky right shoulder because he has a pre-existing condition.
The Mets were apparently not the only club willing to overlook MartÃnez’s health concerns. The St. Louis Cardinals offered MartÃnez a multiyear contract that came close to matching the Mets’ offer, and the Red Sox offered him a three-year deal. In addition, Larry Lucchino, the Red Sox’ chief executive, tried to make a last-second effort to raise his bid when the Mets were negotiating with Cuza on Monday, according to a major league executive.