We heard all winter that the Mets were interested in free-agent starter Joel Pineiro, and at one point it appeared as if New York had a two-year offer worth around $15MM on the table to the right-hander. Pineiro ended up signing with the Angels for slightly more money and it simply appeared that the Halos won a bidding war that also included the Dodgers.
John Harper of the New York Daily News, however, revealed a bit more to the story in an interview with the veteran right-hander. According to Pineiro, he had heard from neighbor Alex Cora that the Mets were going to make Pineiro a top target of their winter shopping, and the right-hander was more than willing to hear New York out. However, the club allegedly never made an offer to Pineiro until the Angels had already moved in and that $15MM offer "may well have been for the sake of appearance" since the Mets knew Los Angeles had made a bigger offer.
Adam Rubin of ESPN New York has the Mets' take on the situation, which is unsurprisingly different. According to team representatives, they Mets "were willing to meet or narrowly exceed" the contract that Pineiro got from the Angels, but the club felt that "Pineiro wasn't sincere" in his desire to become a Met.
Given that the difference between the Mets' purported offer and Pineiro's Los Angeles contract was only $1MM, it's hard to believe that the Mets couldn't have made up that gap if they were really serious about bringing Pineiro to the Big Apple. If "the sake of appearance" is as important to the Mets as Harper's article claims, then making the larger offer would've allowed the Mets to say offered the most money but the onus was on Pineiro for turning it down.
This kind of free agent gamesmanship no doubt occurs a dozen times over every winter, but in this case, it stands out given the small dollar amount involved and (as Harper points out) the major struggles of the Mets' pitching staff early in the season. It's also possible that both sides were playing a game of chicken with the other and, in this case, both blinked.