Sandy Alderson realizes what his Mets are up against. He watched the Nationals and Braves, the powers that be in the National League East, replenish their rosters with high-profile, big-league talent this offseason.

The Mets general manager responded with inactivity and discipline. He handled in-house business first. He signed David Wright to a long-term contract and then traded R.A. Dickey for prospects. Since then, he has signed just one free agent — Shaun Marcum, to replace Dickey — to a major-league contract, and waited until the last week of January to do so. Minor-league deals with veteran free-agents — low-risk, potentially high-reward maneuvers — have been his preferred method.

It is all part of the reclamation project he conceived when he assumed the unenviable task of guiding a troubled franchise with a bloated payroll and financial insecurities in 2010. It is a plan a big-market franchise doesn’t usually subscribe to in Major League Baseball’s no-holds-barred economic system: avoiding lengthy, costly contracts in favor of cultivating young homegrown talent.

Three seasons into his tenure, Alderson insists the future will soon be the present for a team coming off a 74-88 season.

"We’re getting to the point where we can be in the mix," Alderson told reporters at a luncheon Monday, one week before pitchers and catchers report for spring training. "I don’t want anybody to believe this is a long-term project that has no possible realization anytime soon. We’re at the point where we can make significant improvement in a hurry."

Alderson pointed to the team’s top-notch talent in his minor-league system, which includes starting pitcher Zack Wheeler and catcher Travis d’Arnaud, two players he traded established stars to get. He highlighted the significant money coming off the payroll next year. He indicated a more aggressive approach to free agency will be implemented in the very near future — possibly within the next couple of weeks, with free-agent center fielder Michael Bourn still without a job. Alderson also said veteran reliever Brandon Lyon is on the cusp of signing with the team.