Ben Zobrist Rumors

Mets, Athletics Have Discussed Ben Zobrist

With the Mets’ offense floundering while key hitters David Wright, Daniel Murphy and Travis d’Arnaud are on the disabled list, the team has spoken to the Athletics about a potential Ben Zobrist trade, reports John Harper of the New York Daily News. Citing sources “on both sides,” Harper says that while there have been talks, there’s nothing to indicate that the talks are particularly advanced.

The Mets have dropped seven consecutive games and fallen under the .500 mark — a swift fall from the high that came along with an 11-game winning streak back in April. Still, as Harper notes, the team’s rotation is too good to remain idle and hope for improved performance and/or better health. Harper spoke to Alderson about the need to make a move, with the GM telling him, “It would be nice to do something if we could to improve this team and give it a psychological boost.” According to Harper, Alderson made it clear that he understands the urgency to make some kind of move to help the team.

Zobrist is the type of player in which the Mets are reportedly interested. Previous indications have been that the club is eyeing someone versatile — potentially someone that could play at third base while Wright is on the shelf and slide to another position when he returns to the club. (The Mets are hoping to have Wright back around the All-Star break.) Zobrist is highly versatile, having logged significant playing time in the Majors at second base, shortstop, left field and right field. Zobrist also has more brief exposure to third base, center field and first base. While he wouldn’t be an ideal candidate to step in at the hot corner for Wright, the team could use Murphy at third with Zobrist at second until Wright returns, then potentially use Zobrist at either shortstop or in a corner outfield slot.

Of course, all of that is relatively aggressive speculation, given the seemingly preliminary nature of the discussions between the two teams. In fact, previous reports have indicated that while the Mets do covet Zobrist, they also feel they’ll be outbid for his services. As Harper notes, it doesn’t help the Mets’ cause that one of their more marketable trade chips, right-hander Rafael Montero, has been sidelined for two months with a shoulder injury.

Zobrist underwent knee surgery earlier this year and struggled upon his return, but he’s hitting a solid .250/.335/.451 with five homers on the season after heating up recently. Defensive metrics are quite down on his work this year, though it’s fair to wonder how much that’s tied to the knee surgery, as he’s long graded out as a plus defensive player all around the diamond. If the knee is the reason for the defensive struggles, then it stands to reason that his glovework should improve along with his bat as he works his way back to full strength. Zobrist is owed $4.18MM through the end of the season, at which point he’s eligible for free agency.

Certainly, a Zobrist trade — with the Mets or any other team — isn’t likely to transpire in the near future. The A’s are still said to be pushing to get back into the race, and they’ve played better as of late, winning eight of their past 10 contests and 13 of 21 in June. Beyond that, we’re in the early stages of what looks to be a market skewed decisively in favor of sellers, so any significant trade made at this juncture would likely be very costly for the acquiring team.


Rosenthal’s Latest: Desmond, Toussaint, D-Backs, Samardzija, Cotts

In his latest notes column for FOX Sports, Ken Rosenthal begins with an interesting note on the Nationals. Despite a substantial payroll and a heavy offseason investment in Max Scherzer, Nats ownership is reluctant to add payroll during the season. Rosenthal notes that, in hindsight, we saw an indication of this last July when Cleveland paid all of the $3.3MM remaining on Asdrubal Cabrera‘s salary after the Nats acquired him. (Of course, the Nats were also willing to take on all of Matt Thornton‘s salary via waiver claim.)

Because of this, Rosenthal wonders if the Nats will consider trading Ian Desmond this summer to clear room for a different acquisition. Given Desmond’s struggles, the team could be better off with Danny Espinosa, Yunel Escobar and Anthony Rendon seeing regular time in the infield. Earlier in the week, I speculated on a possible Desmond trade after it was reported that the Nats were interesred in the D-Backs’ middle infielders, but Rosenthal notes that it could also allow them more flexibility to pursue Aroldis Chapman, Ben Zobrist or even a reunion with Tyler Clippard. Of course, Desmond’s offensive and defensive woes diminish his trade value, as well.

A few more highlights from Rosenthal’s column…

  • Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart tells Rosenthal that he usually doesn’t pay attention to media criticism, but he’s aware of the near-universal criticism of the D-Backs for their trade of Touki Toussaint (in which the team essentially sold its 2014 first-round pick to Atlanta). Rosenthal quotes Stewart: “The truth is we did not know what Touki’s value would be if we shopped him. There is a lot of speculation on that. People are assuming it would have been better, but we don’t know. There was an opportunity to make a deal that gave us more flexibility today as well as next year. We took that opportunity. It’s tough to say we could have gotten more. He was drafted at No. 16, given ($2.7) million. In my opinion, that’s his value.” Stewart continues to say that Toussaint has not thrown 96 mph with the D-Backs, despite some scouting reports and that there’s “some inflation of what people think Touki is.” Stewart adds that the D-Backs think Toussaint will be a Major League pitcher but not for another five to six years.
  • A brief interjection from me to offer my take on those comments: It’s odd to hear a GM openly devalue a player in this fashion, even after trading him away. Beyond that, however, it’s puzzling to hear Stewart equate Toussaint’s value with the clearly arbitrary number assigned to last year’s draft slot value. Having shown a willingness to spend $16MM+ on a pitching prospect (Yoan Lopez) this offseason, Stewart is undoubtedly cognizant of the fact that Toussaint would have fetched far, far more than $2.7MM in a theoretical free agent setting. Additionally, if they truly do feel that Toussaint will pitch in the Major Leagues, that makes the trade all the more puzzling to me, as my best explanation to this point had been that they simply didn’t believe in his future all that strongly.
  • Back to Rosenthal’s piece, which has several more quotes from Stewart, including the GM’s own admission of surprise to his team’s current standing in the NL West. The D-Backs were built with an eye on the longer-term picture than 2015, says Stewart, and they’ll need to assess how to respond at the deadline. To this point, the D-Backs have received inquiries on their starting pitching, but not on their middle infield. Stewart flatly says “…we’re not moving [Nick] Ahmed,” and calls a trade of Chris Owings “very unlikely.” Interestingly, that does seem to indicate that the new GM values Ahmed over Owings.
  • The Astros remain interested in Jeff Samardzija, and as Rosenthal notes, a move away from what has been a brutal White Sox defense would likely help Samardzija quite a bit. Samardzija’s .338 BABIP has helped contribute to a significant discrepancy between his 4.53 ERA and 3.67 FIP. Of course, Chicago’s porous defense doesn’t necessarily explain Samardzija’s diminished strikeout rate and struggles to strand runners in 2015. The Astros, Rosenthal says, are eyeing Samardzija and other pitchers, but the White Sox are not yet ready to sell.
  • The Brewers aren’t receiving very strong interest in Francisco Rodriguez, likely in part due to his backloaded contract, Rosenthal hears. K-Rod is still owed $1.95MM in 2015, plus $9.5MM in 2016 between his salary and the buyout on a $6MM club option for the 2017 season. Lefty Neal Cotts, however, figures to be in demand and may even be of interest to his former club, the Rangers, Rosenthal writes. Cotts’s 4.30 ERA isn’t anything to write home about, but he’s held lefties to a .546 OPS.
  • The Cardinals might not be as urgent to add a starter as many had previously expected. The club feels that Michael Wacha can top 200 innings, and Carlos Martinez can deliver about 170. A bigger need might be a left-handed-hitting complement for Mark Reynolds at first base, and Rosenthal suggests Adam LaRoche as a speculative fit to improve the team on both sides of the ball.

NL East Notes: Freeman, Marlins, Hamels, Zobrist, Mets, Franco

A bone bruise in his right wrist has landed Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman on the DL, writes MLB.com’s Mark Bowman. The team is hopeful that Freeman won’t miss too much time, but Bowman adds that it would be “optimistic” to expect that he will return on July 3 when he is first eligible to be activated.

A few more items pertaining to the NL East…

  • Though they’re 11 games under .500, the Marlins are not yet thinking of selling, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter links). The team could revisit that thinking if things don’t improve after facing the Cardinals, Dodgers and Giants on the upcoming homestand, he says. Still, the team could soon have a surplus of starting pitching on its hands, once Jose Fernandez, Jarred Cosart and Henderson Alvarez are all activated from the disabled list. Mat Latos could end up being the odd man out, Rosenthal speculates, adding that veteran righty Dan Haren isn’t likely to be moved.
  • While reports of scouts watching a certain team/player can sometimes be overblown, there are a pair of NL East clubs scouting possible trade pieces tonight. The Nationals have a high-level scout watching the Athletics tonight, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports, noting that Washington has been linked to Ben Zobrist recently. Additionally, Jared Sandler of the Rangers Radio Network tweets that the Phillies have a scout in attendance for Chi Chi Gonzalez‘s start tonight. Gonzalez’s name has been floated in rumors connecting the Rangers to Cole Hamels.
  • Andy Martino of the New York Daily News joined SNY’s Mostly Mets podcast to discuss possible upgrades for the Mets‘ offense (audio link). “They’re moving cautiously, because my understanding is that they have payroll flexibility, but essentially, Alderson has one big bullet to fire that way,” Martino said. Alderson may have the ability to either add a few lower-cost pieces or pursue one more expensive player, but Martino points to Alderson’s history of not parting with significant prospect packages to outbid other clubs in speculating that the ultimate result of the Mets’ trade efforts will be adding a few lower-profile pieces.
  • The Mets announced today that Travis d’Arnaud has hit the DL with a sprain in his left elbow (Twitter link). At this time, there’s no immediate timetable for d’Arnaud’s return, though it’s at least positive that the injury is in his non-throwing elbow.
  • In the wake of Maikel Franco‘s scorching hot streak and his third homer in two games at Yankee Stadium, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com tweets that the Phillies beat the Yankees‘ offer to Franco by a mere $5,000 back in 2010. Philadelphia offered Franco a $100K signing bonus, whereas the Yankees’ top offer was $95K. That’s probably another $5-10K that the Yankees wish they’d spent, though there’s little certainty when dealing with players of that age. (Franco was 17 at the time he signed with the Phils.)


Royals Showing Interest In Cueto, Leake, Zobrist

The Royals are casting a wide net in their search for upgrades on the trade market and have shown signs of interest in Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake and Ben Zobrist, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter).

The Reds have, in fact, received inquiries from multiple clubs on Cueto, Leake and Aroldis Chapman, Morosi continues, but Cincinnati is still reluctant to engage in serious trade discussions despite sitting 12.5 games back in the NL Central. Likewise, Morosi’s colleague, Ken Rosenthal, hears that the A’s are in no rush to move Zobrist, as the team is still trying to get back into the race (Twitter link). Rosenthal adds that it’s not entirely clear if the Royals have inquired on Zobrist specifically, but they’ve discussed upgrading at second base, making Zobrist a logical target.

Many pundits feel that while a sale of veteran pieces is only a matter of time for the Reds, they’ll wait until after hosting next month’s All-Star Game before doing so. It would, after all, be a bitter pill to swallow for Cincinnati natives to watch Cueto and Chapman pitch in the All-Star Game while wearing another club’s jersey.

On last week’s MLBTR Podcast, Jeff Todd and I discussed the Reds’ trade possibilities at length. I posited that given the sheer volume of appealing pieces the team could trade, it’s possible that Cincinnati could enjoy a Braves-esque turnaround by willingly listening to offers on not only Cueto, Chapman and Leake, but also Jay Bruce and Todd Frazier.

As for the Athletics, their reluctance to throw in the towel has been noted before, but the team remains 10 games under .500 and 10 games out of first in the AL West even after going 17-11 over the past month. They’re a slightly more manageable eight games back from a second consecutive Wild Card playoff berth, but there’s a clear uphill battle for the A’s to become serious contenders again.

From the Royals’ standpoint, it’s not hard to see why they’d be interested in an upgrade at second base. Setting aside the avalanche of Omar Infante/All-Star jokes already pouring in on Twitter, Kansas City second basemen have combined to hit a woeful .230/.248/.307 this season. Of course, Infante is owed a significant $22.01MM through the end of the 2017 season. (That number will rise by $500K if he does indeed start the All-Star game.)

A rotation upgrade would seem sensible for Royals GM Dayton Moore as well; the Kansas City rotation has produced just a 4.37 ERA this season (21st in the league), and metrics such as FIP and xFIP feel that’s a pretty fair indicator of what to expect based on the talent the Royals are working with. Just three pitchers have made 10 or more starts for the Royals this year, and two of them are Yordano Ventura and Jeremy Guthrie, who have posted respective ERAs of 4.68 and 5.55. Both Cueto and Leake, then, stand out as logical trade targets for the first-place Royals, while on the Oakland side of the equation, names like Scott Kazmir and Jesse Chavez could come into play. Cueto, Leake and Kazmir are all free agents at season’s end, where the late-blooming and somewhat unheralded Chavez is controllable through the 2016 season.


Trade Notes: Taylor, Cueto, Cards, Indians, Rangers, White Sox

The Nationals and Athletics have matched up on trade deadline rentals (and other deals) with some frequency of late, and the clubs have reportedly discussed both Ben Zobrist and Tyler Clippard this year. As Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports, nothing has gained significant traction as of yet. Oakland has expressed interest in young Nats outfielder Michael Taylor, who has found himself playing a significant role on the club this year as a fill-in for Denard Span (to start the year) and Jayson Werth (currently on the DL). The A’s have also asked about the Nats’ young arms, per Rosenthal, who argues that the Taylor ask suggests that Oakland GM Billy Beane could be looking to “operate as both a buyer and seller” this summer. From my perspective, looking to add an unpolished but big-league-ready and controllable piece like Taylor is to be expected, whether or not Beane thinks his club has enough time to get back in contention this season. I’d also add that the Nats seem unlikely to move Taylor with Span set to hit free agency after the season.

Here are some more notes on the trade market:

  • The Yankees are getting a good look at Reds starter Johnny Cueto, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweets. New York has sent a scout to watch both of Cueto’s last two starts, per the report. Of course, they surely are not alone in dedicating attention to the player who could be the best arm available this July.
  • Though he doesn’t call for a trade directly, Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch breaks down the flaws in the Cardinals bench alignment. In particular, utility infielder Pete Kozma has struggled badly at the plate for some time. And the team’s resources have been stretched somewhat with Mark Reynolds needed to fill in for the injured Matt Adams. Certainly, as the team looks to fortify itself for a stretch run and hopeful post-season berth, reserve players could be on the wish list.
  • The Indians remain in a somewhat uncertain position in a tough AL Central; entering today’s action, the team remains four games under .500 and eight back in the division. In an appearance on MLB Network Radio (Twitter link), Cleveland GM Chris Antonetti certainly sounded more like a buyer. “We’re still learning about our team,” he said. “We’re still trying to find out where we’ll need to supplement.”
  • In his own recent MLB Network Radio spot several days ago (via Twitter), Rangers GM Jon Daniels explained that he is preparing to take a hard look at the trade market. “If someone out there can help us, we have to be open-minded,” said Daniels. “We’ll evaluate our own guys first and go from there.” As both of these executive quotes indicate, one somewhat underappreciated factor in the slow onset of serious trades is the fact that many clubs are interested in obtaining an extended look at multiple internal options — all while seeing how other teams’ players are performing — before deciding whether to part with assets.
  • The White Sox are in an even tougher spot than their division rivals from Cleveland, but GM Rick Hahn emphasized that the team is still focused on crawling back into contention, as Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago reports. “The organization still absolutely believes in this team,” Hahn said. “The focus on the ballgames and the belief we will win ballgames is there.” Of course, as Levine rightly notes, the best way to get back in the hunt — improved performance — is also the optimal means of building trade value. Hahn went on to explain that he had no interest in giving public insight into the team’s strategic thinking. “Do we have thoughts on potential moves to reinvigorate the 2015 club and put us in a better position to contend going forward? Absolutely,” said Hahn. “As for the timing or the nature of those moves, that is not something that we will lay out in advance.”
  • ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark lays out his top ten targets, rating Cole Hamels of the Phillies as the biggest trade piece. One executive tells Stark that Hamels has probably increased his value over the first few months of the season, though of course he is out right now with what is hoped to be a relatively minor hamstring issue. Teams that have had contact with the Phils are indicating that GM Ruben Amaro Jr. is still insisting on young players that possible buyers have said they’re not willing to move. One source tells Stark that a “more creative” approach will be needed to get something done. Amaro has obviously taken a lot of heat for his handling of the team’s trade chips, though at this point it is probably best to withhold judgment; after all, Hamels is a somewhat unique trade commodity given his large but manageable contract, and a bidding war remains a plausible scenario.

Rosenthal’s Latest: Reds, A’s, Orioles, Marlins

The Reds are doomed by injuries and an 11.5 game deficit, says FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal in his latest video. However, owner Bob Castellini is not yet ready to concede. The baseball operations staff understands that the club needs to convert veterans and soon-to-be free agents into future talent – they just have to convince their boss.

  • The A’s have performed well by run differential as well as the BaseRuns metric used by FanGraphs. However, they are 13 games below .500 and 10 games back in the AL West. The bullpen is a serious issue. Other clubs are looking to snipe players like Ben Zobrist and Tyler Clippard. Expect GM Billy Beane to jump on a properly enticing offer.
  • The Orioles have nine impending free agents. They should act as both buyers and sellers at the trade deadline. The club needs a power hitting corner outfield. They could trade a starter like Bud Norris.
  • The Marlins may also look to deal a starter. Jarred Cosart will return from the disabled list soon. Jose Urena or Tom Koehler are candidates to be optioned. However, there will be a surplus once Jose Fernandez returns from Tommy John surgery. At that point, the club could look to trade Dan Haren or Mat Latos. The Marlins are currently nine games below .500 but just six back in a weak NL East.
  • If Cincinnati shops Aroldis Chapman, count the Marlins among the potential suitors. The club is always a fit for Cuban talent. Personally, I’m not sure if Chapman is the best use of Miami’s resources. Reliever A.J. Ramos has ably replaced Steve Cishek as the closer, but he has bouts of wildness in his track record. However, Carter Capps is standing by should Ramos falter.

AL Notes: Hanley, Zobrist, Tanaka

Here’s the latest from the American League:

  • Red Sox outfielder Hanley Ramirez expressed little inclination to return to the infield, as WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford reports. He emphasized that he believes on the grass limits the wear and tear on his body, saying “I consider myself an outfielder.” Some have suggested that Ramirez could spend time at first, now or in the future, as the team looks to spark a lagging offense and find time for a large group of outfielders. But it sounds as if that is rather unlikely at this stage.
  • Though he’s back from knee surgery, Athletics utilityman Ben Zobrist has yet to look himself, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle writes. The 34-year-old still appears to be a step slow, per Slusser, and has not yet turned things around at the plate. Oakland is well back in the standings and could conceivably move quickly if it sees a sterling opportunity to sell — as ESPN.com’s Buster Olney discussed today in an Insider piece — but one wonders whether that strategy would work for Zobrist, who may need to show more to maximize his value.
  • The Yankees‘ risky call to keep Masahiro Tanaka away from the surgeon’s knife has paid dividends so far, writes John Harper of the New York Daily News. Tanaka has been outstanding since returning from the DL, and is running out a mid-90s heater after exhibiting a velocity dip earlier in the season. It remains to be seen whether he can stave off Tommy John surgery permanently, but it’s hard to argue with the decision to wait when he owns a 2.48 ERA with 9.7 K/9 against just 1.7 BB/9 over his first six starts of the year.

Rosenthal’s Latest: Mets, Tigers, Yankees, Coghlan

The Mets appear to be keeping tabs on Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez and shortstop Jean Segurareports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports in his latest video. Of the two, Ramirez is the more practical target for New York. He is expected to retire after the season and does not have a no-trade clause. The Mets are also interested in Ben Zobrist, but they believe other teams will outbid them.

  • The Tigers may not need to buy at the trade deadline due to the impending returns of Justin Verlander, Victor Martinez, Bruce Rondon, and Alex Avila. The lineup has struggled to push runs across the plate, but they lead the AL in OBP. When asked by Rosenthal, GM Dave Dombrowski said there are no scenarios under which the club could become deadline sellers. That means David Price, Yoenis Cespedes, and Alfredo Simon are unlikely to be traded.
  • The Yankees rotation may not be a priority at the trade deadline if the current starters remain healthy. In addition to the current options, Ivan Nova will begin a rehab assignment soon. Prospects Luis Severino and Bryan Mitchell provide further depth. The club could still acquire a star like Cole Hamels, but GM Brian Cashman says some of their top prospects are untouchable.
  • The easiest position for the Cubs to upgrade is left field. Chris Coghlan is hitting just .224/.298/.421 on the season. An unusually low .245 BABIP explains his low average. The club could hope for BABIP regression or replace him in one of several ways. They could trade for somebody like Zobrist. Alternatively, Javier Baez could be promoted to man third base with Kris Bryant moving to the outfield.

Nationals Have Inquired With Athletics On Ben Zobrist

The Nationals have reached out to the Athletics to express preliminary interest in super-utilityman Ben Zobrist, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (Twitter link). The teams do not appear to be nearing anything, per the report.

The idea behind the Nats’ interest, it would seem, is fairly straightforward: Zobrist would be expected to slot in at left field for Washington in the near term, filling in for the injured Jayson Werth. Then, he’d be available all around the diamond when Werth returns.

Further, the versatile Zobrist would function as something of a general insurance policy for the rest of the season. Denard Span and Anthony Rendon have both battled fairly notable maladies of late, though they’re both healthy and active now, and injuries can of course pop up at any time with any player. Having Zobrist on hand would mean the team could mix and match as needed while still maintaining productivity across the lineup.

It is worth bearing in mind that general managers Mike Rizzo and Billy Beane have matched up quite a bit on deals in recent years. Of course, many other teams have similar reasons for interest in Zobrist, who has been among the game’s most productive all-around players while spending time all over the field. There will be no shortage of suitors, some of whom (like the Nationals) may be interested in striking a deal early, which should obviously be good for the Athletics.

If you’re looking for even more granular reasons that Washington would be motivated to add a fairly premium piece like Zobrist, despite having reasonable options at the positions in question, remember that youngster Michael Taylor — who has seen quite a bit of action filling in for Span and now Werth — entered the year with 37 days of MLB service under his belt and has been up for much of the season. An opportunity to send him back down for an extended stretch could be enough for D.C. to gain an extra year of control, which would reduce the sting of losing the young talent required to pry loose Zobrist (or some other Werth fill-in).

Zobrist has long made sense for the Nationals in some form or another: I suggested they could pursue him last summer (before they added Asdrubal Cabrera) and thought an offseason deal could also have materialized (which, indeed, Washington did consider to at least some extent). But that was before the team added Yunel Escobar and went on to witness a rebirth of Danny Espinosa. To be sure, the idea of gaining a temporary outfield replacement, highly valuable utility piece, and down-the-line infield injury protection in one fell swoop is tantalizing in its own right. But the addition of Zobrist would also theoretically free the team to trade Ian Desmond, who was reportedly rather aggressively shopped to the Mariners over the winter.


Heyman’s Latest: Astros/Hamels, Reds, Matz, Zobrist, Ackley, Soriano

In this week’s edition of his Inside Baseball column, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports begins by examining the possibility of the Astros making a run at the PhilliesCole Hamels. Houston is seeking a top-of-the-rotation starter, and Hamels is on their radar, Heyman hears, even though he’s something of a long shot. The Astros are seeking a No. 1 or No. 2 starter, one person told Heyman, though Houston GM Jeff Luhnow indicated they’d be interested in any arm that could start Games 1-3 of a playoff series. The Phillies are said to be intrigued by outfield prospects Preston Tucker and Brett Phillips, among others, Heyman notes. Houston won’t part with top prospect Carlos Correa or impressive rookie right-hander Lance McCullers Jr., and they’d prefer to keep righty Vincent Velasquez as well. Heyman adds that it’s uncertain whether or not Hamels would approve a trade to Houston, with one source indicating that they didn’t find the scenario likely. If Hamels were to approve the trade, he’d likely ask that his 2019 option be exercised, and the Phillies would almost certainly have to pay down some of the $24MM he is owed annually, per Heyman.

Some more highlights…

  • The Reds are currently reluctant to sell any pieces according to rivals who have reached out to the team. That may simply be due to the fact that the team is set to host the All-Star game this year and doesn’t want to begin a potential fire sale before that game. However, other execs have indicated to Heyman that owner Bob Castellini prefers to see how his big-money investments in Joey Votto and others will play out rather than commencing a rebuilding effort.
  • Both Dillon Gee and Jon Niese remain widely available, as the Mets would prefer to add promising lefty Steven Matz to their six-man rotation. One scout that spoke to Heyman said Matz is better than any pitcher in the rotation aside from Matt Harvey, which is high praise, particularly considering Jacob deGrom‘s brilliant start to the season and the flashes of brilliance displayed by Noah Syndergaard.
  • The Yankees are interested in the AthleticsBen Zobrist as an option at second base and also still like Dustin Ackley despite his struggles with the Mariners. New York has been surprised by Jose Pirela‘s troubles to this point, and they still have questions about Rob Refsnyder‘s glove at second base. Heyman adds that the Yankees don’t expect to be big players on Cole Hamels this winter, and they were worried about Mark Teixeira enough this offseason that they checked in on Ryan Howard, though clearly those concerns have dissipated in light of Teixeira’s excellent resurgence.
  • The Cardinals, Blue Jays and Cubs are the three teams that Heyman mentions as most realistic options for right-hander Rafael Soriano. He calls the Cards “a surprise entry” into the Soriano mix, adding that the Jays have not given up the idea of signing him but will need to see what his price tag is now that he’s switched representatives.
  • The Mariners will probably see a need to add a veteran catcher after trading Welington Castillo to the D-Backs in order to land Mark Trumbo. Heyman spoke to someone close to the Mariners who described the team as “desperate” to add offense prior to the Trumbo deal, as they’ve received struggles from many of their outfielders and, surprisingly, Robinson Cano.
  • Red Sox higher-ups have an immense amount of respect for manager John Farrell, so while votes of confidence from ownership and executives often mean little, Heyman feels that Boston’s recent vote of confidence in Farrell has more weight behind it. However, Boston won’t be swayed by the fact that Farrell’s contract runs through 2017 if they do decide a change is needed down the line.
  • Both Dodgers right-hander Jose De Leon and Yankees shortstop Jorge Mateo have hired Scott Boras to represent them. The pair of prospects is well-regarded within each organization.