Daniel Murphy Rumors

New York Notes: Cueto, Leake, Phillies, Mets

Here’s the latest from the Big Apple…

  • The Yankees had a scout watching Johnny Cueto‘s last start, and George A. King III of the New York Post reports that same scout (Jeff Datz) also saw Mike Leake pitch the next day for the Reds.  King adds that Cincinnati has also been scouting the Yankees’ farm system, and he speculates that prospects like Mason Williams, Ramon Flores and Bryan Mitchell could interest the Reds as part of a package for one of the two starting pitchers.  The Reds are sure to ask about top prospects Luis Severino and Aaron Judge, though King doubts the Yankees would move either for Cueto or Leake since both hurlers are free agents this winter.
  • Also from King, the Phillies had scouts watching the Yankees/Orioles game on Sunday.  King isn’t sure the Yankees would want to either cover Cole Hamels‘ substantial remaining contract or give up the prospects Philadelphia wants for the ace southpaw.  Some in the industry believe Hamels is an ideal fit for the Orioles, who have received some shaky outings from their rotation this season.
  • The perception of the Mets around the league is that they won’t be willing to take on salary in midseason trades, ESPN’s Buster Olney reports (subscription required).  Club ownership also hasn’t given any indication that it’s willing to extend payroll.  It “makes no sense” to Olney that the Mets wouldn’t be willing to spend on some needed reinforcements for what looks like a playoff contender.
  • The Mets have been rumored to be exploring infield upgrades, though they may have found an internal solution in Dilson Herrera.  Manager Terry Collins told reporters (including Adam Rubin of ESPN New York) that Herrera is likely to retain the starting second base job once Daniel Murphy returns from the DL next week.  This would mean that Murphy would play third, which would address the Mets’ need at the hot corner with David Wright out of action.

NL East Notes: Gee, Niese, Murphy, Marlins, Fister

Here’s the latest from the National League East:

  • The Mets are “ramping up [their] efforts” to trade both Dillon Gee and Jon Niese, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports. New York indicated today that it’s likely the club will back off of its six-man rotation and return to a traditional schedule. With Noah Syndergaard now fairly firmly installed at the big league level, and Steven Matz not far behind him, it makes sense that the club would be looking to see what it can get out of Gee and Niese. Both have good track records of steady production and are controllable in the future at affordable rates, but unfortunately neither has matched their historical results thus far in 2015.
  • As they weigh rotation moves, which rate as good problems, the Mets are dealing with more troubling issues in the infield. The team has placed infielder Daniel Murphy on the 15-day DL with a strained quad, as Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com was among those to report. It’s not believed to be a serious injury, according to manager Terry Collins, but the club can ill afford any significant absence from Murphy. New York is already missing third baseman David Wright for an indeterminate stretch, while highly-regarded youngster Dilson Herrera is also working back from the DL (as well as backstop Travis d’Arnaud). An infield addition of some kind already seemed a plausible target for the Mets, though of course this injury is unlikely to have an impact unless it turns into something worse than expected.
  • While the Marlins continue to wait and see how to proceed at the deadline, the club is looking to build out its pen to give it the best chance at entering the contention picture, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro reports. Miami has discussed David Carpenter, who was recently designated by the Yankees and is about as intriguing an arm as you can hope to find at a reasonable price tag at this time of year.
  • Nationals righty Doug Fister is set to make his first rehab appearance this weekend at Triple-A, James Wagner of the Washington Post tweets. It would appear as if things have gone about as well as could be hoped since he hit the DL with forearm tightness after his start on May 14. He’ll be a welcome addition to the Nats rotation, assuming he can return after a few minor league starts, and can begin attempting to rebuild his free agent value.

New York Notes: Wright, Lindgren, Drew, Murphy

Mets third baseman David Wright has been diagnosed with spinal stenosis, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports. In a second tweet, Rosenthal notes that the condition can be treated via epidural or a “minimally invasive surgery.” Yesterday, he began his latest rehab attempt from hamstring and back issues, but he has already been shut down with the new diagnosis. Needless to say, the timetable for Wright’s return is now completely uncertain while he decides on treatment options. The franchise third baseman is owed $20MM in 2015 and $87MM through 2020.

  • The Yankees will promote left-handed reliever Jacob Lindgren, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post. He’ll take the place of Branden Pinder who threw three innings in today’s blow out loss. Lindgren was selected in the second round of the 2014 amateur draft. He’s spent the 2015 campaign at Triple-A. In 22 innings, he has allowed a 1.23 ERA, 11.86 K/9, and 4.09 BB/9 in 22 innings. Lindgren is the third high profile pitcher from the most recent draft class to reach the majors. Brandon Finnegan and Carlos Rodon have also received their first taste of the big leagues, although Finnegan is currently in Triple-A.
  • Stephen Drew and Daniel Murphy are among twelve players who have hurt their free agent stock, writes Sherman for the New York Post. Drew has shown little evidence of rebounding from a horrific 2014 season. His batting average remains below the Mendoza line, and he’s in danger of losing his job to Robert Refsnyder. Meanwhile, Murphy is off to a slow start at the plate. Per Sherman, his hitting has always allowed the Mets to look past his mediocre defense. In the case of Murphy, a little patience may be in order. His contact rates and power remain within career norms. In fact, his current strikeout rate is a career best. An unusually low .252 BABIP is the obvious culprit for the poor production. Sherman also discusses 10 other non-New Yorkers who may be losing money.
  • The Mets will utilize a six-man rotation for at least one week, reports Anthony DiComo of MLB.com. Dillon Gee is set to return to action tomorrow afternoon. The rotation will remain in the normal order. Matt Harvey, who was spanked by the Pirates this afternoon, will appear next Saturday with two extra days of rest. While trade speculation will continue to surround Gee, he still has value to the Mets as a means to limit the workloads of Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, and Jacob deGrom.


Rosenthal’s Latest: Mets, Baez, Orioles, Trumbo

Despite shaky defense, Wilmer Flores will remain the Mets starting shortstop, reports Ken Rosenthal in his latest video for FOX Sports. However, one alternative is to trade Daniel Murphy, shift Flores to second base, and promote shortstop prospect Matt Reynolds. The move would instantly upgrade the Mets’ infield defense. Per Rosenthal, the club may prefer to promote Reynolds once David Wright returns to action.

As for trading Murphy, the club may look to acquire a prospect or reliever. Aside from Jeurys Familia and a couple role players, the Mets bullpen has been a little shaky. However, strong starting pitching has allowed the club to hide that shortcoming. New York relievers have thrown the fewest innings of any team. Conversely, their starters lead the league in innings pitched. Here’s more from Rosenthal:

  • Cubs second base prospect Javier Baez is on an 11-for-22 streak, leading to speculation that he could be promoted. The easiest way to insert him into the lineup would be to move Kris Bryant to the outfield and Baez to third. Since the club is juggling several important future pieces, they’ll want to be careful about how they handle the logjam.
  • The Orioles are built to sell with eight players on the 25 man roster set to reach free agency after the season. Don’t expect a fire sale anytime soon. Baltimore is just four games back in a shaky AL East. Owner Peter Angelos is loathe to throw in the towel. He famously nixed a couple trades involving Bobby Bonilla and David Wells during the 1996 season. The club later clawed its way into the postseason. It would seem the Orioles’ woes would have to get a lot worse before Chris Davis and others were shopped.
  • Many speculate that Mark Trumbo will be available this summer, however the Diamondbacks have publicly resisted the idea. Per Rosenthal, the club believes they will contend next season once Patrick Corbin and other youngsters solidify the rotation. Trumbo is signed to a $6.9MM contract and has one year of arbitration remaining. Arizona could replace Trumbo with a platoon of David Peralta and Yasmany Tomas.

Quick Hits: Aardsma, Murphy, Rodon, Boras

Dodgers reliever David Aardsma has allowed his opt-out date to pass without exercising his clause, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports on Twitter. The 33-year-old has not thrown in the bigs since 2013, but was lights out at Triple-A last year and has continued that success into the current season. He looks like useful relief depth for Los Angeles.

Let’s round up the day’s news with a few more links:

  • Giants executive VP of baseball operations Brian Sabean has been taking in the Mets‘ weekend series, ESPNNewYork.com’s Adam Rubin reports. Rubin cautions that it is not clear precisely why Sabean is on hand, though obviously San Francisco looks like a theoretical match for Daniel Murphy — who is slotting in at third base at present while New York awaits the return of David Wright. Of course, his young would-be replacement at second, Dilson Herrera, has looked somewhat overmatched in his first two games back in the bigs, with four strikeouts and an infield hit to show from eight plate appearances.
  • The White Sox are still feeling out how they will use rookie lefty Carlos Rodon, as Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com reports. Chicago is burning through Rodon’s service time while giving him relatively little action as the team tries to balance the need to introduce him to the bigs, keep him stretched out, and conserve his innings.
  • Agent Scott Boras says he believes that the MLB rules should be loosened to allow the free trading of all draft picks, as Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic writes. “Trade picks, trade players — there should be a whole universe of options,” opined Boras. “I’m a believer that you want as many chips on the table so the intellect can operate and a master plan can be created from a variety of different avenues of trade, draft, scouting and development, free agency, all the structures.” Of course, as one executive notes to Piecoro, opening that avenue of trade activity could potentially transfer leverage to premium players who have a desire to influence their ultimate destination.
  • Boras also rejected the idea of allowing teams expanded access to medical information, stating forcefully: “That’s not going to work.” Citing concern with players’ rights not to have their medical information spread broadly to every team, Boras previewed some of the difficulties in addressing what promises to be a tricky issue on which to build a consensus between the players and the league.

NL East Notes: Johnson, Howard, Flores, Murphy, Puello

Braves third baseman Chris Johnson is expected to miss three to six weeks after receiving good news from his MRI, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports. Because his hand fracture was “preexisting,” per the report, Johnson will not be out as long as originally feared.

Here’s more from New York and the rest of the NL East:

  • Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard will qualify for ten-and-five rights tomorrow, as Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News reports. Howard downplayed the importance of that fact as regards his contract status, though he rightly noted that it was a worthwhile achievement standing alone. As Lawrence notes, there is little practical effect, as a modification to Jimmy Rollins‘ contract before his trade left Howard with virtually complete no-trade protection regardless.
  • Despite a troubling start to the year defensively — he tacked on a seventh error tonight — Mets shortstop Wilmer Flores is in no danger of being replaced, as Rubin reports. The club thinks that the youngster will return to making the routine plays that are giving him fits right now, with GM Sandy Alderson saying that Flores has “plenty of room” to get back on track.
  • Dilson Herrera did not do much in his first appearance of the year for the Mets, but New York is already considering what will happen if he’s as good as advertised during his call-up, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports. The present alignment will feature Herrera at second and Daniel Murphy at third. But when David Wright returns from the DL, something will have to give. GM Sandy Alderson would say only that “the plan” is for Murphy to return to second, adding that “at the moment” there is no movement toward keeping Herrera there. But sources tell Martino that the Mets would be increasingly willing to move Murphy, even for a lesser return and even well before the trade deadline, if Herrera seems ready.
  • The Mets will soon face another decision on Cesar Puello, the outfielder whose outright was rescinded earlier in the offseason when he was found to have a back issue that required a DL stint. As ESPNNewYork.com’s Adam Rubin explains, Puello is likely to hit the waiver wire again once his rehab stint is finished.

West Notes: Trumbo, Chacin, Angels, Ethier, Quentin

The dark side of Venezuelan baseball players reaping the riches of their profession is their family members, who decline to move permanently to the United States and remain in Venezuela, become targets of kidnappers. Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News chronicles the kidnapping attempt made on the brother of Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus last year. Fortunately, Andrus provided his brother’s family with armed bodyguards and they thwarted the attempt after being fired upon and struck in their bulletproof vests. “This happens with everybody who has family there,” said Andrus. “It’s easy for them to kidnap people and ask for money. And everybody knows how much money the players make. They can Google it. It’s just not safe. You have to take steps. It was pretty shocking, for sure.

In other news and notes from baseball’s West divisions:

  • The Diamondbacks will not alleviate their outfield surplus by trading Mark Trumbo, reports CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman. “We are not moving Trumbo,” GM Dave Stewart said. “Trumbo is a proven bat. Tough to move him for an unknown.” Stewart went even further with the New York Post’s Joel Sherman (Twitter link) telling the scribe he will not trade any of his outfielders because he values the depth.
  • The Rockies are to be commended for releasing Jhoulys Chacin because a team must change direction if a player isn’t performing and the right-hander wasn’t, tweets Patrick Saunders of The Denver Post.
  • The Angels enter 2015 with the most financial flexibility they have had in four years, but will wait until mid-season to decide if or how to spend that payroll, according to MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez. The Angels’ most likely area of need is second base with Gonzalez naming the PhilliesChase Utley, the RedsBrandon Phillips, the DiamondbacksAaron Hill, and the MetsDaniel Murphy as possible targets.
  • The Dodgers‘ pitching depth is sorely being tested in the wake of the team shutting down Hyun-jin Ryu with shoulder inflammation, notes MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick.
  • Andre Ethier tells Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com he isn’t monitoring trade rumors online or with his agent and he isn’t counting the number of scouts in attendance at the Dodgers‘ Spring Training games. Ethier has said he is open to a trade and the club is reportedly willing to eat as much as half of the $56MM remaining on the outfielder’s contract to facilitate a swap, but have yet to find any takers.
  • Carlos Quentin asked to see some reps at first base in an attempt to earn more at-bats with the Padres, which could also make him more attractive to other teams, writes MLB.com’s Corey Brock.
  • Peter Gammons of DailyGammons.com opines some have been cynical of San Diego’s offseason overhaul, but a healthy and productive Matt Kemp can become the poster person of this new age for the Padres.

NL East Notes: Murphy, K-Rod, Yunel, Braves

News broke earlier today that the Mets weren’t planning to discuss extending Daniel Murphy‘s contract, and Newsday’s Marc Carig has some more details on the team’s decision.  Murphy rates as a below-average second baseman and the Mets are worried he’ll inevitably have to be moved to a corner infield position.  While Murphy hits well for a second baseman, the Mets don’t believe he has the bat necessary for third base or first base, not to mention the fact that David Wright and Lucas Duda have those positions covered for at least the next few seasons in New York.  The Mets also aren’t likely to make Murphy a qualifying offer, unless he enjoys a huge year.

Here’s some more from around the NL East…

  • Also from Carig’s piece, he hears from two rival executives that Murphy will draw a lot of interest on the free agent market.  “There will be a nice line of suitors for him.  Some will want the bat and accept the below-average glove if necessary.  He’s young enough, the bat is strong enough to warrant a multi-year [deal],” one official said.
  • The Marlins made a multi-year offer to Francisco Rodriguez before he agreed to terms with the Brewers, MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy reports (on Twitter). However, McCalvy spoke to one of K-Rod’s teammates and was told that Rodriguez “likes it a lot” in Milwaukee and was hoping to return to the club. The amount that was offered to Rodriguez isn’t known, though previous reports had indicated Miami was comfortable with something in the two-year, $10MM range.
  • Yunel Escobar wasn’t happy to be traded away from the Rays, nor was he pleased about moving from shortstop to second base, James Wagner of the Washington Post writes.  The veteran infielder changed his mind after discussions with Nationals management, however, and is looking forward to playing for a contender.  “I want to help them win a World Series. If the missing piece is me playing second base, then I’m here for anything,” Escobar said.
  • Non-roster invitees in camp on minor league deals could play a significant role in the Braves‘ plans this year, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes. Asked about the team’s collection of NRIs, manager Fredi Gonzalez listed Eric Stults, Jose Veras, Matt Capps, Brady Feigl, Kelly Johnson, Eric Young and John Buck as players with a legitimate chance, noting that he was probably leaving a few out. Gonzalez seemed particularly excited about Young. “I think the world of Eric Young,” Gonzalez said. “He can really bring a different dynamic that we haven’t had here since Michael Bourn, leading off against right-handed pitching or whatever you want to do. So that’s an exciting non-roster invitee, really.”
  • In NL East news from earlier today on MLBTR, we shared some Phillies notes.

Mets Not Expected To Talk Extension With Daniel Murphy

Though second baseman Daniel Murphy has been one of the Mets’ most consistent offensive performers over the past few seasons, the team has no plans to negotiate an extension with the 29-year-old during the season, reports ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin. While that wording would seem to leave open some possibility of a Spring Training extension, Rubin writes that the expectation is for New York to let Murphy walk as a free agent next offseason.

Dilson Herrera, acquired from the Pirates in the 2013 Marlon Byrd/John Buck trade, is the heir apparent for the Mets at second base. He batted a strong .323/.379/.479 between Class-A Advanced and Double-A in 2014, and he hit three homers to go along with a .220/.303/.407 batting line in an 18-game MLB cameo as well. Herrera, who turns 21 next week, seems likely to open the season at Triple-A and could be ready for a full-time gig in the Majors in 2016. The Mets also have Matt Reynolds and Wilmer Flores as potential second base options (should the team eventually find an alternative to Flores at shortstop).

Murphy told Rubin and other reporters that he’s willing to discuss an extension during the season and would love to remain with the club in the future, but his present focus is on the 2015 season. In fact, he said he didn’t even want to be involved in any theoretical extension discussions unless the talks become serious. Slated to earn $8MM in his final season of team control, Murphy said no multi-year deal was discussed while working to avoid arbitration.

If an extension isn’t in the cards, Murphy will be one of the most attractive second base options on the open market, assuming a typically strong season. Entering his age-30 season, he’ll be younger than competitors Howie Kendrick (32) and Ben Zobrist (35), and he has a better track record than comparably aged players such as Asdrubal Cabrera. Over the past four seasons, Murphy has batted .294/.333/.414 and averaged 10 homers and 15 steals per 162 games.


Mets Avoid Arbitration With Daniel Murphy

The Mets have avoided arbitration with infielder Daniel Murphy by settling at $8MM, Matt Ehalt of The Record reports on Twitter. That was the mid-point between the sides’ just-filed figures ($8.6MM and $7.4MM) and lands just shy of the MLBTR/Matt Swartz projection of $8.3MM.

Murphy, 29, was productive again for the Mets last year and earned his first All-Star nod. Though he has not repeated his big 2011 campaign at the plate, he has been remarkably consistent over the last three seasons. Murphy has averaged a .288/.327/.407 slash over that period, never landing very far from any of those marks in any given year. That makes for a useful player up the middle, though his mediocre glove holds down his overall value.