David Wright Rumors

Mets Notes: Trades, Conforto, Wright

The Mets’ inaction this season has been “inexplicable,” ESPN’s Buster Olney writes. The Mets have failed to address an injury-ravaged lineup, thus leaving Lucas Duda and an excellent rotation hanging out to dry. As a result, the Mets have scored only 25 runs total since June 16. As Olney points out, of course, there isn’t much happening on the trade market right now, with several weeks to go before the deadline and not many teams yet willing to pull the plugs on their seasons. But Olney suggests the Mets could at least find a depth-type player who might help, much as the Blue Jays did with Chris Colabello. They could also find help by being willing to take on a chunk of a bad contract. The team’s problem isn’t manager Terry Collins, Olney writes — it’s complacency. Here’s more from the Mets.

  • The Mets have decided not to promote top prospect Michael Conforto despite their need for offense, MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo writes. “At this point, he’s still in Binghamton and I would expect him to be over the near-term,” says GM Sandy Alderson. The Mets might be right not to see Conforto as a short-term fix for their sagging offense — he’s hitting .333/.414/.521 with Double-A Binghamton, but in only 133 plate appearances, and those represent his only experience in the high minors.
  • Injured star David Wright (spinal stenosis) is hopeful he’ll be able to return to action this season, Adam Rubin of ESPN New York writes. “We’re getting down to the second half of the season now, and I feel like I’ve got one shot to get this thing right,” Wright says. Standing upright no longer causes him discomfort, although he has not yet begun running, and he will probably need several weeks to get back into baseball activities before he can return.

NL East Notes: Hamels, Marlins, Prado, Wright

Though he admitted that he’s not privy to the front office’s discussions, Phillies manager Pete Mackanin told Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com that he expects ace Cole Hamels to be traded. “We’re not involved on the field,” said Mackanin. “But the whole point of this year basically is to see young guys, help us get ready for next year and beyond. If we can get good deals for Hamels and good deals for whomever else there might be out there, (Jonathan) Papelbon.” Hamels recently told Salisbury that he’s open to a trade to any club, including the Blue Jays and Astros. Previous reports had indicated that Hamels would block a deal to either club.

Here’s more from the NL East…

  • The Tigers are scouting the Marlins‘ starting pitchers, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter). There could be very little to read into here, as multiple teams are likely scouting the Marlins, and the Tigers of course are scouting other clubs. Nonetheless, a pitching matchup, at least on paper, does seem to exist between the two sides. The Tigers have seen Shane Greene lose his spot in the rotation and received little from Justin Verlander to this point. A solid addition to the rotation would make some sense, and the Marlins have a surplus now that Jose Fernandez is healthy. Fernandez joins Mat Latos, Dan Haren, Tom Koehler and Jarred Cosart in the rotation. Latos and Haren, though, are free agents at season’s end, and the team has internal replacements capable of slotting into the rotation in the event of a trade.
  • Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald hears that the Marlins are indeed willing to listen to offers on Latos and Haren. He adds Steve Cishek to that list as well and unsurprisingly says that the fallen closer likely will be non-tendered this offseason. Jackson, like other reporters, hears that the team isn’t entertaining the idea of moving Martin Prado at this point.
  • Mets captain David Wright is “extremely optimistic” that he can begin baseball activities next week, tweets ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin. Wright won’t begin hitting in that time, however. Previously, the Mets have expressed hope to have the third baseman back by the All-Star break, though that timeline is fast approaching and Wright is still quite a ways from a rehab assignment.

NL East Notes: Bethancourt, Lavarnway, Wright, Mets, Brown

Earlier this morning, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reported that the Braves would option struggling catcher Christian Bethancourt to Triple-A Gwinnett (Twitter link). While the corresponding move was not reported at the time, Atlanta has since announced that it will select the contract of Ryan Lavarnway to take Bethancourt’s place. Bethancourt, 23, has batted just .208/.231/.297 in 2014 plate appearances this season. While his elite arm behind the plate would be enough to outweigh a reasonable amount of offensive struggles, that batting line translates to the seventh-worst wRC+ in all of baseball among players with 100 PAs. Via David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, president of baseball ops John Hart likened the Bethancourt demotion to the 2014 demotions of Kolten Wong and Mike Moustakas. Each, like Bethancourt, was a former Top 100 prospect that had struggled in the Majors but has taken a step toward stardom since returning to the bigs. The Braves will hope that’s the outcome for Bethancourt, but in the meantime, they’ll hand his role to Lavarnway. The 27-year-old Lavarnway is a former Top 100 prospect himself, but he’s never replicated the promise he showed in a 2013 cup of coffee when he batted .299/.329/.429 in 84 PAs with Boston.

Here’s more from the NL East…

  • Via the Record’s Matt Ehalt, Mets GM Sandy Alderson said today that a realistic target date for David Wright‘s return will be the All-Star break (Twitter link). The Mets captain has missed all but eight games this season, most of which has been due to a recent diagnosis of spinal stenosis. New York has been said to be looking to acquire a versatile bat that can play third base in the short-term and then move elsewhere once Wright is again healthy.
  • The Mets recently discussed a scenario in which Noah Syndergaard would switch to a relief role in an effort to aid what has been a fragile bullpen, report Mike Puma and Zach Braziller of the New York Post. In that scenario, Steven Matz would have been recalled to take Syndergaard’s spot in the rotation. However, the team has decided against that decision and will remain committed to using Syndergaard as a starter. The story does seem to lend further credence to recent reports that the Mets are itching to get Matz to the Majors. They’ve reportedly discussed Jon Niese and Dillon Gee with other teams, though neither has generated much interest.
  • While many Phillies fans have given up hope on Domonic Brown, David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News feels the organization is doing the right thing by giving him a perhaps final shot at proving he’s been anything more than he has shown to this point. Brown, 27, has scarcely hit in the Majors, save for a blistering two-month stretch in 2013, but he still has more growth potential than alternative Phillies options such as Jeff Francoeur and Ben Revere. Brown explained to Murphy his offensive struggles in the minors this season — specifically feeling a lack of strength in his legs early on after returning from an Achilles injury. Brown’s production improved as the strength returned, and he’ll now get some opportunities to force his way into the lineup with regularity, manager Ryne Sandberg implied. Still, Brown is out of options after this season, so Murphy rightly points out that this could effectively be Brown’s last legitimate chance in Philadelphia.


Latest On Steven Matz, Mets’ Rotation

Dillon Gee and Jon Niese have long seen their names floated in trade rumors, but that trend could increase in the weeks to come, as ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin hears from a team source that the Mets may promote left-hander Steven Matz before month’s end. (Over the weekend, Mike Puma of the New York Post wrote that Matz could be up prior to the All-Star break, adding that GM Sandy Alderson said the lefty had little else to prove to the team in the minors.) Trade efforts surrounding Gee and Niese have taken a back seat to the draft at the moment, Rubin writes, but talks will again pick up once the draft is complete.

The Mets would like to add a bat to help the big league roster in any trade, writes Rubin, but they’d prefer to add someone versatile as opposed to a strict third baseman, because the team still believes that David Wright will return this season. The team is, however, interested in someone who can play third in addition to several other positions. Rubin notes that a versatile piece such as Ben Zobrist or Martin Prado would be ideal, though it’d almost certainly take more than Niese or Gee to acquire either of those pieces.

The team could improve its chances of landing an MLB-ready bat by packaging Niese or Gee with a younger piece with some additional team control. Yesterday, Puma reported that Rafael Montero could be considered a trade chip when he’s healthy, but the team has no intention of trading catcher Kevin Plawecki, even once Travis d’Arnaud is activated from the disabled list. A healthy Montero would appeal to a number of clubs, though as Puma noted, his injury troubles have lowered his trade value.

Neither Gee nor Niese would completely turn the tide for a struggling rotation, but either could provide some stability toward the back end of a currently top-heavy group of starters. Gee, who is earning $5.3MM this season, can be controlled through 2016 via arbitration. In 674 career innings, Gee has a 3.94 ERA with 6.5 K/9, 2.9 BB/9 and a 46.2 percent ground-ball rate.

Niese is more expensive but also has a better track record. The 28-year-old lefty is earning $7MM this season and is guaranteed $9MM in 2016, and his deal contains 2017 and 2018 club options valued at $10MM and $10.5MM, respectively. Each option has a $500K buyout. Niese has battled shoulder problems in his career, but he has a 3.90 ERA in 954 2/3 big league innings. Niese has averaged 7.2 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 with a 49.4 percent ground-ball rate in his career, and he’s outperformed his ERA in the eyes of metrics such as FIP and xFIP.


Latest On David Wright Back Injury

Star Mets third baseman David Wright, who has been diagnosed with a condition called spinal stenosis, joined GM Sandy Alderson in addressing the situation with the media yesterday (via Newsday’s Mark Carig). While Alderson says the club is “comfortable” in expecting that Wright will return, it also appears more and more likely that the problem will be a concern even if he does make it back to action.

“It literally is a week-to-week process,” Wright said, explaining that he is regularly undergoing tests of his back condition that must be passed before he can even begin working back to on-field action. “I’m not there right now,” he said. “They run me through the tests and I flat-out can’t do it.”

Surgery is only on the table as a last resort, in the event that rehabilitation proves unavailing. “There’s never been a question in my mind that not only am I going to come back but I want to come back sooner rather than later,” Wright said. “It’s just a matter of being symptom-free.”

In spite of that positivity, and Alderson’s statement that he was not planning to go outside the organization to find a replacement, the GM hinted at an uncertain (and possibly lengthy) timeline when he said the team is “not on the edge of our seat waiting for David to come back.” And he acknowledged the long-term concerns: “I’m not sure we can have any assurance at this point that when he comes back it will be incident-free for the rest of the season.”

Wright is earning $20MM this year and is promised an additional $87MM from 2016-2020. While the club reportedly has insurance that would cover a significant portion of that tab if Wright misses a large chunk of time, that would not offer much relief if he is able to play but can’t return to his former levels (or if, say, he needs scattered DL stints to deal with flare-ups).

In the immediate term, the team does have options, as David Lennon writes for Newsday. Daniel Murphy can occupy third, with some combination of Wilmer Flores, Ruben Tejada, and Dilson Herrera (when he returns from his own injury) playing up the middle. Or, of course, a more established option could be added at the deadline. Regardless, it would now seem a major surprise if Murphy — who has sometimes been discussed as a trade chip — was to be made available this summer.


NL East Notes: Revere, Jennings, Wright, Werth

The Phillies may have lost a trade partner — at least, in the immediate future — when the Mets shipped left-handed-hitting outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis to the Angels, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki writes. The Phils and Halos had been discussing a deal involving Philly outfielder Ben Revere deal for some time, per Zolecki, but couldn’t agree upon compensation. While it’s certainly plausible to imagine a swap being revisited between those clubs, Philadelphia appears motivated to deal Revere in the near term, in advance of a coming roster logjam in the outfield. Of course, it is also understandable that Philadelphia would not want to accept a less-than-fair return for the outfielder, who has two years of arbitration control remaining. But it’s not clear that the speedy but power-challenged Revere will command much in trade, particularly since he’s already playing on a $4.1MM arb salary this year.

  • While it’s far too early to judge him, newly-installed Marlins manager Dan Jennings has certainly not been able to effect a quick turnaround from a foundering ballclub. As Bob Nightengale of USA Today writes, that has pleased some around the game. Jennings himself says he is resolute in both respecting the job and doing everything in his power to produce a winning club. Before hiring Jennings, says Nightengale, Miami bounced around the idea of several more established candidates — among them, Ron Washington, Dusty Baker, and even Ozzie Guillen.
  • Though the Mets are giving every indication that they are not overly concerned with David Wright‘s long-term health, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News writes that the third baseman’s condition — known as spinal stenosis — can be a serious one. A clinician tells Martino that it tends to be degenerative and quite problematic for athletes, though another expert put things in a somewhat more positive light, telling Laura Albanese of Newsday that the condition can be overcome. While New York reportedly has insurance coverage for at least a significant portion of Wright’s contract, in the event of injury, that does not change the fact that his presence is badly needed on the field. And there would seem to be cause for at least some concern that Wright could be limited by the injury moving forward, even when he does return to the active roster.
  • Jayson Werth and the Nationals will hope to learn more about his still-balky wrist when he makes a visit to the specialist who has helped him through prior wrist issues, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reports. Though tests have not revealed any structural damage, swelling caused by a recent hit-by-pitch has yet to subside (though it’s improved recently). Already planned to coincide with an off day for the team, a visit to Dr. Richard Berger of the Mayo Clinic is in order. The Nats will, of course, hope for continued improvement — the team has played well of late, but has done so without receiving any production from the club’s two best hitters of 2014.

NL East Notes: Wright, Amaro, Phillies, Harper

While the Mets hope it won’t come to this, they’re protected against an extended absence from David Wright, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter links). The Mets have insurance on Wright’s contract that will cover 75 percent of the money he is owed for time he misses once he is on the shelf for 60 or more days. Given Wright’s $20MM salary this season, that could mean a significant amount of money being put back into the Mets’ pockets in the unfortunate event that their star third baseman is out for two or more months due to the spinal stenosis with which he was recently diagnosed. For a budget-conscious team, that could have a significant impact on the club’s ability to add help on the trade market this summer.

More from the NL East…

  • Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. apologized today for prior comments that some fans “don’t understand” the game and the process of bringing minor league talent along, writes CSNPhilly.com’s Jim Salisbury“I’d like to apologize to the fans,” said Amaro. “I’m a fan myself. I understand the passion and knowledge that our fans have for our game and the other major sports, all the other sports in Philly. The comments weren’t meant to disparage our fans by any stretch of the imagination. I probably used my words incorrectly or poorly. I want to apologize for that.” Amaro reiterated that prospects such as Aaron Nola and Zach Eflin likely aren’t too far from the Major Leagues, but he also stressed the dangers of rushing prospects too quickly. While he acknowledged that he understands why fans want to see the organization’s best minor leaguers, given the lackluster product on the Major League field right now, Amaro said that the team is trying to develop its top talent “at the right pace so that they can be the best players they can be when they get here.”
  • In a radio appearance (transcription via CSN Philly’s Jordan Hall), Amaro conceded that the Phillies likely waited too long to begin the rebuilding process. “Perhaps we waited a year or two too long to try and go into this transition,” said Amaro. “…we decided this offseason … to work from kind of the bottom up to make sure that we can get ourselves to the point where we’re building enough talent in our system to bring them at the appropriate time and to continue that process so that we can be perennial contenders.” The Phillies traded Antonio Bastardo, Marlon Byrd and Jimmy Rollins this offseason in addition, of course, to entertaining offers for Cole Hamels, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Jonathan Papelbon. Any of those names could be in play over the course of the summer, and Ben Revere‘s name has been mentioned frequently in recent trade rumors as well.
  • ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick takes a look at Bryce Harper‘s historic start to his age-22 season and the polarizing personality behind the eye-popping numbers. Harper himself admitted to Crasnick that he can have trouble maintaining a level head when on the playing field, referring specifically back to a controversial ejection at the hands of home plate umpire Marvin Hudson. However, Nationals GM Mike Rizzo and manager Matt Williams spoke glowingly about Harper’s demeanor off the field, while Jayson Werth offered strong praise for the strides Harper has made as a teammate (though he is quick to specify that Harper has never been a bad teammate by any means). Harper himself took a humble tone when asked by Crasnick about Mike Trout and the frequent comparisons between the two. “I still believe Trout is the best player in the game, hands down,” said Harper. “It’s not about taking a backseat to anybody. I love seeing Stanton hit homers or Kris Bryant do the things he does. I love watching Matt Harvey or Gerrit Cole or Noah Syndergaard come up and throw 100 mph. I cheer for guys. I’ve always been that way.” Fans and detractors of Harper alike will presumably find the piece to be an interesting read.

Mets Notes: Trades, Wright

The Mets are currently third-to-last in the NL in runs scored, and they’re without David Wright, Travis d’Arnaud and Dilson Herrera, who are all on the DL. Even with a win today, they’ve lost five games out of their last seven, slipping behind the Nationals in the NL East. GM Sandy Alderson says the team is interested in acquiring more offensive help, ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin tweets. As with several GMs who’ve fielded questions about the trade market so far this season, Alderson says it’s probably too early in the year to strike significant deals. Here are more quick notes on the Mets.

  • Wright, who was recently diagnosed with spinal stenosis, is going to California to see a doctor, Mike Puma of the New York Post tweets. The Mets should know more about his condition in the coming days. The extent of his issue is currently unclear, although the Mets do not seem overly concerned, as MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo notes. “The doctors aren’t that worried about it,” says assistant GM John Ricco. “It’s just something that seems to be taking longer than we initially thought. The way it was progressing, they thought it would be gone by now.”
  • It’s unclear how the condition will affect Wright, but if it does become a long-term problem, Wright’s contract could become another costly headache for the Mets, Joel Sherman of the Post writes. If Wright’s $138MM deal goes south, the Mets could be less inclined to trade for Troy Tulowitzki‘s big contract, sign Ian Desmond on the free-agent market next winter, or ink Matt Harvey long-term. The Mets have already had expensive deals for Johan Santana and Jason Bay go terribly in recent years. Wright, meanwhile, is already 32 and coming off a 2014 season in which he hit just .269/.324/.374.

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.