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David Wright Rumors
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
David Wright‘s return to the Mets will take longer than expected, as the team announced this afternoon that Wright’s rehab from a hamstring injury has been shut down due to the development of lower back pain. Wright underwent an MRI that did not reveal any structural damage, but the Mets say that he will not resume baseball activities until the back pain has subsided. Wright, 32, was hitting .333/.317/.424 through his first eight games at the time of the injury. Eric Campbell and Daniel Murphy have absorbed the bulk of the playing time at third base, but obviously the loss of Wright for now extended period of time is a notable hindrance on the team. I wouldn’t expect the Mets to pursue any form of long-term option, but a short-term pickup that could competently handle third base and allow Murphy to slide back over to second in place of the struggling Dilson Herrera is at least plausible.
A couple more notes on some Mets pitching prospects…
- Noah Syndergaard, not Steven Matz, would be the next in line should the need for a spot start arise, reports Newsday’s David Lennon (via Twitter). Syndergaard’s Triple-A experience has him ahead of Matz at this time, and with Rafael Montero sidelined, he’d be the next line of defense. As it stands, Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Bartolo Colon, Jon Niese and Dillon Gee comprise the Mets’ rotation. Gee began the year as a trade candidate — he may still be once Syndergaard/Matz have developed more and Montero is healthy — but he’s performed well enough to hold down a rotation spot thus far.
- Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal tweeted yesterday that Mets pitching prospect Domingo Tapia has undergone Tommy John surgery. Tapia formerly ranked as one of New York’s 10 best prospects on Baseball America’s Top 30 list (prior to the 2013 season), but he fell to 19th prior to 2014 and missed the list entirely this past offseason. Last year, the 22-year-old Tapia spent the season with Class-A Advanced St. Lucie and worked to a 3.96 ERA but whiffed just 56 strikeouts against 51 walks. He moved up to Double-A this year but threw just 1 2/3 innings before falling to injury.
Mets third baseman David Wright injured his hamstring on a stolen base attempt in the ninth inning of tonight’s contest against the Phillies and appears DL-bound. The team has announced that Eric Campbell is on his way to New York in case a roster move needs to be made, and both ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin (link) and Newsday’s Marc Carig (link) have indicated that a trip to the DL seems inevitable. Wright will have an MRI tomorrow morning before a decision is made, but he sounds likely to join a growing list of injured Mets. Michael Cuddyer, who left tonight’s game after being hit on the hand by a pitch, sounds like he may return to the lineup as soon as tomorrow, via Rubin (on Twitter).
More NL East news as today’s games come to a close…
- Denard Span is on the comeback trail to the Nationals, as the team announced today that he began a rehab assignment at Double-A Harrisburg tonight. Span was expected to be sidelined until mid-May following core muscle surgery, but he’s ahead of schedule in his rehab. Teammate Nate McLouth also received some positive news, as an MRI showed no structural damage in his surgically repaired shoulder, tweets CSN’s Mark Zuckerman. McLouth has been cleared to resume a throwing program.
- The reworked delivery of Marlins right-hander Carter Capps has caused some controversy, as the home plate umpire in his first appearance at Triple-A this year deemed it illegal and negated his first two pitches, stating that Carter broke contact with the pitching rubber too soon. As the Miami Sun Sentinel’s Juan C. Rodriguez writes, the issue has been resolved, as the Marlins have contacted Major League Baseball to receive clarification, and Capps will be allowed to continue on with his delivery. The 24-year-old was recalled by the Marlins yesterday and made his 2015 debut with the team last night. (Those interested in seeing Capps’ delivery can check out this video from last night’s game coverage, in which the Braves commentators liken the delivery to that of former Atlanta righty Jordan Walden.)
- Fangraphs’ Dave Cameron also examined Capps’ delivery and likened it to that of Walden, though he rightly notes that Capps’ hop-step brings him even closer to the mound than Walden does. Cameron points out that it doesn’t seem that there’s anything in the rulebook’s definition of “legal pitches” that would prevent Capps from doing this. Capps has long struggled against lefties, Cameron notes, and he wonders if the change in delivery will help with that problem, as his 97 mph average velocity, released closer to the plate, will certainly make it more difficult to pick up. Cameron speculates that if Capps can have success against lefties with this type of delivery, it may not be long before some fringy relief prospects begin emulating Capps and Walden, making the delivery more common.
The Marlins plan to offer Giancarlo Stanton a deal that would make him the highest-paid player in team history, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported back in August that Miami would try to lock up its 24-year-old star for the long term, though the team was not necessarily optimistic of reaching agreement. For his part, Stanton tells Nightengale that he is willing to hear offers, but still wants to see “some progression moving forward.” “It will be interesting to hear what they have to say when the time comes,” he said, “but right now, I’m not worrying about it. I mean, we’re still in this season. When this season is over, then we can start thinking about 2015.”
Here’s more from the National League:
- Mets third baseman David Wright will be shut down for the rest of the year but is not expected to require surgery on his left shoulder, Adam Rubin of ESPN.com reported (via Twitter) on in advance of a team announcement. The club says that Wright has experienced persistent inflammation in his left shoulder, which may go some way to explaining his uncharacteristically average .269/.324/.374 slash this year. The star 31-year-old is owed $107MM over 2015-2020.
- Ryan Braun of the Brewers has seen his ongoing thumb issues expand to become a broader problem with his right hand, reports Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Though surgical options have been explored, it was determined that none seemed sure enough to warrant the risk. Since a hot start, Braun has seen his numbers dwindle and then fall off a cliff of late. He is still owed $12MM on an earlier extension next year before his five-year, $105MM pact kicks in starting in 2016.
- Left-handed starter Jon Lester makes sense as a free agent target for the Cubs, argues Jesse Rogers of ESPNChicago.com. He is young and sturdy enough to warrant a significant investment, says Rogers, though Chicago can also choose to forego an overpay given the number of solid arms that could be had on the open market in 2016.