Ike Davis Rumors
As you can tell from MLBTR's Reverse Standings page, the Mets currently don't have a protected first round pick in the 2014 amateur draft. Their 73-85 record puts them in line for the 12th overall pick, and only the teams with the 10 worst records (plus the Blue Jays' 11th overall pick, stemming from 2013 compensation) will have their picks protected. Though an unprotected first-rounder could hurt the Mets' plans to delve into the free agent market this winter, GM Sandy Alderson tells Mike Puma of the New York Post that he's just happy to see his team win. “I don’t view the draft-pick situation as relevant to what we’re doing here,” Alderson said. “We’re trying to win every game we play. We’re trying to build the credibility of the franchise and that goes beyond where we’re picking in the draft.”
Here's the latest from Queens...
- The Mets are "likely" to shop both Ike Davis and Lucas Duda this winter and possibly deal the one that commands the higher trade package, ESPN New York's Adam Rubin reports. Rubin also polls nine scouts about which of the two first baseman they would prefer to have, with seven picking Duda.
- David Wright expects the Mets to be a much better team in 2014, telling reporters (including MLB.com's Anthony DiComo) that he expects improvement from players currently on the club's roster and also believes some external acquisitions are on the way. "Everybody’s been saying that this is the year with the money coming off the books, with some of the free agents that are out there, with some of the possible trade candidates given some of the younger pitchers and players we’ve developed. It seems like it’s all kind of culminating into this offseason to try to go out there and make this team better," Wright said.
- The recently-acquired Vic Black is likely the Mets' backup plan at closer if Bobby Parnell isn't ready to start the 2014 season, manager Terry Collins told reporters (including DiComo). Parnell underwent neck surgery earlier this month and is expected to be ready for Spring Training. Black, a rookie right-hander, has a 3.27 ERA and 11 strikeouts in 11 relief innings since joining the Mets. You can keep up on the Mets' closing situation and more by following @CloserNews, MLBTR's sister Twitter feed for save-related news.
- Mike Baxter's possible Super Two status could make him a non-tender candidate this winter, DiComo writes. He could be expendable once the Mets add an outfielder or two, though Baxter could be helped by a relative lack of left-handed bats amongst the current Mets outfield options. Baxter has only a .190/.303/.256 line over 142 PA this season.
There's still plenty of doubt about Ike Davis' future in Queens, but the Mets aren't willing to lose him for nothing. There is no consideration being given to the idea of non-tendering the first baseman in December, team insiders tell Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com.
With Lucas Duda and the shaky Davis both in the fold, a decision has to be made regarding the club's plan at first base, so the possibility of trading Davis remains. However, club officials believe that Davis will not be cost prohibitive in 2014 in a way that would force them to cut him loose. Davis, 26, earned $3.125MM this season as a first-year arbitration eligible player.
It's extremely rare for a player’s salary to decrease during their arbitration years, but the Mets appear to think they may have a case for a salary reduction if it ever got to a hearing, Rubin writes. A player could receive as much as a 20% cut from his previous year’s salary either through an arbitration hearing or a pre-hearing settlement, leaving Davis' floor to be $2.5MM for 2014.
Rubin found only a handful of salary cuts in arbitration over the years with the most recent one taking place in 1993. Royals pitcher Aaron Crow agreed to a 20% pay cut before the 2013 season, but that was an unusual case in which he was not yet arbitration eligible and his 2012 salary had been worked out when he was drafted No. 12 overall three years earlier.
Even if Davis gets a salary similar to his $3.125MM pay this year, it won't be a major impediment for the Mets, especially when considering the amount of money they have coming off of the books.
The Mets and Yankees have both benefited from trades this summer, with Alfonso Soriano's sizzling bat helping to propel the Yanks within two-and-a-half games of a Wild Card spot, and Marlon Byrd netting a pair of solid prospects for the Mets in Dilson Herrera and Vic Black. Here's more on New York's teams...
- Peter Gammons examines the curious career path of Ike Davis, noting that at different times throughout his career, he's shown the capability to be an elite defender, a walk machine and a legitimate 30-homer bat. However, as Gammons notes, he's never put those three together, and his first-half struggles in 2012-13 make it worth questioning whether he's worth the raise he's due on his $3MM salary via arbitration.
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post also examines Davis' situation, noting that there's risk in trading Davis, as his current career numbers aren't that dissimilar from those of Chris Davis through his age-26 season (Chris had slightly better power numbers but played in more hitter-friendly settings). Sherman wonders if the Mets might consider swapping him for another buy-low candidate like Jeremy Hellickson and notes that teams like the Rays, Twins, Marlins and Brewers could all be intrigued by Davis.
- One rival talent evaluator recently spoke with Andy McCullough of the Star Ledger and seemed baffled by the fall of Baseball America's former No. 4 overall prospect, Phil Hughes (Twitter link). "You just wonder why he isn't better," said the scout, who called baseball a "brutal" industry.
- Yankees manager Joe Girardi told reporters, including Christian Red of the New York Daily News, that an ESPN report suggesting that he would lobby Mariano Rivera to pitch for another season was overblown. Rivera told Red and others that he is still certain that this season is his last, and Girardi added that he merely voiced his feelings that Rivera would still be capable of succeeding were he to return next year.
Last night, the Phillies added some pitching depth to their organization with the acquisition of minor league hurlers Rob Rasmussen and Nefi Ogando, in separate trades, for Michael Young and John McDonald, respectively. These are the first of many decisions the Phillies' front office will need to make in anticipation of 2014. Here's more on the Phillies and the rest of the NL East:
- Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has backed himself into corner where he may not be able to significantly upgrade the team's talent next year, which puts interim manager Ryne Sandberg in a shaky situation and may make him the wrong man at the wrong place at a very wrong time for his long-awaited turn at being a MLB manager, writes the Times of Trenton's Barry Federovitch.
- Another big decision the Phillies have to make is whether to re-sign Roy Halladay, who will be a free agent this winter. Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer opines the Phillies have taken too many risks, health and talent-wise, in recent years which did not work and should not keep another risky proposition like Halladay around even if the price seems right.
- FanGraph's Dave Cameron, in an ESPN Insider subscription-required piece, names Halladay and fellow NL East right-hander Dan Haren as part of an interesting free agent class: broken-but-perhaps-fixable formerly great pitchers.
- There is a "strong expectation" Terry Collins will continue as the Mets' manager in 2014, a source familiar with the situation told Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. The source added there is internal respect for how Collins has navigated this year's challenges. Rubin reasons, by not committing to Collins now, it protects the front office in case there is a serious swoon or an unforeseeable major event during the season's final month.
- Ike Davis may not be as fortunate. He will most likley miss the remainder of the year with a strained right oblique and is in jeopardy of being non-tendered this winter, writes Rubin in two separate articles. Rubin compares Davis' situation to that of right-hander Mike Pelfrey who was non-tendered last December when the Mets did not want to risk the raise on his $5.7MM salary. Davis is currently earning $3.125MM and Rubin sees a 2014 salary in the neighborhood of $3.5-4MM; but, with so much money coming off the Mets' books, it might be palatable to carry such a salary rather than non-tender him if no trade materializes.
The baseball world got some terrible news today when Mike Francesa of WFAN radio in New York reported that Mets ace Matt Harvey has a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow and will be placed on the disabled list (hat tip: Ken Rosenthal on Twitter). A torn UCL, of course, is usually a precursor to Tommy John surgery, which would mean Harvey would miss most -- if not all -- of the 2014 season. It will also greatly impact the Mets' strategy for 2014, as the team had planned to make a big push for immediate contention this offseason. Here's more on the Mets and the rest of the NL East...
- "First base is in flux," one Mets official told Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. The Mets are currently unsure as to who will man the position in 2014. Martino profiles their in-house options -- Ike Davis, Lucas Duda, Josh Satin and Wilmer Flores -- but also notes that general manager Sandy Alderson could seek a first baseman outside the organization. Martino adds that Davis' poor play almost earned him a second demotion to Triple-A earlier in the summer.
- Roy Halladay thinks brighter days are ahead for the Phillies, writes Sam Donnellon of the Philadelphia Daily News. Said Halladay: "...we have some young players who are really kind of coming into their own and some veteran guys who are starting to produce again. I think there's just a few pieces that if we can add we're right there." Halladay, of course, is a free agent at season's end. He made his return to the Phillies' rotation over the weekend, allowing two runs on four hits and a pair of walks with two strikeouts in six innings of work.
- Many things have gone wrong for the Nationals this season, but Matt Klaassen of Fangraphs points out that Jayson Werth is having a fantastic season and earning the value of his salary this year. While the contract is still likely to be "ugly" by the end, in Klaassen's opinion, Werth is a good bet to provide above-average production for the next couple seasons if he remains healthy.
Former Colorado Rockie Ryan Spilborghs has been blogging for The Denver Post about his experiences playing for the Seibu Lions in Japan this season, and he weighs in on the issue of PEDs in his latest post. While Spilborghs doesn't approve of PED use, he suggests that baseball's long season can push players too far without giving them enough time to recover. A better model may be the schedule adopted by Japan's NPB league, which has teams playing 144 games in about 180 days, Spilborghs says.
Some more notes from around the senior circuit...
- Ike Davis will rejoin the Mets on Friday for their matchup with the Brewers, a source told Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. Davis was demoted on June 10 after hitting just .161/.242/.258 in 207 plate appearances, but work with Triple-A coaches to address a hitch in Davis' swing was apparently successful, as the first baseman has compiled a .293/.424/.667 line with the Las Vegas 51s. MLBTR's Tim Dierkes speculated in a May post that Davis could be a non-tender candidate this offseason.
- The Dodgers are expected to activate outfielder Carl Crawford from the DL as soon as Friday, reports Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. Los Angeles will soon be faced with a long-anticipated glut of regular outfielders, with Crawford joining Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, and sensation Yasiel Puig on the active roster. Manager Don Mattingly acknowledges that it will be a "sticky" situation to manage. It remains to be seen whether the Dodgers will consider moving Andre Ethier, who was given a five-year, $85MM extension just over a year ago.
- While Yovani Gallardo of the Brewers has been the subject of trade dialogue, Adam McCalvy of MLB.com reports that the righty is determined not to let the rumors affect him. "We all hear things. I'm not going to lie. ... But basically I just leave it at that. I hear them, and then don't think about it too much." Gallardo did acknowledge, however, that he had become aware of some of the teams on his no-trade list.
- Though the loss of Jesse Crain to the DL dampens the reliever market, a number of potentially available NL hurlers could help bolster a contender's bullpen, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports notes. The Cubs' Kevin Gregg has earned 14 saves in 15 opportunities, while the Brewers' Francisco Rodriguez is a perfect seven for seven in save chances and could help the Tigers, Rosenthal says. John Axford, Milwaukee's former closer, could also be a useful piece.
- The Marlins could offer Steve Cishek, Mike Dunn, or Ryan Webb, as they have power arms in the pipeline and "never mind trading relievers," according to Rosenthal. Both Cishek and Dunn have been effective for the Fish and become eligible for arbitration after this season. Miami could have a tougher time finding a taker for Webb, however, as he's shown discouraging strikeout and walk trends.
- Rosenthal is also less high on the Phillies' Jonathan Papelbon, noting his high salary and declining strikeout rate, and the Brewers' Michael Gonzalez, a lefty who opponents have managed a .746 OPS against despite his high K/9 rate.
The AL East is home to the hottest team in baseball as the Blue Jays tied a franchise-record by winning their 11th consecutive game this afternoon and is the only division in baseball where every team has a winning record. Joel Sherman of the New York Post asked executives and scouts from the other five divisions to predict the finishing order in the AL East. The stunning result? The Red Sox are the favorite to win the division and no one polled sees the Yankees finishing higher than third. The consensus is the Yankees will be the AL East cellar-dwellers citing age, injuries, lack of depth in the minors, and a reluctance to add future payroll. Sherman also breaks down the strengths and weaknesses of the entire division and adds his summation for each team. Elsewhere in MLB's East divisions:
- The Mets had an oppportunity to recall Ike Davis when Lucas Duda landed on the disabled list, but the club decided against such a move. According to Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News, the Mets wanted to protect Davis as they are entering a stretch where they face several left-handers. "You don’t want to put him back in a funk right away," manager Terry Collins told reporters, including Ackert. Davis is hitting .310/.463/.690 with four home runs in 54 plate appearances since being sent to Triple-A Las Vegas.
- The Nationals may try to bolster their starting rotation with a trade after Dan Haren was placed on the disabled list, reports the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore. Haren signed a one-year, $13MM contract with the Nationals after his option was declined by the Angels when a proposed trade with the Cubs fell through over reported injury concerns.
- The name of the recently demoted Jake Arrieta keeps coming up as a possible trade chip for the Orioles. Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun writes the Orioles are eventually going to have to think long and hard about how the right-hander fits and what's best for his development. Encina guesses a move to the bullpen could be part of that plan, which would allow Arrieta to concentrate on pitching in smaller spurts.
- ESPN's Buster Olney (Insider subscription required) sees Arrieta as a Chris Davis-type situation: the talent is there, but the question is whether it will translate at some point.
Tonight's Brewers vs. Marlins matchup surely was of interest to teams that might pursue starting pitching in the trade market, Danny Knobler of CBS Sports tweeted at the beginning of the game. Yovani Gallardo started for the Brewers and pitched eight shutout innings, striking out four and walking one. The Marlins' Ricky Nolasco, another trade candidate, didn't fare so well, allowing four runs while striking out five and walking two over 5 1/3 innings. Here are more notes from around the league.
- Last November, the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks expressed interest in Alex Rodriguez, Ken Belson and David Waldstein of the New York Times report. The Yankees never discussed the matter with the Japanese team, because they knew Rodriguez required hip surgery that would limit him in 2013, and because they knew Rodriguez would not consent to playing overseas.
- Ike Davis' poor performance (and subsequent demotion) may make him a non-tender candidate in the coming offseason, Adam Rubin of ESPN New York argues. Davis will make $3.125MM this season, and will be eliglble for arbitration next season. He hit .161/.242/.258 in 207 plate appearances this year before the Mets shipped him to Triple-A Las Vegas. Last month, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes discussed many potential non-tender candidates, including Davis, Clayton Richard, and Chris Perez.
- The Pirates have had a number of surprisingly good pitching performances this year, and what connects them is catcher Russell Martin, Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. Martin's pitch-framing is highly-regarded, and he also wins praise for his game-calling. His impact on the Pirates' pitching staff makes the two-year, $17MM contract to which the Bucs signed him this offseason look like a very good one, Sawchik argues.
- The Astros are rebuilding the right way, says ESPN's Jim Bowden in a new video. Bowden argues that GM Jeff Luhnow, manager Bo Porter and new president Reid Ryan are the right leaders for the Astros. Bowden also says the Astros' top draft picks help set them up to the future. The Astros selected Carlos Correa first overall in 2012, then grabbed Mark Appel with this year's top pick. They'll also have a very high pick next year. Not trying to spend their way out of last place is the right strategy for the Astros, Bowden says, because of the top picks they get as a result.
- The Orioles are not interested in Jon Garland, MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko tweets. The Rockies released Garland this afternoon after he posted a 5.82 ERA with 4.2 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 for them.
The Mets have demoted Ike Davis to Triple-A along with Mike Baxter and Robert Carson, tweets Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. The decision to send Davis to the minors was apparently made during or after the Mets' fifth consecutive loss to the Marlins this afternoon, tweets Andy Martino of the New York Daily News, who was, earlier in the day, told by a high ranking source such a move was not imminent.
GM Sandy Alderson told reporters, including Rubin, the demotion is in the best interest of Davis. "I was one of his biggest supporters," Alderson said. "I just felt at some point we've got to get him out of here. Hopefully he'll be back in a short period of time. But he needs to go there. He needs to be able to play every day. He needs to be able to work on his swing without worrying necessarily about the outcome. We think it's in his best interest."
Davis, drafted 18th overall by the Mets in the 2008 draft, has struggled offensively since injuring his left ankle in a collision with David Wright in May 2011. Davis was hitting .302/.383/.543 at the time of the injury and only .211/.292./.410 since, including a mark of .164/.245/.262 in 2013. With the struggles, many have suggested Davis needs to make radical changes to his approach at the plate. Alderson, as quoted by Rubin, alluded to this as one of the issues the first baseman faces.
"First and foremost, Ike needs to get his confidence back. He's had a lot of people in his ear talking about his swing and talking about what he needs to do to get back to where he was. In some ways, maybe this is another way to clear the deck, to get to Vegas. I don't know that there's any one mechanical thing that anybody is saying he needs to do."
Mets spokesman Jay Horwitz said Davis declined to speak about the move, but his teammate Daniel Murphy predicted, "I.D. is a professional and we will see him again." (links to Rubin's Twitter account).
Alderson indicated the shakeup will only involve players and not the coaching staff. "This is not a staff issue," the GM said. "This is a player issue." The Mets will not announce the corresponding roster moves until tomorrow, tweets Newsday's Marc Carig.
Acquiring Andre Ethier "would be a solid gamble" for the Mets, Metsblog.com's Matthew Cerrone opines. Ethier could be forced out of the Dodgers outfield by Yasiel Puig and Scott Van Slyke, making him expendable at a discount price since it is believed the Dodgers would have to absorb at least half of the roughly $80MM remaining on Ethier's contract. The Mets would be paying around $10MM per season to a player Cerrone sees as "a nice compliment to Lucas Duda in left field," but it would be the first step in the Mets upgrading their outfield now and this winter in the free agent market.
Here's some more on the Amazins from ESPN New York's Adam Rubin, who covered a number of topics during a live chat with readers today...
- Ike Davis could be a trade candidate if the Mets thought he wouldn't be worth his growing salary over his arbitration years. A Rubin source on another team projects Davis to earn $6.1MM in his second year of arbitration eligibility this winter, "assuming his production normalizes somewhat the rest of the way." This could be a big if, as Davis has managed only a .509 OPS through 201 PA this season. Davis signed a one-year, $3.125MM deal last winter in his first taste of arb-eligibility.
- Rubin isn't sure if the Mets see Daniel Murphy as an extension candidate since "a New York team doesn't normally have to be consumed with locking up a player's arbitration years." Murphy signed a one-year, $2.925MM deal last winter and is arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter. The second baseman has been a bright spot for the Mets this season, hitting .290/.323/.439 and tying for the NL lead with 19 doubles.
- Pedro Feliciano has been on the minor league disabled list since May 9 with a "very serious" type of food poisoning that "can affect the person off and on for years." The southpaw hasn't pitched in the Majors since 2010 after suffering a variety of arm injuries as a member of the Yankees in 2011-12. Feliciano signed a minor league deal with the Mets in January.