Jon Niese Rumors

Mets Notes: Offense, Niese, Collins

Despite struggles throughout their lineup, the Mets aren’t looking at adding any bats via trade, GM Sandy Alderson tells ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin. The Mets prefer to wait until David Wright and Travis d’Arnaud have returned from the disabled list before assessing any needs they may have to fill from outside the organization, Rubin writes. Both Wright and d’Arnaud could realistically return to the team within two weeks, though probably not much sooner. Alderson said a week isn’t enough time and each should require 10 to 14 days to get back.

A few more notes on the Mets to kick off Wednesday morning…

  • The Mets should clear a path for their much-ballyhooed pitching prospects to permanently join the rotation by trading Jon Niese, opines Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. However, one executive of a club that formerly had interest in Niese tells Martino that the club waited too long to move the lefty and “missed their window to get a lot for him,” as clubs are increasingly scared of Niese’s shoulder. Martino notes that the front office’s reply is that they never wanted to trade him and want Niese to pitch for them. Despite a pair of rocky performances of late, Niese’s ERA is still a perfectly acceptable 3.72, though estimators such as FIP and xFIP aren’t as bullish, calling for something more in the low-4.00s. Manager Terry Collins told Martino and other reporters following his most recent poor outing that a move to the bullpen isn’t in the cards.
  • With Noah Syndergaard and eventually Steven Matz needing rotation spots (to say nothing of the injured Rafael Montero and Dillon Gee — both of whom have made starts in 2015), the Mets do have an enviable surplus of starters. Alderson tells Rubin (Twitter link) that Super Two considerations will not play into the decision whether to keep Syndergaard on the big league roster when Gee is ready to come off the DL. Regardless of the reason, the club would seemingly risk considerable fan blowback were it to bump the prized rookie out of the rotation at this point (unless he falters).
  • That the Mets are in first place and acting the part of a contender may actually put Collins’ job in jeopardy, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Certainly, if the team maintains its status at or near the top of the division, Collins’ job would appear safe, but the team has looked more mediocre than great since its 11-game winning streak, Sherman notes. Continuing that stretch and sliding out of playoff contention would leave him as a lame duck manager (he’s signed only through 2015) whose club failed to live up to early expectations. Sherman notes that Collins has been on thin ice multiple times in the past, so it’s possible he could end up there again.
  • For all the hand-wringing over shortstop Wilmer Flores, those concerned with the team’s lineup may be missing the real issues. Flores actually rates as the team’s second most productive overall player behind Lucas Duda (by measure of fWAR). In terms of offensive numbers, the real problems lie in the early-season struggles of Michael Cuddyer and Daniel Murphy, combined with those of the club’s reserves. Other than Anthony Recker, who is now one of three catchers on the roster and has only 31 plate appearances, not a single bench player has an above-average overall batting line, with important reserve players like Ruben Tejada, John Mayberry Jr., and the since-designated Kirk Nieuwenhuis all posting rather dreadful numbers.

Mets Notes: Niese, Alderson, Moncada

Jon Niese‘s name surfaced in trade rumors earlier this offseason, but the left-hander tells Kevin Kernan of the New York Post that he has been told he won’t be dealt. “They told me they didn’t want to move me,” Niese said, which is fine with him since he’s excited about the club’s young talent. The Mets have reportedly been shopping Dillon Gee, Bartolo Colon and Niese, though of that trio, Niese was the pitcher the team was least willing to deal since he’s the only lefty in the rotation and is controllable through 2018 (if the Mets exercise both of their options on his contract). Here are some more Amazin’ news items…

  • GM Sandy Alderson discussed the positives of the Mets’ pitching surplus during a recent interview with Chris Russo of the MLB Network (hat tip to MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo). “Right now, we feel very good about the fact that we’re eight or nine deep going into the season,” Alderson said. “You always need extra starting pitching. Things will probably work themselves out during Spring Training. Hopefully we don’t have an injury. But we do have some flexibility in the ‘pen, so if somebody has to move to the ‘pen for a period of time, I think that would be acceptable to us.” Earlier this winter, Alderson said he intended to trade a starter prior to Spring Training, though this no longer appears to be the case.
  • In a Q&A with season ticket holders on Wednesday, Alderson said the Mets are unlikely to pursue Yoan Moncada, Metsblog.com’s Matthew Cerrone writes. While the Mets have scouted Moncada and “we like him,” Alderson notes that the financial commitment required to sign Moncada would essentially prohibit them from the international market for the next two years. “From my standpoint, it’s a little like the stock market. Do you want to go all in on Shake Shack? Or, do you want to invest in a mutual fund that gives you a little more diversity and a little more spread over time,” Alderson asked. “œI think our goal here is that we invest at least somewhat efficiently, but also spread it out so we give ourselves the best chance to succeed.”
  • The Mets’ offseason has been underwhelming, Joel Sherman of the New York Post opines, as he feels even a modest $20MM payroll increase could’ve helped address several uncertain positions on the team. Sherman notes that David Wright‘s struggles in 2014 could have a major impact on the Mets’ willingness to spend, as management could be more hesitant about signing major contracts if Wright continues to under-perform over the course of his extension.

Quick Hits: Howard, Rays, Vogelsong, Dbacks, Gee

There doesn’t seem to be much of a market yet for Ryan Howard, but perhaps there should be, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes. True, the Phillies would have to pay a large chunk of the $60MM on Howard’s contract, but Howard still has home run power and is healthy this offseason. Howard also revised his limited no-trade clause last fall to accommodate possible trades, and would likely approve deals even to teams on his no-trade list, Rosenthal reports. “If you’re looking for a DH and want some left-handed power – which doesn’t exist out there – and a good quality person who knows how to win and wants to play, this guy is the guy to go get,” says GM Ruben Amaro Jr. “The fact that we’ve been so public makes people think we’ll release him. That won’t happen.” Contract aside, Rosenthal thinks Howard’s market value ought be be something like $7MM to $10MM per season. Even that seems ambitious for a 35-year-old who has been below replacement level in two of the last three seasons, however. Here are more notes from throughout baseball.

  • This weekend’s trade of Ben Zobrist and Yunel Escobar could make the Rays a potential bidder for Howard, since the Rays gained payroll flexibility in the deal and have pursued stopgap designated hitters and first basemen in the past, Ryan Lawrence of Philly.com writes. It seems unlikely that the Rays would trade for Howard, however. They acquired John Jaso in the Zobrist deal with the idea that he wouldn’t primarily be a catcher, but rather a left-handed bat who might DH or play first base or outfield. (In fact, Jaso has said the Rays plan for him to play mostly DH.) Jaso’s role would seem to overlap with Howard’s potential spot in Tampa, so if Howard’s performance didn’t rule him out as an option for the Rays, Jaso’s presence probably would.
  • The Rockies have had discussions with free agent starter Ryan Vogelsong, FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi tweets. The Rockies have been connected to low-cost starting pitchers like Josh Johnson, Aaron Harang, Kevin Correia and Kyle Kendrick, and Vogelsong would seem somewhat similar. Pitchers like Kendrick have shown some ability to get ground balls, however, while Vogelsong is more of a fly ball pitcher, potentially making him an awkward fit for Coors Field. The 37-year-old posted a 4.00 ERA with 7.4 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in 184 2/3 innings with the Giants in 2014.
  • The Diamondbacks are trying to acquire a catcher, Morosi tweets. After trading Miguel Montero to the Cubs, the Snakes have Tuffy Gosewisch penciled in as their starter. The only other catcher on their 40-man is Rule 5 pick Oscar Hernandez, who played in Class A last year. They did sign Matt Pagnozzi and re-sign Blake Lalli to minor league deals, but they still appear short on experienced catching.
  • The Mets are in active trade discussions involving starting pitcher Dillon Gee, Andy Martino of New York Daily News tweets. Gee’s name came up in the three-team Ian Desmond / Ben Zobrist deal the Mets discussed with the Rays and Nationals, Martino adds. Rumors about Gee have simmered all offseason, with the Rockies, Giants and Twins among the teams connected to the righty. The Mets have reportedly been trying to trade a veteran starter, with Jon Niese and Bartolo Colon as other potential candidates, although Gee appears to be the most likely to be traded.
  • The Orioles will get a close look at Rule 5 picks Jason Garcia and Logan Verrett at minicamp this week, Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun writes. Garcia (who was originally selected by the Astros before being traded to Baltimore) just turned 22 and has not yet pitched above Class A, but Encina says the righty impressed the Orioles with his performance against their farmhands in instructional league play last fall. Verrett is more experienced, having held his own as a starter for the Mets’ Triple-A team last year as a 24-year-old. He’s more likely to relieve for the Orioles. It seems unlikely that a contending team would keep two Rule 5 picks on its roster for too long, so the amount of time Garcia and Verrett have to prove themselves might be somewhat limited.


AL Notes: Rios, Mariners, Rangers, Murphy, Twins

Here’s the latest from the American League:

  • With Melky Cabrera off the board, Alex Rios remains on the Mariners‘ radar, tweets Bob Dutton of The News Tribune. Cabrera agreed to a three-year contract with the White Sox yesterday, which should pay him roughly $14-$14.5MM per season.
  • MLB.com’s Greg Johns entertains other scenarios (both external and internal) in which the Mariners can fill their vacancy in right field.
  • The Rangers have $10-12MM in financial flexibility remaining; but, because of the health questions surrounding their core players, they could sit on that cash until midseason when they will have had time to gauge what kind of team they really have, according to Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News.
  • Cleveland.com’s Paul Hoynes wonders if Indians outfielder David Murphy is more of a platoon player at this stage of his career and believes a reader’s proposed trade of Murphy to the Mets for Ohio native Jon Niese would favor the Indians.
  • The White Sox have filled many holes with their high-profile acquisitions this offseason, but right field, second base, third base, and catcher remain areas of concern, opines Jim Margalus of South Side Sox.
  • The Twins have invested heavily in the free agent market this offseason and last because payroll was shed and there’s optimism over the performance of Minnesota’s young core, writes 1500ESPN.com’s Phil Mackey.

Starter Rumors: Red Sox Yet To Engage On Hamels, Giants May Be In

With Jon Lester off the market, we should start to see some dominoes fall.  Here are the latest pitching rumors from around baseball.

  • Talks between the Tigers and Red Sox have yet to gain any traction, tweets Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald.
  • The Red Sox have yet to engage the Phillies on Hamels, Stark reports (Twitter links). It is early, of course, though perhaps it would have been expected that Boston would immediate move to that option. The team is, however, working on several other deals including a previously-rumored swap involving Yoenis Cespedes and Rick Porcello.

Earlier Updates

  • After missing on Lester, the Giants have interest in dealing for Hamels, sources tell Jayson Stark of ESPN.com (via Twitter). Earlier rumors that San Francisco is casting a wide net appear to have been well-founded, as the team has been reported to have at least some involvement in a wide variety of possible additions.
  • The Twins have interest in Kyle Kendrick and have already had a meeting in San Diego, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets.
  • Dillon Gee is the most likely Mets pitcher to go in trade, followed by Jon Niese and Bartolo Colon, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter).  The Rangers aren’t enamored with the Mets’ pitching but the Royals and Twins have been mentioned as possibilities.
  • The Red Sox aren’t currently close on acquiring Cole Hamels from the Phillies, sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter).  They could now turn their attention to Diamondbacks pitcher Wade Miley instead and one of five other pitchers that they have their eyes on.  James Shields could also be a free agent option for Boston.
  • Two unnamed owners traveled to the winter meetings to meet with Max Scherzer‘s agent Scott Boras, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.  Scherzer’s market should develop after Lester signed for $155MM over six years, but he’s aiming much higher this winter.  The losers in the Lester derby – the Giants, Red Sox, and Dodgers – could all be candidates for Scherzer with the Giants being the one team in the group certain to take a serious look.

NL East Notes: Upton, Giants, Rizzo, Gordon

We’ve already published one set of NL East Notes today, but there’s no shortage of news coming out of the Winter Meetings.  Here’s the latest from around the division…

  • The Giants would only be interested in taking on Braves outfielder Justin Upton and his substantial salary if signing Jon Lester was no longer an option, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets.  Since the Giants have been told they’re out of the hunt for Lester, it’s fair to speculate that they could now turn their attention to Upton.
  • A rumored trade that would’ve sent Upton and Chris Johnson from the Braves to the Giants is about a week old and “not happening,” a source tells CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman.
  • Nationals GM Mike Rizzo spoke to reporters (including Dan Kolko of MASNsports.com) about a number of topics, such as how teams are showing increased interest in Washington’s relief corps over the last day.  “When David Robertson signed, our relief pitchers came more into focus with other clubs,” Rizzo said. “We got a lot of traffic on those guys.”  There has been a particularly large amount of interest in Tyler Clippard.
  • Rizzo met with Ian Desmond‘s agents and expects to meet with Jordan Zimmermann‘s agents before the Winter Meetings are over.  It was reported earlier this week that the Nats would explore an extension with Zimmermann, and Rizzo certainly expressed his eagerness to talk to the right-hander.  “Zim’s part of the furniture here.  He’s drafted, signed, developed and starred with the same organization. We feel he’s one of our own, and we’re certainly eager to discuss things with him,” Rizzo said.  The GM isn’t sure, however, what Zimmermann’s asking price will be in this round of negotiations.
  • The Marlins have interest in Dodgers second baseman Dee Gordon, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro reports (Twitter link).  It was reported earlier today that L.A. was open to offers for Gordon.
  • The Mets aren’t close to dealing a starter, but if they do swing a trade, the Rangers and Royals are both “viable landing spots,” ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin tweetsJon Niese would command a larger return than Dillon Gee, though Rubin says the Mets would prefer to trade Gee since they feel Niese has more upside and can better help the club contend in 2015.  They would trade Niese for a good enough offer, however (Twitter links).
  • The Rangers, Royals and Giants are Gee’s most serious suitors, the New York Post’s Joel Sherman writes (via Twitter).
  • In regards to the Mets‘ shortstop search, MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo hears that the team is “far more” interested in Jed Lowrie or Stephen Drew than they are with Asdrubal Cabrera.

Quick Hits: Red Sox, Mariners, Uggla, Padres, Mets

Red Sox GM Ben Cherington indicates he wouldn’t hesitate to deal for a starter who is under contract for just one more year, according to Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com.  “I think there’s actual some real value in a guy who’s not signed long-term, if they fit in the rotation, because it gives you a chance to get to know him and see if it could be a fit…I don’t think we’d necessarily need a negotiation wind-down to consider (a deal for one).” Here’s more from around the Majors.

  • Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik said he has received calls on every one of the M’s young relievers as well as shortstops Brad Miller and Chris Taylor, according to Ryan Divish of The Seattle Times (on Twitter).
  • Dan Uggla intends to make a comeback and five teams are interested, agent Terry Bross tells Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (on Twitter).
  • Padres GM A.J. Preller is hard at work at the Winter Meetings, but he’s also taking the long view of the winter, writes Corey Brock of MLB.com.  “The offseason is a long offseason, and it doesn’t end with the Winter Meetings,” Preller cautioned. “In an ideal world, we get something done this week that improves the team. But, ultimately, it may not be this week or this month.
  • When asked if he’s talking trade with the Rangers, Padres GM A.J. Preller said “Honestly, we haven’t talked players yet today,” according to Dennis Lin of U-T San Diego (via Twitter).
  • The Pirates are working multiple angles, as Tom Singer of MLB.com writes.  “And it’s not just the top-tier free agents,” GM Neal Huntington said. “It’s also the guys who could be traded; a lot of pitchers are in their free-agent walk years, and there are various ongoing conversations in the industry. We’re engaged on a bunch of different fronts.”
  • Trading Dillon Gee would give the Mets flexibility this offseason, opines Anthony DiComo of MLB.com.  The Mets could still shop Jon Niese or Bartolo Colon, but GM Sandy Alderson says that he likes Niese’s left arm and team-friendly contract, and that he isn’t trying to trade Colon.
  • The Marlins are trying to fill one void without creating another, writes Joe Frisaro of MLB.com.

AL West Rumors: Rangers, Kemp, A’s, Kang

The Rangers are expected to talk to the Mets and Marlins about starting pitchers, tweets T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com. Sullivan mentions Jon Niese and Dillon Gee of the Mets and Andrew Heaney and Nathan Eovaldi of the Marlins as likely targets. Presumably, Texas would consider other targets as well. New York needs a shortstop while Miami could use first base help. The latest from the AL West..

  • There has been no recent progress in the Matt Kemp trade talks between the Mariners and Dodgers, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter).
  • A’s manager Bob Melvin likes internal shortstop options, notably Andy Parrino, but he also said he wouldn’t be surprised if they added one before spring, according to Jane Lee of MLB.com (via Twitter).
  • Meanwhile, GM Billy Beane says that contrary to reports, the A’s are not among the teams with interest in Korean shortstop Jung-ho Kang (link).
  • Beane confirmed that the A’s are targeting young shortstops in deals, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Twitter).
  • Astros GM Jeff Luhnow says he’s still very much focused on adding bullpen depth through free agency or trade, according to Brian McTaggart of MLB.com (via Twitter).

Mets Notes: Payroll, Colon, Tejada

The latest on the Mets..

  • GM Sandy Alderson estimates the Mets’ payroll is right around $100MM, reports Adam Rubin of ESPN New York. Alderson expects payroll to remain at that level or decline. As Rubin points out, whatever is left to add will probably cost less than one of Bartolo Colon, Jon Niese, or Dillon Gee. The Mets are expected to trade at least one of the trio.
  • Colon is not the most likely to be dealt, according to Rubin. The Mets are willing to eat some of the $11MM owed to the veteran – perhaps as much as $1MM. However, trade partners are expected to prefer the younger options.
  • Mets skipper Terry Collins says Ruben Tejada will be a candidate for the starting shortstop job, along with Wilmer Flores, if the team doesn’t get a new one, tweets Mike Puma of the New York Post.
  • The Mets could turn to the international market for a shortstop. Korea’s Jung-Ho Kang is expected to be posted soon, and Japan’s Takashi Toritani is another option. However, Alderson admits that the club probably isn’t ready to make a big commitment to either shortstop.
  • Alderson notes that several clubs are willing to spend big money on international free agents. The Mets have not been one of those teams, but that could change.  “I expect we will be in that category soon,” Alderson said.
  • Injured closer Bobby Parnell is expected to open the season on the disabled list, writes Rubin in a separate post. If that should happen, the club would fill the void internally. Parnell missed the 2014 season due to Tommy John surgery.

Alderson On Gregorius, Flores, Pitchers, Trades

Here’s the latest from Mets exec Sandy Alderson, via Adam Rubin of ESPN New York.

  • The Mets currently appear slated to head into 2015 with Wilmer Flores at shortstop, Alderson says. The team did not have significant discussions with the Diamondbacks about Didi Gregorius before Gregorius was traded to the Yankees. “We knew Arizona was looking for young pitching,” says Alderson. “There’s some young pitching we weren’t prepared to trade, but I can’t say we had a lot of extensive conversations with Arizona.” The Diamondbacks reportedly asked for Noah Syndergaard in exchange for Gregorius.
  • Rubin writes that the team has had talks with the Mariners about Brad Miller and Chris Taylor, but they could wait until January to acquire shortstop (if they do acquire one), whether that’s through a trade or through the signing of someone like Jed Lowrie.
  • The Mets are also looking for a left-handed reliever and a right-handed bench bat, but Alderson suggests they could wait until after the Winter Meetings to obtain them.
  • Likewise, the Mets could wait to trade one of their starting pitchers — likely Bartolo Colon, Jon Niese or Dillon Gee — until later this offseason. “[Y]ou look at the free-agent market — not a lot has happened on the pitching side,” says Alderson. “Some of that activity may have to take place before we’re able to really have serious discussions with anyone on a possible trade.”
  • Alderson says he is not overly worried about the possibility of trading Niese and being without a lefty in the Mets’ starting rotation.