Jon Niese Rumors

NL Notes: Burnett, Hamels, Niese, Mets, Padres, Johnson

Here’s the latest from the National League:

  • Phillies starter A.J. Burnett seems more likely to retire (and forgo his $12.75MM player option) than many people believe, observes Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com in an offseason preview piece. Meanwhile, the club will listen on Cole Hamels but continue to demand a ransom in return, while Philadelphia could be more open to dealing not only veteran Marlon Byrd but also arb-eligible outfielders Domonic Brown and Ben Revere. As Salisbury notes, the rotation has plenty of question marks and openings.
  • While Salisbury says he believes the Phillies will ultimately hang onto the 30-year-old Hamels, for better or worse, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki argues that the organization must view Hamels (and his fellow core veterans) from a pure baseball perspective. Attendance is plummeting in spite of the continued presence of numerous pieces of the team’s run of success, he notes, and the only way to rebuild the fan base is through winning.
  • Neutral talent evaluators believe that lefty Jon Niese is the Mets‘ best trade chip among the club’s veteran starters, tweets Marc Carig of Newsday. Niese, 27, threw to a 3.40 ERA over 187 2/3 frames in 2014. He is owed $16MM over the next two seasons and has a pair of options ($10MM and $11MM, with respective $500K buyouts) thereafter.
  • The Mets are expected to replace hitting coach Lamar Johnson, tweets Mike Puma of the New York Post. That move is still not official, however, and New York is in the early stages of assessing who they might bring in.
  • Padres GM A.J. Preller is about to get his first taste of open market action from the seat of power, as MLB.com’s Corey Brock reports. Preller said that he anticipates a lot of trade attention on the team’s slate of arms, and indicated that he would be open to discussing any players if there’s a way to improve the club.
  • One interesting player who remains under the Padres‘ control is starter Josh Johnson, whose injury-shortened year left the club with a $4MM team option. Preller said that he hopes to have Johnson in the fold next year, though left unclear whether the team is interested in a straight exercise of the option. “With Josh, he’s a guy that everyone has a positive feel for,” said Preller. “We’ll try to go down the road with him and try to present something to him that makes sense to him.”

Mets Notes: Murphy, Payroll, Alderson, Coaches

Since “the Mets have showed no inclination to engage Daniel Murphy‘s representatives in extension talks,” ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin believes the second baseman could be a prime trade candidate.  The Mets seem likely to deal Murphy for an outfielder in the offseason, though one Major League executive tells Rubin that the Mets could get a higher return in a deal by waiting until midseason.  Murphy is eligible for arbitration for the third and final time this winter before hitting free agency after the 2015 season.

Here’s some more news about the Amazins…

  • Also from Rubin’s piece, he believes the Mets’ 2015 payroll will be around the $100MM mark.  Though this is an increase from their $85MM mark this season, Rubin notes that the payroll was going to rise to roughly $93MM anyway due to player raises.  Any further expenditures could have to be offset by moving existing salaries, like dealing Murphy or a starting pitcher.
  • Speaking of trading a starter, Rubin feels that either Dillon Gee or Jon Niese are likely to be dealt this winter.  Oft-cited trade candidate Bartolo Colon is 41, will earn $11MM in 2015 and is only contracted for the one year, so the Mets could command a higher return for one of their younger, controllable starters.
  • Mets GM Sandy Alderson spoke with the media (including Adam Rubin) on Sunday and noted that Citi Field’s fences in center and right-center field will “likely” be altered next season.  “I think [the new dimensions will] be good for the game, good for the fans. I’m sure that one or two of our players will benefit as well,” Alderson said.
  • Alderson also touched on the Mets’ need for a hitting upgrade, though he doesn’t think his team will need that great a jump from their current “middle of the pack” status in the NL’s offensive ranks to being a top-five offensive club in the league.  Metsblog’s Matthew Cerrone notes that while many Mets fans clamor for a new slugger, the team’s power numbers were actually pretty good in 2014.  “More than anything – the Mets need more hitters that put the ball in play. That’s it. It should not be overcomplicated,” Cerrone writes.
  • The Mets will reassign hitting coaches Lamar Johnson and Luis Natera, sources tell Andy Martino of the New York Daily News.  An official announcement on the 2015 coaching staff is expected to come on Tuesday.  Bench coach Bob Geren will return next season, while former Met and fan favorite Wally Backman (manager of the franchise’s Triple-A affiliate) isn’t expected to be promoted to a big league coaching job.

NL East Notes: Phillies, Mets, Hand, Braves

Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins tells Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com that he isn’t sure when his team will contend again, but he’d like to see the club spend to work toward that in the offseason. Rollins has a specific target in mind, as well, having read up on Cuban slugger Yasmany Tomas. Rollins feels that if Tomas is the next slugger to follow in the footsteps of Jose Abreu, Yasiel Puig, Yoenis Cespedes and Jorge Soler, then “We’ve got to get our hands in that market.” Rollins continued, speaking more generically about spending to improve rather than just spending on Tomas: We have enough money so you can’t say we don’t. … We’re in a big market, a big-market payroll. So you have to go out there and make it happen.”

Here’s more from Salisbury and more from the NL East…

  • Jonathan Papelbon didn’t appeal his seven-game suspension because he didn’t want it to carry into next season, the closer tells Salisbury. Papelbon maintains that the crotch-grabbing gesture he made toward the fans was simply an adjustment: I truly feel like if the fans really got to me and they wanted something I would have given them a little bit more than that.” Papelbon isn’t sure if the Phillies will try to limit his games finished to prevent his $13MM option (2016) from vesting, but he expects to be on the mound in save situations “regardless of what team” he is on.
  • While there’s been plenty of speculation about the Mets trading Bartolo Colon this offseason, ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin wouldn’t be surprised to see the team trade Jon Niese or Dillon Gee instead (Twitter links). While neither would save the Mets as much as shedding Colon’s $11MM salary, Niese will earn $7MM in 2015 (and is guaranteed $16.5MM through 2016), while Gee’s arbitration salary could clear $5MM. Rubin feels if the Mets do indeed make trades to shed salary and free up room for free agent pursuits, the most likely candidates are those three pitchers and second baseman Daniel Murphy.
  • Marlins lefty Brad Hand has made a good deal of improvements in terms of strike-throwing, writes Christina De Nicola of FOX Sports Florida, and he’ll enter 2015 with another chance to compete for a rotation spot. The out-of-options hurler and 2008 second-rounder finished the season with a 4.38 ERA in a career-high 111 innings. However, he was better in the second half, posting a 3.89 ERA over his final 13 appearances (11 starts). I’d imagine that, given the Marlins’ pitching depth, Hand could face an uphill battle in securing a rotation spot.
  • While he didn’t elaborate much, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution gets the sense that there will be significant roster turnover for the Braves this offseason (Twitter link). The Braves have struggled as a whole in 2014, but particularly at the plate, where the team has batted a combined .241/.306/.360. Each of those rate stats ranks 24th or worse in Major League Baseball, and the team’s 562 runs are 29th in the Majors, leading only the Padres.


Mets Notes: Carlos, Quesada, Castillo, Wheeler, Niese

The Mets have long been on the lookout for a shortstop, but while many have speculated on the possibility of a trade with the Cubs or D’Backs, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports that the team will take a look at an under-the-radar Cuban shortstop in the coming days. Roberto Carlos, a 28-year-old Cuban defector, is in the Dominican Republic and garnering attention from the Mets. Carlos left the Cuban National team in 2012 and defected to America, but he is believed to have “slipped through the cracks” because he did not initially seek representation after defecting. The switch-hitting Perez last batted .339 with four homers for the Cuban National team in 2012, Puma writes, and he did have a brief stint in independent ball last season. Carlos, who until recently played under his full name of Roberto Carlos Ramirez, batted .357/.394/.425 in 293 plate appearances between two indy league clubs. He didn’t homer, but he did go 19-for-24 in stolen base attempts.

Here are some more Mets-centric links as we head into the weekend…

  • Also from Puma’s piece, while the Mets weren’t involved in the Rusney Castillo sweepstakes, the money required to sign him wasn’t the reason, according to GM Sandy Alderson. “I think it’s a matter of there might be some scouting differences of opinion, and kind of where we are and what we’re going to do in the immediate future, so there are lots of issues involved,” said the Mets GM. “We scout [the Cuban market], so it’s not as if we’re not aware of what is going on. It’s not like we’re not aware of who is out there.”
  • Puma also tweets that the Mets will work out Pavel Quesada as well, a Cuban third baseman who is said to possess some power. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez tweeted last month that Quesada worked out for several teams at the Yankees’ facility in the Dominican Republic.
  • Zack Wheeler spoke with Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News and said that while he’s aware that the Mets have a perceived starting pitching surplus, he’s hoping to remain with the club rather than end up elsewhere via trade. “I’d like to be here,” said Wheeler. “I know they could use one of (the young pitchers) to get a bat or two, but I’ve been here for the rebuilding. I know it’s part of the game, but I want to be here after the rebuilding. I want to see the results.”
  • In an appearance with Chris Russo on the MLB Network (video link), Peter Gammons revealed that the Mets at one point last offseason offered Jon Niese to the Mariners in a trade that would have sent shortstop Brad Miller back to New York (it’s unclear what other pieces were in the deal).  The Mets may be happy to have held onto Niese, who has posted a 3.50 ERA in 141 1/3 innings while Miller has struggled to a .199/.273/.326 batting line.
  • Gammons also opines that the Mets and Cubs don’t line up well for a trade because the Mets would likely have to part with at least two young pitchers to make a deal, and that would thin out their depth considerably.

Curtis Granderson, Jon Niese Clear Revocable Waivers

Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson and left-hander Jon Niese have cleared revocable waivers and are now eligible to be traded to any club, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. ESPN’s Jayson Stark reported last week that Granderson had been placed on revocable waivers.

That the 33-year-old Granderson would clear isn’t surprising, as I mentioned following last week’s news that he was placed on waivers. He’s owed about $50MM from this point through the end of the 2017 season, making it unlikely that opposing teams would jump to add that type of money to their payroll. Still, Granderson has recovered from a woeful month of April to bat a respectable .258/.360/.447 with 14 homers in 88 games since. While he’s not looking like a 40-homer threat anymore, those numbers will play in any park, and they’re particularly impressive for a hitter that calls the spacious Citi Field his home.

It’s more surprising that Niese would clear waivers, as the 27-year-old is controlled through the 2018 season and is in the midst of his third consecutive campaign of a sub-3.75 ERA. Niese has posted a 3.41 ERA with 6.3 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 and a 48.4 percent ground-ball rate in 128 1/3 innings, and his annual salary commitments are rather modest. He’s earning $5MM in 2014 (of which roughly $1.34MM remains) plus $7MM in 2015 and $9MM in 2016. His contract contains a pair of more-than-reasonable club options ($10MM in 2017 and $11MM in 2018), both of which come with a mere $500K buyout.

That the Cubs were willing to place a claim on Cole Hamels and the remaining $100MM+ on his contract but elected to pass on Niese (along with every other pitching-hungry team in the game) seems puzzling. As Heyman notes, teams may simply have felt that there was no way the Mets would trade their controllable lefty, which is probably the correct assumption. GM Sandy Alderson has shown a reluctance to move any pieces — even those which could be free agents at season’s end or in a year’s time — without receiving something significant in return. Last year, he elected to hang onto LaTroy Hawkins at the trade deadline, and this season he showed virtually no inclination to move Daniel Murphy, despite his status as free agent following the 2015 campaign.

I’d imagine the asking price on Niese to be well beyond the comfort level of nearly any interested team, but those clubs will have the remainder of the month to kick around ideas and check in with Alderson. (Of course, a club could acquire Niese in September as well, though he’d be ineligible to pitch in the postseason if acquired after Aug. 31.)

Granderson and Niese are the second pair of NL East players to reportedly clear waivers this afternoon, as USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reported that both Ian Desmond and Gio Gonzalez cleared waivers as well. All four will be added to MLBTR’s list of players that have reportedly cleared revocable waivers.


Players Who Have Cleared Revocable Waivers

MLBTR will continue to update this post as players reportedly clear revocable trade waivers, making it a running list of players that may be traded to any club in the season’s final two months. Remember though, players must be acquired by Aug. 31 to be eligible for their new team’s postseason roster. Click here for a further explanation of the August waiver and trade rules. Also bear in mind that a player’s no-trade rights remain effective even if he clears waivers. Player names are linked to the source articles, and this article can always be found under the MLBTR Features portion of the sidebar on the right side of the page.

Last Updated: 8-26-2014

  • Trevor Cahill, Diamondbacks — Still owed $12.8MM (including the buyout of two successive club options after next season) on a no-longer-attractive contract, Cahill remains a somewhat intriguing option at just 26 years of age. Though he owns just a 4.54 ERA over 83 1/3 innings on the year, including his first significant stretch of bullpen work, Cahill actually sports a career-best 3.72 FIP.
  • Scott Feldman, Astros — In the first year of a front-loaded $30MM contract, Feldman was owed roughly $20.36MM through the 2016 season at the time he reportedly cleared waivers. He’s missed a coupled weeks with biceps tendinitis in 2014 but been healthy otherwise and soaked up some innings with a reasonable 4.37 ERA (through Aug. 25) for Houston. He’s not an elite arm, but he could have appeal to a team in need of solid innings, particularly if Astros GM Jeff Luhnow were to sweeten the deal with some cash.
  • Bartolo Colon, Mets — The 41-year-old Colon was guaranteed $12.77MM through 2015 at the time he cleared waivers on Aug. 25. He’s pitched to a 3.82 ERA in 167 1/3 innings, more than justifying the commitment that the Mets made to him as a free agent. Colon’s age will scare off some contenders, but he looks the part of an effective starter, and with one year at $11MM remaining after the season, his salary isn’t exorbitant.
  • Yu Darvish, Rangers — It is somewhat hard to imagine that Darvish’s current DL stint for elbow inflammation would be enough to scare away other clubs from the outstanding righty. He has produced stellar results (3.06 ERA with 11.3 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 over 144 1/3 innings on the year), only just turned 28, and is guaranteed a modest $31MM over the next three seasons (though the last year could turn into a player option). The likelier possibility, perhaps, is that other clubs felt it would not be possible to achieve a deal, especially while he is out of action to have his elbow looked at.
  • Adrian Beltre, Rangers — If anything, the lack of a claim on Beltre is more surprising (if only because of Darvish’s injury situation). The 35-year-old is in the midst of a typically outstanding year, with a .318/.373/.498 slash with 17 home runs and excellent defense. He is owed $34MM over the next two years, which is a large sum given his age. But that is a bargain for his production, and the $16MM salary for 2016 has injury protections built in.
  • Elvis Andrus, Rangers — That Andrus was left unclaimed could represent something of a statement on the league’s view of his contract. His eight-year, $120MM extension (which includes both opt-out and vesting option provisions) is set to go into effect next season. Just 25, Andrus has not produced offensively either this year or last (.271/.326/.337 cumulative line), and his high-level defense and baserunning are probably not enough on their own to justify his pay level.
  • Shin-Soo Choo, Rangers — Choo has thus far failed to live up to the seven-year, $130MM deal that brought him to Texas. He owns a .241/.341/.371 slash in that contract’s first year, with 12 home runs and just three stolen bases. While there is time for Choo to rebound, he is promised far too much future cash ($116MM) for another team to have placed a claim.
  • Jon Niese, Mets — It’s a bit surprising that teams would let a controllable, highly affordable arm like Niese clear waivers. He’s owed about $1.34MM through season’s end (as of his clearing on Aug. 11) and is guaranteed $7MM in 2015 and $9MM in 2016. Niese’s deal contains a $10MM club option for 2017 and $11MM club option for 2018, each with a $500K buyout. He’s not an ace, but he’s a reliable mid-rotation arm that is on the verge of finishing his third season with a sub-3.75 ERA. The asking price will be sky-high — justifiably so — making a trade unlikely.
  • Curtis Granderson, Mets — The Grandy Man has recovered from a slow start to post strong numbers since May 1 (.258/.360/.447 from May 1 through Aug. 11), but the odds of a team taking on the roughly $50MM he has remaining on his deal are slim. It also would set a poor precedent with future free agents if the Mets issued a four-year deal, only to trade him in the first year of the contract. Don’t expect a trade.
  • Ian Desmond, Nationals — That Desmond would clear is surprising, but it’s likely that the other 29 clubs knew that GM Mike Rizzo wouldn’t deal his shortstop in the midst of a playoff push anyway. Desmond is earning $6.5MM in 2014 and $11MM in 2015 before being eligible for free agency, so he’d have plenty of trade value. An in-season trade would be shocking, however, with the Nats fighting for a division title.
  • Gio Gonzalez, Nationals — Gonzalez is controlled relatively cheaply through the 2018 season ($23MM guaranteed through 2016 plus a pair of $12MM options), making it a virtual lock that he’s not going anywhere prior to season’s end. With four years of control, he could fetch a haul in the offseason, but teams are rarely willing to move an established starter with that type of control. He’s extremely likely to be a National again in 2015.
  • Kevin Correia, Twins — The Twins sent Correia through waivers at the beginning of the month, as he had reportedly already cleared by the time the Dodgers acquired him on Aug. 9. The Dodgers are on the hook for the remaining $1.5MM on his contract, and he’ll be a free agent at season’s end.
  • Alex Rios, Rangers — Rios is owed roughly $3.62MM through season’s end (as of Aug. 7) as well as a $1MM buyout on next year’s $13.5MM club option. While he’s enjoyed a decent season at the plate, a good deal of his slugging percentage comes from a high number of triples, rather than his usual contribution of double-digit home runs. ESPN’s Buster Olney tweeted that teams are wary of Rios’ declining home run power, so the Rangers have some obstacles in trying to work out a trade for their right fielder.
  • Jonathan Papelbon, Phillies — Papelbon cleared waivers on Aug. 6, to the surprise of very few, given the fact that he is owed $13MM in 2015 and has a vesting option for the 2016 season. Papelbon’s ERA and K/BB numbers remain appealing, but he’s survived with an abnormally low BABIP while seeing his average fastball velocity diminish to 91.4 mph. He has a limited no-trade clause but has said he’d waive those rights to join a contender. Philadelphia would have to eat some salary in order to facilitate a deal, however.
  • Matt Kemp, Dodgers — Though Kemp has shown flashes of returning to his prior form at the plate, he is owed too much money after this year ($107MM) and comes with too many questions (injuries, defense) to warrant a claim. In any event, the Dodgers seem disinclined to trade him.
  • Andre Ethier, Dodgers — If any Dodgers outfielder were to move, Ethier might be the likeliest option, but a .672 OPS won’t be appealing to interested parties. Even less appealing, however, will be the $56MM he is guaranteed following the 2014 season. That number could rise even further as well, as 550 PA in 2017 would trigger a $17.5MM vesting option ($2.5MM buyout). Clearly, L.A. would have to pay a significant portion of Ethier’s salary to move him, as his production in 2014 has been near or below replacement level (depending on your preferred version of WAR).
  • Carl Crawford, Dodgers — The 33-year-old Crawford may be even more untradeable for the Dodgers, as he’s owed $62.5MM beyond the 2014 season and is hitting just .236/.271/.341 in what has been an injury-riddled season. The Dodgers have motivation to move at least one of their overpriced outfielders, with top prospect Joc Pederson likely ready to make the move to the Majors, but they’ll be hard-pressed to do so.
  • Josh Beckett, Dodgers — Owed a much more reasonable $4.73MM (as of Aug. 5), Beckett is a more desirable commodity for interested parties. However, he’s currently occupying a slot in L.A.’s rotation, and he’s produced a surprisingly excellent 2.88 ERA with 8.3 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in 112 innings this season. The contending Dodgers don’t seem likely to deal from their rotation depth. The loss of Paul Maholm to a torn ACL has already weakened their rotation depth.
  • Brett Gardner, Yankees — Gardner is owed $50MM from 2015-18, and the Yankees weren’t likely to have given any serious consideration to dealing him anyhow. The speedster has shown more power than ever this season and has been New York’s most valuable position player. He’s staying put.
  • Martin Prado, Yankees — Owed $11MM in 2015 and in 2016, Prado’s salary and struggles with the bat have combined to offset a great deal of the value his versatility provides to his team. The Yankees acquired Prado just minutes before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, so it seems unlikely that they’d move him this quickly.
  • Stephen Drew, Yankees — Drew is owed about $4.24MM from Aug. 5 through season’s end, making it unsurprising that a team neglected to claim him on waivers. His bat showed some life in July and in early August, but the impending free agent’s overall numbers are pretty woeful. Another two or three weeks of solid offense could make him a trade candidate if the Yankees fall out of the playoff picture, however.

Note: This is not a complete list of all players to have cleared revocable waivers. Many players are placed on waivers and pass through unclaimed without ever going reported. This is merely a list of the names that have reportedly cleared waivers according to major media outlets around the game.


Mets Could Shop Bartolo Colon

The Mets will listen to offers for Bartolo Colon and could even start openly shopping the veteran right-hander, team sources tell Mike Puma of the New York Post.  There is no indication a deal would happen soon, however, as the team could wait until after the July 31st deadline since GM Sandy Alderson “has no pressure” to trade Colon.  (Puma points out that Alderson waited until late August 2013 to make the Marlon Byrd trade with the Pirates).

Colon turned 41 years old in May and his late-career renaissance is still going strong.  The veteran has posted a 3.88 ERA and a 5.27 K/BB over 106 2/3 IP as a Met, with 79 strikeouts and a league-low 1.3 walks per nine innings.  Those numbers do carry some heavy ballpark splits, as Colon has a 2.11 ERA in six Citi Field starts and a 5.06 ERA in 10 road starts.

Despite Colon’s age, the two-year, $20MM contract he signed with New York last winter is considered to be “relatively friendly,” an AL executive tells Puma.  Colon is owed roughly $4.4MM for the remainder of this season and is owed $11MM for 2015.

Moving Colon would line the Mets up for a full-scale pitching youth movement in 2015.  Jon Niese and Dillon Gee would be the most experienced members of a projected rotation that would also include a returning Matt Harvey and the likes of Zack Wheeler, Jacob deGrom, while prospects Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard could also be candidates to win jobs.  In this situation you could also expect the Mets to sign at least one veteran arm for depth purposes during the offseason, a la their addition of Daisuke Matsuzaka last winter.

Also from Puma’s piece, he notes that the Mets are “reluctant” to trade Niese, which fits with Alderson’s recent statements about Niese’s availability (or lack thereof).  Niese, for his part, tells Puma that he wants to remain with the Mets.


Mets Notes: Niese, Conforto, Syndergaard, Collins

The Mets have yet to determine whether they’re buyers or sellers at this year’s trade deadline, GM Sandy Alderson tells Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The next 10 to 12 days will be vital in making that assessment, Alderson said, but he made it clear that regardless of the way they go, the team isn’t likely to deal left-hander Jon Niese. Given the fact that the Mets can control Niese, who has a 2.88 ERA in 103 innings, through 2018, that stance isn’t entirely surprising. Niese is guaranteed $16.5MM through the 2016 season, and his contract contains a $10MM club option for 2017 and an $11MM club option for 2018. That would be tremendously difficult to part with, though it would also be highly appealing to other clubs and carry a great deal of trade value.

More from Heyman and other reporters on the Mets…

  • From that same piece, Alderson notes that Daniel Murphy‘s name has come up “periodically” in trade talks. Heyman suggests that Alderson’s statement includes the mention of a Murphy in trade that would net Jonathan Villar and others, which appeared in the recent Astros’ data leak. Heyman adds that Alderson didn’t deny anything that was mentioned in those notes.
  • In a second piece, Heyman reports that the Mets’ deal with top pick Michael Conforto still isn’t quite done. Alderson tells Heyman that the two sides are still working out three or four mostly non-financial clauses. The two sides remain in agreement on a $2.97MM signing bonus.
  • While he was once thought to be on the Matt Harvey/Zack Wheeler summer promotion track, top prospect Noah Syndergaard now might not even be called up in 2014 at all, manager Terry Collins told reporters yesterday (including Mike Puma of the New York Post). One club source told Puma that team officials have struggled to get a read on Syndergaard, and some feel he would benefit from a full year at Triple-A. Andy Martino of the New York Daily News wrote earlier today that a club official recently told him Syndergaard is “not even on our radar” at this point.
  • Martino also tweets that Alderson recently lamented the team’s run differential (a point he touched on with Heyman as well) but firmly stated that he doesn’t feel Collins is the cause for that issue.
  • The Mets announced the signings of 11 international free agents today, and MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo runs down the list, noting that Venezuelan shortstops Yoel Romero and Edgardo Fermin received respective bonuses of $300K and $250K. None of the 11 signed by the Mets ranked among the Top 30 lists compiled by MLB.com and Baseball America.

Quick Hits: Hudson, Niese, Orioles, Lester

Giants starter Tim Hudson is baseball’s top unsung player, Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan writes. One reason Hudson’s greatness often goes unnoticed is that his key weapon is the grounder, not the strikeout. With a ground ball rate of 57.4% this season, though, he’s been spectacular, with a 1.81 ERA, 6.0 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 in 89 1/3 innings — all despite being an undersized 38-year-old who missed much of last season with a serious ankle injury. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.

  • Mets GM Sandy Alderson told Jim Bowden of SiriusXM (on Twitter) that the club has the resources to be buyers at this year’s trade deadline.  Alderson went on to say that pitcher Jon Niese won’t be trade bait.
  • Orioles Executive VP Dan Duquette told Jim Bowden of SiriusXM (via Twitter) that he wants bullpen help as well as better offensive production at second and third base.
  • Red Sox starter Jon Lester tells WEEI’s Rob Bradford that he still wants to stay in Boston. “It’s all I’ve really known,” Lester says. “You don’t see many guys that get drafted by a team and end up staying there their whole career. It’s just something that I’ve always … wanted to do.” Lester cites his relationships with members of the Red Sox’s front office, and points out that his wife and kids would have to start their social lives anew if they were to move to a new city. Basic considerations like these rarely enter conversations about why a player might choose to sign with, or stay with, a team, but they’re clearly important. Lester, who is eligible for free agency after the season, says negotiations with the Red Sox will hinge on “what we think is a discount and still fair.”

Charlie Wilmoth contributed to this post.


New York Notes: Sabathia, A-Rod, Myers

C.C. Sabathia received a stem cell injection in his right knee last week and will be out of action until at least July, Yankees GM Brian Cashman tells Joel Sherman of the New York Post.  Cashman said he has checked in with teams about trade possibilities and while “nothing has materialized,” Cashman “will keep an eye out to see if something does.”  Three-fifths of the Bombers’ regular rotation is currently injured, with Ivan Nova out for the season and Michael Pineda on the DL until mid-June at the earliest.

Here’s the latest from the Yankees and Mets in this roundup of Big Apple baseball news…

  • Alex Rodriguez told advisers last summer that he was considering retirement rather than go through a lengthy battle with Major League Baseball over his record PED suspension, reports Teri Thompson, Bill Madden, Michael O’Keeffe, Christian Red and Nathaniel Vinton of the New York Daily News.  A-Rod was convinced to fight his suspension, however, after consulting with Desiree Perez, a New York nightclub manager affiliated with Jay Z and who also played a role in Robinson Cano signing with the Mariners.  Rodriguez may have been motivated to listen to Perez in part because, as the article states, he would like to become a player agent, possibly with Jay Z’s Roc Nation Sports agency.
  • Back when Wil Myers was still a Royals prospect, Kansas City offered him to the Mets for a trade package of Jonathan Niese and Zack Wheeler, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News tweets.  Myers, of course, ended up being the centerpiece of the five-player package the Royals sent to the Rays in exchange for James Shields and Wade Davis.  It’s an interesting what-if to ponder for both the Mets and Royals; Myers would’ve given the Amazins a cornerstone player in the outfield, but at the cost of two quality young arms.  For K.C., Shields was the better win-now move, though he had only two years of team control and Davis has become a relief pitcher.  Wheeler is controllable through the 2019 season while Niese’s five-year contract has club options that could’ve extended the deal through 2018.
  • Also from Martino, he looks at some trade possibilities for the Yankees and Mets this summer.  The Mets looked at LaTroy Hawkins, Fernando Rodney and Grant Balfour over the winter and could explore trading for veteran closer help, plus shortstop could still be a position the Mets are looking to upgrade.  As for the Yankees, they could also use shortstop help but acquiring a big name could be awkward given the awkwardness of benching Derek Jeter during his final season.  A move for Diamondbacks shortstop Didi Gregorius makes sense for both New York clubs.
  • Particularly in the wake of the Sabathia news, the Yankees also need starting pitching.  Martino writes that while the Yankees may not have the prospect depth to attract a major trade chip, their financial resources could help them take big contracts off the hands of losing teams.  Possible trade candidates in this vein could be the Diamondbacks’ Bronson Arroyo or the Blue Jays’ Mark Buehrle or R.A. Dickey (if Toronto falls out of the race, that is).
  • In an Insider-only piece for ESPN.com, Paul Swydan criticizes both the Mets front office and manager Terry Collins for some transactions and personnel moves that Swydan feels “have left the Mets in an all-too-familiar middling position.”