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Jon Niese Rumors
In an appearance on MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM, Rockies GM Jeff Bridich said that he is “at least open to considering” a deal involving star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (Twitter link). Last we checked in, Tulowitzki said he was not interested in being dealt, and he is believed to have significant sway with club ownership over his status. All said, there remains little reason to believe at present that Tulo is a serious trade candidate.
We already touched upon a series of interesting rumors involving National League clubs earlier today, but here’s the latest out of the NL:
- Despite recent chatter that the Braves could consider dealing starter Julio Teheran, the young righty is “not being shopped,” David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports on Twitter. Given his cheap control, O’Brien says the team would need to be overwhelmed by an offer to consider such a move.
- Indeed, the Braves are more likely to hold off on deciding whether to part with Teheran or outfielder Cameron Maybin, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports. The more likely trade pieces for Atlanta, he suggests, are veterans on one-year deals such as reliever Jim Johnson, utilityman Kelly Johnson, and catcher A.J. Pierzynski. The Braves have been asked about outfielder Nick Markakis, who still has three years left on his free agent deal, but the team is not making him available. And while Juan Uribe could well be dealt, the club reportedly prefers to attempt to move Chris Johnson first.
- An executive of a club with interest in adding a hitter says the Reds are giving the impression that they are looking to “save money” wherever possible, Jayson Stark of ESPN.com reports on Twitter. That seemingly speaks to the availability of outfielder Jay Bruce, who recent reports indicate is very much in play.
- The Mets are still willing to deal Jon Niese, but are asking for a player with multiple years of control in return, Stark tweets. The southpaw has turned up his performance of late, racking up eight straight quality starts (at least 6 innings pitched, no more than 3 earned runs) since a run of rough outings to end the month of May. He is playing on a $7MM salary this year and represents a $9MM tab for 2016, but can be controlled thereafter through a pair of options ($10MM and $11MM, respectively, each with $500K buyouts). Given New York’s evident budgetary restrictions, it has seemed that moving Niese’s salary could be a way for the club to free resources to allocate to the struggling offense, but it’s not clear whether they’ll have much hope of pulling that off in a single transaction.
In his latest notes column, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com addressed a number of interesting deadline issues, starting with Reds starter Johnny Cueto. There have been suggestions over concern among buyers with the health of the star righty, but Heyman cites one scout from a team with interest who tells him that Cueto “looks fine.” As far as interest, Heyman pegs the Blue Jays, Royals, Yankees, Dodgers, and Astros as “the most likely and logical landing spots.”
Here are some other highlights from an info-packed piece (which you’ll want to read in full for even more notes):
- The Braves are shopping the recently-acquired Juan Uribe, says Heyman, with the asking price of a “mid-range prospect” and full unloading of the approximately $3MM left on Uribe’s deal. Atlanta has had communications with at least the Mets, per the repor.
- While the Orioles had been looking at adding a starter, Heyman reports that the team now may instead be prioritizing bats. Though the report doesn’t specify a position, we’ve heard in the past that Baltimore had interest in adding to its corner outfield mix.
- Heyman writes that it’ll be interesting to see if Angels lefty C.J. Wilson becomes “even more available” now that Jerry Dipoto has resigned as the general manager. Per Heyman, Wilson was close with Dipoto, and the Wilson signing (five years, $77.5MM) was the one significant free agent pickup that Dipoto was actually responsible for. Angels owner Arte Moreno was behind the Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton signings, as many other reports have indicated over the years.
- The Brewers are officially open for business and “may be considering a rather big sale,” one competing team exec tells Heyman. Interest in Jean Segura is down due to his poor play since an early 2013 breakout, but Gerardo Parra‘s big year has lots of clubs asking about him. Mike Fiers, Wily Peralta and Francisco Rodriguez are drawing interest, and the Brewers are open to packaging some of those players to improve the return.
- The Jon Niese saga continues, as Heyman hears that the lefty now doesn’t seem particularly available, with one Mets person telling Heyman that Niese never really was. In other Mets news, Heyman hears that the team floated the idea of a Rafael Montero-for-Ben Zobrist swap when Montero was still healthy, but Montero, of course, has since been injured. The Mets have also talked about Uribe, but there are other names higher on their list.
- While some have connected the Pirates to Ben Revere and Jeff Francoeur, the Bucs might be aiming a bit higher, looking at Marlon Byrd of the Reds and Aramis Ramirez of the Brewers — both former Pirates. Heyman lists Ben Zobrist as a target for the Bucs as well. Earlier today the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Bill Brink linked Pittsburgh to Zobrist, Cliff Pennington and Clint Barmes.
- Yovani Gallardo could hit the trade market if the Rangers end up selling short-term pieces, and he’s not interested in springing for an early extension with his hometown team. Agent Bobby Witt has apparently told the Rangers that Gallardo is looking forward to testing the free agent market.
Full Story | 15 Comments | Categories: Aramis Ramirez | Atlanta Braves | Baltimore Orioles | Ben Revere | Ben Zobrist | C.J. Wilson | Cincinnati Reds | Cliff Pennington | Clint Barmes | Francisco Rodriguez | Gerardo Parra | Houston Astros | Jean Segura | Jeff Francoeur | Johnny Cueto | Jon Niese | Juan Uribe | Kansas City Royals | Los Angeles Dodgers | Marlon Byrd | Mike Fiers | Milwaukee Brewers | New York Mets | New York Yankees | Pittsburgh Pirates | Rafael Montero | Texas Rangers | Toronto Blue Jays | Yovani Gallardo
The Mets view prospects such as center fielder Brandon Nimmo, shortstop Gavin Cecchini, and right-hander Michael Fulmer as trade chips in a possible deal, Mike Puma of the New York Post tweets. Meanwhile, Puma also hears that the Mets are not anxious to move Jon Niese since they may need his innings going forward. Marc Carig of Newsday (on Twitter) hears that the Mets feel they have enough talent in the system to get help at the deadline.
On Sunday morning, Cafardo wrote that there’s currently a feeling in the organization that the Mets will make a move for a hitter in the coming days with Niese being the outgoing asset. Niese has been pitching well as of late, but that hasn’t sold everyone.
“It changes nothing for me,” an NL exec told Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. “Stuff has gotten lighter every year. The Mets are going to tell everyone it’s as good as ever to keep trade value high.”
Nimmo, 22, was the Mets’ No. 13 overall pick in the 2011 draft. The center fielder has spent the bulk of the year in Double-A Binghamton and has hit .284/.346/.373 in 260 plate appearances. Coming into the year, Nimmo was ranked as the No. 45 prospect in the country by Baseball America while Fulmer was rated No. 98. All three prospects are former first-round selections.
In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe backed Commissioner Rob Manfred’s optimism about possibly expanding. The last time baseball expanded was in 1998 with the additions of the Rays and D’Backs and Cafardo feels that MLB is due. Manfred recently acknowledged there’s been interest from a few cities, including Montreal (former home of the Expos), Charlotte, and Portland. Cafardo goes on to list other potential spots for expansion franchises, including Vancouver, Las Vegas, Nashville, northern New Jersey, and Brooklyn. Of course, with those last two, there are obvious territorial issues to consider. Here’s more from today’s column..
- If third baseman David Wright doesn’t look like himself when he comes back or if he doesn’t come back at all in 2015, the Mets will give some thoughts to acquiring a pair of hitters. One of those players, Cafardo writes, would likely be a shortstop. There’s currently a feeling in the organization that the Mets will make a move for a hitter in the coming days with pitcher Jon Niese being the outgoing asset.
- There is more and more talk of Yasiel Puig losing popularity with his Dodgers teammates, a major league source tells Cafardo. Puig was once viewed an untouchable player because of his talent, but the new regime does not feel that way at this time. Cafardo wonders aloud if they would move the slugger for a pitcher and pondered him as a match in a Cole Hamels deal with the Phillies.
- There’s “a buzz in the ownership/management community” that chairman Tom Werner could be more involved in the Red Sox‘s day-to-day operations, with president and CEO Larry Lucchino being less involved. Werner’s pace-of-play ideas have worked out well so far and he is being viewed as a more influential figure both in Boston and throughout the game. There have been rumblings of Lucchino losing power in Boston for some time now.
- Former Padres skipper Bud Black has a great relationship with owner Arte Moreno and manager Mike Scioscia and Cafardo feels that talk of him becoming the Angels‘ GM bears watching.
- Meanwhile, Angels assistant GM Matt Klentak, he writes, may get strong consideration from both the Angels and the Phillies. He worked for Andy MacPhail in baseball’s Labor Relations Department, so he has an in with Philly. MLBTR wrote that Klentak was a strong GM candidate all the way back in 2011.
Phillies GM Ruben Amaro said Tuesday that he’s not under any pressure to make to make a trade and won’t be forced into moving a player, writes Todd Zolecki of MLB.com. Zolecki notes that Amaro is very likely posturing, but the GM implied that the Phillies could wait until the offseason to move some of their pieces. “We’ve debated here internally about when is the greatest value of some of these players, a number of them,” said Amaro. “When does that player become the most valuable asset? Again, a lot of it depends on who’s going to step up, and who’s going to satisfy some of the things that we’re trying to do in a trade. If someone does, and we feel like it’s the right thing to do, we’ll do it.” Amaro did, however, say that he “would like to do something” on the trade market.
More notes from the NL East to kick off Wednesday morning…
- Phillies right-hander Jonathan Pettibone may need another surgery, writes the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Jake Kaplan. The 24-year-old Pettibone is currently rehabbing from right shoulder surgery, but Amaro told reporters yesterday that he had to shut down a simulated game at the team’s spring complex in Clearwater early. The loss of Pettibone has been a notable one for a Phillies team that is thin on upper-level rotation depth; Pettibone tossed 100 1/3 innings of 4.04 ERA ball in his rookie season back in 2013.
- Jon Niese has posted stellar results of late, but Andy Martino of the New York Daily News writes that a run of six straight starts has done little to restore the trade value of the Mets lefty. “It changes nothing for me,” an NL exec told Martino. “Stuff has gotten lighter every year. The Mets are going to tell everyone it’s as good as ever to keep trade value high.” A second evaluator told Martino, “I would assume GMs wouldn’t overreact to recent performance, and would consider the long term picture along with health and the financial commitment.” Niese’s hot streak — he has a 2.41 ERA over his past six starts — came up in yesterday’s MLBTR Chat, though I offered a similar take; six starts does little to override a history of shoulder issues, and Niese’s secondary stats haven’t been as impressive as his ERA in that time anyhow.
- Many reports this offseason noted that the Marlins were interested in, if not close to acquiring Wade Miley prior to the Diamondbacks stepping back and eventually accepting another offer from the Red Sox. The Boston Globe’s Alex Speier spoke with GM-turned-manager Dan Jennings about his club’s interest in Miley: “We had conversations. The closeness, I don’t want to say, but we definitely had conversations,” said Jennings. One source indicated to Speier that the Marlins thought the deal was nearly complete before Boston swooped in.
- The Braves continue to work toward a deal with No. 14 overall pick Kolby Allard, assistant GM John Coppolella tells David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We’re still going through the process, and we’re very hopeful that we can sign Kolby,” said Coppolella. “You would’ve like to have had him signed earlier, but you understand that it’s a process. I wouldn’t say there’s a holdup on his end or our end, we just haven’t reached the finish line yet.” O’Brien recently reported that there’s a “legit chance” that the Braves won’t ink Allard. He notes that there’s been some speculation that adviser Casey Close of Excel Sports has been seeking a bonus more in line with where Allard would’ve been drafted had a back injury not dropped his stock a bit. As I noted at the time of O’Brien’s initial report, the Braves can offer Allard about $3.462MM (which is $626K over slot) without incurring the loss of a pick.
Blue Jays slugger Edwin Encarnacion achieved ten-and-five rights yesterday, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca reports. It once seemed quite unlikely that the now-32-year-old would ever establish himself enough to earn a no-trade clause, as Davidi explains. Toronto can control Encarnacion next season with a $10MM club option, but his future beyond that remains unclear. “I like this city, I’d love to stay here but it’s not my choice,” said Encarnacion. “They have to decide what they’re going to do, if they’re going to sign me or not. I’m open to be here and to stay here in Toronto.”
Here’s more from Toronto and the rest of the east:
- All indications are that Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos “has been busy trying to make something happen for a while now,” writes Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca. Toronto may be willing to give significant value for a truly high-quality player that makes a perfect fit for the club’s overall situation, says Davidi, much as it did in signing Russell Martin and trading for Josh Donaldson. That being said, it seems unlikely that Anthopoulos and Co. will part with its best young talent for a pure rental, the report suggests.
- Anthopoulos tells reporters that the Blue Jays nearly pulled off two trades in May, but has not come as close since, as Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star reports (Twitter links). The GM added that he’ll consider moving prospects for rentals if the price is right, noting that he discussed a deal last summer involving young players Kevin Pillar and Sean Nolin.
- he Yankees are in a solid position right now, but need to address three pressing questions, Joel Sherman of the New York Post argues. First, the club need to decide whether and when it will pull the struggling CC Sabathia from the rotation, and whether it will replace him with an outside addition (Sherman suggests Jeff Samardzija as a viable option). Another veteran, outfielder Carlos Beltran, has produced at the plate but not in the field, and Sherman wonders whether he could be a trade option for the Angels to plug in at DH. And New York must also decide how much it is willing to cough up to add the versatile Ben Zobrist, per the piece, if and when he’s made available by the A’s.
- Meanwhile, across town, the Mets are in no rush to deal Jon Niese, writes Newsday’s David Lennon, who explains that the club still needs innings from him given limitations on its younger starters. Of course, Niese (and his salary) could ultimately be part of a deal — whether to add a bat or future assets. But as things stand, it does not appear that there is much momentum towards any kind of trade. Indeed, per Lennon, the Mets have not even had “serious conversations with two teams (Cubs, Dodgers) that reportedly have interest in the lefty.
TODAY: Niese is just “one of many” arms that Los Angeles has some interest in, Rosenthal writes on Twitter, and there are “no active discussions” ongoing between the Dodgers and Mets.
YESTERDAY: The Dodgers are interested in Mets starter Jon Niese, sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). Just yesterday, Rosenthal reported that the Cubs have also considered dealing for the left-hander.
Niese isn’t quite a world-beater, but he does hold some value as a back of the rotation option. So far this year, he has a 4.12 ERA and 6.3 K/9 against 2.9 BB/9 in 14 starts. Those numbers are a beat behind his career numbers (3.89 ERA with 7.1 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9), but his xFIP of 3.85 this season indicates that he has encountered a bit of bad luck in 2015.
Performance aside, Niese’s contract could have a negative impact on his trade value. The 28-year-old is scheduled to make $9MM in 2016 plus a $500K buyout or $10MM option in 2017. As for this year, he’ll earn the prorated portion of $7MM, which is not wholly unreasonable.
After the draft concluded, it was reported that the Mets would turn their attention to dealing a starting pitcher. With lefty Steven Matz now in the fold, the Mets’ starting pitching situation has gotten even more crowded, and moving Niese could help alleviate that logjam while improving the team’s struggling offense.
Last week, Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman told reporters that despite their recent offensive woes, he sees the acquisition of bats as a “lower priority” to adding arms to the rotation.
Here’s the latest from Ken Rosenthal, via a video at FOX Sports:
- At 36-40, the Padres have considered buying as well as selling at the trade deadline. They could pursue a shortstop and left-handed hitter if they buy. If they sell, they could consider dealing Justin Upton, James Shields and Craig Kimbrel. Upton is the only one of the three who’s eligible for free agency after the season, though, and the Padres might not want to tear down entirely, since they’re hosting the All-Star Game next year.
- The Cubs have considered dealing for Mets left-hander Jon Niese, although they might also aim higher. The salary remaining on Niese’s current deal (he’ll make $9MM next year, plus a $500K buyout or $10MM option in 2016) might also be a slight obstacle to trading him.
- The Blue Jays are interested in pitching, but also perhaps in outfield help. Acquiring an outfielder would help the Jays to keep top young player Dalton Pompey in the minors — he’s currently hitting very well for Double-A New Hampshire after struggling in both the big leagues and in Triple-A this year.
- Former Padres manager Bud Black could be a possibility for the Braves if they eventually decide to replace Fredi Gonzalez. Black worked for the Indians front office when current Braves GM John Hart was in Cleveland, and Braves president John Schuerholz traded for Black all the way back in 1982, when Schuerholz was GM of the Royals.
6:33pm: Newsday’s Marc Carig hears that the Mets have indeed discussed Aramis Ramirez with the Brewers. Any trade involving Ramirez would be more about how much of his contract the Mets would take on as opposed to what the Brewers would get in return. As for Segura, Carig writes that he’s not likely to be made available.
Though the two sides have talked, a Ramirez trade seems unlikely. FOX’s Ken Rosenthal hears that there’s little traction in Ramirez discussions because Milwaukee is uninterested in Niese (Twitter links). While Gee might be a better fit, there would be a lot more financial legwork to figure out in that scenario, per Rosenthal. Gee is owed a bit more than $3MM through season’s end, but Ramirez is owed an additional $8.8MM.
It could be argued that adding Ramirez wouldn’t be an upgrade for the Mets anyhow. While the team may very well benefit from upgrading by replacing Niese or Gee with Matz, much of that benefit could be outweighed by the lack of flexibility to make future moves as well as the possibility that Ramirez continues to produce at a sub-replacement-level pace.
5:37pm: The Mets have placed their efforts to trade a starting pitcher on hold during the draft but will now look to trade a starting pitcher “in short order,” tweets Newsday’s David Lennon. That lines up with recent reports from ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin and the New York Post’s Mike Puma stating that lefty Steven Matz could be up in the near future — perhaps before the end of June.
In order to accommodate Matz, the team seems likely to increase its efforts to find a taker for lefty Jon Niese (earning $7MM in 2015 and guaranteed $9MM in 2016 plus a pair of club options) or righty Dillion Gee (earning $5.3MM in 2015 and controllable via arbitration for the 2016 season). Both Niese and Gee could be viewed as superfluous with Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and the veteran Bartolo Colon all representing options, to say nothing of Matz or the currently injured Rafael Montero.
Furthermore, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Mets and Brewers have had preliminary trade talks, with the Mets eyeing Milwaukee’s position players (Twitter link). That might lead to speculation regarding Aramis Ramirez, though in yesterday’s report, Rubin stated that the Mets have little to no interest in Ramirez. The Mets feel that Ramirez’s skills are diminishing, and they’re still hopeful that David Wright will contribute in 2015, so they prefer more versatile bats that can handle multiple positions.
Speculatively speaking, Jean Segura would make sense for the Mets, who have long been looking for an upgrade at shortstop due to defensive deficiencies with Wilmer Flores. Of course, Segura himself is not regarded as an elite defender, though his .287/.322/.408 batting line is superior to Flores’ .245/.270/.417 triple-slash. Segura also comes with an additional three years of club control beyond the 2015 season, making the likely asking price relatively significant. As such, it’s tough to imagine Gee or Niese serving as a significant component in a trade for Segura, though the Mets could always add other pieces.
It’s worth emphasizing, of course, that Morosi categorized trade talks between New York and Milwaukee as “preliminary,” and there are plenty of other teams that may have interest in swapping a versatile, if unspectacular bat for a veteran innings eater that can stabilize the back end of a rotation.
There are a number of other teams looking for some stabilization in the rotation. The Astros and Rays, for instance, have both incurred injuries to starters and have some versatile pieces to offer. Luis Valbuena hasn’t hit especially well this season, but he’s a earning a not-insignificant $4.2MM and could add some power to the Mets’ lineup, with the injured Jed Lowrie slotting back into his position once activated from the DL. The Rays have a number of versatile pieces, including Logan Forsythe, Nick Franklin and Asdrubal Cabrera. Forsythe has probably been too valuable for Tampa to move, however, while Franklin would figure to have more trade value than that of a back-end starter, and Cabrera has played quite poorly of late. A couple other versatile pieces that could be theoretical trade fits if the Mets can sweeten the deal would be the Mariners’ Brad Miller and the Dodgers’ Alex Guerrero.
A player such as Martin Prado or Ben Zobrist would seem to be a strong fit for the Mets’ desires, as Rubin noted yesterday, though they, too, would be difficult to acquire without including pieces beyond Gee or Niese.
As the above speculation indicates, it’s difficult to find an obvious fit for the Mets, as neither Gee nor Niese is teeming with trade value. GM Sandy Alderson will likely have his work cut out for him if his aim is to both free a spot in his rotation for Matz and add a bat that can help at the Major League level in one fell swoop. One way of accomplishing the goal would be to include Montero in a trade, but the promising young hurler has been on the disabled list since late April with a shoulder issue and has not yet begun a rehab assignment.
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.