Jon Niese Rumors
It is a given that with the news today that J.J. Putz will miss upwards of the next three months, Jose Reyes out an undetermined length of time, and Carlos Delgado still far from resuming baseball activity, that the Mets will be at the center of any number of rumors. But what is unclear at this point is just how New York can make deals, with the depth an organization would trade now missing from the Mets.
After all, it was assumed that any deal the Mets would make for either Nick Johnson of the Nationals or Aubrey Huff of the Orioles would include hard-throwing Bobby Parnell. That's right, the same Bobby Parnell who is taking over the eighth inning for Putz. He's no longer an extra arm.
The same is true of minor-league shortstop Ruben Tejeda, batting .281/.381/.377 as a 19-year-old at Double-A. The Mets can't afford to deal him, with Reyes, Ramon Martinez and Argenis Reyes all on the shelf. He's next in line to play shortstop.
So who would go? Jonathon Niese and his 8.05 Triple-A ERA? Nick Evans, hitting .200 at Double-A Binghamton after an .093 start at Triple-A Buffalo got him demoted? The Mets have holes, but they may have an even harder time cobbling together a package to fix those holes.
8:10pm: David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on the Red Sox-Francoeur rumor:
Talked to someone in Braves organization who sort of dismissed the Red Sox rumor. Said he hadn’t heard one thing about them having any serious interest in Francoeur or scouting him recently.
9:01am: Yahoo's Gordon Edes wrote about many different trade scenarios in his column last night.
- Edes seconds Ken Rosenthal's rumor that the Red Sox have been scouting Jeff Francoeur.
- The Nationals have been scouting the Mets' Triple and Double A teams, trying to figure out a possible return for Nick Johnson. Names of interest for Washington: Jon Niese, Mike Antonini, Eddie Kunz, and big leaguer Bobby Parnell. The Red Sox also had interest in Johnson, but not for the price of Michael Bowden. Back to the Mets - Joel Sherman of the New York Post has a list of available players they could consider aside from Johnson, including Jermaine Dye, Ben Francisco, Adam LaRoche, and Eric Hinske.
- Edes likes the fit of Jose Valverde with the Rays, but speculates that the Astros could ask for Wade Davis in return. Six years of Davis would be a huge price to pay for a few months of Valverde plus possible draft picks. Edes also likes Mark DeRosa for Tampa Bay, but they seem well-equipped to handle Akinori Iwamura's injury with internal options.
- Edes names the Phillies, Brewers, Royals, and Twins as possible suitors for Brad Penny. Edes adds that the Phillies "are already making plans for life without Brett Myers" after this season.
- The shortstop market includes Jack Wilson and perhaps John McDonald, but could become more interesting for a team like Boston if the Indians make Jhonny Peralta available.
12:20pm: MLB.com's Marty Noble writes:
The possibility of the Mets signing a lesser alternative isn't precluded, but the club is unlikely to act on picking up another starter until it's satisfied it has done all that is possible -- and financially feasible -- to bring in Lowe.
Noble says the Mets sense Lowe's price tag is $16-17MM per year.
8:37am: Ken Davidoff of Newsday lays out the Mets' plans for their starting rotation.
For Oliver Perez's slot, the Mets want to either re-sign Perez or sign Derek Lowe. Randy Wolf, Jon Garland, and possibly Tim Redding are the backup plans to these two.
The fifth starter job has sparked an internal debate - it could be given to Jon Niese, or the Mets could bring in competition with pitchers like Bartolo Colon, Freddy Garcia, or Eric Milton. This decision will not be made this month.
The latest from Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
- Mets GM Omar Minaya recently admitted he did not expect to pursue A.J. Burnett or Derek Lowe, saying, "I'm probably not going to be in there right now, financially. Not after spending all the money that I did on K-Rod." Sherman isn't sold, though - he thinks Lowe's price could drop and give the Mets a shot.
- The Dodgers haven't received a counter-offer to their two-year, $45MM proposal, so they won't be making another bid. Sherman adds that they are planning to non-tender Takashi Saito.
- The A's remain the frontrunners for Rafael Furcal.
- Sherman says the Nationals have bid seven years and $140MM for Mark Teixeira. That offer was reported on Wednesday to be eight years, $160MM. Sherman says the backup plans are Adam Dunn and Orlando Hudson. I believe the Hudson link is new.
- The Mariners had tried to pry Jonathan Niese from the Mets for J.J. Putz. Sherman also notes strong interest in Aaron Heilman. He says the Mets and Cubs did not discuss Jason Marquis, contrary to reports.
The Mets signed Francisco Rodriguez yesterday, but GM Omar Minaya is not done tinkering with his bullpen. SI.com's Jon Heyman says Matt Capps, Huston Street, and others are on the radar as setup possibilities. However, teams are asking for Jon Niese and the Mets don't want to give him up. Heyman adds that the Mets have talked to the Mariners and Cubs about relief help as well.
Links for Monday...
- Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik admitted to have a conversation with Ken Griffey Jr.'s agent, but wouldn't reveal anything else.
- One of Matthew Cerrone's readers dug up a Primera Hora article saying the Mets have been scouting free agent reliever Fernando Cabrera.
- Bob Klapisch looks at Pedro Martinez's four-year, $53MM deal and asks: was it worth it?
- Rays Index notes that Grant Balfour will use WBC participation as a bargaining chip in contract negotiations (he's eligible for arbitration).
- Marc Hulet of Baseball Analysts looks at top hitters for the Rule 5 draft.
- Fire Brand of the American League did a Q&A with ESPN's Peter Gammons. Some good stuff in there.
- A few notes from Patrick Newman at NPB Tracker. The Hanshin Tigers are reportedly considering offering $20MM over four years to Kenshin Kawakami, while Yu Darvish had his contract renewed at $2.7MM for next year.
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post says the Mets want to add one starter and push Jonathan Niese to the #5 spot.
- Rany Jazayerli notes that a John Buck trade would make sense for the Royals.
- I mentioned the Royals' signing of J.R. House earlier, but should add that they also signed Franquelis Osoria and Matt Tupman to minor league deals.
8:39am: SI.com's Jon Heyman says the Mets have "kicked around" the idea of acquiring Ian Snell from the Pirates and using him in relief for the rest of the year. Snell is signed through 2010 with club options for '11 and '12. It's tough to see the Bucs moving him, even in an off year.
8:13am: According to David Lennon of Newsday, the Mets are not finding a deal to their liking for a reliever or outfielder. They've put pretty much all of their good prospects off-limits - Fernando Martinez, Jon Niese, Eddie Kunz or Bobby Parnell.
Players such as Raul Ibanez, Brian Fuentes, George Sherrill, and J.J. Putz have all been on the radar. But the Mets just don't like the prices. Lennon says they still might move Scott Schoeneweis though.
Some additional notes from ESPN's Jayson Stark:
- The Mariners still want Jon Niese and another prospect for Raul Ibanez; the Mets are not biting. Similar situation with the Ms asking the Cubs for Felix Pie and another player.
- The Mets aren't in on Jarrod Washburn or Tim Redding.
- The Marlins are making it clear that there is no done deal for Arthur Rhodes. Clark Spencer had written the Fish "could be closer" to a deal for Rhodes than a catcher. Stark says the Mariners are driving a hard bargain for Rhodes, with the Red Sox, Marlins, Phillies, Brewers, Tigers, Mets, Cardinals, and Rays checking in.
12:06pm: ESPN's Buster Olney ranks the Mets' priorities as reliever, corner outfielder, and starter, in that order. They're currently discussing Ibanez with the Mariners, but not much has come of it yet.
10:17am: Dan Graziano of the Newark Star-Ledger doesn't buy the denials - he says Mets GM Omar Minaya remains interested in Manny Ramirez. The Mets rank Ramirez above alternatives like Raul Ibanez, Adam Dunn, and Randy Winn, and might make certain prospects available just for Manny. Is Jon Niese among them? Niese is thought to be untouchable, and was promoted to Triple A today.
Meanwhile Mets manager Jerry Manuel endorsed Fernando Tatis at the everyday left fielder. David Lennon doesn't expect a trade unless the price comes down on Ibanez. Can Tatis continue to channel his glory days, when he posted a .957 OPS with 34 home runs for the '99 Cardinals?
Graziano also talked to an NL official familiar with the Mets' plans. That person said the Mets are considering a bullpen overhaul where they would ship out Aaron Heilman and Scott Schoeneweis and bring in different relievers.
Rounding up rumors and links from the weekend...
- SI.com's Jon Heyman says the Mariners are asking the Mets for Jon Niese for Raul Ibanez. Not likely.
- ESPN's Buster Olney says the Braves would require Conor Jackson from the D'Backs in a Mark Teixeira deal, but Arizona is not biting.
- Another quick hit from Olney: the White Sox are surveying the relief market in the wake of Scott Linebrink's shoulder injury.
- Several readers have written in about Phillies' lefty J.A. Happ being pulled early from a Triple A start (2.2 scoreless innings) with no sign of injury. Something to keep an eye on, as the Phillies hunt for a lefty reliever on the trade market. UPDATE: Happ may be getting the call to replace Adam Eaton.
- Even on the DL, Phil Hughes has been in high demand.
- The White Sox let Esteban Loaiza go.
- No team claimed Kei Igawa off waivers. Also, the Yankees designated LaTroy Hawkins for assignment.
- Ned Colletti on the possibility of trading Derek Lowe: "No."
- Jim Bowden and Chad Cordero patched things up, making a re-signing possible this winter.
- The emergence of Jeff Samardzija this weekend may make Scott Eyre or Jon Lieber expendable.
- At least 20 teams have called about one of the Rangers' catchers.
- Jamey Newberg wrote a few days ago that most likely the only way Kevin Millwood can lock in his $12MM for 2010 will be to pitch 180 innings next year.