Justin Turner Rumors
Mets left-hander Jon Niese was removed from his start today after only two innings and 35 pitches with what the club calls left elbow discomfort. Niese had been wearing a neoprene sleve on his left arm the past few days, tweets Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News. "It's the Spring Training from hell," Niese told reporters (as quoted by ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin). Niese also said he hyperextended the elbow, which first flared up during an intrasquad game 10 days ago, and has been taking anti-inflammatory medication and undergoing rehab since. Niese added the discomfort is in the back of the elbow, not in the ligament area (the focus of Tommy John surgery). The Mets are flying the 27-year-old to New York tonight with a MRI, his second in less than three weeks, scheduled for tomorrow, tweets Marc Carig of Newsday.
Elsewhere in the National League:
- With the possibility Niese may open the season on the disabled list, Jenrry Mejia could join Daisuke Matsuzaka in the Mets' rotation with John Lannan earning a relief role, according to Rubin.
- The Diamondbacks are another team scrambling to fill a void in their starting rotation in the wake of the news from earlier today Patrick Corbin could be facing Tommy John surgery. GM Kevin Towers, however, plans to use in-house options like Randall Delgado, Archie Bradley, and Josh Collmenter rather than seek a trade immediately, tweets Jack Magruder of FOXSportsArizona.com.
- Noah Syndergaard, who remains in the Mets' Major League Spring Training camp, was the key component in last offseason's R.A. Dickey trade, writes Matt Ehalt of the Record. "I think eventually it got to the point where we needed Syndergaard," said J.P. Ricciardi, the Mets' special assistant to the GM. "I think in order to finish it off, we needed a younger, higher prospect to make us say, 'OK, it's worth trading a Cy Young Award winner.'"
- Pirates GM Neal Huntington says the team's bullpen depth is "a chance to move a guy that can go help someone else to add a piece," tweets the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Travis Sawchik. Huntington also gave a near-guarantee Edinson Volquez will be in the Pirates' starting rotation, Sawchik tweets.
- Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post contradicts a story from this morning the Rockies are in the market for right-handed bullpen help. A source tells Renck the club prefers to give Chad Bettis or Chris Martin a chance before pursuing a trade.
- Being forced to rush their young pitching prospects to the Majors has come back to haunt the Marlins, as Jacob Turner and Brad Hand (22 and 23, respectively) are now out of options, opines MLB.com's Joe Frisaro.
- The Dodgers have selected the contract of Justin Turner and will bring Chone Figgins to Australia, reports Dylan Herndandez of the Los Angeles Times (Twitter links). MLBTR's Tim Dierkes broke the news in February of Turner agreeing to a minor league contract with the Dodgers and now the 29-year-old will make $1MM as a reserve infielder. Figgins, who signed a minor league deal in January and is trying to make the squad as an utilityman, will be one of 30 players the Dodgers are taking on the trip (only 25 will be active on game day).
Jonah Keri of Grantland lists out the National League non-roster invitees who could have the greatest impact. In addition to a series of highly-touted prospects with a chance to break out this year, Keri says to keep an eye on Roger Bernadina (Reds), Mark Reynolds (Brewers), Bobby Abreu (Phillies), and Jamey Carroll (Nationals). Here's more from the National League:
- Jaime Garcia of the Cardinals is set to receive a second opinion on his ailing left shoulder after undergoing an MRI on Monday, reports Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com. Though declining further comment, GM John Mozeliak said that the preliminary review by the Cards' team doctor showed that "early indications have been encouraging." Nevertheless, any visit to Dr. James Andrews causes alarm bells to go off, and that is particularly so in the case of the 27-year-old Garcia, who missed most of last year due to a labrum tear.
- Reliever Clay Hensley, 34, is looking to make an improbable comeback with the Nationals after a series of injuries derailed his career, reports MASNsports.com's Dan Kolko. Though he could barely crack 80 mph just half a year ago, a weighted ball program commended to him by former big leaguer Tom House has allowed Hensley to regain the low-90s heat that he carried earlier in his career. Of course, Hensley faces quite another uphill battle in gaining a place in a Nats bullpen that has several arms competing for few openings.
- Much has been written about the Phillies' controversial involvement with the collegiate career of former draft choice Ben Wetzler, but Tony Blengino of Fangraphs provides an excellent new perspective on the issue. The former scout explains that the role of the scout is to eliminate as many variable as possible, making things as black and white as possible. But uncertainty will never be removed from the equation entirely, and Blengino opines that players should be permitted to utilize an agent/advisor without fear of repercussions.
- Justin Turner, who was designated for assignment by the Mets this offseason before landing with the Dodgers, talked about the shock of the DFA with Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. Turner says he has nothing but fond memories of New York, though he was particularly stunned to hear that the team had concerns with his level of hustle.
6:15pm: Turner will earn $1MM if he makes the MLB roster, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.
2:47pm: The Dodgers have agreed to sign infielder Justin Turner, reports MLBTR's Tim Dierkes (via Twitter). Turner, 29, is a Legacy client. He gets a minor league deal with a Spring Training invite, tweets Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times.
Most of Turner's big league time has been spent with the Mets, who non-tendered him this year. Since receiving 487 plate appearances and slashing .260/.334/.356 in 2011, Turner has seen less regular action. In 214 plate appearances last year, he put up a .280/.319/.385 triple-slash -- good for a precisely league-average 100 OPS+.
Turner's versatility gives him a chance to crack the MLB roster as a utility infielder. Alternatively, Turner could battle for more regular time at second if Alexander Guerrero stumbles. The right-handed swinging Turner will presumably compete with lefty Dee Gordon, veteran switch-hitter Chone Figgins, and a pair of fellow righties in Justin Sellers and Brendan Harris. Though defensive metrics have not liked Turner's work at second, he grades out as roughly average on the left side of the infield, where he has spent most of his time over the last two seasons.
Brett Tomko, who impressed with his pitching in a recent stint in the Dominican Republic, is working out in California and plans to audition for clubs in late January, a source tells MLBTR's Zach Links. The veteran is healthy and hitting 90-92 mph on the gun with his fastball to go along with a solid changeup and cutter. Tomko is seeking a minor-league deal with an invite to big-league spring training. If he doesn't make the 25-man roster out of the gate, he's willing to go to Triple-A as an insurance policy to either start or pitch out of the bullpen. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- If you've ever wondered how salaries work for non-Japanese players in Japanese baseball, NPB Tracker's Patrick Newman has a handy chart. Former top MLB players like Andruw Jones and new Rakuten Golden Eagle Kevin Youkilis have salaries that top $3MM. Former MLB regulars who weren't stars, like Casey McGehee and Nyjer Morgan, tend to make in the $1MM-$3MM range, while good Triple-A players and fringe big-leaguers like John Bowker and Fred Lewis make between $400K and $1MM.
- The Rockies deserve a B- grade for their offseason so far, opines Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post (on Sulia). Renck notes that the Rockies haven't acquired a catcher like Carlos Ruiz (who ended up re-signing with the Phillies). He also suggests the Rockies ought to also try to add another starting pitcher. Juan Nicasio, Jordan Lyles and Christian Friedrich are currently their main fifth-starter possibilities behind Jorge De La Rosa, Jhoulys Chacin, Brett Anderson and Tyler Chatwood.
- The Twins have "checked in" on free-agent infielder Justin Turner, although their level of interest is unclear, 1500ESPN.com's Darren Wolfson tweets. Wolfson notes that Turner is connected to Twins special assistant Wayne Krivsky, who drafted Turner in 2006, when Krivsky was the GM of the Reds.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
By participating in the three-team Mark Trumbo trade with the Diamondbacks and Angels, the White Sox hindered their cross-town rivals' hopes of dealing Jeff Samardzija, Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times writes. The Diamondbacks have been interested in Samardzija since the summer, and one of the players they dealt in the Trumbo deal, pitcher Tyler Skaggs, would have been a key component of any package strong enough for the Cubs to send Samardzija to the desert. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- Wittenmyer also reports that the Cubs haven't yet made an offer to Scott Baker, who worked through an elbow injury and made three late-season starts for the Cubs in 2013. They have, however, talked with his agency. Baker is represented by Octagon.
- The Blue Jays are still prefer not to sign players for more than five years, although, as Sportsnet.ca's Ben Nicholson-Smith recently noted (via Twitter), there may be signs that could be softening somewhat. Still, their reluctance removes them from the market for top-tier free agents, who usually sign for longer, MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm points out. Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos prefers to trading for high-profile players rather than signing them. "There are some players out there in trade that signed long-term contracts, and then a year or two later, they're already getting moved," he says. "That's pretty telling. I still think five years is a long period of time."
- Chisholm also reports that Anthopoulos says that prospects Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman "come up in every trade talk we probably have," due to their relatively close proximity to the Majors. "If you're trying to get a controllable starter, everyone would prefer to get the talent level that's closest," Anthopoulos says.
- Even though the the Royals didn't sign Carlos Beltran, they haven't ruled out the possibility of trading DH Billy Butler, ESPN's Jayson Stark tweets. If they do, they could end up signing Nelson Cruz.
- The Rangers, Mariners and Orioles still appear to have interest in Cruz, Stark tweets, noting that it could still be awhile before Cruz signs.
- The Orioles have also checked in on free agent starting pitcher Bartolo Colon, tweets FOX Sports' Jon Morosi.
- The Yankees, Mets and Padres have asked about Dustin Ackley of the Mariners, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman tweets. Ackley, 25, hit .253/.319/.341 in 427 plate appearances in 2013, with his time split between second base and outfield.
- Ten teams are interested in infielder Justin Turner, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes writes (via Twitter). Turner hit .280/.319/.385 in 214 plate appearances and played all four infield position for the Mets in 2013.
- Astros outfielder L.J. Hoes is now represented by MVP Sports Group, Dierkes tweets.
Major League clubs have until 11pm CT tonight to tender contracts to players for the 2014 season. We'll run down the list of National League non-tenders here. Remember that you can track all of the action using MLBTR's Non-Tender tracker, and we offer a full list of non-tender candidates as well. Also of use will be our Arbitration Eligibles series, which includes Matt Swartz's projected 2014 salaries for all arbitration eligible players.
- The Reds non-tendered outfielders Xavier Paul and Derrick Robinson, according to the AP. Robinson had been designated for assignment last Thursday to open a roster spot for Skip Schumaker.
- The Rockies have non-tendered reliever Mitchell Boggs, tweets Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post.
- The Dodgers have non-tendered Ronald Belisario, tweets Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times.
- The Marlins have non-tendered outfielder Chris Coghlan and reliever Ryan Webb, the club announced via press release.
- The Pirates have non-tendered Garrett Jones, Michael McKenry, and Kyle McPherson, tweets Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
- The Giants have non-tendered Sandy Rosario and Francisco Peguero, tweets Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle.
- The Cubs have non-tendered Mat Gamel, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. The club has also non-tendered Chang-Yong Lim, tweets Jesse Rogers of ESPN.com.
- The Mets officially announced their slate of non-tenders, which includes a few new names in Jeremy Hefner and Justin Turner (via tweet from Andy Martino of the New York Daily News).
- The Braves announced that they have non-tendered infielders Elliot Johnson and Paul Janish as well as right-hander Cristhian Martinez (Twitter link). Johnson, 29, batted .209/.255/.283 in 275 plate appearances between the Royals and Braves last season. Janish was less productive in 45 PAs, batting .171/.222/.220. Martinez, 31, missed nearly the entire season due to shoulder surgery. However, he posted a 3.63 ERA in 151 1/3 innings for Atlanta from 2011-12, making him a potential buy-low candidate for another club.
- The Mets have non-tendered Jordany Valdespin, Rubin reports. Valdespin has been a persistent source of drama for the Mets, lashing out at manager Terry Collins after being demoted and also being slapped with a 50-game suspension for his involvement in the Biogenesis PED scandal. The soon-to-be 26-year-old is a career .219/.271/.380 hitter in 350 big league plate appearances. Valdespin's non-tender comes despite him not yet being arbitration eligible, illustrating the Mets' frustration with the second baseman/outfielder.
- The Cubs will non-tender right-hander Daniel Bard, tweets Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago. Bard was claimed off waivers in September and never threw a pitch for the Cubs organization. WEEI.com's Rob Bradford notes that Bard was pitching in the Puerto Rican Winter League but walked nine batters while recording just one out. The Cubs could still agree to a non-roster deal with Bard, he adds. Bard's control has vanished into thin air, as the formerly dominant setup man has also walked 56 batters over his past 47 1/3 minor league frames.
- The Mets have informed shortstop Omar Quintanilla that he will be non-tendered, Quintanilla told Jorge Castillo of the Star-Ledger. Quintanilla projected to earn $900K this offseason after batting .222/.306/.283 in a career-high 359 plate appearances last season.
- ESPN's Adam Rubin tweets that the Mets will also non-tender Scott Atchison. The right-hander projected to earn $1.3MM coming off a 4.37 ERA with 5.6 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in 45 1/3 innings. Atchison will turn 38 in late March.
Here's a look at the latest on the Mets..
- The Mets are likely to tender Justin Turner an offer, writes Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. The infielder is projected to make $800K by MLBTR's Matt Swartz and the club doesn't view that as an overpay for what Turner provides. The 28-year-old played all over in 2013, seeing time at first base, second base, shortstop, and third base.
- A team insider told Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com that the Mets officials plan to follow the Red Sox's template for rebuilding. While they won't spend as much as Boston did last winter, they'll look to bring in several players on one- to three-year deals rather than dishing out any massive, long-term deals. If they stick to that, they won't be among the clubs in the running for Shin-Soo Choo.
- The Mets need to identify which holes to address as they look ahead to 2014, writes Anthony DiComo of MLB.com. Much of their spending will hinge on whether Matt Harvey can avoid going under the knife for his partially torn UCL.
7:50pm: Rubin notes (via Twitter) that the Mets may not actively shop Turner, but will listen to offers on him if a roster crunch arises late in the spring. In his revised article, he notes that manager Terry Collins is a big supporter of Turner.
5:32pm: Given the number of minor league deals the Mets have given to players with strong track records this offseason, the team could face a major 40-man roster crunch at the end of Spring Training, writes Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. As such, the team is expected to gauge interest in infielder Justin Turner over the course of Spring Training.
The 28-year-old Turner has appeared in 211 games for the Mets over the past two seasons, hitting .262/.330/.366 with six homers in 672 plate appearances. He's appeared at all four infield positions in his career, though he hasn't graded out well at his primary position, second base, according to UZR/150 (-18.7) or The Fielding Bible (-16 runs).
As MLBTR's Transaction Tracker shows, Mets GM Sandy Alderson has added pitchers Aaron Laffey,Pedro Feliciano, Scott Atchison and LaTroy Hawkins on minor league deals this winter. He's also brought in Marlon Byrd to compete for an outfield spot, among many other minor league signings.
One player who likely won't find himself as a roster casualty is Jeremy Hefner, whom the Mets claimed off waivers from the Pirates last offseason. Rubin reports that the Mets value Hefner too highly to expose him to waivers. The 26-year-old righty made his Major League debut with the Mets last season, starting 13 games (and appearing in 26 overall). In 93 2/3 innings, Hefner posted a 5.09 ERA, 6.0 K/9, 1.7 BB/9 and 43.8 percent ground-ball rate. Advanced metrics such as FIP (3.66) and xFIP (4.21) suggested that Hefner was much better than his ERA indicated, however.
Both Turner and Hefner have one option remaining, so they could open the season at Triple-A. That, however, would not alleviate any 40-man roster issues the Mets could encounter toward the end of Spring Training.
With their pitching needs generally satisfied following the Seth Smith trade, the Rockies have turned their attention to adding another second baseman. They had talks with the Red Sox about Marco Scutaro, and Troy Renck of The Denver Post says they "remain strongly interested" in Justin Turner.
Last month we heard that the Mets have interest in Eric Young Jr., and that the two sides could potentially work out a trade with Turner going to Colorado. At the moment, the Rockies have DJ LeMahieu, Chris Nelson, and Jonathan Herrera penciled in at second base. The 27-year-old Turner hit .260/.334/.356 with four homers and seven steals in 487 plate appearances for he Mets last season, spending most of his time at second while also playing third and a little bit of shortstop.
The Mets have expressed interest in Eric Young Jr. of the Rockies, according to Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. Rubin's source indicated that the Mets may be able to obtain Young by sending Justin Turner to Colorado and that the teams continue discussing Jon Niese. However, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets that Turner's name hasn't come up yet.
Young, 26, has a .246/.324/.295 line with 15 extra base hits in 479 career plate appearances in three stints at the Major League level as an outfielder and second baseman. The Rockies' plans at second remain unclear, but the outfield has become crowded with the recent additions of Tyler Colvin and Michael Cuddyer.
The Rockies nearly traded Young to the Mariners during the Winter Meetings, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post (on Twitter). All signs point to a trade involving Young before Spring Training, Renck reports.