Lucas Duda Rumors
Chris Young's tenure with the Mets isn't off to an ideal start, as the outfielder has already been placed on the disabled list with a quad injury sustained in the cold weather on Wednesday. Young called the situation a "bad dream" when talking with MLB.com's Anthony DiComo, who also spoke to manager Terry Collins about the $7.25MM man's early DL stint. More on the Amazin's as some teams wrap up their opening series...
- Manager Terry Collins told reporters earlier today that the Mets will give one first baseman a chance to prove himself beginning tomorrow, and Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports that it will be Lucas Duda, not Ike Davis (Twitter links). Duda will be given a "real shot" to prove he can hold the job down, according to Martino.
- Bobby Abreu's minor league deal with the Mets is worth $800K, and he can opt out if not on the Major League roster by April 30, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post (via Twitter). Abreu signed with the Mets after his release from the Phillies late last month.
- The Mets' bullpen woes only increased today, as a variety of arms struggled once again in action against the Nationals. The focal point of that general concern, of course, is injured closer Bobby Parnell, who figures to be out for at least six weeks and possibly much longer. As Ken Davidoff of the New York Post writes, replacing Parnell is a delicate balancing act. An outside addition is always possible, of course, but the options are limited. And while the team may well look to some young arms to bolster the MLB relief corps before long, it will need to be careful not to stunt the development of the team's key prospects.
- Martino also examined Bartolo Colon's importance to the Mets, and in doing so revealed that the Mets were the only club to offer Colon a multi-year deal. The Mets knew they needed to overpay after five losing seasons, according to Martino, who adds that Tim Hudson was willing to pitch for the Mets earlier in the offseason prior to signing a two-year, $23MM deal with the Giants.
Jeff Todd contributed to this post.
The average value of a Major League Baseball franchise is now $811MM, a rise of nine percent from 2013 that can be largely attributed to an increase in TV revenue, according to Forbes Magazine's Mike Ozanian. For the 17th straight year, the Yankees (worth $2.5 billion) top Forbes' annual valuation of baseball's franchises. The Dodgers ($2 billion), Red Sox ($1.5 billion), Cubs ($1.2 billion) and Giants ($1 billion) also hit the ten-figure mark, while the Rays had the lowest value at $485MM. The Mets, Marlins and Astros were the only three franchises who saw their values drop from last year's Forbes rankings.
Here's some more news from around baseball...
- Starlin Castro says he's open to moving from shortstop to accommodate star prospect Javier Baez, CSN Chicago's David Kaplan reports. "If I need to move positions, I'm OK with that," Castro said. "If he is on our team and him being there helps the team win, then I am fine with that. I just want our team to win. That's it." There had been speculation that Baez would see time at second base at Triple-A this season in preparation for a position switch of his own, though Cubs manager Rick Renteria stated that Baez would play short in the minors. Widely considered one of baseball's top prospects, Baez has a .903 OPS in 916 minor league PA and hit even better during the Cubs' Spring Training camp this year.
- The Mets' inability to find a trade partner for Ike Davis last winter means that the club is now in the awkward situation of finding playing time for both Davis and Lucas Duda at first base, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. Neither left-handed slugger hits southpaws well, so while Josh Satin will start against lefties, Davis and Duda will have to divvy up the starts against right-handers.
- Astros manager Bo Porter said today that the club's top waiver claim priority was keeping them from finalizing the rotation, and general manager Jeff Luhnow went into more detail with reporters (including Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle) about his team's examination of the waiver wire. "I will tell you that these days we’re meeting every day at least once...probably twice, and we get input from the staff and do our research," Luhnow said. “This is the time of year with clubs setting their 25-man roster in the next couple days that every other guy that’s out of options comes available, and we’re going to look at it seriously because it’s a way that we can fill the team.”
- The Rangers, Athletics, Rockies, Angels and Diamondbacks all made notable moves this offseason that could prove to be mistakes within a few seasons or even in 2014, opines ESPN's Jim Bowden (Insider subscription required). Colorado might've broken even in Bowden's eyes, though, since the Rockies are also on the good end of one of those "backfire" transactions.
- When a number of scouts, managers and other baseball personnel were asked “Were there any young players you watched and said, ‘this guy has a chance to be a star?’” by Peter Gammons, the name most often cited was Carlos Correa. The Astros shortstop headlines the top 10 list, though Cubs fans will be excited to know that Kris Bryant, Baez and Albert Almora all cracked the top seven.
Mets first baseman Ike Davis is playing in a regular spring training game today, ESPN New York's Adam Rubin tweets. Davis has been out of action, at least in Grapefruit League games, since early March due to a calf injury. His return could be significant, since he has long been a trade candidate. Two days ago, the Mets were reportedly making calls to assess interest in Davis, but it seemed unlikely they would trade him until he was ready to return from injury. The Pirates, who are in need of a left-handed first base option, potentially could be a trade partner. Here are more notes on the Mets.
- The Mets still have to decide between Davis and Lucas Duda, and now have little time to do so, given the injuries to both players, Andy Martino of New York Daily News writes. Martino reports that the Mets are more likely to trade Davis than Duda, but are open to dealing either one.
- Martino also says scouts believe Ruben Tejada could be a good player if removed from the New York market. "The way I look at Tejada, he could be OK, but he needs to get out of New York," says a scout. "A classic change-of-scenery guy." The Mets continue to watch the markets for Nick Franklin and Didi Gregorius (who would be available via trade) and Stephen Drew (via free agency), but are unlikely to play the prices required for any of those players.
While it looked as if the Mets were comfortable heading into the season with both Ike Davis and Lucas Duda in tow, ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin reports that GM Sandy Alderson has resumed calling clubs to gauge interest in Davis.
Davis hasn't played in a Grapefruit League game in two weeks due to a calf injury and would presumably need to prove healthy for another club to take him on. Rubin adds that Davis is scheduled to DH in a minor league game today, though he hasn't been running after contact in that setting due to the leg injury. Also of note, Rubin adds that at least one American League team is showing interest in Lucas Duda, and the Mets aren't completely adverse to dealing him should the right offer present itself.
The Pirates have long been linked to Davis and can't be thrilled with what they've seen from Andrew Lambo (2-for-31) or Chris McGuiness (.616 OPS) thus far in Spring Training. The Brewers were seen as a potential fit at one point, but they have many options in camp now and reportedly informed Mark Reynolds that he was a near certainty to make the club when he signed a minor league deal.
Many clubs in the AL have been seeking offensive upgrades -- most notably the Orioles and Mariners (the two most oft-connected clubs to Kendrys Morales in recent weeks). However, Seattle has a great deal of first base/DH types on its roster and a lineup that leans too heavily to the left side of the plate as it is. Baltimore would make a bit more sense, but acquiring Duda would likely shift Nelson Cruz into full-time outfield duties, which the club did not appear to be planning on at the time of his signing.
The Astros were linked to a number of first basemen in a report earlier today, but it's unclear at this time if they've shown an interest in either of the Mets' strikeout-prone sluggers. The Rays reportedly proposed a one-for-one swap of Davis and Matt Joyce at one point this offseason but were turned down. They may not be so keen on that concept now with Davis' leg ailing and James Loney back in the fold on a three-year, $21MM deal.
The Mets have avoided arbitration with Lucas Duda, agreeing to a one-year deal worth $1.6375MM, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (on Twitter). Duda is a client of the Beverly Hills Sports Council.
Duda and the Mets submitted arbitration figures last week, with Duda filing at $1.9MM and the club filing at $1.35MM. His $1.6375MM is slightly north of the midpoint between the two figures.
The soon-to-be 28-year-old slipped to a .223/.352/.415 batting line in 2013, in large part due to a decline in his BABIP that was prompted by a decreased line-drive rate. Duda still showed excellent plate discipline, walking at a 14.3 percent clip, and posted a strong .192 ISO. His 15 homers tied his 2012 mark as well. Despite persistent rumors to the contrary this offseason, it seems that the Mets will head to Spring Training with both Duda and Ike Davis on the roster. The two figure to once again compete for time at first base, but the outfield looks like less of an option for Duda after New York's winter additions of Curtis Granderson and Chris Young. He does have an option remaining (Davis does not), creating the possibility that Duda could be ticketed for Triple-A.
Bluebird Banter looks at both the Blue Jays' most recent arbitration hearings and, more importantly for the general MLBTR readership, the most recent arb hearing from each team. The Indians have gone the longest without an arbitration hearing, having not taken a case to court since Jerry Browne and Greg Swindell back in 1991. Anibal Sanchez and Emilio Bonifacio are the two most recent players to win arb hearings, both coming against the Marlins in 2012. The whole table is worth checking out, featuring notable names like Kyle Lohse, Andruw Jones, A.J. Pierzynski and Oliver Perez. Here are some more links related to the possible arb cases we could see next month ...
- With several star Braves players (Craig Kimbrel, Freddie Freeman, and Jason Heyward) set to face a hearing, writes MLB.com's Mark Bowman, the effects on the organization could be long-lasting. First of all, if Kimbrel wins the $9MM salary he has requested, he would set himself up for two more massive arb paydays that could force Atlanta to deal him. As for Freeman and Heyward, both of whom are represented by Excel Sports Management, Bowman says that the confrontational hearing process could potentially make it at least marginally harder (or, at least, more expensive) to keep them around for the long haul.
- The Mets will continue to negotiate with first baseman/outfielder Lucas Duda after exchanging numbers, reports Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. The respective salary submissions ($1.35MM vs. $1.9MM) did not fall among the most difficult-to-bridge gaps, as noted in my roundup of notable arbitration situations from Friday.
- Club GM Sandy Alderson also said today (courtesy of Rubin) that Duda could see time in the outfield next year, and could conceivably break camp with the Mets alongside Ike Davis. Since Duda has an option remaining, his 2015 arbitration case could suffer from a lack of playing time if he does not force his way onto the active roster for a substantial portion of the coming season.
Jeff Todd contributed to this post.
Though there's been a lot made of Ike Davis' availability on the trade market this offseason, general manager Sandy Alderson tells Anthony DiComo of MLB.com that the Mets are "not that actively engaged in trade discussions involving Ike at this point." Alderson says that he's comfortable heading to camp with both Davis and Lucas Duda in the mix.
Alderson repeated that he has no plans to simply give Davis away: "We're not going to move Ike just to move Ike -- or any other player for that matter. This is a trade market, not a yard sale ... You can only ask someone to dance so many times before you get the message."
DiComo writes that there is now a probability that Davis and Duda are both still with the Mets when Spring Training opens next month, as Alderson has not been able to land the young, controllable pitcher he's been seeking in exchange for Davis (he's reportedly asked for Tyler Thornburg from the Brewers and Eduardo Rodriguez from the Orioles).
That all has to come as good news to Davis himself, who told Andy Martino of the New York Daily News on Thursday that he wants to stay with the Mets and wants another chance. Davis and Kirk Nieuwenhuis are currently looking for a house to rent near the Mets' Spring Training facility in Port St. Lucie, Fla., adds Martino. Davis told Martino that while he feels that his availability has been discussed too much in the media, he doesn't feel disrepsected by it. He also said that he respects Duda, and the two competing for playing time is nothing new: "Look, we have basically been competing for the same job since Double-A. I think Duda is a great ballplayer. I have a lot of respect for him."
With Corey Hart and Logan Morrison heading to the Mariners and James Loney agreeing to return to the Rays this week, the Pirates and Brewers remain on the hunt for a first baseman, as MLB.com's Anthony DiComo notes (via Twitter). The Astros could be on the lookout for a first baseman as well. With Mike Napoli (Red Sox) and Justin Morneau (Rockies) also gone, there isn't much left on the free-agent market, which means teams still hoping to acquire a first baseman will probably also consider trades. Here's a look at the main options still available.
- Matt Adams, Cardinals. Adams is far better than most of the players listed below, but the Cardinals would only be likely to move him in a major deal. It would be very hard for the Pirates or Brewers to pry him away, since they're both NL Central teams, and the Astros likely don't have the big-league talent the Cardinals would need in order to decide to part with him. His .284/.335/.503 line in 2013 would be a valuable addition to any big-league lineup, however.
- Kendrys Morales, free agent. Morales might be the highest-profile name remaining as a free agent, but after a season in which he hit .277/.336/.449 while playing poor defense (in the 31 games in which he played first base), he declined the Mariners' qualifying offer. It's hard to see many teams, including the Pirates and Brewers, give up a draft pick for the right to sign a defensively-limited player on the wrong side of 30. It appears likely that Morales will end up back with an AL team, as CBS Sports' Mike Axisa recently noted.
- Ike Davis, Mets. The Mets seem determined to trade either Davis or Lucas Duda. Davis may be the more attractive of the two candidates, due to his power, although he'll also be more expensive than Duda in arbitration this year. The Mets also seem more inclined to trade Davis. With Loney off the market, there's now a clear path for the Mets to deal Davis to either the Brewers or Pirates. There may be a feeling around baseball that they waited too long, however, with Mike Puma of the New York Post recently tweeting that a source recently told him the Mets were going to "sell low" on Davis. The Star-Ledger's Andy McCullough, meanwhile, tweeted, "The Mets' slow, steady march toward trading Ike Davis for something like a right-handed relief prospect is such a drag." In any case, it's hard to see the Mets getting much for Davis, or any team getting particularly excited about installing him at first, after he hit .205/.326/.334 in 2013, even though he batted .286/.449/.505 after the All-Star break. Davis appears set to make about $3.5MM through arbitration in 2014.
- Justin Smoak, Mariners. With Hart and Morrison both heading to Seattle, Smoak is now available, with the Mariners likely favoring a big-league contributor, rather than a prospect, in return. It remains to be seen how much other teams might want Smoak, however -- the former top prospect has hovered around replacement level for his career, and at 27, it may be that his once-highly-regarded bat won't ever carry him. Smoak hit .238/.334/.412 in 2013.
- Mitch Moreland, Rangers. Moreland's name has appeared in trade rumors since Texas traded for Prince Fielder, but he currently still has a role in Texas at DH. That could change somewhat, however, if the Rangers sign Shin-Soo Choo or re-sign Nelson Cruz, but right now, there appears to be no pressing reason for the Rangers to trade Moreland unless they want to. Moreland hit .232/.299/.437 in 2013, but unlike any of the trade candidates mentioned above, he does play plus defense at first base.
- Adam Lind, Blue Jays. Lind, who batted .288/.357/.497 in 2013, is a well-above-average hitter, but he's not much of a defender at any position. Also, like Moreland, he has a clear role on his current team as a DH. The Pirates recently asked the Jays about Lind, only to have the Jays ask for Neil Walker in return. If the Blue Jays do trade Lind, he probably won't come cheap.
- Mike Carp, Red Sox. WEEI's Rob Bradford recently tweeted that Carp was receiving plenty of attention on the trade market, which is no surprise -- unlike Davis and Smoak, Carp hit well in 2013, and unlike Moreland and Lind, he has no clear starting role with his current team. Carp played mostly first base and outfield in 2013, but with Jackie Bradley Jr. expected to replace Jacoby Ellsbury in center field, and with Shane Victorino, Daniel Nava and Jonny Gomes expected to play in the corner spots, he won't necessarily be needed in the outfield next year. There isn't much room elsewhere, either, with Mike Napoli and David Ortiz returning at first base and DH, respectively. If Carp hits .296/.362/.523 again, the Red Sox can surely find space for him, but if another team approaches them with a nice offer, they could easily deal him, too.
- Eric Chavez, free agent. CBS Sports' Jon Heyman recently reported that the Pirates were one of several teams to check in on Chavez, and upon inspection, it's easy to see why. The veteran hit .281/.332/.478 in Arizona in 2013, and while he has limited experience at first base and isn't the defensive star he once was at third, it's easy to imagine he would be at least average defensively if he were to move across the diamond. He might also be relatively cheap, since he was a part-time player in 2013. He's an injury risk, but with Pittsburgh, in particular, he wouldn't have to play every day, since Gaby Sanchez would start against lefties.
- Kevin Youkilis, free agent. Youkilis missed most of the 2013 season due to injury and wasn't good when he played, but he was a valuable asset as recently as 2011. He'll be 35 in March, however, and showed signs of decline in 2012, so it's fair to wonder how much he has left. He also prefers to play on the West Coast, so he may not want to sign with Milwaukee or Pittsburgh.
Mets GM Sandy Alderson met with reporters in Orlando on the eve of the Winter Meetings. Here are the highlights (all links go to Twitter):
- Alderson acknowleded the Mets will not add another free agent of Stephen Drew's caliber and price tag unless a contract is moved, tweets Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. Andy Martino of the New York Daily News tweets the Mets are telling clubs any other noteworthy deals will come via trades, not free agency.
- The Mets are bracing themselves for the possibility Ruben Tejada will be the Opening Day shortstop, tweets the New York Post's Mike Puma.
- "If we have to go into the season with Tejada as our shortstop, we need to make sure we're happy with that given what else we've done," Puma quoted Alderson as saying.
- Alderson wouldn't say how far along the Mets are in resolving their first base situation, Rubin tweets. Sources tell Martino the Mets' strong preference remains trading Ike Davis and keeping Lucas Duda and a deal could happen this week. In a separate tweet, Martino adds the Mets feel Davis could have more trade value in January, but are eager to settle the matter now.
- Alderson isn't totally comfortable with having two prospects in the starting rotation, tweets Rubin.
- Alderson indicated Eric Young, Jr. is more than a reserve leading Rubin to believe Daniel Murphy could still be traded. Martino tweets one team has already been told the Mets are willing to move Murphy this week.
If the Rays do end up trading David Price, it won't be their first trade of a young starter. The Tampa Bay Times' Marc Topkin revisits four trades of relatively high-profile deals -- those of James Shields, Matt Garza, Scott Kazmir and Edwin Jackson. The Rays got useful players in all four. The Shields deal, of course, produced AL Rookie of the Year winner Wil Myers, and the Garza deal returned Chris Archer. Kazmir brought back utilityman Sean Rodriguez, while the Rays got Matt Joyce back for Jackson. Fans will likely use the Shields deal (which could continue to pay dividends for the Rays as Jake Odorizzi emerges) as a barometer for a potential Price trade, whether that's fair or not. As FanGraphs' Dave Cameron recently pointed out, the Shields trade shouldn't set the market for deals involving frontline starting pitchers. Here are more notes from the East divisions.
- The Phillies are looking for a starting pitcher, and they pursued Scott Feldman and Ryan Vogelsong before those two players signed with other teams, CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury reports. (The Phils extended a two-year offer of about $15MM to Feldman before he ultimately signed with the Astros, tweets ESPN's Buster Olney.) Salisbury notes that the Phillies' interest in Feldman and Vogelsong is indicative of the sort of mid-grade starter they'll continue to pursue -- don't expect them to make a splash.
- In the wake of the signing of Curtis Granderson, the Mets could redouble their efforts to trade Ike Davis or Lucas Duda, writes Newsday's Marc Carig. Since there isn't much besides Stephen Drew (who should be relatively expensive) on the free-agent shortstop market, and since the Mets' budget will only allow them to spend about an extra $13MM, Carig writes that the Mets are likely to try to find a shortstop via trade.