Lucas Duda Rumors
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.
- Five or six teams have inquired about Davis and/or Lucas Duda, Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports. Duda is considered by some AL teams to be a fit as a designated hitter, Carig tweets.
- Peralta appears to be the Mets' top free agent target, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News writes. The club "really likes" Peralta but they don't know if he intends to sign soon or later in the offseason.
- The Mets have talked to free agent Corey Hart, but Martino gets the sense that they either don't identify him as a top target or aren't that eager to get a deal done with him. Carig (link) also hears from a source that the Mets aren't close to a deal with the Brewers first baseman. "We haven't discussed him in depth enough to say where we'd put him if we got him," the source said.
- The Mets have plans to meet with Curtis Granderson's agent this week, according to Mike Puma of the New York Post (on Twitter). The outfielder is turning down the Yankees' $14.1MM qualifying offer.
- The Mets have touched base with Marlon Byrd's representatives in the last few days, according to Carig (link). Recently, Steve Adams examined the market for Byrd and concluded that he could fetch a deal in the neighborhood of $16MM over two years.
- A source suggested to Carig (link) that it would make sense for the Mets to take their time in trading Davis and take advantage of a market that is starved for power. Carig (link) hears that the Mets might do just that and hang on to him until later in the offseason when teams will be seeking out less costly alternatives to add power.
- The Mets aren't actively talking to Mike Pelfrey about a possible reunion, but they are open to it, a team official tells Adam Rubin. "I know he is on a long list of guys just like him," the team insider said. The Mets non-tendered the hurler after he earned $5.7MM in 2012.
- The Mets' top priority is shortstop, but they're hardly alone in that, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Possible options for the Mets include Peralta, Erick Aybar, Didi Gregorius, Rafael Furcal, and Jed Lowrie.
The Orioles announced yesterday that they have hired Dave Wallace as their new pitching coach. Wallace, 66, has 10 years of experience as a Major League pitching coach and filled that role for the 2004 World Series Champion Red Sox. He has served as pitching coach for the Dodgers (1995-97), Mets (1999-2000), Red Sox (2003-06) and Astros (2007) prior to Baltimore's hiring. Here's more out of baseball's Eastern divisions...
- Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun thinks the Wallace hiring to be somewhat of a surprise, if only for the reason that many felt he ultimately wouldn't take the job. Wallace was serving as the Braves' minor league pitching coordinator and was known to be content with his job. Of leaving his post with the Braves, Wallace told Connolly: "As a teacher, it’s kind of tough sometimes to walk away from those students. But you are also proud because you’ve had somewhat of an influence on what they’ve been able to accomplish in the last few years."
- It remains likely that the Mets will trade either Ike Davis or Lucas Duda this offseason, writes Andy Martino of the New York Daily News, but team insiders tell him that it's too soon to tell which player will have more value on the market. COO Jeff Wilpon said yesterday that the team has already begun to receive calls from teams with a need for first base help.
- Martino also points out that Wilpon identified just four players as "solidified" for next year: David Wright, Jon Niese, Dillon Gee and Zack Wheeler. Notably omitted is Daniel Murphy, who could find himself on the trading block with the Mets looking to move Eric Young Jr. to second base on a permanent basis. Martino opines that because of the team's desire for Young to man the keystone, it's actually a good thing that he didn't win a Gold Glove for his work in left field, as it would've made the decision tougher to justify to fans.
- The Blue Jays announced yesterday that they have extended their player development contract with the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats through the 2016 season. The Fisher Cats have been the Jays' Double-A affiliate since 2004, winning a pair of Eastern League titles in that time.
- Earlier today, MLBTR's Mark Polishuk peeked into Baltimore's future with the Orioles edition of our Offseason Outlook series.
As you can tell from MLBTR's Reverse Standings page, the Mets currently don't have a protected first round pick in the 2014 amateur draft. Their 73-85 record puts them in line for the 12th overall pick, and only the teams with the 10 worst records (plus the Blue Jays' 11th overall pick, stemming from 2013 compensation) will have their picks protected. Though an unprotected first-rounder could hurt the Mets' plans to delve into the free agent market this winter, GM Sandy Alderson tells Mike Puma of the New York Post that he's just happy to see his team win. “I don’t view the draft-pick situation as relevant to what we’re doing here,” Alderson said. “We’re trying to win every game we play. We’re trying to build the credibility of the franchise and that goes beyond where we’re picking in the draft.”
Here's the latest from Queens...
- The Mets are "likely" to shop both Ike Davis and Lucas Duda this winter and possibly deal the one that commands the higher trade package, ESPN New York's Adam Rubin reports. Rubin also polls nine scouts about which of the two first baseman they would prefer to have, with seven picking Duda.
- David Wright expects the Mets to be a much better team in 2014, telling reporters (including MLB.com's Anthony DiComo) that he expects improvement from players currently on the club's roster and also believes some external acquisitions are on the way. "Everybody’s been saying that this is the year with the money coming off the books, with some of the free agents that are out there, with some of the possible trade candidates given some of the younger pitchers and players we’ve developed. It seems like it’s all kind of culminating into this offseason to try to go out there and make this team better," Wright said.
- The recently-acquired Vic Black is likely the Mets' backup plan at closer if Bobby Parnell isn't ready to start the 2014 season, manager Terry Collins told reporters (including DiComo). Parnell underwent neck surgery earlier this month and is expected to be ready for Spring Training. Black, a rookie right-hander, has a 3.27 ERA and 11 strikeouts in 11 relief innings since joining the Mets. You can keep up on the Mets' closing situation and more by following @CloserNews, MLBTR's sister Twitter feed for save-related news.
- Mike Baxter's possible Super Two status could make him a non-tender candidate this winter, DiComo writes. He could be expendable once the Mets add an outfielder or two, though Baxter could be helped by a relative lack of left-handed bats amongst the current Mets outfield options. Baxter has only a .190/.303/.256 line over 142 PA this season.
The game of baseball seems to have entrenched competitive parity, writes MLB.com's Mike Bauman. He cites the Pirates, A's, Rays, Indians, and Royals as examples of small-market clubs having successful seasons, and notes that the Dodgers are currently the only team that lead a division in both the standings and media market size. Of course, that doesn't mean that salary capacity is without importance: The Tigers and Red Sox rank in the top five of MLB payrolls along with the Dodgers, and other likely playoff teams like the Cardinals, Reds, and Rangers are in the top half. And several other teams with top-15 payrolls -- the Orioles, Yankees, and Nationals -- are also still in the hunt. Let's take a look at some of the big-budget squads from the league's eastern divisions:
- The Yankees' injury woes are well-documented, and now seem a good bet to pervade the season. Alex Rodriguez is set for DH duties with a balky hamstring, the team just learned that an oblique injury will sideline Brett Gardner for a decent stretch, and now the Yanks have scratched Alfonso Soriano from today's game with a thumb sprain. New York's bullpen situation is arguably still more pressing than the outfield, however, and time is short to add temporary fill-ins. The club recently made one September-only acquisition to fill a gap with shortstop Brendan Ryan, and is just two games out of the Wild Card. It is possible, if unlikely, that GM Brian Cashman could look to add yet another replacement from the group of players that have cleared waivers.
- Still basking in his game-winning grand slam last night, Red Sox backstop Jarrod Saltalamacchia could be a candidate to receive a qualifying offer, writes John Tomase of the Boston Herald. With a top-10 OPS among catchers and an improving skill set behind the dish, says Tomase, Salty should be considered for a QO among the Sox' other candidates -- Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Napoli, and Stephen Drew. Of course, even if Boston decides it wants Saltalamacchia back, it is an entirely separate question whether to run the risk of a qualifying offer. The Munsey Sports Management client would seem likely to accept the offer if it is extended, as he would risk a tough market if signing teams had to sacrifice a draft pick to get him. Though the 28-year-old figures to be among the most desirable catchers available after Brian McCann, moreover, demand will be diluted somewhat by other established, power-hitting options like A.J. Pierzynski and Carlos Ruiz.
- Lucas Duda of the Mets is getting an unexpected opportunity to showcase himself for his club, writes Matt Ehalt of ESPNNewYork.com. As MLBTR's Mark Polishuk recently explained, Duda has a chance to snare a first base gig with the Mets or make himself a reasonably attractive trade commodity. The New York brass seems glad to give him the chance after watching Ike Davis struggle and ultimately go down with a season-ending injury. "Here's his shot to say, 'Hey, look, I'm going to be a legitimate candidate, you're going to have to think about me at that spot,'" explained manager Terry Collins. "That's why we're hoping as we finish the season out that Lucas does what we know he can do."
- Two young, NL East aces -- Matt Harvey and Stephen Strasburg -- have become emblematic of baseball's long struggle with the stress put on its best arms. But relief could be on the way, according to MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince, who explains that promising new conditioning methods could be employed to limit the occurrence of catastrophic arm injuries.