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Michael Cuddyer Rumors
The Mets shut out the Rockies last night by a 4-0 score, while the Nationals got shut out themselves, dropping a 5-0 result to Zack Greinke and the Dodgers. Thanks to that pair of blankings, the Mets now hold a 2.5-game lead over Washington for first place in the NL East. Here’s the latest from Citi Field…
- Matt Harvey‘s eight shutout innings fueled Tuesday’s victory, though now that the ace righty has 148 IP for the season, his innings limit is beginning to loom large. The Mets have frequently stated that Harvey will be capped at around 185-190 innings this season, his first since undergoing Tommy John surgery in October 2013. “I will tell you this: We are going to do everything in our power to keep from shutting this guy down — any of those guys down,” Mets manager Terry Collins said, told reporters, including MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo. “He’s on pace to get to his [limit] fast….If we get into September to where we’ve got to have the game Matt Harvey pitches, he’s going to pitch it. But that’s why we’ve got to make sure he’s OK to do that.” The Mets will revisit a six-man rotation once Steven Matz returns from the DL in September.
- Michael Cuddyer has gone from key offseason acquisition to only a part-time player, Newsday’s David Lennon writes, as the Mets are committed to giving Michael Conforto regular at-bats. Cuddyer’s season-long struggles at the plate and his recent DL stint have opened the door for Conforto to take playing time, at least against right-handed pitching.
- The Mets optioned catcher Kevin Plawecki to Triple-A, calling up Anthony Recker in a corresponding move. Now that Travis d’Arnaud is fully healthy, Plawecki is going back to the minors to receive everyday playing time until the rosters expand on September 1. As ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin calculates, Plawecki should amass 147 days of Major League service time for 2015 (his rookie season). Assuming Plawecki is back on the roster in 2016 and beyond, he could receive an extra year of arbitration eligibility as a Super Two player in two seasons’ time, given how two years and 147 days is beyond any of the last seven Super Two cutoffs.
- Jose Reyes tells Tim Rohan of the New York Times that he would like to eventually return to the Mets to wind up his career. “I’d love to — not now, because I have two more years on my deal. But I’d love to finish my career here in New York. I have some great memories here,” Reyes said. The Rockies shortstop makes his offseason home in Long Island.
12:08pm: New York is talking with Detroit about Cespedes, Rosenthal tweets. At this point, he’s one of many options, per the report.
12:05pm: As previously reported, the Mets are open to numerous outfield possibilities as the trade deadline approaches. The club has some concern that outfielder Michael Cuddyer “may not be back,” Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (Twitter links), which certainly would appear to add a new component to the decisionmaking process.
The veteran had been expected to experience only a relatively short DL stint. It’s not entirely clear, though, what the new issues are that are referenced by the report, or what kind of absence might be expected.
Per Rosenthal, the names currently being considered by New York include not only the oft-discussed Jay Bruce (Reds), Yoenis Cespedes (Tigers), Justin Upton (Padres), and Will Venable (Padres), but also Rajai Davis of the Tigers. Davis is a speedy right-handed hitter who is capable of playing center field, where Rosenthal says the team has real concerns about incumbent Juan Lagares (who fits a similar general profile).
5:25pm: Mike Puma of the New York Post tweets that he’s been told to rule out an acquisition of Yoenis Cespedes from the Tigers (who are reportedly listening to offers on Cespedes and preparing to “reboot”).
However, there’s been “much” discussion between the Mets and Brewers as of late, Puma hears, though those talks aren’t believed to be focused on Carlos Gomez. That would seem to imply that Gerardo Parra is the topic of conversation, although he wouldn’t necessarily line up with Heyman’s report on pursuing a “big bat.”
2:28pm: Despite making several upgrades already, the Mets “have their sights clearly on a big bat,” according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. New York has long been said to be pursuing a corner outfield piece, particularly since learning that Michael Cuddyer would hit the DL.
Other recent reports have indicated that the Mets were somewhat more likely to make a value play, perhaps by waiting for prices to drop just before the deadline. But Heyman suggests that the team could still pursue a more impactful piece, presumably meaning the team is at least considering paying a higher acquisition price.
Per the report, the club has previously been unable to see eye-to-eye with the Padres on Justin Upton, but he could seemingly still represent an option. Another possibility is Jay Bruce of the Reds, and Heyman says that Cincinnati previously showed interest in the injured Zack Wheeler in discussions involving Bruce.
The Mets were pushing to deal for Brewers outfielder Gerardo Parra up until last night, Marc Carig of Newsday reports on Twitter, building upon a prior report from Andy Martino of the New York Daily News (via Twitter). When the deal could not be made, per the reports, the club instead went ahead and promoted Michael Conforto to take the roster spot of the DL’ed Michael Cuddyer. (Note that a team source denies the report to ESPN.com’s Adam Rubin, on Twitter.)
It’s not clear whether the two teams are still in talks, though Mets GM Sandy Alderson made clear earlier today that adding Conforto does not necessarily change the team’s shopping plans (via Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com). “This is not indicative of how aggressive or less aggressive we’re going to be,” Alderson said. “This is somewhat independent.”
Certainly, the equation has not changed much in the interim, so continued talks would seem to make sense. Parra has put up a somewhat uncharacteristically excellent .317/.355/.510 slash this year, creating broad interest in his services. That may not be sustainable, but he’s always been a solid hitter with a top-notch defensive reputation. For the Mets, presumably, Parra would step into the everyday lineup now and serve as an active fourth outfielder once Cuddyer returns.
One other name worth at least watching as the Mets look to get help to a sagging offense is Josh Reddick of the Athletics. Martino says that the club inquired, but was not given the impression that Oakland was too keen to deal him. Reddick fits roughly the same profile as Parra: both have top-regarded gloves, good left-handed bats, and playing at peak form this season. But Reddick has a higher offensive ceiling, is cheaper (in terms of 2015 salary), and comes with another season of control.
It remains to be seen how much flexibility New York truly has in structuring a deal. While insurance money relating to David Wright‘s extended absence won’t free baseball ops resources, Alderson said that the team can take on some salary. (Via Mike Vorkunov of NJ.com, Twitter links.)
Mets fans have been clamoring for a Conforto promotion for quite some time as they’ve watched the big league offense struggle tremendously to score runs in support of an excellent young pitching staff. Conforto, the 10th overall pick in the 2014 draft, has been moved through the minor leagues at a very cautious rate — perhaps unnecessarily cautious in the eyes of many. He started out in short-season Class-A despite being one of the top college hitters in the 2014 draft, and he’s only reached Double-A as a result of the slow-paced track on which he has been placed.
Conforto has, however, hit at every level and should provide a boost to the Mets’ lineup. He’s currently batting .312/.396/.503 with five homers, 12 doubles and three triples in 197 plate appearances at Double-A Binghmaton. Baseball America rated him as the game’s No. 14 prospect in the game on their midseason update, while ESPN’s Keith Law ranked Conforto 12th, writing that he has a chance to be the type of hitter who posts .400 OBPs and hits 20-plus homers in the Majors.
The 53 runs scored by the Mets this month is tied for 29th in all of Major League Baseball, and outfield production has been a problem for the team all season. The Mets have seen their offensive output hindered by injuries to David Wright, Travis d’Arnaud and Daniel Murphy, as those three hitters — three of the team’s most potent bats — have spent large amounts of time on the disabled list. Murphy has been limited to 73 games, while d’Arnaud and Wright have barely played at all. Lucas Duda, expected to be one of the team’s most productive bats, has seen his offense tank since early June.
The result has been a collective .233/.298/.357 batting line for the Mets on the season. That translates to a wRC+ of 85, which ranks 28th in all of baseball. Conforto, then, doesn’t need to hit like a superstar in order to bolster the lineup; producing even like an average or above-average regular, as teammate Curtis Granderson has done, would be a notable boost to the team’s postseason chances.
The Mets remain on the hunt for offensive upgrades via the trade market, with recent reports indicating that adding an outfield bat that is controlled beyond the 2015 season is a priority for the team. A fast start for Conforto could shift that focus elsewhere, but for the time being, the promotion was the quickest fix available.
If Conforto’s in the Majors to stay, he’ll accrue 74 days of big league service time this year, leaving him well short of Super Two designation. That would place him on pace to be eligible for arbitration following the 2018 season and eligible for free agency upon completion of the 2021 campaign.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Here’s the latest out of baseball’s eastern divisions:
- New York remains in contact with the Athletics on the versatile Ben Zobrist, Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News reports. The fit is obvious, and the teams have long said to be in contact, but Ackert says that things have progressed to the point that Oakland has made a specific prospect ask. Nevertheless, no deal is imminent, per the report.
- The Mets are loath to part with outfielder Michael Conforto or shortstop Amed Rosario to add a bat, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com hears (Twitter link), echoing a recent report. But the team is still certainly after a hitter, as Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com tweets that Michael Cuddyer‘s injury situation has led to a “seismic shift” in the ballclub’s deadline approach. We had heard earlier in the summer that the team was interested in offense even before Cuddyer’s knee troubles worsened, but at the time the focus seemed more on the infield.
- Lefty Josh Smoker has opened eyes in the Mets organization, Mike Puma of the New York Post notes on Twitter. The 26-year-old was a first-round pick of the Nationals, but never gained much traction. Now, he’s said to be bringing big heat at Double-A and could be a candidate to see time in the New York pen.
- The Blue Jays are primarily focused on adding a starter and are not presently discussing reliever Jonathan Papelbon with the Phillies, Heyman adds on Twitter. It could be that Toronto is allowing the development of its rotation plans drive the bus on whether (and how) it acts on the relief market.
- The Red Sox have already made some moves focused on giving MLB time to younger players, notes Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald, who argues that Boston ought to do more of the same the rest of the way. One forward-looking deadline move, says Lauber, would be to resume pursuit of Cole Hamels, who per the report would not be inclined to trigger his no-trade clause just because an acquiring team is not in contention.
- Rays lefty Drew Smyly is making good on reports indicating that he’d try to throw again, as Josh Vitale of the Charlotte Sun reports (Twitter links). After emerging from a 40-pitch live BP feeling well, Smyly says he’s hopeful of beginning a rehab stint soon. It remains to be seen how long he’ll take to work back to the big leagues, particularly with Tampa Bay likely to exercise quite a bit of caution with an important asset.
The Mets are currently squared off with the Nationals in a key mid-season match-up. Despite entering the series just two games back in the division, New York faces a lot of scrutiny due to its scuffling offense.
Here’s the latest:
- Michael Cuddyer‘s knee problems are an increasing concern for the Mets, as Marc Carig of Newsday reports. If one final effort at managing the pain proves unsuccessful, Cuddyer will likely hit the DL. An extended absence from the club’s major offseason acquisition would only increase the team’s already pressing need for offense.
- Of course, any missed time from Cuddyer will also increase calls for the team to promote well-regarded outfield prospect Michael Conforto. But as Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports, that move remains unlikely. There is at least some consideration being given to a call-up, but the club does not believe that the second-year professional is the answer it is looking for right now. As Mike Puma of the New York Post explains on Twitter, the lack of viable alternatives at the Triple-A level means it is necessary to entertain the thought if Cuddyer has to go on the DL.
- All said, it seems as if GM Sandy Alderson is looking more for complimentary pieces than “one transformational bat,” according to Carig (Twitter links). That is reflected, to some extent, in the identity of the young players that internal and external executives see as being viable trade pieces. Per Carig, New York has little stomach for moving its most prized pre-MLB position talent (Conforto and shortstop Amed Rosario), but might be willing to deal well-regarded youngsters (and top-ten MLB.com organizational prospects) Brandon Nimmo, Gavin Cecchini, Jhoan Urena, and Matt Reynolds (among others).
- There are any number of outfielders that could be available to the Mets, but Joel Sherman of the New York Post says that one name to consider is Ryan Raburn of the Indians. Per Sherman, Cleveland is interested in picking up younger bats if it moves Raburn and/or fellow part-time Indians outfielder David Murphy. While the Mets prefer the idea of adding a Ben Zobrist-type super-utility player or a left-handed-hitting player capable of manning center — Sherman mentions Gerardo Parra — Raburn may be a more practicable target given his manageable salary and likely reasonable prospect cost.
The Braves will likely be without Mike Minor and Melvin Upton for all of April, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes in an update on the club’s injuries. Minor hasn’t thrown in almost three weeks due to inflammation in his left rotator cuff, while Upton is dealing with inflammation in his left foot and isn’t expected to be out of his protective walking boot for another couple of weeks. Here’s some more news from around the NL East…
- The Mets aren’t likely to pursue Joe Beimel, ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin tweets. Though the Mets have a need for a left-handed reliever, they apparently don’t have much interest in the recently-released Beimel.
- The relationship between Mets GM Sandy Alderson and manager Terry Collins is one to watch, as there have been a few signs of miscommunication between the front office and the dugout this spring, Newsday’s John Harper writes. Alderson’s recent biography revealed that the GM came close to firing Collins last season, though Harper reports that the two men “had a clear-the-air meeting” to resolve their differences.
- Michael Cuddyer told CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman (Twitter link) that “most interest dried up” for his services in the free agent market after the Rockies made the surprise move of issuing him a qualifying offer. Cuddyer’s final choice came down to the one-year, $15.3MM qualifying offer or his eventual pick, the two-year/$21MM deal he got from the Mets.
- The Phillies don’t have much interest in Red Sox third baseman Garin Cecchini, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes as part of a reader mailbag. The Phils and Sox have been linked for much of the offseason in Cole Hamels rumors and the Phillies have reportedly scouted Cecchini already during their examinations of Boston’s farm system. The Phillies have concerns about Cecchini’s defense, both at third and for a possible conversion to the outfield. Cecchini was ranked as one of the 100 top prospects in the sport prior to the 2014 season and is still ranked by MLB.com as the eighth-best prospect in the Red Sox system, though his stock dipped a bit after only an okay season at Triple-A.
- The Rangers are cited as one of “a number of teams…would be eager to acquire Andrew McKirahan in a trade,” MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro writes in his look at the Marlins‘ situation. Texas and Miami have recently been connected in trade rumors, with Brad Hand and Mike Dunn cited as possible targets for the Rangers. As Frisaro notes, however, the Marlins might want to keep Hand since he can be a spot starter and could bring a bit of balance to their all-righty rotation. What complicates matters for the Fish is that Hand is out of options and McKirahan is a Rule 5 draft pick who would have to remain on Miami’s 25-man roster all season or else be returned to the Cubs.
Though not available to MLB clubs at present, righty Chihiro Kaneko could become a virtual free agent (in the same manner as Masahiro Tanaka last year) if he is posted by the Orix Buffaloes. The 31-year-old has signed on with agent Arn Tellem of Wasserman, according to a tweet from Liz Mullen of Sports Business Journal.
- While we wait to see whether Kaneko shakes up the market, let’s look at the latest of one top arm who is already free to sign with any club. The Marlins still have ongoing interest in James Shields, according to a tweet from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Meanwhile, Rosenthal writes that the Diamondbacks at least like Shields, though it remains from clear that the club will be able to clear the salary it needs to make a legitimate run at him. As these reports would indicate, and Rosenthal notes, the market is quiet right now for the veteran righty.
- The Cubs are among five teams to have shown legitimate interest in outfielder Jonny Gomes, according to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com (Twitter links). The right-handed-hitting Gomes, 33, will surely market himself as a bench or platoon bat in the corner outfield. Though he had a rather rough go of things in 2014, he still managed a .743 OPS against lefties.
- Fellow lefty-masher Josh Willingham has yet to decide whether he’ll play, agent Matt Sosnick tells Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter). Willingham, 35, will surely be intrigued by the possibility of entering a market that just paid Michael Cuddyer $21MM over two years (along with the sacrifice of draft compensation).
- As we continue ticking through the veteran outfielders, the Royals and Twins are the clubs most aggressively courting outfielder Torii Hunter, Chris Cotillo of SB Nation tweets. That comes as little surprise, as those AL Central rivals have long been said to be competitors for Hunter, whose market is now wide open with the Tigers saying they do not expect to bring him back.
A rumored deal of Jordan Zimmermann to the Cubs is reportedly not happening, which makes sense to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal since such a trade wouldn’t really be a fit for either the Cubs or the Nationals. The Cubs are likely to address their pitching need by either signing a top free agent arm or trading one of their infield prospects for a controllable younger arm. Dealing for Zimmermann would the Cubs to both give up prospects and spend big, Rosenthal notes, since Chicago would obviously want to sign the righty to a long-term extension.
Here’s some more from around the NL Central…
- The Cardinals are wary of making commitments that will result in future roadblocks to upcoming younger players, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. GM John Mozeliak notes that the team feels it could be “exposed” at first base or the corner outfield if it does not get the performances it hopes for, and is interested in left-handed relief help and a utility infielder.
- In fact, the Cardinals met with representatives for Andrew Miller on Tuesday, Goold tweets. The meeting was characterized as exploratory in nature, though the fit is obvious.
- Both the Cardinals and Reds had interest in Michael Cuddyer before he signed with the Mets, Goold reports in a separate piece.
- Though the Reds are interested in Nori Aoki and Michael Morse, that is not an exclusive list, GM Walt Jocketty tells C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer (Twitter link). The club’s top priority is adding offense, and it is considering trade scenarios in addition to looking at the free agent market.