New York Mets Rumors

New York Mets trade and free agent rumors from MLBTradeRumors.com.

NL East Notes: Murphy, K-Rod, Yunel, Braves

News broke earlier today that the Mets weren’t planning to discuss extending Daniel Murphy‘s contract, and Newsday’s Marc Carig has some more details on the team’s decision.  Murphy rates as a below-average second baseman and the Mets are worried he’ll inevitably have to be moved to a corner infield position.  While Murphy hits well for a second baseman, the Mets don’t believe he has the bat necessary for third base or first base, not to mention the fact that David Wright and Lucas Duda have those positions covered for at least the next few seasons in New York.  The Mets also aren’t likely to make Murphy a qualifying offer, unless he enjoys a huge year.

Here’s some more from around the NL East…

  • Also from Carig’s piece, he hears from two rival executives that Murphy will draw a lot of interest on the free agent market.  “There will be a nice line of suitors for him.  Some will want the bat and accept the below-average glove if necessary.  He’s young enough, the bat is strong enough to warrant a multi-year [deal],” one official said.
  • The Marlins made a multi-year offer to Francisco Rodriguez before he agreed to terms with the Brewers, MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy reports (on Twitter). However, McCalvy spoke to one of K-Rod’s teammates and was told that Rodriguez “likes it a lot” in Milwaukee and was hoping to return to the club. The amount that was offered to Rodriguez isn’t known, though previous reports had indicated Miami was comfortable with something in the two-year, $10MM range.
  • Yunel Escobar wasn’t happy to be traded away from the Rays, nor was he pleased about moving from shortstop to second base, James Wagner of the Washington Post writes.  The veteran infielder changed his mind after discussions with Nationals management, however, and is looking forward to playing for a contender.  “I want to help them win a World Series. If the missing piece is me playing second base, then I’m here for anything,” Escobar said.
  • Non-roster invitees in camp on minor league deals could play a significant role in the Braves‘ plans this year, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes. Asked about the team’s collection of NRIs, manager Fredi Gonzalez listed Eric Stults, Jose Veras, Matt Capps, Brady Feigl, Kelly Johnson, Eric Young and John Buck as players with a legitimate chance, noting that he was probably leaving a few out. Gonzalez seemed particularly excited about Young. “I think the world of Eric Young,” Gonzalez said. “He can really bring a different dynamic that we haven’t had here since Michael Bourn, leading off against right-handed pitching or whatever you want to do. So that’s an exciting non-roster invitee, really.”
  • In NL East news from earlier today on MLBTR, we shared some Phillies notes.

Mets Not Expected To Talk Extension With Daniel Murphy

Though second baseman Daniel Murphy has been one of the Mets’ most consistent offensive performers over the past few seasons, the team has no plans to negotiate an extension with the 29-year-old during the season, reports ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin. While that wording would seem to leave open some possibility of a Spring Training extension, Rubin writes that the expectation is for New York to let Murphy walk as a free agent next offseason.

Dilson Herrera, acquired from the Pirates in the 2013 Marlon Byrd/John Buck trade, is the heir apparent for the Mets at second base. He batted a strong .323/.379/.479 between Class-A Advanced and Double-A in 2014, and he hit three homers to go along with a .220/.303/.407 batting line in an 18-game MLB cameo as well. Herrera, who turns 21 next week, seems likely to open the season at Triple-A and could be ready for a full-time gig in the Majors in 2016. The Mets also have Matt Reynolds and Wilmer Flores as potential second base options (should the team eventually find an alternative to Flores at shortstop).

Murphy told Rubin and other reporters that he’s willing to discuss an extension during the season and would love to remain with the club in the future, but his present focus is on the 2015 season. In fact, he said he didn’t even want to be involved in any theoretical extension discussions unless the talks become serious. Slated to earn $8MM in his final season of team control, Murphy said no multi-year deal was discussed while working to avoid arbitration.

If an extension isn’t in the cards, Murphy will be one of the most attractive second base options on the open market, assuming a typically strong season. Entering his age-30 season, he’ll be younger than competitors Howie Kendrick (32) and Ben Zobrist (35), and he has a better track record than comparably aged players such as Asdrubal Cabrera. Over the past four seasons, Murphy has batted .294/.333/.414 and averaged 10 homers and 15 steals per 162 games.


NL East Notes: Lee, Hamels, Harvey, K-Rod

While attention remains focused on Cole Hamels, clubs should consider trading for Cliff Lee instead, writes Dave Cameron of FanGraphs.com. Lee’s struggles in 2014 can be chalked up to injury and bad luck, so teams should be willing to take a bet on better performance. Cameron thinks the Phillies should bite the bullet and swallow the entire $25MM owed to Lee this season, leaving an acquiring club to cover the $12.5MM buyout or $27.5MM club option for next season. If the Phillies eat enough money, they should receive at least one notable prospect in exchange for the ace. Lee dealt with a recurring elbow injury last season, so rivals are probably playing wait-and-see.

  • The Phillies are easing Lee back into regular action, reports Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly. Most pitchers are throwing bullpens every other day, but Lee will work from the mound every third day. His health this spring will determine if he is a salable asset. One consideration to keep in mind – Lee’s partial no-trade list includes many of the clubs most likely to acquire him. Meanwhile, Hamels list appears to name places least likely to contend.
  • Hamels wants to play for a winner, reports Todd Zolecki of MLB.com. He is comfortable in Philadelphia and hopes the club can be surprise contenders this season. However, he’s also pragmatic. He understands GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has to address the big picture, which could include dealing him to greener pastures.
  • Mets ace Matt Harvey will pitch within the first five games of the season, tweets Adam Rubin of ESPN. Manager Terry Collins says the club won’t skip any of his starts either. It was previously reported that Harvey will be on a strict innings limit, but they’ve backed off that position in the last day.
  • The Marlins continue to consider Francisco Rodriguez, reports Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. We recently learned K-Rod is seeking a one-year, $10MM guarantee. The Marlins appear to be interested in a much lower rate.


NL East Notes: Haren, Marlins, Mets, Biddle

While Dan Haren admits that he did consider retirement this offseason, it wasn’t due to the trade that sent him to the Marlins, he told reporters today at Marlins’ camp (via the Miami Sun-Sentinel’s Juan C. Rodriguez). Haren refrained from speaking directly to the media as he weighed his options this winter, and he feels that may have led to some speculation going overboard. Rodriguez quotes Haren: “I think a lot of things were probably overblown, one, because I never really said anything directly to any media at all. I’m here. I’m happy to be here. I had a good talk with [manager] Mike Redmond. I’m ready to get going.” Specifically, Haren adds that he never requested that the Marlins trade him back to a West Coast team. He hopes to continue his 10-season streak of making 30 or more starts — the second-longest active streak in the Majors, behind Mark Buehrle — and said he considers Marlins Park a good fit for him at this stage of his career and is looking forward to being a Marlin. “[W]ho am I to say where I play? I’m not Clayton Kershaw. I respect the game. It’s given me a lot more than I could have every imagined. I’m excited to be here.”

Here’s more on the Marlins and their division…

  • Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill told MLB Network Radio’s Jim Bowden that his team is keeping a finger on the pulse of the available free agent relievers (Twitter link). The Marlins reportedly have interest in Francisco Rodriguez on something in the range of a two-year, $10MM deal, but K-Rod is said to be seeking $10MM for 2015 alone.
  • Mike Vurkunov of the Star Ledger tweets that Mets GM Sandy Alderson believes that if his team trades a starting pitcher, it will likely be to acquire prospect depth rather than to supplement the Major League roster. Of course, it is far from clear that a deal will get done at all at this point, though injury situations can always change the demand calculus.
  • Phillies prospect Jesse Biddle has been through a rather incredible set of challenges, but says he is back on track entering the spring, as Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. Certainly, a healthy and progressing Biddle would go a long way toward boosting perceptions of the club’s farm system.

NL East Notes: Coke, Mets, Fister, Hamels

The Mets won’t be signing Phil Coke, ESPN’s Adam Rubin reports.  The team was reportedly interested in the left-hander earlier this winter, but according to Rubin, the Mets decided in December that they wouldn’t be signing any relievers to Major League contracts this offseason.  They have stuck to that plan, adding the likes of Buddy Carlyle, Duane Below and Scott Rice on minor league contracts.  Several teams have offered Coke minor league deals with Spring Training invitations, but the veteran southpaw is still looking for a Major League contract.

Here’s some more from around the NL East…

  • Also from Rubin, he has the full list of Mets players who are out of options: Wilmer Flores, John Mayberry, Jenrry Mejia, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Cesar Puello, Ruben Tejada and Carlos Torres.  According to Rubin, all of these players are expected to make the Mets’ roster except for Puello.
  • Carlyle and Alex Castellanos have out clauses in their Mets contracts for early June, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports (Twitter links).  Carlyle also has an out clause that he can exercise on Opening Day.  The two players each signed minor league deals with New York earlier this winter.
  • Doug Fister is entering his last year under contract with the Nationals, but the righty tells MLB.com’s Bill Ladson that he isn’t looking ahead to his free agency but rather just concentrating on the coming season.  “I’m wearing this jersey right now. That’s the most important thing. I’m a National through and through. I’m proud of it. If it looks like I can stay here, great. If not, I’ve just got to make sure I get my job done, be part of the team I’m part of,” Fister said.  The right-hander is just one of several high-profile Nats players who are slated for free agency after 2015, including Ian Desmond, Jordan Zimmermann and Denard Span.
  • The top four teams who seem like the best fits for Phillies ace Cole Hamels are listed by MLB.com’s Jim Duquette.  In order, the Red Sox, Cardinals, Padres and Cubs comprise Duquette’s list.  All four clubs have been linked to Hamels on the rumor mill, though none may be willing or able to provide the Phillies with the top-tier prospects they would need to make a deal.

Pitching Notes: Gee, K-Rod, Soriano, Marlins, Uehara, Richards

Right-hander Dillon Gee is likely the odd man out and headed to the Mets‘ bullpen this season, and ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin was among the reporters to speak with him today regarding the move (video link). Gee says he is ready to contribute in whatever role he is asked, even though he obviously prefers to stay in the rotation. Though he did not ever speak with anyone in the front office, he relayed that his agent did, and was seemingly left with the impression that a trade was never quite as likely as was believed in some quarters.

Let’s have a look at a few segments of the pitching market where action still seems open:

  • It would still be unwise to bet against two other well-known closers — Francisco Rodriguez and Rafael Soriano — landing substantial contracts, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Notably, both free agents are represented by Scott Boras, who Rosenthal says not to bet against. As Rosenthal rightly points out, it will be interesting to see whether that pair of big-named arms manages to top the guarantees given to names like Pat Neshek ($12.5MM) and Zach Duke ($15MM).
  • As previously reported, Rodriguez has drawn interest from the Marlins, who have also had discussions about fellow free agent righty Joba Chamberlain, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter). And those aren’t the only arms still under consideration in Miami, per Heyman. The club is seemingly casting a wide net — waiting for a good value, perhaps — in adding a final piece before camp.
  • Red Sox closer Koji Uehara said today that his mid-season swoon was due in part to injury issues, as Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald reports. The trouble was related to Uehara’s lower back, GM Ben Cherington said. Obviously, the club believes that he will be able to return without issue, given the contract it gave the veteran relief ace.
  • Breakout Angels starter Garrett Richards threw his first pen session since undergoing knee surgery last year, as Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. Reports were solid on the 26-year-old righty, whose return — and ability to match his outstanding results from last year — will go a long way toward defining the club. Anything close to his 2014 showing would seemingly make Richards a prime extension target.

NL East Notes: Roark, Phillies, Reynolds, Mets

The Nationals‘ signing of Max Scherzer dropped righty Tanner Roark — one of the most effective starters in baseball in 2014 — to the bullpen, and Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com examines what the best role for Roark is in 2015. As Zuckerman notes, Roark ranks sixth or better in ERA, WHIP and opponents’ OPS dating back to Aug. 7, 2013, when he made his big league debut. One could make a case, therefore, that he is deserving of a high-leverage spot in what will be a new-look Nationals bullpen, but reducing him to a one-inning role complicates matters if he needs to be stretched out due to an injury to another starter. However, if he’s used in a long relief role, that will limit his usage, particularly given how strong the starting five project to be. The way in which Roark will be deployed figures to be a fascinating storyline for Nats fans, and I should note that there could be longer-reaching ramifications. Pitching in a high-leverage setup role for a year would likely be better for Roark’s first arbitration case as opposed to being used as a long man; accumulating holds and possibly the occasional save would likely be better for his financial future than pitching in blowout games, as many long relievers end up doing. Of course, Roark isn’t arb-eligible until the 2016-17 offseason, so he should still have another season of starting duty to add to his first arbitration platform.

Some more NL East items as Spring Training games draw near…

  • Previous reports have indicated that the Phillies may add veteran depth at shortstop and catcher during Spring Training, but MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki clarifies that the team will only make a move if it is first determined that younger options such as Freddy Galvis and Cameron Rupp aren’t able to fill those roles. Non-roster alternatives are in place at each position, such as Andres Blanco and Chase d’Arnaud at short and Koyie Hill and John Hester behind the dish. However, none of those players has much of a big league track record.
  • Matt Reynolds feels comfortable at shortstop and tells Kevin Kernan of the New York Post that he thinks he can help the team at the position in 2015. Kernan notes that Mets‘ officials consistently praise Reynolds’ focus and determination, and the .343/.405/.454 batting line he compiled between Double-A and Triple-A in 2014 doesn’t do anything to hurt his chances, of course. Reynolds says he is close with Wilmer Flores and hopes to see Flores succeed, adding that the situation “will play itself out.” Reynolds also spoke glowingly of the benefit he’s received from David Wright‘s down-to-Earth nature and willingness to share his wisdom as he’s risen through the ranks. Flores is expected to open the season at shortstop for the Mets, but Reynolds could challenge for time if Flores struggles.
  • The lofty goals publicly expressed by several members of the Mets organization could have harsh ramifications among the fan base should the team struggle, writes Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. Matt Harvey is the latest to join the big talk — telling reporters over the weekend (in unprompted fashion) that it was “very realistic” that the team could find itself in the World Series. That the Mets’ offseason has been largely uneventful aside from the addition of Michael Cuddyer is a well-documented fact, and I’d imagine the quiet offseason could expedite a negative reaction to stated expectations should the team struggle in the early-going.

Prospect Notes: Nix, Montero, Barnes, Buxton, Meyer

Toronto will host the Pan American Games this summer from July 11 to July 19, writes Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. Team USA could field a potent roster headlined by Byron Buxton, Addison Russell, Corey Seager, and others. To be eligible, players cannot be on a 40-man roster. They also need permission from their parent club to participate. Each team is different, but some will probably allow their top prospects to attend. Rangers prospect Joey Gallo could be among the players asked to participate, and GM Jon Daniels likes the idea of his players competing internationally. One wrinkle to watch: the Futures Game takes place on July 12.

Here are more prospect notes from around the league:

  • Pitcher Jacob Nix could be a late first round pick in the upcoming Rule 4 draft, reports Keith Law of ESPN.com (Insider required). You may recall Nix’s part in Houston’s Brady Aiken fiasco – he was the player who lost a $1.5MM bonus when Aiken failed to sign. Without Aiken’s expected under slot signing bonus, the club didn’t have the funds to honor Nix’s deal without losing 2015 draft picks and money. Nix is now pitching with IMG Academy, a post-graduate team in Bradenton, Florida.
  • Of the prospects in Mets camp, Rafael Montero is the most likely to make the major league roster, writes Anthony DiComo of MLB.com. The club has plenty of starting pitchers, but they could use Montero out of the bullpen. Others like Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz will look to make a strong impression while at the big league camp. Remember, an opening day assignment to the majors can affect when a player reaches arbitration or free agency.
  • Due to depth at the major league level, the Red Sox aren’t expected to add a prospect to their opening day roster. However, hard throwing righty Matt Barnes could be among the first called up, writes Ian Browne of MLB.com. Barnes pitched a few innings out of the bullpen last season, so he’s already on the 40-man roster. Another prospect with brief major league experience, Garin Cecchini, will work on improving his defensive versatility.
  • The Twins will welcome number one prospect Buxton to their major league camp for the second time, writes Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com. However, it’s 29th ranked prospect Alex Meyer who has the best chance to break camp with the club. The giant righty will compete for a spot in the rotation, although he’ll face competition from Tommy Milone, Mike Pelfrey, Tim Stauffer, and Trevor May.

Pitching Notes: Pen Market, Beimel, Mets, Coke, Stroman

The Blue Jays and Indians appear not to be involved with any of the three best remaining relievers — righties Francisco Rodriguez, Rafael Soriano, and Joba Chamberlain — according to ESPN.com’s Jim Bowden (Insider link). Other theoretically plausible landing spots seem fairly dried up as well, he notes in assessing the most likely remaining suitors.

Here are a few more pitching notes:

  • Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik says that the club spoke with lefty reliever Joe Beimel but that a deal could not be reached, Shannon Drayer of 710 ESPN tweets. Beimel had a nice rebound campaign last year in Seattle, and is one of the few southpaws left on the market.
  • The Mets will not be dealing away any pitchers unless circumstances change, Marc Carig of Newsday reports (Twitter links). Dillon Gee generated the most discussion, but New York never found an offer it liked and its prospective trade partners went with other options.
  • We checked in earlier this evening on K-Rod and lefty Phil Coke, each of whom has received some interest from the Marlins. Within that post, we noted a report from Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca (via Twitter) indicating that Coke still has hope of landing a big league pact.
  • Marcus Stroman of the Blue Jays is likely not going anywhere any time soon, but I can’t help but link to this interesting piece from Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs, who explains that Stroman’s arsenal of pitches looks like it was assembled from amongst the best offerings of some of the very best arms in the game.

Astros Discussing Minors Deal With Joe Thatcher

The Astros are interested in Joe Thatcher and a source tells Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link) that he believes Houston will sign the veteran left-hander to a minor league contract.  Another source says no deal is done, though it could be close, as an agreement could be completed “probably [by] tomorrow.”

Over ten teams have shown interest in Thatcher this winter and he’s close to deciding on his new team, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo reported earlier today. Houston was cited as one of the teams most interested in Thatcher’s services, along with the Athletics, Rangers and Mets.  Given all of this interest, it would be somewhat surprising to see Thatcher settle for a minor league deal given his track record.

Thatcher, 33, posted a 3.34 ERA, 9.4 K/9 and 2.89 K/BB rate over 207 2/3 innings with the Padres and Diamondbacks from 2007-13.  He was pitching particularly well for Arizona last season (a 2.63 ERA, 9.4 K/9 and a sterling 8.33 K/BB rate over 30 1/3 IP) before being dealt to the Angels in July, and that’s when Thatcher’s season took a turn for the worse. He struggled to an 8.53 ERA in only 6 1/3 innings for Anaheim as he spent over a month on the DL with a sprained ankle and didn’t even make the Halos’ postseason roster.

Signing Thatcher would further reinforce an Astros bullpen that has already added Pat Neshek and Luke Gregerson this winter.  The relief corps could be further bolstered by one or several of Houston’s young arms that don’t win the fifth spot in the starting rotation.