- The Blue Jays continue to have interest in acquiring outfielder Jay Bruce from the Mets, but they’re “offering little,” relays FanRag’s Jon Heyman (Twitter link). Toronto nearly acquired Bruce from Cincinnati last offseason, but the deal fell apart and he went on to hit .250/.309/.506 with 33 home runs in 589 plate appearances with the Reds and Mets. New York is now likely to move Bruce, who will make $13MM next season in the final year of his contract.
Virtually every team in baseball is looking for bullpen help, and here’s the latest in relief pitching buzz…
- The Yankees are pursuing Aroldis Chapman and will “compete to a certain extent” for his services, GM Brian Cashman told media, including MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch (Twitter links). The club is also talking to Kenley Jansen and looking at trade opportunities, so the Yankees are clearly flexible in their search for back-end relief help if Chapman’s bidding gets too high.
- The Mets are interested in swinging a deal for Orioles right-hander Brad Brach, tweets ESPN’s Buster Olney. The Mets have been rumored to be seeking right-handed help in the ’pen but aren’t pursuing top-tier free agents. Brach would represent an affordable setup option, but with two years of club control and a 2.39 ERA over his past 158 1/3 innings, Brach should come with a high asking price. The Orioles have been linked to Mets outfielders Jay Bruce and Curtis Granderson (they’re said to prefer the latter), but neither of those outfielders would be enough to get the O’s to part with Brach.
- The Mets haven’t ruled out Mike Dunn as a possible signing, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports via Twitter, but the club is “not so high” on the veteran left-hander.
- The Cubs are one of the more serious early suitors for Royals closer Wade Davis, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports (via Twitter).
- The Giants are one of the teams who have asked about veteran lefty J.P. Howell, Olney tweets. Howell is reportedly only looking for a one-year contract. San Francisco has an open LOOGY role with Javier Lopez hitting the open market. Howell posted a mediocre 4.09 ERA last year, and though his peripherals were in line with his prior years’ work, Howell was uncharacteristically vulnerable to lefty hitters (.302/.343/.417) in 2016.
- Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski told reporters (including ESPN.com’s Scott Lauber) that the Sox “haven’t closed any doors” on re-signing Koji Uehara or Brad Ziegler. Both pitchers fit Boston’s desire for a setup man with closing experience.
- The Blue Jays are one of a number of organizations that have had contact with Ziegler, Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith tweets. Toronto is presumably looking to add to to its setup corps in front of closer Roberto Osuna.
- Ziegler has also drawn some attention from the Nationals, per Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. The Nats are also considering fellow free agent Neftali Feliz as they look to bolster their bullpen. Of course, D.C.’s top priority in the relief ranks is surely in the ninth inning, and it is hard to imagine either of those players being trusted with the closing role.
There’s plenty of bullpen chatter circulating as the Winter Meetings get underway. Here’s the latest…
- The latest updates on Mark Melancon last night revealed that the three-time All-Star has received multiple four-year offers, potentially in excess of $60MM in some cases. The Nationals have indeed made a four-year offer to closer Mark Melancon, according to Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, but their offer was for less than $60MM guaranteed. That makes a reunion look unlikely for now, barring an increase in the offer from the Nats.
- FanRag’s Jon Heyman writes that Melancon is the Giants’ top target, and Greg Holland could be their primary alternative, as opposed to either Aroldis Chapman or Kenley Jansen. Heyman feels it’s unlikely that they’d pursue either Jansen or Chapman if they fall to land Melancon. The Giants and Nationals are pushing the hardest for Melancon, tweets Heyman.
- The Nationals, Marlins, Cubs, Dodgers, Yankees and Giants are all in on Kenley Jansen, per ESPN’s Jim Bowden. Heyman tweets that the Marlins are intent on adding a top closer, and owner Jeffrey Loria is a fan of Chapman in particular. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that Loria is at the Winter Meetings and is participating in meetings with the representation for top-tier bullpen arms.
- The Yankees, Mets, Blue Jays, Indians, Dodgers, Rockies and Diamondbacks are all in the market for a bullpen lefty, putting names like Mike Dunn, Boone Logan and Jerry Blevins in a good position, Heyman tweets. Heyman also tweeted this morning that the D-backs are focused on the bullpen at the moment and have no plans to “shock the world” like they did last offseason.
- Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times tweets that veteran southpaw Joe Beimel is at the Winter Meetings and is seeking a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training. Beimel, 40 in April, hasn’t pitched in the Majors since 2015 but had a nice two-year stretch in Seattle from 2014-15, posting a 3.12 ERA in 92 1/3 innings.
The Mets offered one of Curtis Granderson or Jay Bruce to the Orioles in exchange for “a high-end reliever,” ESPN.com’s Adam Rubin reports, though talks didn’t go anywhere. Based on that description, one would think the Mets were asking about Brad Brach, Mychal Givens or maybe even ace closer Zach Britton. While the O’s are indeed looking for right field help, it’s understandable why they didn’t accept that offer. Here’s more from around the NL East…
By re-signing Yoenis Cespedes, the Mets have already accomplished their primary offseason goal before the Winter Meetings have even begun, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. That doesn’t mean, of course, that the Amazins will be sitting back for the rest of the winter, though a team executive tells Sherman that without a long list of needs, the Mets have added flexibility to explore more creative upgrades. Here’s some more from Citi Field…
- In that spirit of creativity, that same Mets executive tells Sherman that the team is open to discussing trades for any of their young players, except for top prospect Amed Rosario. This doesn’t mean the Mets will necessarily shop any minor league or controllable talent, though they’re at least willing to hear what other clubs have to offer. The Mets will even listen to offers about Michael Conforto, if for no other reason than to gauge his value, even if Conforto is considered to be close to untouchable. Dealing Conforto would be another way the Mets could solve their outfield logjam, and Conforto would net a much larger return than either Jay Bruce or Curtis Granderson.
- The Mets’ plan to stick with Travis d’Arnaud as their primary catcher in 2017, and those plans haven’t been changed by other catchers (such as Welington Castillo) coming onto the market, ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin reports. The injury-plagued d’Arnaud was limited to just 75 games last season, and he was reportedly included in trade talks the Mets held with the Brewers last summer involving Jonathan Lucroy.
- In another item from Rubin, the Mets are looking to sign middle relievers to one-year deals, as GM Sandy Alderson has said that the team isn’t looking for closers. If or when Jeurys Familia is suspended, New York already has Addison Reed to step in as the ninth-inning man. If the Mets aren’t willing to commit to more a single year, however, it could limit their list of choices on the open market to second- or even third-tier options.
- The Mets could also turn to internal choices for the bullpen, as Alderson told reporters (including Newsday’s David Lennon) that the club would “definitely” thinking about using Zack Wheeler, Robert Gsellman or Seth Lugo as relievers for the start of the season.
- The idea of the Mets trading both Curtis Granderson and Jay Bruce came up Saturday, but the team is “unlikely” to deal multiple outfielders, GM Sandy Alderson said Sunday. The likelihood is that Bruce will end up on the move, relays Anthony DiComo of MLB.com, as Alderson noted Granderson’s importance to the Mets (Twitter links). New York isn’t progressing toward jettisoning an outfielder yet, according to Buster Olney of ESPN (Twitter link). In a perfect world, the Mets would acquire bullpen help in return for Granderson or Bruce. Their best reliever, closer Jeurys Familia, could face a domestic violence suspension in 2017, and top southpaw Jerry Blevins is a free agent.
- The Pirates are willing to pay some of left-handed reliever Antonio Bastardo’s $6.5MM salary for 2017 in order to trade him, per Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Bastardo’s coming off a disappointing year spent with the Mets and Bucs, as he logged a 4.52 ERA in 67 2/3 innings and allowed a .253/.321/.495 line to lefty hitters. He’s currently one of four southpaws in Pittsburgh’s bullpen, joining Tony Watson, Felipe Rivero and Wade LeBlanc.
- In the event the Red Sox prefer a left-handed hitter to take over their vacant designated hitter job, they could attempt to acquire Jay Bruce or Curtis Granderson from the Mets, writes Scott Lauber of ESPN.com. The Mets look likely to trade at least one of the two outfielders this offseason, perhaps as early as the winter meetings.
The Mets are “positioned to move fairly quickly” to trade Curtis Granderson and/or Jay Bruce, Newsday’s Marc Carig writes (Twitter links). While it isn’t likely they trade both, that scenario is a possibility, Carig adds.
After recently re-signing Yoenis Cespedes, the Mets have plenty of outfield options, also including Michael Conforto, Juan Lagares and Brandon Nimmo, in addition to Granderson and Bruce. Trading both Granderson and Bruce arguably would leave the organization a bit short, but there’s the possibility the Mets could deal both as a prelude to other moves.
Between Granderson and Bruce, the latter appears to be more likely to be traded, as noted earlier this week. If the Mets were to trade Bruce, Granderson could stay and share time with Lagares in center field.
The 29-year-old Bruce had a strong season overall in 2016, batting .250/.309/.506 with 33 homers in 589 plate appearances. He did, however, struggle a bit after arriving in New York via an August 1 trade. The Mets recently exercised his $13MM option for 2017, and he can become a free agent. Granderson hit .237/.335/.464 with 30 home runs of his own. He was also rated as about an average defender in 251 innings in center field, no small feat for a 35-year-old. He’s set to make $15MM in 2017, after which he, too, can become a free agent.
- The Mets and catcher Rene Rivera agreed to a one-year deal worth $1.75MM, Heyman tweets. The 33-year-old signed a minor league deal with the Mets last summer and eventually found his way onto the big league roster due to a combination of injuries and struggles from backstops Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki. While Rivera didn’t hit much — .222/.291/.341 in 207 plate appearances — he’s a strong defensive backstop and gives the Mets a glove-first option to back up either d’Arnaud or Plawecki (presumably the former, who has been the team’s starter when healthy in recent years).
- That being said, the Giants are also looking to add a power bat in the outfield, and they have continued to consider Tigers slugger J.D. Martinez, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (Twitter link). That interest has been known for some time, but it seems there’s still life to the possibility. Notably, GM Bobby Evans has signaled that San Francisco does not wish to take on a long-term obligation in the outfield, as Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets. The same rationale that makes Martinez appealing — his one year of team control — could also make Mets outfielder Jay Bruce a possibility, Schulman notes.