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If the Royals win the World Series it would be difficult to imagine GM Dayton Moore leaving for the Braves‘ vacancy. However, those who know Moore well say that he felt comfortable in Atlanta, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes. On top of that, the Braves would offer Moore a bigger budget to work with. More from today’s column..
- Word is spreading that the Red Sox could make Yoenis Cespedes available. The slugger will make $10.2MM in the final year of his deal and his desire not to play right field or work on his defense could spell the end of his time in Boston. A Cespedes deal would allow the Sox to make room for Mookie Betts or add a left-handed hitter.
- The Giants are a team to watch when Nick Markakis hits the open market as expected. Even though they’re enjoying Travis Ishikawa‘s work, they are unlikely to commit to him as an everyday left fielder. The Mets could also be in the mix.
- One agent believes Jake Peavy has turned his next contract from a one-year, $7MM deal into a three-year, $36MM deal based on his second half with the Giants. Cafardo notes that the Giants won’t re-sign Ryan Vogelsong and with little help coming from Triple-A, they’ll likely have to bite on a Peavy deal.
- There have been preliminary talks between the Red Sox and Koji Uehara about staying in Boston,but the sides aren’t close to a deal.
A number of teams have made staff moves today. Here’s the latest.
- The Padres have announced several changes to their player development staff, reports Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Randy Smith, formerly VP of player development, is now the senior adviser for baseball operations and will focus on scouting. Three others were let go from their posts. GM A.J. Preller will focus on hiring a new farm director. Per Preller, “I think it’s a matter of maybe a little different look, a chance to get some other voices in the organization.”
- Scout Mike Russell has left the Tigers to serve as a special assistant to Diamondbacks senior VP of baseball operations De Jon Watson, writes Jason Beck of MLB.com. Russell worked with Watson under GM Dave Dombrowski while with the Marlins in the mid-1990’s.
- Beck also learned that the Tigers are expected to replace Russell with former Pirates GM Dave Littlefield. Most recently, Littlefield has worked as a scout with the Cubs. Littlefield was with Dombrowski in Miami from 1999 through 2001.
- The Blue Jays have hired Nationals scout Paul Tinnell, tweets Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun. Tinnell, a former scouting director with the Pirates, is credited with the signings of Michael Burgess and Steve Lombardozzi per Baseball Reference.
- The Padres have hired former Blue Jays scout Rob St. Julien, according to another tweet from Elliott. Evan Crawford, Danny Farquhar, and Aaron Loup are among his notable signees.
- The Nationals may target former Reds executive Bob Miller to fill the shoes of erstwhile assistant GM Bryan Minnitti, writes Adam Kilgore of The Washington Post. Minnitti resigned last week. Miller’s specializes in budgetary matters, specifically arbitration and other contractual considerations. This makes him a good candidate to fill in for Minnitti.
- Speaking of Minnitti, he has emerged as a front runner for the Diamondbacks assistant GM role, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. Minnitti has also been linked to the Dodgers front office, so the Diamondbacks may be looking to outpace their division rivals. MLBTR profiled Minnitti as a possible GM candidate back in 2011.
- The Astros have hired Dave Hudgens as their hitting coach, reports Adam Rubin of ESPN New York. Hudgens served for four seasons as the Mets hitting coach before he was dismissed this past May. The Mets have also re-assigned their most recent hitting coach, Lamar Johnson, to the minors. Dave Magadan and Kevin Long are candidates for the role.
Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com recently looked at the Mets‘ payroll situation, noting that without any winter changes to the roster, the payroll should come in somewhere in the low-$90MMs (specifically, he pegged it for $93MM, though that was with some rough guesses on the team’s arb-eligible players). However, Rubin also writes that he feels some changes are likely — namely bringing in a shortstop and left fielder. He feels it’s likely that in the event the team does push the payroll north of $100MM by adding a free agent outfielder, a trade of Daniel Murphy or one of the club’s starting pitchers will offset that move. An official insisted to Rubin that there’s “upward mobility” in the payroll but did say the club is not yet ready to return to its previous heights of $130MM.
More on the Mets and more from the NL East below…
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post feels that Nick Markakis should be an offseason target for the Mets. While the Mets would like a corner outfielder that projects to have more power than Markakis, those are few and far between in this year’s free agent class, and Marakakis’ strong OBP skills and ability to grind out at-bats, could solve the team’s need for a leadoff hitter. Sherman speculates that Markakis will be looking for something similar to J.J. Hardy‘s three-year, $40MM contract.
- Much has been written on the Phillies outfield situation of late, and David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News breaks it down piece by piece. Murphy notes that the decision not to trade Marlon Byrd this summer could “prove prudent,” as he now presents an alternative to an expensive contract for Melky Cabrera or Nelson Cruz. The team should be exploring Ben Revere trades if possible due to his lack of walks and power, and he feels that selling this low on Domonic Brown would be a mistake. Murphy’s colleague, Ryan Lawrence, thinks that it’s likely Brown is swapped for a change-of-scenery candidate and also looks at the complete void of outfield talent the Phillies have produced in recent years. Even Jayson Werth and Shane Victorino — two key outfielders Philadelphia showed little inclination to re-sign — were acquired from other organizations.
- ESPN’s Keith Law reports (via Twitter) that Tom Battista — the scout responsible for signing Freddie Freeman and Tommy Hanson — has returned to the Braves organization as a crosschecker. In a followup tweet, Law tells a reader that he thinks the Braves have done an very good job in making additions since GM Frank Wren was dismissed. Atlanta has brought back former scouting director Roy Clark and plucked Yankees special assistant Gordon Blakeley.
The Mets hope that 2015 represents the start of a window of contention that has seemed in planning for some time. But cracking that window open without compromising its structural integrity could require some careful handling.
- David Wright, 3B: $107MM through 2020
- Curtis Granderson, OF: $47MM through 2017
- Bartolo Colon, SP: $11MM through 2015
- Jon Niese, SP: $16.6MM through 2016 (including buyout of 2017 option)
Arbitration Eligible Players (service time in parentheses; projections via Matt Swartz)
- Bobby Parnell, RP (5.132): $3.7MM projected salary
- Daniel Murphy, 2B (5.109): $8.3MM
- Eric Young Jr., OF (4.123): $2.3MM
- Dana Eveland, RP (4.029): $1.0MM
- Dillon Gee, SP (4.028): $5.1MM
- Ruben Tejada, SS (3.171): $1.7MM
- Lucas Duda, 1B (3.137): $4.3MM
- Buddy Carlyle, RP (3.096): $1.0MM
- Jenrry Mejia, RP (2.140, Super Two): $3.1MM
- non-tender candidates: Young, Tejada, Carlyle
The first order of business is already in the books: Sandy Alderson will not only be back as GM, but received an extension that keeps him under contract through 2017. Barring a disastrous season to come, then, it appears that Alderson will have the chance to see through the rebuilding process that he started back before the 2011 season. Terry Collins will also keep his seat as skipper, reflecting the generally positive vibes surrounding the club last year.
While cautious and hopeful optimism has held sway in Queens of late, expectations could go through the roof this spring. After a dominant start to his career, Matt Harvey was shelved for Tommy John surgery and missed all of 2014. He is expected to be a full go, and if he shows his typical form down in Port St. Lucie, visions of grandeur will not be far behind.
True, Harvey is only one player, but he’s both a really good one and not the only reason to hope that the rotation could be a unique strength. Zack Wheeler came with nearly as much prospect hype, and has not disappointed – even if he has not been a true ace out of the womb. Jacob deGrom just wrapped up a stunning rookie campaign in which he tossed 140 1/3 innings of 2.69 ERA ball with peripherals to match. He may be somewhat old for his MLB debut — deGrom is now 26 — but the fact remains that he was outstanding over a lengthy stretch, and is under control for six more years. New York can round out its starting five from amongst a trio of solid-to-decent starters who are all playing under solid-to-decent contractual situations: Jon Niese, Dillon Gee, and Bartolo Colon. And there is both depth and upside ascending the ladder underneath this group, led by top prospect Noah Syndergaard, the touted Rafael Montero (who made his big league debut in 2014), and the rising Steven Matz.
This bunch of starting pitching assets – and bunching of qualified starters at the MLB level – has led to speculation that a trade could be forthcoming. Unless a young player at a position of need were dangled, New York seems highly unlikely to part with its most valuable arms. But Colon, Gee, and perhaps even Niese could potentially be had, particularly if Alderson decides it would be useful to re-allocate some payroll to address other needs.
Of course, the most strident trade suggestions have revolved around the idea of the Mets sending some of its hurlers to a shortstop-rich team like the Cubs or Diamondbacks. The idea of adding a controllable shortstop certainly has facial appeal. And while common wisdom holds that young players (especially prospects) tend not to be traded for one another, there are exceptions; recently, several deals have involved exactly that type of exchange. (E.g., D’backs get Didi Gregorius, give Trevor Bauer; Tigers acquire Jose Iglesias, give Avisail Garcia; Padres get Andrew Cashner, give Anthony Rizzo.) But indications out of Chicago and Arizona are that both clubs are generally content waiting to see how their middle infield situations shake out before making moves. Likewise, the Mets’ seeming MLB-level pitching logjam does not directly involve the team’s most valuable pitchers; after already going through the TJ process with Harvey, the club will surely be in no rush to move arms.
Barring a trade, the Mets will face a somewhat familiar situation at short. After passing on veteran Stephen Drew last year, following months of rumors, the Mets gave nearly all of the playing time to Ruben Tejada and Wilmer Flores. Neither grabbed hold of the job, but both played above replacement level. Each had defensive metrics that ranged from about average to substantially above-average (a surprise for Flores, who was expected to move off the position). At the plate, the pair showed their respective strengths and weaknesses, as Tejada slashed .237/.342/.310 over 419 plate appearances and Flores went for a .251/.286/.378 line over 274 trips to the plate. As with last year, but this time with more urgency, Alderson must decide whether to continue the audition process or instead acquire a veteran who could boost the club’s chances of making a postseason run. The Mets could pursue the still-young Asdrubal Cabrera, Jed Lowrie, or Drew – this time on a fairly modest one-year deal – or go after a veteran platoon/reserve option.
Behind the plate, young Travis d’Arnaud was quite productive in the second half and figures to have the starting role again. He could, however, be pushed by rising prospect Kevin Plawecki. That duo is also good enough, perhaps, that a trade could ultimately make sense, though the likelier scenario is for the Mets to let it play out before committing to a single option.
Otherwise, the infield appears largely set, for different reasons. David Wright is the face of the franchise and is going nowhere at third. The team will hope for a return to form. First baseman Lucas Duda rewarded the Mets’ faith in dealing away Ike Davis with a breakout campaign. And Daniel Murphy had another strong year at second entering his final year of arb eligibility.
Though that alignment could be kept in its present form, Murphy remains worth watching. He has come up repeatedly as a trade or extension candidate, with the idea that New York should either deal him while it can achieve value or commit to him long-term. The team does have plausible replacements, and could give a chance to one or more of Flores, Dilson Herrera, or Matt Reynolds. But that would not represent a bet on the present, and another productive year from Murphy could make him a mid-season trade chip or even a qualifying offer candidate after the year.
One other possibility for improvement straddles the infield dirt and the outfield grass (which, it bears noting, will be somewhat less voluminous after the Citi Field fences are again brought in this offseason). Duda’s big year came in spite of worsening splits against lefties. As MLBTR’s Steve Adams rightly pointed out to me, it could make sense to add a right-handed bat to spend some time both at first and in the outfield. Adams suggests that free agent Michael Cuddyer would make a good fit for that role, particularly if he can be had on a short-term deal and paired with another right-handed hitting corner outfielder. Over at MetsBlog, Matthew Cerrone discusses a scenario of that kind, ticking through a few available options.
As things stand, one corner spot is wide open, with possibilities ranging from a signing or trade to some kind of platoon. (Internal options include the switch-hitting Eric Young Jr. and left-handed-swinging Matt den Dekker and Kirk Nieuwenhuis.) Certainly, there are a fair number of intriguing bats floating around that may not require massive commitments — Cuddyer, Colby Rasmus, and Alex Rios among them. Otherwise, the remaining two starting roles are accounted for, as Juan Lagares has shown enough that he will be trusted to hold down the job in center and Curtis Granderson will look to restore hope in the remaining $47MM left on his deal.
What’s left is the bench and the bullpen. Most of the position reserves will likely be drawn from amongst the names discussed above, as New York has a host of young infielders and outfielders who can be expected to provide reasonable production (with some upside) for a league-minimum rate. Many decisions will be driven by the team’s coming 40-man roster crunch.
The pen, too, is not likely to see much change, barring a trade. Bobby Parnell will return from Tommy John surgery and look to unseat Jenrry Mejia from the closer’s role, though he may not be ready to start the year after going under the knife in April. Jeurys Familia will presumably join those two as the late-inning favorites. Others in the mix include righties Vic Black, Carlos Torres, and Buddy Carlyle. There is somewhat less depth on the current 40-man from the left-handed side, with Josh Edgin and Dana Eveland being the likeliest options. In the aggregate, the Mets have plenty of arms to choose from and could just take what emerges out of the spring. Depending upon how the free agent market moves, it would not be terribly surprising to see Alderson add a veteran arm, but that can be said of most teams and is not a top priority.
Some reports indicate that total spending is likely to remain in the ballpark of last year’s mid-$80MM Opening Day payroll. Of course, as Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com explains, that number looks somewhat implausible given the current slate of contracts. And the Mets seemingly operate with a flexible budget for player spending, anyway. With $54MM in contractual guarantees and about $30MM in potential arbitration spending still to go, the tab is already set to outstrip last year’s starting point, even before accounting for any new additions. Beyond simply adding some cash to the ledger, the club could potentially free more dollars by reallocating resources: a sacrifice of some pitching depth, for instance, might well be worth the commensurate risk to achieve near-term upside by upgrading in the outfield or middle infield.
In the end, the Mets have the talent in place to make the fabled “meaningful games in September” a reasonable expectation. And the possibility of a full-on breakout cannot be discounted, though that would require several things to turn in New York’s favor. (Interestingly, there are plenty of parallels to the 2012 Nationals.) Alderson now seems to have many of the cards in hand that he set out to find; all that remains is to play them.
Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe examines Dan Duquette’s unusual journey to becoming the Orioles‘ GM. A Boston-area native, Duquette realized his dream at 36 years of age when he was named GM of the Red Sox, but that came to an abrupt end in 2002 when he was dismissed by new owners, only to see the Sox — anchored by a number of players he drafted or acquired — win the World Series two years later. Duquette spent 10 years away from the game, coaching his kids’ teams, founding a league in Isarael and running a college summer team, Abraham notes. Duquette revealed to Abraham that he was offered multiple jobs that he turned down — including a position with the Braves and an adviser role with the Red Sox — because he believed he’d get another crack at a GM role. Duquette feels the time away has made him friendlier and put things into perspective; his cousin, Jim Duquette (an analyst for MLB Network), says there are distinct differences between how Dan was with the Red Sox and how he is with the O’s. He isn’t bothered as much by “little things” and is less guarded. “Baltimore isn’t Boston. It isn’t New York. That aspect has been good for him. He doesn’t take himself so seriously,” said Jim.
More from the AL East…
- Mike Napoli has dealt with injuries to his finger, back and toe, writes Rob Bradford of WEEI.com, but despite all of those issues he’ll be undergoing surgery for a different procedure on Nov. 4 . Napoli will undergo Bimaxillary Advancement surgery in an attempt to end a career-long battle with sleep apnea. “I’ve tried numerous things and none of them worked,” Napoli told Bradford via text. “Dental mouth piece, CPAP machine, medicines … It’s just gotten to the point where I have to get this done.”
- The Yankees have had serious dialogue about hiring Padres senior VP of baseball operations and former Mets GM Omar Minaya, multiple sources tell Newsday’s Erik Boland. Andy Martino of the New York Daily News tweets that the team would be interested in Minaya in a scouting or advisory role — not as a replacement for farm director Mark Newman. As Boland notes, GM Brian Cashman has brought former GMs into the fold before, hiring Kevin Towers as a special assignment scout in 2009 and hiring Jim Hendry to fill the same role since 2012.
- Recently fired Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long is generating quite a bit of interest from other clubs, reports Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News (Twitter links). To this point, Long has already spoken with the Mets, Braves and Blue Jays, including a meeting with Mets GM Sandy Alderson. The D’Backs, Brewers and Pirates are all possibilities as well, per Feinsand.
Here’s a roundup of coaching-related items as several teams look to revamp their bench staffs for 2015…
- The Braves considered Jim Thome for their vacant hitting coach position, but the retired slugger wasn’t interested in the job, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports. Atlanta’s list of hitting coach candidates includes such names as Milt Thompson and Rick Eckstein, while ex-hitting coach Terry Pendleton will likely stay as first base coach rather than return to his former position.
- Yankees special assistant Trey Hillman has spoken to the Astros about becoming the team’s bench coach, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. Hillman could also be a candidate to be the Yankees’ new first base coach or infield coach.
- The Yankees announced that hitting coach Kevin Long and first base/infield coach Mick Kelleher won’t return in 2015. Newsday’s Erik Boland speculates that former Rockies slugger Dante Bichette (one of Joe Girardi’s best friends) could be a contender to take over as hitting coach. Diamondbacks pitching coach Mike Harkey, a long-time former Yankee bullpen coach, has been rumored to be on his way back to New York to resume his old job, which could set off a shuffle of other moves — Boland says current bullpen coach Gary Tuck could become the bench coach, while Tony Pena would move from bench coach to the open first base job.
- Long will at least be discussed as a candidate for the Mets‘ hitting coach job, a source tells Mike Puma of the New York Post (Twitter link).
The AL East champion Orioles are looking for their first playoff sweep since they eliminated the A’s in the 1971 ALCS as they face the Tigers in Game Three of their ALDS. The NL East champion Nationals, meanwhile, will look to avoid being swept by the Giants tomorrow in their NLDS.
Here’s the latest from baseball’s East divisions:
- Pablo Sandoval, with his personality and left-handed bat, would be a good fit for the Red Sox, opines the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Despite Sandoval’s weight issues and a declining OPS over the past four seasons, Cafardo hears the third baseman will command a five-year, $100MM pact with the Yankees and Dodgers joining Boston in the bidding.
- A.J. Burnett‘s decision whether to exercise his $12.75MM player option will dictate how the Phillies‘ offseason unfolds, according to CSNPhilly.com’s Corey Seidman. If Burnett declines the option, the Phillies will have the financial flexibility required to make impactful free agent signings and begin the necessary roster overhaul, Seidman writes.
- The James Shields-Wil Myers trade between the Rays and Royals is still under evaluation, notes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. At this point, who “won” the trade depends on whom you ask.
- The Mets don’t need a spending spree to improve for 2015, posits Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Of course, it would be nice if they could spend the necessary money to sign free agent catcher Russell Martin, but there are cheaper ways they can upgrade their offense. One idea Sherman has is calling the Red Sox to inquire on a Bartolo Colon for Shane Victorino deal.
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Cardinals GM John Mozeliak tackled a variety of topics in a two-part interview with MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch. Looking back to the last offseason, he said that the team identified Pat Neshek as an option because he offered a different look from the club’s other relievers, and said that the David Freese-for-Peter Bourjos trade would not have been made without the inclusion of prospect Randal Grichuk.
Here’s the latest out of the National League …
- The Mets have, as expected, decided not to bring back hitting coach Lamar Johnson and assistant Luis Natera in those roles, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. Johnson stepped in mid-season after his predecessor, Dave Hudgen, was fired. Meanwhile, Triple-A skipper Wally Backman will not be elevated to the big league staff, but will be offered the chance to keep his position.
- As the Braves continue to make their own staff changes, scouting director Tony DeMacio has been re-assigned, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Atlanta is still waiting to hear whether interim GM John Hart will take the job full-time, Nightengale adds.
- If the Pirates are unable to bring back catcher Russell Martin, another impactful transaction that could have PR benefits would be a Neil Walker extension, writes Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. With a $5.75MM arbitration salary to build off of over his next two seasons of eligibility, and coming off of a .271/.342/.467 slash with 23 home runs, he will not be cheap.
- The Padres had a private workout today with Cuban free agent Yasmany Tomas, tweets Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com. Tomas officially hit the open market yesterday.
With the regular season in the books, it’s worth assessing how things ultimately shook out from last winter’s Rule 5 draft. Only nine players were taken in this year’s draft. Here’s where things stand:
Remember, players are eligible for the Rule 5 Draft if they aren’t on the 40-man roster four or five years after signing, depending on the age at which they signed. If a team makes a selection, it pays the former team $50K and must keep that player on the Major League roster all season or offer him back to his original team for $25K. (Note that Rule 5 selections can change hands like any other player, with an acquiring team stepping into the shoes of the original selecting club. Click here for more details.)
- Patrick Schuster, LHP (taken first overall by the Astros from the Diamondbacks): Returned to Arizona. But not before a somewhat eventful tour. He was first dealt to the Padres, then placed on waivers and claimed by the Royals before finally being sent back. He never ended up throwing a big league inning, and ultimately struggled to 4.50 ERA in 18 frames at Triple-A once back with the D’backs.
- Adrian Nieto, C (taken third overall by the White Sox from the Nationals): Retained by Chicago. The switch-hitting, 24-year-old backstop hung on all year, posting a .236/.296/.340 line in his first 118 MLB plate appearances. He is now White Sox property.
- Kevin Munson, RHP (taken fourth overall by the Phillies from the Diamondbacks): Returned to Arizona. Munson never made it onto the active roster, and was sent back in mid-March. Though he never saw MLB action this year, he did post a rather dominant campaign at Triple-A: 2.60 ERA, 11.8 K/9, 3.2 BB/9.
- Tommy Kahnle, RHP (taken eighth overall by the Rockies from the Yankees): Retained by Colorado. The 25-year-old was an oft-used bullpen piece for the Rockies, posting a 4.19 ERA in 68 2/3 frames with 8.3 K/9 against 4.1 BB/9. Colorado owns his rights moving forward.
- Brian Moran, LHP (taken ninth overall by the Blue Jays from the Mariners): Still in limbo after season-ending surgery. Moran was dealt by Toronto to the Angels on the day of the draft, and opened the season DL’ed on the active roster. But his left elbow ultimately required Tommy John surgery, meaning that he ended up on the 60-day DL. The Halos do not yet own Moran’s rights permanently: to keep him, the club will need to carry him on the active roster without a DL stay for at least 90 days.
- Seth Rosin, RHP (taken tenth overall by the Mets from the Phillies): Returned to Philadelphia. Dealt immediately after the draft to the Dodgers, Rosin was claimed by the Rangers late in the spring and made three appearances before his roster spot was needed and he was returned. Back at Triple-A with the Phillies, he worked to a 3.86 ERA over 58 1/3 rames.
- Wei-Chung Wang, LHP (taken eleventh overall by the Brewers from the Pirates): Retained by Milwaukee. It took some doing, but a contending Brewers club was able to hold onto Wang for the entirety of the season. Though he did miss 45 games with a DL stint, Wang ultimately made only 14 appearances for the club. The 22-year-old will presumably be stretched out as a starter again as he returns to his development track in the lower minors.
- Marcos Mateo, RHP (taken fifteenth overall by the Diamondbacks from the Cubs): Returned to Chicago. Mateo was the first player to be returned, heading back in mid-March. The 30-year-old threw to a 3.86 ERA in 37 1/3 innings upon his return to Triple-A with his original team.
- Michael Almanzar, 3B (taken sixteenth overall by the Orioles from the Red Sox): Returned to Boston … but ultimately traded back to Baltimore. Shelved with injury for much of the year, Almanzar was returned to the Red Sox in the middle of the summer after a rehab stint. But the O’s obviously wanted him back, and added him as part of the Kelly Johnson deal. Over 233 minor league plate appearances on the year, Almanzar posted a .245/.322/.389 slash.
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Here’s the latest from the National League:
- Phillies starter A.J. Burnett seems more likely to retire (and forgo his $12.75MM player option) than many people believe, observes Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com in an offseason preview piece. Meanwhile, the club will listen on Cole Hamels but continue to demand a ransom in return, while Philadelphia could be more open to dealing not only veteran Marlon Byrd but also arb-eligible outfielders Domonic Brown and Ben Revere. As Salisbury notes, the rotation has plenty of question marks and openings.
- While Salisbury says he believes the Phillies will ultimately hang onto the 30-year-old Hamels, for better or worse, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki argues that the organization must view Hamels (and his fellow core veterans) from a pure baseball perspective. Attendance is plummeting in spite of the continued presence of numerous pieces of the team’s run of success, he notes, and the only way to rebuild the fan base is through winning.
- Neutral talent evaluators believe that lefty Jon Niese is the Mets‘ best trade chip among the club’s veteran starters, tweets Marc Carig of Newsday. Niese, 27, threw to a 3.40 ERA over 187 2/3 frames in 2014. He is owed $16MM over the next two seasons and has a pair of options ($10MM and $11MM, with respective $500K buyouts) thereafter.
- The Mets are expected to replace hitting coach Lamar Johnson, tweets Mike Puma of the New York Post. That move is still not official, however, and New York is in the early stages of assessing who they might bring in.
- Padres GM A.J. Preller is about to get his first taste of open market action from the seat of power, as MLB.com’s Corey Brock reports. Preller said that he anticipates a lot of trade attention on the team’s slate of arms, and indicated that he would be open to discussing any players if there’s a way to improve the club.
- One interesting player who remains under the Padres‘ control is starter Josh Johnson, whose injury-shortened year left the club with a $4MM team option. Preller said that he hopes to have Johnson in the fold next year, though left unclear whether the team is interested in a straight exercise of the option. “With Josh, he’s a guy that everyone has a positive feel for,” said Preller. “We’ll try to go down the road with him and try to present something to him that makes sense to him.”