New York Mets Rumors

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

East Links: Santana, Sox, Cespedes, Phils, Mets

The Braves are expected to make a qualifying offer to Ervin Santana, reports David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. In the event that Santana leaves, the team may pursue a top-of-the-rotation type of arm, O’Brien writes, but their lack of financial flexibility would make the trade market a more likely avenue than free agency. O’Brien adds that he finds it unlikely that Santana would accept the QO — a sentiment with which I wholeheartedly agree. He also notes that should the club lose Santana, it might be more motivated to try to retain Aaron Harang, even though he is in line for a sizable raise from the $2MM he earned in 2014 (including incentives). MLBTR’s Zach Links recently profiled Harang, pegging him for a two-year, $14MM contract. Santana was also profiled by MLBTR, with Tim Dierkes projecting a four-year pact worth $56MM.

Elsewhere in baseball’s Eastern divisions…

  • The Red Sox are prioritizing Pablo Sandoval and Chase Headley as the look toward the offseason, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The team may also look at Aramis Ramirez, though he’s not believed to be as coveted as Sandoval or Headley and is said to prefer a return to Milwaukee, per Heyman, who adds that the Yankees would like to re-sign Headley. Red Sox third basemen combined to hit just .245/.305/.351 in 2014.
  • Red Sox people strongly denied a previous report that Yoenis Cespedes is hated by the team’s coaching staff, Heyman writes in a second piece. One source called the report “totally untrue,” and manager John Farrell added on MLB Network Radio that the notion was “completely unfounded,” Heyman adds. He goes on to write that a trade of Cespedes is unlikely (though not impossible), given Boston’s overall need for power.
  • The Phillies announced today that their entire coaching staff has agreed to return to the club for the 2015 season.
  • Joel Sherman of the New York Post looks at the second round of changes coming to the dimensions of Citi Field and writes that the new dimensions may give some type of hint as to which players are most likely to be traded by the Mets this offseason. The Mets are planning to make Citi Field more homer-friendly and build the pitching staff around arms that emphasize strikeouts and ground-balls. Names like Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler fit that description, but Bartolo Colon, Dillon Gee and, to a lesser extent, Rafael Montero are all more prone to fly-balls, making them more likely to be dealt.

East Notes: A-Rod, Sandoval, Petit, Rays

Alex Rodriguez is gearing up to re-join the Yankees in 2015 and Joel Sherman of the New York Post thinks the embattled slugger should take a lesson from Manny Ramirez.  Ramirez hurt his reputation with his own PED troubles but has carved out a second act for himself as a player/coach for the Cubs’ Triple-A affiliate.  Still, Sherman is skeptical that A-Rod can earn redemption like Manny has.  Here’s more from the AL and NL East…

  • Pablo Sandoval would be a strong fit for the Red Sox, opines Scott Lauber of The Boston Herald.  Boston is in the market for an upgrade at third base and balance for their right-handed heavy lineup.  The 28-year-old switch hitter turned down a three-year, $40MM extension offer from the Giants earlier this year and right now that appears to have been a smart decision.
  • Years ago, the Mets were unsure of exactly what they had in right-hander Yusmeiro Petit, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post.  “We couldn’t get a consensus,” former Mets assistant GM Jim Duquette said. “He is getting everyone out, but doing it with an 88-90 mph fastball. We called it an invisi-ball. Is he a No. 1, a No. 2 or just another guy?”  Petit wound up going to the Marlins in the 2005 Carlos Delgado trade and today he has found a home with the Giants where he is now a postseason hero.
  • Rays GM Matt Silverman is talking with his staff and players to determine the characteristics to look for in the club’s next manager, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. “The first step is identifying the type of manager that we want,” Silverman said Saturday. “And from that we will begin generating names we think might match that description.”  Topkin checked in with several Rays players to see what they want in their new skipper.

Latest On Joe Maddon

Joe Maddon shocked many people by opting out of his contract with the Rays Friday and has now become the most coveted managerial free agent in recent history. While early speculation was that he’d follow former GM Andrew Friedman to the Dodgers, Friedman and the Dodgers have issued a statement backing Don Mattingly as their manager, definitively stating that Mattingly will manage the Dodgers next season.

There’s been plenty of other Maddon chatter, however, so we’ll keep track of the latest on his situation here…

October 25

  • Maddon’s agent Alan Nero says 10 teams have contacted him about Maddon, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Job suggestions have varied from manager to something like the Chief Baseball Officer position occupied by Tony La Russa. Maddon has also been contacted by several media outlets. Nero notes that Maddon is prepared to sit out 2015. He cited a previous experience with Lou Pinnela who spent a year as a FOX analyst before joining the Cubs. Apparently, Maddon’s friends say he’s interested in joining a NL club due to the added challenge of managing the pitcher’s at bats.

October 24

  • Twins GM Terry Ryan tells Berardino that the news of Maddon’s availability came as a surprise to him. “This is a pretty big opt-out,” he said. “When I saw it, I was surprised, but it’s certainly caught my eye.” Though he did not say expressly that the team would consider Maddon, Ryan seemed to indicate that is very much a possibility. “I certainly will do my due diligence on anybody that’s available,” said Ryan. “Everybody was hoping I would hurry up and get a manager. ‘What’s taking so long.’ Now everybody sees this.”
  • Meanwhile, sources tell LaVelle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune (via Twitter) that the team will indeed reach out to Maddon.
  • Angels GM Jerry Dipoto put to bed any speculation that the Halos would consider Maddon, telling Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com (Twitter link) that, “of course Mike [Scioscia] will be our manager.”

Earlier Updates

  • David Kaplan of CSNChicago has spoken to several sources who have indicated to him that the Cubs are indeed the front-runner to land Maddon at this time, but there are several teams that have shown interest (Twitter link).
  • ESPN’s Buster Olney, who intially reported the opt-out, hears that if Maddon ends up with the Cubs, the Rays will investigate the issue of tampering (Twitter link).
  • Sherman reports that Maddon is looking for a five-year deal worth roughly $25MM (Twitter link). He again downplays any thought that the Mets could go to those heights, noting that GM Sandy Alderson doesn’t believe managers should be compensated as such.
  • Joel Sherman of the New York Post spoke with Maddon on the phone (Four links to Twitter) and was told that Maddon didn’t feel the Rays would commit to him the dollars he was hoping for on a new contract. Maddon, 60, has had jobs throughout his career where his salary was dictated to him, and he felt this would be his last chance to find out how the open market would value him. He added that he was unaware of a clause in his contract that allowed him to opt out if Friedman left the team, and it was new Rays president of baseball ops Matthew Silverman who told Maddon of the clause. He said being contacted by teams with managers is none of his business. “They will do their business how they want to do it,” he told Sherman.
  • Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports (via Twitter) that Maddon was looking to be compensated with a deal that would’ve paid him like one of the top two or three skippers in the game, meaning something north of $5MM per season. Cafardo then spoke with Maddon’s agent, Alan Nero (Twitter link), and was told that Maddon would consider sitting out for a year, perhaps taking a TV gig, if the right opportunity doesn’t arise, but Cafardo adds that Nero’s phone line is “lighting up.”
  • Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports also spoke to Maddon (Facebook link), and Maddon told him that he learned his contract contained a two-week opt-out window in the event that Friedman left the Rays. Rosenthal asked Maddon specifically about the Cubs, to which Maddon replied, “I don’t know. I have to talk to people. I have interest everywhere right now. I’ve got to hear what everyone has to say.” Maddon wants to work, regardless of landing a new managerial gig, but his preference is to be in a dugout.
  • Sherman tweets that he’s been told that Maddon won’t be going to the Braves or Blue Jays and that all signs point to the Cubs.
  • Yahoo’s Jeff Passan spoke to one Maddon confidante who said Maddon wouldn’t have opted out of a deal without having a sense for what the market could offer, and he wants to go to a big market (Twitter link).
  • The Twins are the only team with a current managerial opening (besides the Rays, of course), but La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune heard that the team had yet to contact Maddon (Twitter link).
  • Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press looks at whether or not the Twins could plausibly make a run at Maddon, noting that the team has never paid a manager more than $2MM annually and will in fact be paying Ron Gardenhire $2MM not to manage the club this season.
  • Mets owner Jeff Wilpon gave Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link) a very concise and definitive answer when asked about Maddon, stating, “No. We are not changing managers.” GM Sandy Alderson told Andy Martino of the New York Daily News, “Terry is our manager,” via text message (Twitter link).
  • Jayson Stark of ESPN tweets that the more people with whom he speaks, the greater the sense he gets that there was almost no offer the Rays could’ve made to keep him there.


NL Notes: D-Backs, Nationals, Braves, Mets, Pirates

The Diamondbacks expect new assistant GM Bryan Minniti to focus on the administrative side of baseball operations while also contributing to the organization’s analytical development, reports Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic“I won’t say [administration is] a weakness for me, but it’s part of my job that I don’t necessarily want to embrace on a day-to-day basis,” said GM Dave Stewart. “He picks me up in that area and is very knowledgeable in that area. People in the industry say he’s one of the best in the business at that position.” Minniti said he is not an “analytics guy,” though he does have a statistical background and is said to have played an important role in that regard with the Nationals. Here are more notes out of the National League.

  • As Minniti settles into his new job, the Nationals have begun the process of replacing him, as Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post reports. They made a variety of moves in their front office, including promoting director of baseball operations Adam Cromie to assistant general manager and hiring two analysts.
  • Braves president John Schuerholz says that he never approached Royals GM Dayton Moore about a return to Atlanta and would not have done so since Moore has two years left on his contract, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports on Twitter. Reports had suggested that the Braves were considering making a run at bringing back Moore as general manager, but the team ultimately convinced John Hart to take over baseball operations and says it has no plans of hiring a new GM under him.
  • The Mets have hired Kevin Long as their hitting coach, the club announced via Twitter. Long had served as the Yankees’ hitting coach before his recent firing after eight years with the team.
  • The Brewers have named a new hitting coach as well, hiring Darnell Coles to replace Johnny Narron, as Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports on Twitter. Coles served as the Tigers’ assistant hitting coach in 2014 and managed the Brewers’ Double-A Huntsville affiliate in 2012 and 2013.
  • As the Pirates look forward to 2015, the club faces a number of complicated arbitration decisions, as Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review discusses. Two of those were seemingly resolved this morning when the Bucs designated John Axford and Jeanmar Gomez for assignment, but the Pirates still have 11 arbitration-eligible players, including three first basemen (or likely first basemen) in Pedro Alvarez, Ike Davis and Gaby Sanchez.

NL East Links: Kaneko, Cuddyer, Ricciardi, Braves

Japanese right-hander Chihiro Kaneko is visiting the United States to get a first-hand look at the atmosphere of Major League Baseball by visiting the World Series, according to Yahoo Sports Japan (Japanese link). The 31-year-old Kaneko is the ace of Nippon Professional Baseball’s Orix Buffaloes and is eligible to be posted this offseason, if his team agrees to post him (and, if he expresses a desire to jump to MLB). Kaneko has been scouted personally by Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. in September as well as the Red Sox and Padres, according to the Yahoo report. In 184 innings this season, Kaneko posted a sparkling 1.91 ERA with 9.5 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9, allowing a minuscule seven homers in an excellent season. In parts of nine pro seasons, Kaneko has a 2.69 ERA with 8.0 K/9, 2.1 BB/9 and 0.6 HR/9 in 1279 1/3 innings.

Here’s more pertaining to the National League East…

  • Some familiar with the Mets‘ thinking believe that the team would be interested in adding Michael Cuddyer on a two-year deal, reports Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. The Mets are known to be hesitant to deal from their crop of high-upside young arms, and Cuddyer would provide them with a fairly versatile piece that can add some punch to the lineup. Martino also notes that the Mets are monitoring Yoenis Cespedes and consider Rafael Montero more tradeable than Noah Syndergaard or Jacob deGrom. For what it’s worth, Cuddyer grew up in the same town as David Wright and the two have long been friends and offseason workout partners. MLBTR’s Zach Links recently profiled Cuddyer and projected a two-year, $22MM contract.
  • More from Martino, who wrote yesterday that the Mets could be nearing an extension with assistant GM J.P. Ricciardi. The former Blue Jays GM has been with the Mets since 2010 and currently oversees the club’s pro scouting operations while also serving as an adviser to GM Sandy Alderson.
  • There’s been a great deal of speculation that Evan Gattis could be trade bait this winter, but MLB.com’s Mark Bowman takes a long look at whether or not the Braves should entertain offers for Justin Upton and/or Jason Heyward as well. Each corner outfielder is set to become a free agent next winter. Moving one would allow the team to keep Gattis and play him in the outfield, although as Bowman notes, that would significantly weaken the club’s defense. Still, with each dangerously close to the open market, the front office could move one for a group of prospects that would further position the team for success as it heads into a new stadium in 2017, Bowman writes.

Cafardo On Moore, Cespedes, Markakis, Giants

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.

Quick Hits: Front Office Moves

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.

NL East Links: Mets, Markakis, Phillies, Braves

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.

Offseason Outlook: New York Mets

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.

Guaranteed Contracts

Arbitration Eligible Players (service time in parentheses; projections via Matt Swartz)

Free Agents

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.


AL East Notes: Duquette, Napoli, Minaya, Long

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.