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- Nationals Place Stephen Strasburg On 15-Day DL
- Cafardo’s Latest: Revere, Kennedy, Hamels, Jays
- Rosenthal On Angels, Black, Parra, Samardzija
- Braves Still Shopping Chris Johnson
- Mets’ Alderson Expresses Support For Terry Collins
- Miguel Cabrera To Miss Six Weeks
- Yankees, A-Rod Settle Home Run Milestone Dispute
- Rangers Designate Neftali Feliz, Activate Matt Harrison
- Jocketty: Reds “Prepared To Go Either Way” At Deadline
- Federal Charges Recommended For Astros Computer Breach
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New York Mets Rumors
Here’s the latest from both Big Apple teams…
- Despite Stephen Drew‘s struggles, ESPN New York’s Andrew Marchand writes that the Yankes may not address second base in any major way at the trade deadline due to a lack of clear upgrades on the market. Rob Refsnyder has shown defensive improvement at Triple-A and could be called up to supplant Jose Pirela, yet it’s possible Refsnyder himself could be trade bait; he has some prospect value but he isn’t one of the “top tier guys” in the Yankee farm system.
- From that same piece, Marchand also notes that the Yankees aren’t likely to obtain an ace starter like Johnny Cueto or Cole Hamels “unless prices drop significantly.”
- The Yankees are only a season and a half removed from handing more than $500MM in free agent contracts to Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann and Masahiro Tanaka, yet the early returns are still inconclusive at best, Marchand and Wallace Matthews write. Beltran hasn’t shown much, McCann struggled in 2014 but has hit well this season, and Ellsbury and Tanaka have both looked good when healthy but still have injury question marks hanging over them. While there’s still plenty of time for the quartet to live up to their big contracts, this uncertainty in the early years of their contracts (when each, save Beltran, should still be in or close to their primes) isn’t an encouraging sign.
- The Mets have struggled badly against right-handed pitching this season, a problem that Joel Sherman of the New York Post blames on “front office negligence” and a “refusal to churn — to aggressively try to upgrade even marginally” for quality left-handed bench depth. Juan Lagares has been particularly ineffective against righty pitching, and Sherman lists five players (Brock Holt, Gerardo Parra, David Peralta, Seth Smith and Will Venable) he feels would be good options as platoon partners with Lagares in center field. Of that group, I highly doubt the Red Sox would deal the versatile Holt and Smith’s contract is likely too expensive for the Mets’ seemingly limited payroll.
- If Mets GM Sandy Alderson is indeed “prepared to overpay” for a hitting upgrade, ESPN’s Buster Olney (via Twitter) wonders if the team could shop Zack Wheeler to an American League team. The Mets already have a plethora of young rotation options and Wheeler could be seen as expendable. An interested team would be making “a futures bet,” as Olney puts it, since Wheeler is out of action until roughly the middle of 2016 recovering from both Tommy John and tendon surgeries.
Matt Harvey is just the latest reminder that recovery from Tommy John surgery is a process, Barry M. Bloom of MLB.com writes. In his comeback campaign, the Mets pitcher has had flashes of brilliance but he has also struggled at times.
“It’s definitely hard,” Harvey said after Saturday’s loss to the Dodgers. “It’s like one batter to the next batter, the arm slot, staying back, just trusting that my arm will stay healthy. It’s been a lot different than I thought it was going to be.”
John Smoltz, who will be the first pitcher to have had the surgery to enter the National Baseball Hall of Fame, has talked with Mets skipper Terry Collins about the best way to manage a pitcher coming back from TJ. In time, Smoltz believes that Harvey will return to his old form. Here’s more from the East divisions..
- The Mets tried hard to pry Manny Ramirez from the Red Sox a decade ago and at one point it seemed like there was a good chance of a deal happening, as David Lennon of Newsday writes. “We weren’t able to match up and give them enough,” former Mets exec Jim Duquette said. “They were looking for more younger players in return. We wanted them to give more money. We weren’t going to take the full freight on that one. I don’t think they thought [Lastings] Milledge was the right guy. That’s why we were trying to bring in a third team.”
- Ex-Blue Jays pitcher Scott Richmond has been embroiled in a nightmare legal battle with the Lotte Giants of the Korean Baseball Organization League, as Shi Davidi of Sportsnet writes. The pitcher signed a guaranteed one-year, $700K deal with the KBO team in 2013 but he has yet to receive a dime of that money. Richmond was good to go for the start of the season after suffering a knee injury, but he was turned away without payment. RJ Hernandez, Richmond’s representative at Legacy, believes that this situation will dissuade other players from going overseas, particularly if the pitcher is unsuccessful in his suit.
- For months, there has been talk about the Red Sox‘s need for an ace. Right now, Clay Buchholz looks the part and he could be a big difference maker for Boston, Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald writes.
The Mets’ inaction this season has been “inexplicable,” ESPN’s Buster Olney writes. The Mets have failed to address an injury-ravaged lineup, thus leaving Lucas Duda and an excellent rotation hanging out to dry. As a result, the Mets have scored only 25 runs total since June 16. As Olney points out, of course, there isn’t much happening on the trade market right now, with several weeks to go before the deadline and not many teams yet willing to pull the plugs on their seasons. But Olney suggests the Mets could at least find a depth-type player who might help, much as the Blue Jays did with Chris Colabello. They could also find help by being willing to take on a chunk of a bad contract. The team’s problem isn’t manager Terry Collins, Olney writes — it’s complacency. Here’s more from the Mets.
- The Mets have decided not to promote top prospect Michael Conforto despite their need for offense, MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo writes. “At this point, he’s still in Binghamton and I would expect him to be over the near-term,” says GM Sandy Alderson. The Mets might be right not to see Conforto as a short-term fix for their sagging offense — he’s hitting .333/.414/.521 with Double-A Binghamton, but in only 133 plate appearances, and those represent his only experience in the high minors.
- Injured star David Wright (spinal stenosis) is hopeful he’ll be able to return to action this season, Adam Rubin of ESPN New York writes. “We’re getting down to the second half of the season now, and I feel like I’ve got one shot to get this thing right,” Wright says. Standing upright no longer causes him discomfort, although he has not yet begun running, and he will probably need several weeks to get back into baseball activities before he can return.
Mets GM Sandy Alderson says manager Terry Collins and is not to blame for the team’s current troubles and that the Mets have no plans to fire him, Adam Rubin of ESPN New York writes. Alderson is traveling with the Mets on the team’s current West Coast road trip, but he says that’s unrelated to Collins’ status.
“We’re a .500 team. We haven’t been moving in the right direction,” Alderson says. However, he adds, “[w]e’ve had a lot of people hurt for long periods of time. … We’ve got some young guys in particular that are not hitting. We’ve got some older players that have had to try to carry the load. I think to put all of this on Terry would be grossly unfair.”
The Mets’ front office also had a meeting Thursday, although FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal indicates that the meeting was routine and that the organization did not discuss Collins’ status. Rosenthal notes, however, that the next several weeks will be important ones for the team.
The Mets were 15-5 in late April, but since then they’ve gone 26-35 and are currently just one game above .500. Veteran hitters like Michael Cuddyer and Lucas Duda have struggled lately, along with relievers like Carlos Torres and Alex Torres. Cuddyer, David Wright and catcher Travis d’Arnaud are among a number of Mets players currently dealing with injuries.
Though he admitted that he’s not privy to the front office’s discussions, Phillies manager Pete Mackanin told Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com that he expects ace Cole Hamels to be traded. “We’re not involved on the field,” said Mackanin. “But the whole point of this year basically is to see young guys, help us get ready for next year and beyond. If we can get good deals for Hamels and good deals for whomever else there might be out there, (Jonathan) Papelbon.” Hamels recently told Salisbury that he’s open to a trade to any club, including the Blue Jays and Astros. Previous reports had indicated that Hamels would block a deal to either club.
Here’s more from the NL East…
- The Tigers are scouting the Marlins‘ starting pitchers, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter). There could be very little to read into here, as multiple teams are likely scouting the Marlins, and the Tigers of course are scouting other clubs. Nonetheless, a pitching matchup, at least on paper, does seem to exist between the two sides. The Tigers have seen Shane Greene lose his spot in the rotation and received little from Justin Verlander to this point. A solid addition to the rotation would make some sense, and the Marlins have a surplus now that Jose Fernandez is healthy. Fernandez joins Mat Latos, Dan Haren, Tom Koehler and Jarred Cosart in the rotation. Latos and Haren, though, are free agents at season’s end, and the team has internal replacements capable of slotting into the rotation in the event of a trade.
- Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald hears that the Marlins are indeed willing to listen to offers on Latos and Haren. He adds Steve Cishek to that list as well and unsurprisingly says that the fallen closer likely will be non-tendered this offseason. Jackson, like other reporters, hears that the team isn’t entertaining the idea of moving Martin Prado at this point.
- Mets captain David Wright is “extremely optimistic” that he can begin baseball activities next week, tweets ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin. Wright won’t begin hitting in that time, however. Previously, the Mets have expressed hope to have the third baseman back by the All-Star break, though that timeline is fast approaching and Wright is still quite a ways from a rehab assignment.
The Mets have acquired an international bonus slot from the Angels in exchange for minor league right-hander Gaither Bumgardner, the teams announced. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez tweets that the Mets will add $239,400 to their pool with this move.
Bumgardner was the Mets’ 23rd-round pick back in 2013. Though he’s 24 years of age, Bumgardner has progressed to just the Class-A level. The South Carolina native has tossed 65 2/3 innings as a pro, working to a 3.84 ERA with 7.7 K/9 and 4.4 BB/9. He did not find himself ranked among the Mets’ top prospects entering the year.
The Mets entered this signing period with a bonus pool of $2,531,300, per Baseball America, and they reportedly have agreements in place totaling $2.7MM. Adding this bonus slot from the Angels will allow the Mets to stay within the confines of their now-$2.77MM bonus pool. As for the Angels, the team went well over its 2014-15 bonus pool to give Cuban infielder Roberto Baldoquin an $8MM signing bonus, so they’re restricted from spending more than $300K on an international amateur anyhow.
- The Rockies have a $2MM deal in place with outfielder Daniel Montano after he signed today, per a tweet from MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez. Montano rated 12th on the MLB.com board, based upon his good instincts in center, smooth left-handed stroke, and decent power potential. There are some questions, including inconsistent performances at times, which led BA to slot him 16th and Fangraphs to rank him just outside the top twenty.
- The Mets have landed two top international shortstops, according to Badler. Venezuelan product Andres Gimenez, the second overall prospect on Badler’s list, is headed to New York. The bonus will be for $1.2MM, per Sanchez (via Twitter), for a player that Badler called the second-best available prospect based upon his excellent batting skills from the left side of the plate, decent power potential, and strong overall defensive profile. And Dominican shortstop Gregory Guerrero will also join the club after agreeing to a $1.5MM bonus, per Badler. Guerrero, cousin of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and nephew of Vlad Sr., rated 9th among July 2 prospects in McDaniel’s estimation. Per McDaniel, the Mets signee has a more advanced hit than power tool, but could increase his pop over time. He is ultimately expected to move off of short to the hot corner. Having entered the day with $2,531,300 in spending capacity, these two deals put New York at just over 6.6% above their pool. That would line the team up to face a one-year ban on signings of over $500K, making a deal for another bonus slot appear likely.
- The Braves have a deal in place with shortstop Derian Cruz for $2MM, Badler reports. McDaniel was high on Cruz, rating him the 8th-best player available, citing his outstanding speed, good hitting tools, and potential ability to stay at the shortstop position or otherwise play up the middle defensively. Atlanta also agreed to a $1.4MM bonus with outfielder Christian Pache, per Sanchez (via Twitter), the tenth-rated player on MLB.com’s top-thirty list. While these signings will put pressure on the team’s total spending allotment of $2,458,400, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman tweets that the club will attempt to trade for about $1MM in extra capacity to steer clear of future signing restrictions.
- Dominican outfielder Juan Soto will join the Nationals after agreeing to a $1.5MM deal, Sanchez tweets. That’s the team’s largest-ever bonus for a young international signing, James Wagner of the Washington Post notes on Twitter. Soto’s appeal lies more in his feel and approach at the plate than in pure bat speed, Baseball America writes in rating him 13th in the class. Though he does not offer much on defense and looks to be a corner outfielder in the future, Soto is said to have the potential to be an above-average offensive producer both in terms of pure hitting and power.
- The Reds have agreed to a $1MM bonus with outfielder Christian Olivo, according to Sanchez (via Twitter). MLB.com was highest on Olivo, rating him 23rd on the international market and noting that he has a fairly high power ceiling that he has yet to fully tap into. The left-handed hitter has drawn mixed reviews in the baserunning and defensive departments.
The Brewers are being realistic about their status as sellers, pro scouting director Zack Minasian tells MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy. “We’d be doing ourselves a disservice if we weren’t honest with ourselves about where we’re at [in the standings],” Minasian told McCalvy. He adds that his message to his scouting team is that it’s OK to be both frustrated and angry with the team’s struggles this year, but times like this are the scouts’ chance to make an impact on the future of the club. As McCalvy notes, Adam Lind, Aramis Ramirez, Gerardo Parra and Kyle Lohse are all logical trade targets for the Crew, and if the team wanted to target a bigger deal, Jean Segura and Carlos Gomez represent more controllable options that could be dealt. Minasian tells McCalvy that when he sees scouts from other clubs on assignment, he has no qualms about being straightforward: “I don’t have a problem going up to them and asking, ‘What are you here for?’ … We are straightforward with clubs about what we can and can’t do.”
Here’s more from the NL Central…
- The Mets scouted Aramis Ramirez during the Brewers‘ recent series with the Twins but came away unimpressed with his play on both sides of the ball, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post (via Twitter). Sherman adds that the Mets weren’t all that interested in Ramirez even prior to that series, making a trade fit seem particularly unlikely.
- There was once a time where Pirates fans may have feared losing Pedro Alvarez to free agency, writes Brian O’Neill of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but the Alvarez question has now shifted to whether or not he should even be tendered a contract this winter. O’Neill notes that Alvarez’s offensive profile over the past season-and-a-half is remarkably similar to that of two platoon-challenged first basemen on whom the Pirates have recently cut bait: Ike Davis and Garrett Jones. A trade of Alvarez, be it this month or this winter, wouldn’t bring much of a return without significant improvement at the plate, and giving him a raise on his $6MM salary after he’s shifted to first base and hit .236/.316/.417 over his past 694 plate appearances may not be worth it.
- O’Neill’s colleague, Stephen J. Nesbitt, spoke with Pirates manager Clint Hurdle and right-hander Deolis Guerra about Guerra’s long road to the Major Leagues. One of the key pieces in the 2008 blockbuster that sent Johan Santana from the Twins to the Mets, the now-26-year-old Guerra had never reached the Majors until this Sunday with Pittsburgh. Minnesota released him after six seasons in the organization this November, but Guerra worked with Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage and bullpen coach Euclides Rojas in the Venezuelan Winter League this offseason and refined the control of his secondary pitches at Triple-A this season. Guerra called his MLB debut “the greatest feeling,” adding that he experienced “so many emotions going on at the same time” that he couldn’t even put it into words. Hurdle said this type of debut is the type that gives veteran players and coaches alike goosebumps. “One of the biggest blasts you can have is watching a kid that’s had to fight, scratch and claw get out there, get the ball,” said Hurdle.
- Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch breaks down the upcoming outfield logjam that will face Cardinals manager Mike Matheny once Matt Holliday returns from the DL. With Holliday and Jason Heyward locked into the outfield corners, the Cards will be left to divide the center field at-bats between Randal Grichuk, Jon Jay and Peter Bourjos. Grichuk’s excellent power numbers and sound defense should earn him at-bats, writes Miklasz, but he also notes that Bourjos’ offensive game has improved a great deal in 2015. Bourjos is, historically, the best defender of the bunch as well. Jay’s track record with the team is the lengthiest, but as Miklasz writes, his offense hasn’t been the same since undergoing wrist surgery this offseason. Miklasz observes that Matheny is typically loyal to his players almost to a fault, which could lead to continued playing time for Jay despite his offensive struggles. He also notes that last season, when a similar situation occurred with the struggling Allen Craig, GM John Mozeliak intervened and traded Craig to Boston.
- From my vantage point, a trade of Bourjos is at least something worth exploring for the Cardinals. A team in need of a center field upgrade could be appealed to Bourjos’ strong defensive track record and improved offensive output, and while Bourjos is highly affordable, he’s also controlled through just the 2016 season. Jay’s contract and defensive decline will make him difficult to trade, and Grichuk’s status as a cost-controlled piece with both power and defense in his skill set make him a highly appealing long-term piece for the Cardinals. If Mozeliak is looking to address some needs on his 2015 roster — fifth starter, bullpen, first base — flipping Bourjos to a contender with a hole in center could help to fill the need without dipping into his farm system (or, at least, not dipping as far as he’d have to without including an MLB-ready asset).
Blue Jays slugger Edwin Encarnacion achieved ten-and-five rights yesterday, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca reports. It once seemed quite unlikely that the now-32-year-old would ever establish himself enough to earn a no-trade clause, as Davidi explains. Toronto can control Encarnacion next season with a $10MM club option, but his future beyond that remains unclear. “I like this city, I’d love to stay here but it’s not my choice,” said Encarnacion. “They have to decide what they’re going to do, if they’re going to sign me or not. I’m open to be here and to stay here in Toronto.”
Here’s more from Toronto and the rest of the east:
- All indications are that Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos “has been busy trying to make something happen for a while now,” writes Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca. Toronto may be willing to give significant value for a truly high-quality player that makes a perfect fit for the club’s overall situation, says Davidi, much as it did in signing Russell Martin and trading for Josh Donaldson. That being said, it seems unlikely that Anthopoulos and Co. will part with its best young talent for a pure rental, the report suggests.
- Anthopoulos tells reporters that the Blue Jays nearly pulled off two trades in May, but has not come as close since, as Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star reports (Twitter links). The GM added that he’ll consider moving prospects for rentals if the price is right, noting that he discussed a deal last summer involving young players Kevin Pillar and Sean Nolin.
- he Yankees are in a solid position right now, but need to address three pressing questions, Joel Sherman of the New York Post argues. First, the club need to decide whether and when it will pull the struggling CC Sabathia from the rotation, and whether it will replace him with an outside addition (Sherman suggests Jeff Samardzija as a viable option). Another veteran, outfielder Carlos Beltran, has produced at the plate but not in the field, and Sherman wonders whether he could be a trade option for the Angels to plug in at DH. And New York must also decide how much it is willing to cough up to add the versatile Ben Zobrist, per the piece, if and when he’s made available by the A’s.
- Meanwhile, across town, the Mets are in no rush to deal Jon Niese, writes Newsday’s David Lennon, who explains that the club still needs innings from him given limitations on its younger starters. Of course, Niese (and his salary) could ultimately be part of a deal — whether to add a bat or future assets. But as things stand, it does not appear that there is much momentum towards any kind of trade. Indeed, per Lennon, the Mets have not even had “serious conversations with two teams (Cubs, Dodgers) that reportedly have interest in the lefty.