The Mets have dealt with injuries and on-field struggles of late, and COO Jeff Wilpon says that the organization may not wait until August 1st to make a move, as Newsday’s Laura Albanese reports. “I think we might need to do something before [the deadline],” Wilpon said. “The deadline is still four, six weeks away. We’ve got to start playing better baseball now.” We’ve heard chatter about the club possibly going after free agent-to-be Jose Reyes, but it’s fair to wonder whether a more substantial improvement is preferable. The infield seems like the obvious place to target for the Mets.
We heard the suggestion yesterday from David Lennon of Newsday that the Mets could be open to a reunion with infielder Jose Reyes, and now Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports says the club is “debating internally” whether to pursue him. ESPNNewYork.com’s Adam Rubin suggests that the team’s thinking has shifted in recent days, as sources had previously suggested there was little chance of a match (Twitter link).
It’s not difficult to see the connection on paper. Reyes had his greatest success with New York before leaving the organization via free agency before the 2012 campaign. Though his bat and glove have faded more recently, the Mets are desperate to bolster an infield that is currently missing Lucas Duda and David Wright.
MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo tweets that the Mets believe Reyes could play third base, though to this point in his career he has exclusively been a middle infielder (appearing almost entirely at shortstop). In theory, the switch-hitter could share time at the hot corner with Wilmer Flores. Either or both could also move around the infield as needed.
Now at the tail end of the deal he signed with the Marlins, Reyes is in quite a different spot than the last time he was on the open market. He has been traded twice and was recently designated for assignment by the Rockies. (Though he is still in DFA limbo, Reyes will ultimately clear waivers without a claim.) In the interim, he not only exhibited some erosion of ability on the field but served a suspension after being arrested and charged with domestic violence against his wife. While those charges were dropped, there’s little question that Reyes comes with serious questions beyond those of most aging ballplayers.
Reyes had continued to deliver above-average offensive production over the first three years of his big contract, but only slashed .274/.310/.378 over 519 plate appearances last year. Defensive metrics haven’t loved his glove for quite some time, though perhaps the lack of range would be less of an issue at third or second.
All said, it’s not clear that Reyes would represent a solution, but the Mets wouldn’t necessarily need him to represent more than a fill-in piece. There are still nearly six weeks until the trade deadline, so New York could simply look to hold things over while weighing more significant additions. And since Reyes is still being paid by the Rockies, the Mets could simply pay him the minimum for whatever time he spends at the major league level. Still, given the serious baggage and the lack of a positive recent track record, it’s far from obvious that Reyes would be a worthwhile target.
- Similarly, the struggling Mets “may shake things up,” manager Terry Collins said after suffering a sweep at the hands of the last-place Braves, which was capped off by a one-hit Julio Teheran shutout. Ken Davidoff of the New York Post was among those to speak to Collins, and Davidoff opines that the shakeup should begin with the reinstatement of Travis d’Arnaud from his rehab assignment and the promotion of outfield prospect Brandon Nimmo. The arrival of Nimmo, he adds, should come at the expense of either designating Alejandro De Aza or optioning Michael Conforto. As Davidoff notes, meaningful upgrades on the trade market (e.g. Danny Valencia, Yunel Escobar, Yangervis Solarte) aren’t likely to be moved until mid-July, and early asking prices tend to be exorbitant in nature. As such, internal maneuverings should be considered to help right the ship. The Mets are 7-10 in June and have lost six of their past eight games
- The Diamondbacks’ Brandon Drury is a fit as a possible third base target for the Mets, though a source tells John Harper of the New York Daily News that Arizona holds Drury in high value. For Drury, the D’Backs would likely ask the Mets for someone like Zack Wheeler in return, which Harper figures is way too high a price in a one-for-one trade. Drury was actually demoted today by the D’Backs in an effort to give him regular playing time rather than ride the bench on Arizona’s crowded roster. The 23-year-old has a .270/.310/.450 slash line and eight homers over 213 PA for the Snakes, numbers boosted by a huge performance over the first six weeks of the season.
- From that same Harper item, two scouts discussed Cuban superstar Yulieski Gurriel, noting that while Gurriel has looked impressive in the past, they would need a fresh look given Gurriel’s age (32). That age will surely limit the size of Gurriel’s eventual contract, as “even if he looks good in a workout, I wouldn’t give him more than two years,” one scout said, though he did predict an average annual value for Gurriel in the range of $10-$11MM per season. As one former Mets player anonymously told Harper, Gurriel makes a lot of sense for New York to replace the injured David Wright at third base.
The Mets bringing back soon-to-be free agent shortstop Jose Reyes is a “long shot,” a source told Newsday’s David Lennon, who reports that the door isn’t closed on the possibility. As of now, the Mets are in wait-and-see mode with the 33-year-old Reyes, whom the Rockies designated for assignment earlier this week on the heels of a subpar 2015 showing and, more importantly, a 52-game domestic violence suspension. Reyes would bring much-needed speed to a Mets team with the fewest stolen bases in the National League (13), notes Lennon, who adds that he’d come at a cheap price and, unlike other options, wouldn’t require the club to trade prospects. If the Mets do reunite with Reyes, they’d likely put him at second base and move Neil Walker to third to replace the injured David Wright, per Lennon. During his Mets tenure from 2003-11, Reyes hit a terrific .292/.341/.441 in 4,840 plate appearances, racked up 380 steals, made the All-Star team four times and accounted for 30.7 fWAR.
- The Mets agreed to trade right-hander Zack Wheeler to the Brewers last summer for Carlos Gomez, but that deal fell through because of concerns over the outfielder’s health. A year later, the Mets have “close to zero interest” in using Wheeler as deadline trade bait, a source informed Lennon. Wheeler could return next month from 2015 Tommy John surgery, and the Mets regard him as either a key down-the-stretch piece in a potential six-man rotation or an option for their bullpen.
- The Dodgers, Mets and Yankees are clear fits for Cuban free agent Yulieski Gurriel, but the Giants are also possible suitors, according to Rosenthal. The 32-year-old second and third baseman might also be able to play left field, where San Francisco could soon have a need if Angel Pagan and Gregor Blanco leave as free agents after the season.
Zack Wheeler returning from 2015 Tommy John surgery and replacing Bartolo Colon in the Mets’ rotation, as originally planned, is now far from a sure thing, writes David Adler of MLB.com. Thanks to Colon’s success, “there’ll be a pretty hefty discussion of what’s going to be best for” the Mets’ rotation when Wheeler is set to come back, said manager Terry Collins. The 43-year-old Colon hasn’t shown any signs of his advanced age, having thrown 80 2/3 innings of 3.01 ERA ball and supported that with a 1.45 BB/9. Wheeler could rejoin the team sometime next month, meanwhile, and a six-man rotation is a possibility when he does. “We’ve been [saying] since Spring Training that when Zack gets here, is it the time when we want to add a guy to the rotation anyway, to give guys some time off? Because the days off are going to be a little bit fewer in the second half. Right now I can’t answer where we’d go,” Collins stated.
The Mets reached out to the Athletics recently to inquire about third baseman Danny Valencia, according to a report from Ken Davidoff of the New York Post. New York went on to acquire Kelly Johnson from the Braves, but as Davidoff notes, that move doesn’t necessarily rule out a continued pursuit of Valencia.
Johnson was added both to fill an immediate need and to provide a utility option the rest of the way. Valencia, though, would be a more significant target. It’s certainly arguable that he makes even more sense for New York now than he did a few weeks back, given that David Wright has elected to undergo neck surgery due to the lack of progress on his rest-and-rehab plan.
Valencia would represent more of a direct replacement for Wright, allowing Wilmer Flores to spend more time elsewhere in the infield and pushing Johnson into a fairly limited utility role. Though he isn’t regarded as a very good fielder, Valencia has seen the field at multiple other positions, with time at the corner outfield, first base, and even second base all on his resume.
That positional flexibility ought to increase Valencia’s appeal as a trade target, especially for a New York team that faces long-term questions with Wright and will lose second baseman Neil Walker to free agency after the season.
Valencia is greatly outperforming the $3.15MM deal he signed to avoid arbitration before the 2016 campaign. He is slashing .327/.370/.550 with ten home runs over 184 plate appearances on the year, adding to the already-impressive results from a season ago. In fact, in over a thousand trips to the plate since the start of 2013, Valencia has mashed to the tune of a .290/.334/.489 line.
If he can keep up anything approaching that level of production, Valencia would make for quite a nice replacement for Wright (or upgrade for any other team that might pursue him). Of course, Oakland might prefer not to trade him for the same reason, as he’ll be controllable one more time via arbitration after the season. The A’s may well hang a fairly substantial asking price on the one-time journeyman, who has risen to the number four spot on MLBTR’s most recent ranking of top trade candidates.
The Rockies acted decisively on Wednesday of this week, designating Jose Reyes for assignment rather than affording him the opportunity to settle into a bench role upon returning from his suspension under the league’s domestic violence policy. Said manager Walt Weiss today in an appearance on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (audio link): “To bring in Reyes, we were going to lose either [Cristhian] Adames or [Daniel] Descalso. … Adames is a young player who’s a very good player, there’s not a lot of at-bats for him or innings for him right now because we got three potential All-Stars in the infield. … Don’t want to lose him, especially at his age. And Descalso has meant so much to this club and in the clubhouse. He’s one of those guys that’s been the constants of our team, and he’s swinging the bat very very well. … You’re going to lose one of those guys if you bring in Reyes. And Story, certainly is going to be looking over his shoulder if that’s the case. For our club, for the culture of our club and what we’re doing right now and the good thing we’ve got going, I think it was going to be counterproductive. I think it’s the best thing for Jose, too.”
Here’s the latest on Reyes, who figures to be released in the coming days…
- ESPN’s Alex Cora tweeted yesterday that the Royals have looked into Reyes as a second base option following the DFA of Omar Infante, though his colleague Jerry Crasnick later tweeted that while there was a brief inquiry, it may have been little more than due diligence. Both Whit Merrifield and Christian Colon are playing well right now, so there isn’t necessarily a clear need to take a chance on Reyes. MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan, meanwhile, tweeted that rumors suggesting that the Royals have interest in Reyes were “simply not true.”
- Neither the Yankees nor the Mets have interest in adding Reyes, reports Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports. Some Mets fans have expressed hope that the team will pursue a reunion with its former All-Star shortstop in the wake of injuries throughout the infield, but Heyman writes that a reunion for the two sides “simply isn’t in the offing” despite a potential need in the infield. Newsday’s David Lennon writes that having spoken to people close to Reyes, a reunion with the Mets would be his preference, and Reyes is willing to move over to third base. That, of course, is largely inconsequential if there’s no interest from the Mets’ side of the equation, and both Heyman and ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin have reported that to be the case since Reyes was designated on Wednesday.
- The Rockies never wanted Reyes in the first place, writes Bob Nightengale of USA Today, but his inclusion in last summer’s trade helped to offset Troy Tulowitzki’s remaining salary and allowed the team to add a trio of intriguing of young arms to to its minor league ranks. Colorado has been trying to trade Reyes since last July without success, Nightengale writes, and ultimately his suspension and off-field issues left the team with no choice but to release him. “It’s fair to say it was responsible to the situation and to the organization that we talk through every sort of conceivable situation,” GM Jeff Bridich said following Reyes’ DFA. “We certainly had enough time to do that. At the end of the day, we determined that it was best we part ways — best for the direction of the organization, best for what was going on in the clubhouse and best for Jose.”
Brewers owner Mark Attanasio says that his club is “not actively shopping” either Jonathan Lucroy or Ryan Braun, as Tom Haudricourt of the Milwakee Journal-Sentinel reports. Both have drawn their share of trade speculation; indeed, the pair landed atop my recent list of 15 top trade candidates. (To be clear, that ranking is a subjective analysis based upon MLBTR’s assessment of both value and potential availability.) When asked about the volume of chatter thus far, Attanasio said there has been “very little, actually, for whatever reason.”
Here’s more from the National League:
- Speaking of Braun, the Giants reportedly have at least had some contact with the Brewers about the slugger. Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle took a look at that concept, reporting that talks were “cursory” and citing a team source as saying: “It’s far-fetched to go from a conversation to a trade.” As Schulman goes on to explain, there are a whole host of reasons that a match likely won’t come to fruition.
- The Reds announced that young lefty Cody Reed will be promoted to make his MLB debut on Saturday. The 23-year-old was one of three southpaws who came over in last summer’s Johnny Cueto deal. He has impressed in his first run at the Triple-A level, working to a 3.20 ERA in 64 2/3 innings with 8.8 K/9 against 2.4 BB/9. At this stage of the year, future Super Two qualification is not a major concern. For more on Reed, check out this scouting report from Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper.
- Mets outfielder Juan Lagares is headed to the 15-day with a sprained left thumb, the club announced. He’ll be replaced on the active roster by Ty Kelly. New York suffered another scare tonight when infielder Wilmer Flores was hit on the hand by a pitch, but it appears that he escaped any significant damage.
- Dodgers phenom Julio Urias has followed two iffy starts with two good ones, but his time in the majors doesn’t seem long — for 2016, at least. As Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports on Twitter, manager Dave Roberts said today that Urias will get two more starts before the team assesses his status, with the focus on watching his innings tally. The 19-year-old is up to 58 frames on the year between Triple-A and the bigs, and has not yet topped 87 2/3 total innings in a single season as a pro.