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There were 13 players selected in the Major League phase of the 2014 Rule 5 Draft, and nearly halfway through the year, a surprising percentage remain with their new clubs. Here’s a look at each of the Rule 5 picks, where they’re currently playing and if they have a chance to remain with their team…
- Oscar Hernandez, C, Diamondbacks: Selected out of the Rays organization despite never having appeared above Class-A, Hernandez broke his hamate bone in Spring Training and has been on the DL all season. As MLBTR’s Jeff Todd noted at the time, that actually made it a bit easier to get some time to evaluate Hernandez, as the D-Backs can see him on a Minor League rehab assignment and don’t have to roster such an inexperienced bat all season. Hernandez is on his rehab assignment now, and the early returns at the plate aren’t good (.200/.259/.280 in nine games). Jarrod Saltalamacchia‘s hit poorly, though, so perhaps the team will prefer Hernandez’s big arm for that spot.
- Mark Canha, 1B/OF, Athletics: Selected by Rockies out of the Marlins organization, Canha was immediately traded to Oakland for right-hander Austin House and cash. Canha hasn’t been great for the A’s, but he’s provided league-average production at the plate to go along with passable corner defense. At this point, it would be a surprise if Canha didn’t finish the season with the team.
- Delino DeShields, Jr., OF, Rangers: The Rangers plucked the former No. 8 overall pick out of the Astros organization, perhaps hoping that DeShields could be a speedy bench piece. DeShields, like the Rangers club as a whole, has been far better than most expected, hitting .269/.358/.386 and going 13-for-15 in stolen base attempts. A hamstring injury has had him on the DL for much of June, but he’s on a rehab assignment right now and should return to the team in short order. DeShields’ .368 BABIP will likely regress, but he’s been the game’s second most-valuable baserunner, per Fangraphs, despite his limited playing time. He certainly seems likely to remain with the Rangers.
- Jason Garcia, RHP, Orioles: The Astros were the team to technically select Garcia out of the Red Sox organization, but Houston quickly traded him to Baltimore for cash. Garcia pitched poorly in 13 innings to open the season before landing on the disabled list with a shoulder injury that has since seen him transferred to the 60-day DL.
- J.R. Graham, RHP, Twins: A former top prospect with the Braves, Graham was selected by the Twins on the heels of an injury-shortened 2014 season. He’s seen a lot of time in mop-up duty, but Graham has delivered a solid ERA, albeit with less encouraging peripherals. In 35 2/3 innings, hs has a 3.03 ERA with 6.8 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and a 39.1 percent ground-ball rate. The Twins have said they plan to retain Graham, who’s averaging better than 95 mph on his fastball.
- Jandel Gustave, RHP: Gustave was selected by the Red Sox out of the Astros organization, then traded to the Royals. Kansas City tried to put him through waivers this spring but lost him to the Padres, who ultimately returned him to Houston. He has a 2.54 ERA but a 17-to-13 K/BB ratio in 28 1/3 innings with Houston’s Double-A affiliate.
- Taylor Featherston, INF, Angels: The Angels acquired Featherston for cash considerations after the Cubs selected him from the Rockies. The Halos seem committed to keeping Featherston, as he’s still on their roster despite just 60 plate appearances this season. The 25-year-old hasn’t hit — .127/.169/.218 — but he’s provided sound defense at three positions late in games and in his rare starts.
- Odubel Herrera, CF, Phillies: The Phillies nabbed Herrera out of the Rangers’ organization after a strong Double-A showing in 2014, and the infielder-turned-outfielder has seen the bulk of time in center for the Phils. He’s hitting just .251/.282/.359, but the Phillies are the exact kind of team that can afford to give a Rule 5 pick regular at-bats as opposed to costing him valuable reps via limited usage. He’ll remain with the team.
- Andrew McKirahan, LHP, Braves: The Marlins were the team to select McKirahan, but the Braves claimed him off waivers in Spring Training. McKirahan cracked the Opening Day roster with the Braves, but he pitched just 4 1/3 innings before being suspended 80 games for a positive PED test. The Braves will get a second look at him on a rehab stint in the minors before they have to make a call. He’s eligible to be activated on July 20.
- Sean Gilmartin, LHP, Mets: The Mets took Gilmartin out of the Twins organization and converted the former first-round pick (Braves, 2011) from a starter into a reliever. The result has been a 1.88 ERA with 6.8 K/9, 3.8 B/9 and a 50 percent ground-ball rate in 24 innings. Curiously, Gilmartin has significant reverse platoon splits in his first taste of big league action.
- Daniel Winkler, RHP, Braves: Winkler was the Braves’ actual selection out of the Rule 5. Winkler is recovering from 2014 Tommy John surgery and has yet to pitch in 2015 at any level. He’s on Atlanta’s 60-day DL.
- David Rollins, LHP, Mariners: Seattle took Rollins out of the Astros organization, and the lefty made a strong case in Spring Training to break camp with the team’s bullpen. However, he was suspended 80 games for PED usage and wound up on the restricted list. Rollins is on a rehab assignment now and could still pitch with the Mariners in 2015. Rollins has tossed 7 1/3 innings of scoreless ball in rehab and will have served his suspension after four more games.
- Logan Verrett, RHP: The only other player to be returned to his team at this point, Verrett was selected by the Orioles out of the Mets organization. Baltimore lost him on waivers to the Rangers, who carried him on the roster briefly before eventually returning him to the Mets. Since being returned, Verrett has debuted with his original organization at the big league level.
Full Story | 15 Comments | Categories: Andrew McKirahan | Arizona Diamondbacks | Atlanta Braves | Baltimore Orioles | David Rollins | J.R. Graham | Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Minnesota Twins | MLBTR Originals | New York Mets | Oakland Athletics | Odubel Herrera | Philadelphia Phillies | Rule 5 Draft | Sean Gilmartin | Seattle Mariners | Texas Rangers
Braves assistant GM John Coppolella tells MLB.com’s Mark Bowman that the club is still working to put a winner on the field at present, though it won’t lose focus of its longer-term needs. “We don’t want to lose 100 games or put our fan base through any type of extended suffering,” he said. “We are trying to walk two parallel roads: making this team better and building for the future. So, it’s one eye on the present and two eyes on the future.” While that means that the club will weigh present needs in considering trades this summer, it still appears unlikely that Atlanta will be a significant buyer. Instead, it seems, the club may not be aggressive in moving veterans if it’s still in playoff contention — an easier decision, perhaps, given that the Braves moved their best shorter-term assets before the season. “When we get to the Trade Deadline, we won’t look to ship out everyone who is on a free-agent contract or everybody who is over the age of 30,” he said. “We’re going to look to make good solid baseball trades that will be made in the best interest of this franchise. I don’t know if we’ll be as active as we have been previously. We’ll see what comes up at the Deadline, but by no means will we totally gut this team.”
- The Mets‘ long-term plans at short probably will not involve Wilmer Flores, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com suggests on Twitter. New York will either fill that slot via trade or turn to 24-year-old Matt Reynolds, who is currently in his second stint at the Triple-A level. Of course, it’s worth noting that the organization has an even younger option in Gavin Cecchini. The 21-year-old is enjoying his best season as a professional at the Double-A level, where he’s slashing .285/.340/.423 over 262 plate appearances.
- The Phillies‘ front office announcement today also revealed something about the club’s ownership situation, Bob Ford of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. John Middleton — who owns the single largest stake in the club (48%) — was front and center during today’s press conference, putting a new face on the organization. “We spent $18 million buying our initial interest in this team,” Middleton explained. “We’re a long way from $18 million now, so you have to take a greater role in the team. You have to.”
- Phillies president-to-be Andy MacPhail emphasized that he is prepared infuse analytics into the organization’s decisionmaking, as Nick Suss of MLB.com reports. With Middleton noting the importance of updating the club’s use of data, including a customized system that the club expects to bring on line in September, MacPhail indicated that his aim is to harness statistical analysis with a focus on the people performing and utilizing it. “The more experience you have with it and the more you get a better sense of which formulas really are predictors of performance and which ones aren’t, it’s something that knowledge accrues over time,” MacPhail said. “But I think it’s absolutely essential that you marry that with the best human intelligence you can. Bodies change. Weaknesses get exposed and they get exploited. People make adjustments. So you need to look at every single facet that is possible when you’re making player evaluations.”
TODAY: Niese is just “one of many” arms that Los Angeles has some interest in, Rosenthal writes on Twitter, and there are “no active discussions” ongoing between the Dodgers and Mets.
YESTERDAY: The Dodgers are interested in Mets starter Jon Niese, sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter). Just yesterday, Rosenthal reported that the Cubs have also considered dealing for the left-hander.
Niese isn’t quite a world-beater, but he does hold some value as a back of the rotation option. So far this year, he has a 4.12 ERA and 6.3 K/9 against 2.9 BB/9 in 14 starts. Those numbers are a beat behind his career numbers (3.89 ERA with 7.1 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9), but his xFIP of 3.85 this season indicates that he has encountered a bit of bad luck in 2015.
Performance aside, Niese’s contract could have a negative impact on his trade value. The 28-year-old is scheduled to make $9MM in 2016 plus a $500K buyout or $10MM option in 2017. As for this year, he’ll earn the prorated portion of $7MM, which is not wholly unreasonable.
After the draft concluded, it was reported that the Mets would turn their attention to dealing a starting pitcher. With lefty Steven Matz now in the fold, the Mets’ starting pitching situation has gotten even more crowded, and moving Niese could help alleviate that logjam while improving the team’s struggling offense.
Last week, Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman told reporters that despite their recent offensive woes, he sees the acquisition of bats as a “lower priority” to adding arms to the rotation.
Steven Matz could hardly have dreamed of a better Major League debut. The Mets rookie southpaw not only delivered on the mound — 7 2/3 IP, two earned runs on five hits and three walks, six strikeouts — but he also helped his own cause at the plate by going 3-for-3 with four RBIs in the Mets’ 7-2 win over the Reds. Matz is believed to be the first pitcher in baseball history (or at least as far back as 1914) to record four RBIs in his first game. Perhaps we should’ve seen it coming, as Matz had a .304 average (7-for-23) at the Triple-A level this season. Here’s some more from the Big Apple…
- Matz represents the last of the Mets’ vaunted pitching prospects to hit the majors, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News notes, joining Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard as what the Mets hopes will be their rotation of the future. While it will still be a while before these five are all healthy and productive at the same time, Martino observes that the Mets’ plan to rebuild around young arms will now have to start showing results at the big league level.
- Six rival scouts tell Joel Sherman of the New York Post that the Yankees have made strides in their minor league development, with one scout saying “Their system is a lot better. Dramatically better. They have come a long way in the last year.” The scouts chime in on seven notable prospects, ranging from well-known names like Luis Severino and Aaron Judge to somewhat lesser-known talents like Double-A outfielder Jake Cave.
- Nathan Eovaldi has had somewhat of an up-and-down start to his Yankees career, though he has a high-profile supporter in Nolan Ryan. “I thought he pitched a really good game he probably has one of the better arms in baseball,’’ Ryan told George A. King III of the New York Post after Eovaldi’s start on Friday against Ryan’s Astros. “He knows how to pitch. The Yankees made themselves a good deal.’’ Eovaldi and Garrett Jones went to the Bronx from Miami in exchange for Martin Prado and David Phelps in a trade last December. Eovaldi has a 4.81 ERA over 82 1/3 innings this season, though an inflated .354 BABIP may explain why his ERA indicators (3.78 FIP, 3.84 xFIP, 4.00 SIERA) are more favorable.
In today’s column, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe pit Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts against Tigers shorstop Jose Iglesias. Of course, Boston once had both, but Iglesias was shipped out in 2013 in a three-team deal that brought Jake Peavy to Fenway. Bogaerts offers more potential as a hitter, but Iglesias clearly has the superior glove. That difference in the field never made Bogaerts doubt himself, however.
“No, that’s just a guy who’s really gifted beyond anyone else,” Bogaerts said. “I just paid attention to trying to get better. I never compared myself to him because you can’t compare anyone to him. He’s a great defensive player and flashy.”
More from today’s column..
- The same teams that are pursuing Red Sox pitcher Clay Buchholz are going after White Sox hurler Jeff Samardzija. That list of teams includes the Royals, Tigers, Twins, Blue Jays, Yankees, Cardinals, Orioles, Angels, and Dodgers, according to Cafardo. Late last week, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported that the Astros are also interested in Samardzija. Meanwhile, at this time, the Red Sox reportedly are not interested in moving Buchholz.
- The Astros are a team to watch in July as they could get very aggressive in their pursuit of a starter. Cafardo hears that the Astros have been evaluating Reds pitchers Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake quite a bit. Cole Hamels obviously stands as one of the biggest prizes out there, but Cafardo feels he likely wouldn’t sign off on a trade to Houston. Over the weekend, Hamels indicated that he would be “open-minded” to being traded to any team.
- Giants GM Bobby Evans told Cafardo that his club is out of the starting pitching market for now thanks to the upcoming returns of Matt Cain and Jake Peavy.
- The Phillies would like to sell off their pieces little by little rather than make a ton of deals right at the deadline. However, Cafardo hears that teams aren’t coming to the table with actual offers yet, leaving the Phillies frustrated.
- Baseball execs who spoke with Cafardo say the Mets are still the best match for Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. A package for Tulo could start with left-hander Steven Matz, who makes his big league debut today.
- Even at his advanced age, one NL evaluator feels that Phillies veteran Carlos Ruiz is still “a better option than “more than 50 percent of the catchers in the league.”
- Some teams are concerned with Hamels’ poor performance in interleague play while others see it just as a fluky thing. Hamels has a career 4.73 ERA across 31 interleague starts.
Full Story | 22 Comments | Categories: Baltimore Orioles | Bobby Evans | Boston Red Sox | Carlos Ruiz | Chicago White Sox | Cincinnati Reds | Clay Buchholz | Cole Hamels | Colorado Rockies | Detroit Tigers | Houston Astros | Jake Peavy | Jeff Samardzija | Johnny Cueto | Kansas City Royals | Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Los Angeles Dodgers | Matt Cain | Mike Leake | Minnesota Twins | New York Mets | New York Yankees | Philadelphia Phillies | San Francisco Giants | St. Louis Cardinals | Steven Matz | Toronto Blue Jays | Troy Tulowitzki
Here’s the latest from Ken Rosenthal, via a video at FOX Sports:
- At 36-40, the Padres have considered buying as well as selling at the trade deadline. They could pursue a shortstop and left-handed hitter if they buy. If they sell, they could consider dealing Justin Upton, James Shields and Craig Kimbrel. Upton is the only one of the three who’s eligible for free agency after the season, though, and the Padres might not want to tear down entirely, since they’re hosting the All-Star Game next year.
- The Cubs have considered dealing for Mets left-hander Jon Niese, although they might also aim higher. The salary remaining on Niese’s current deal (he’ll make $9MM next year, plus a $500K buyout or $10MM option in 2016) might also be a slight obstacle to trading him.
- The Blue Jays are interested in pitching, but also perhaps in outfield help. Acquiring an outfielder would help the Jays to keep top young player Dalton Pompey in the minors — he’s currently hitting very well for Double-A New Hampshire after struggling in both the big leagues and in Triple-A this year.
- Former Padres manager Bud Black could be a possibility for the Braves if they eventually decide to replace Fredi Gonzalez. Black worked for the Indians front office when current Braves GM John Hart was in Cleveland, and Braves president John Schuerholz traded for Black all the way back in 1982, when Schuerholz was GM of the Royals.
Mets GM Sandy Alderson discussed a variety of roster matters with reporters today, including Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com, who provides a recap of the talk. Alderson left the impression that the club remains interested in bolstering its struggling offense, but that he has yet see a sufficiently impactful and reasonably priced deal to be made.
New York’s head baseball decisionmaker said that the trade market remains “thin” at present. While the club is “somewhat aggressive” and is even “prepared to overpay” for the right player, in his words, that does not mean that there are any available options worth reaching for.
“You get to the point where you’re prepared, based on the short term, to maybe do a little more than you’d otherwise do,” said Alderson. “But there still has to be something out there that’s attractive that you really believe is going to help your team.”
Alderson noted that the club’s recent stretch of poor play — the reaction to which he termed “panic city” — is not necessarily indicative of its outlook or its needs the rest of the way. Despite having fallen back to .500, he indicated that the Mets may be amenable to pursuing a rental and are not just looking for a starting-caliber player.
“We’re not looking at somebody who is going to be a starter for us the rest of the season necessarily,” Alderson explained. “But it has to be somebody who fits that we think can actually help us either short term or a little bit longer term. But right now, I think, there’s less of an emphasis in our minds in the trade market on the long term.”
Regardless of what moves ultimately become available to New York, Alderson indicated that the organization was not likely to pursue multiple trades. “I’ve talked about having money available at the deadline,” he said. “But we’re not going to be making two, three, four, five moves. So we’ve got to be sure — not sure, but we’ve got to be at least somewhat confident — that what we’re going to do here is going to help us.”
Further to that point, Alderson stressed that the Mets would need to effect an improvement from within, first and foremost: “[T]he bottom line, at least for the time being, until something breaks, we need to get the job done with what we have.”
Certainly, New York hopes that the impending return of infielder Daniel Murphy will provide a boost to the offense, a point that Alderson noted. But the absences of Travis d’Arnaud and David Wright, along with the meager offensive output of players such as Michael Cuddyer, Juan Lagares, and Dilson Herrera, would seem to present a broader challenge.
All said, the ballclub’s all-in batting production ranks 25th in the game. And it is far from clear what can be done to bolster things from the outside — particularly if, as Alderson suggests, the Mets aren’t in the market at multiple positions.
Where could the club theoretically look to make a move? The New York outfield is filled with big contracts, first base is ably manned by Lucas Duda, and catcher is accounted for by d’Arnaud (when he finally returns to full health). That leaves the other three infield positions as the most plausible targets for an upgrade, with the team’s various internal options capable of shifting around depending upon the precise acquisition.
A move at short would therefore appear to make the most sense, as Murphy is generally believed to be best suited defensively at third while Wilmer Flores is already reportedly headed to second. But the market looks to be short of reasonably available talent at that position — at least, that is, unless the Mets are willing to make a truly significant acquisition.
Giants GM Bobby Evans has succeeded with subtly bold action, as Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury News writes in an interesting feature on the recently promoted executive. If you’re interested in learning how exactly one can make it to the top echelons of baseball decisionmaking without a professional playing career or other “in” to get you there, this is essential reading. Now 46, Evans got his start with an internship, worked in the commissioner’s office, and then jumped on an opportunity to join the San Francisco organization as a minor league administrative assistant. “He was very eager, obviously an intelligent kid, he had the intern experience in Boston and the commissioner’s office, and quite frankly, he was single and wide-eyed and willing to put the hours in,” said former Giants GM and current executive VP of operations Brian Sabean of Evans’s start with the club. “That’s half the battle. You have to be willing to punch the clock, and put up with the demands.” 21 years and a lot of hard work later, Evans was given the general manager’s chair as Sabean moved to a more senior post.
Here’s more from the National League:
- As it investigates Cardinals employees’ improper access of the Astros‘ computer system, the FBI is still working to determine precisely which personnel were responsible for the breach, Michael Schmidt of the New York Times reports. Per the report, the focus is on “a small group of Cardinals employees who specialize in statistical analysis and computer programming and had access to a computer in a residence” in Jupiter, Florida last spring. Given the potential criminal ramifications, several individuals under investigation have obtained representation, which necessarily constrains the fact-finding process. It appears that the intrusion came from a commonly-used computer, as the report indicates that a significant part of the puzzle involves the questions of when and for how long various Cardinals employees were utilizing a single machine around the time that the Astros’ databases were accessed.
- Though a lawsuit against the Cardinals by the Astros is not likely given the league rules barring such an action, and fines are capped at $2MM, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle writes that the Cards could still face significant financial exposure. Namely, commissioner Rob Manfred could function as an arbitrator to award damages should Houston seek to prove that it suffered harm due to the actions of the St. Louis employees (and the public exposure of the information).
- The Mets shortstop saga may have a new chapter, as the team appears likely to move Wilmer Flores to second base when Daniel Murphy is activated from the DL, Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com reports. In that scenario, Murphy would play third (in place of David Wright), while Ruben Tejada would slide in at short for at least some time with Dilson Herrera moving to the bench. Hypothetically, of course, the club could seek an outside addition to take over for Flores while keeping his bat in the lineup at second. But it’s far from clear whether that is a realistic or wise option for the New York front office, particularly with the team sliding of late.
- Chase Utley‘s DL stint for a nagging ankle injury came as something of a surprise to Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg, Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News reports. “In my communication with Chase throughout the season about playing he’s always been up and willing to go and no real reports of anything holding him back, so I was a little bit surprised by it in some regards,” Sandberg said. The skipper’s reaction is at least potentially notable because of the delicate situation that seems to be playing itself out in Philly. Sandberg had increasingly turned to Cesar Hernandez at second, but it has remained unclear what strategic direction the organization was taking with Utley, one of the faces of the team’s last great run. The veteran is already halfway (249/500 plate appearances) to triggering a $15MM vesting clause for next year. Given his recent injury history and marked production downturn this year, it would obviously behoove the club to avoid that obligation, but doing so will likely require some deft handling.
The Mets will promote top prospect Steven Matz, who will be utilized as part of a six-man rotation, Adam Rubin of ESPN.com reports on Twitter. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter links) first reported that the move was likely in the works.
Thus far in 2015, he has worked to a stellar 2.19 ERA with 94 strikeouts against 31 walks in 90 1/3 innings. Those numbers are all the more impressive when considering that Matz’s home park in Las Vegas is among the most hitter-friendly environments in all of minor league baseball.
Matz is said to throw 91 to 95 mph with his fastball and feature a sometimes-plus changeup and an above-average curveball. He’s the latest to emerge from an exceptionally talented crop of young Mets pitchers. The organization undoubtedly hopes that Matz will team with Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard to form an excellent rotation for the next few years.
Rumors of a Matz promotion began circulating earlier this month, with most indicators signaling that he’d be with the club by July. The team recently whittled its rotation from six members to five by designating Dillon Gee for assignment and eventually outrighting him to Las Vegas. For now, at least, it appears that Matz will work alongside Harvey, deGrom, Syndergaard, Jon Niese, and Bartolo Colon to form a six-man unit.
The preliminary reports led to some confusion, as Rubin tweeted that the Mets were being so tight-lipped that a trade seemed possible. The New York Post’s Joel Sherman, though, tweeted that no trade was brewing. And Mike Puma of the New York Post added ton Twitter that he was told the Mets have “absolutely nothing going on in trade talks at the moment.” Indeed, that seems to be the case.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
With the Mets’ offense floundering while key hitters David Wright, Daniel Murphy and Travis d’Arnaud are on the disabled list, the team has spoken to the Athletics about a potential Ben Zobrist trade, reports John Harper of the New York Daily News. Citing sources “on both sides,” Harper says that while there have been talks, there’s nothing to indicate that the talks are particularly advanced.
The Mets have dropped seven consecutive games and fallen under the .500 mark — a swift fall from the high that came along with an 11-game winning streak back in April. Still, as Harper notes, the team’s rotation is too good to remain idle and hope for improved performance and/or better health. Harper spoke to Alderson about the need to make a move, with the GM telling him, “It would be nice to do something if we could to improve this team and give it a psychological boost.” According to Harper, Alderson made it clear that he understands the urgency to make some kind of move to help the team.
Zobrist is the type of player in which the Mets are reportedly interested. Previous indications have been that the club is eyeing someone versatile — potentially someone that could play at third base while Wright is on the shelf and slide to another position when he returns to the club. (The Mets are hoping to have Wright back around the All-Star break.) Zobrist is highly versatile, having logged significant playing time in the Majors at second base, shortstop, left field and right field. Zobrist also has more brief exposure to third base, center field and first base. While he wouldn’t be an ideal candidate to step in at the hot corner for Wright, the team could use Murphy at third with Zobrist at second until Wright returns, then potentially use Zobrist at either shortstop or in a corner outfield slot.
Of course, all of that is relatively aggressive speculation, given the seemingly preliminary nature of the discussions between the two teams. In fact, previous reports have indicated that while the Mets do covet Zobrist, they also feel they’ll be outbid for his services. As Harper notes, it doesn’t help the Mets’ cause that one of their more marketable trade chips, right-hander Rafael Montero, has been sidelined for two months with a shoulder injury.
Zobrist underwent knee surgery earlier this year and struggled upon his return, but he’s hitting a solid .250/.335/.451 with five homers on the season after heating up recently. Defensive metrics are quite down on his work this year, though it’s fair to wonder how much that’s tied to the knee surgery, as he’s long graded out as a plus defensive player all around the diamond. If the knee is the reason for the defensive struggles, then it stands to reason that his glovework should improve along with his bat as he works his way back to full strength. Zobrist is owed $4.18MM through the end of the season, at which point he’s eligible for free agency.
Certainly, a Zobrist trade — with the Mets or any other team — isn’t likely to transpire in the near future. The A’s are still said to be pushing to get back into the race, and they’ve played better as of late, winning eight of their past 10 contests and 13 of 21 in June. Beyond that, we’re in the early stages of what looks to be a market skewed decisively in favor of sellers, so any significant trade made at this juncture would likely be very costly for the acquiring team.