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New York Mets Rumors
The Mets will send three scouts to get a first-hand look at Yasmani Tomas for his showcase on Sunday, reports Newsday’s Marc Carig. However, as has been documented recently, the team’s payroll isn’t likely to rise significantly next season, which could make Tomas a stretch, financially speaking. The 23-year-old could top Rusney Castillo‘s $72.5MM guarantee, and a $100MM commitment is certainly possible. Mets VP of player development and scouting Paul DePodesta tells Carig that despite the team’s lack of activity, they’ve been keeping close tabs on the Cuban market: “We have been very diligent about all of the free agents who have come available, there just hasn’t been a fit yet.”
Elsewhere in Mets-related news…
- Bill Madden of the New York Daily News writes that the lack of a payroll increase doesn’t necessarily doom the Mets in 2015, as the team’s surplus of young pitching gives them an inexpensive rotation and the ability to trade for a cost-controlled shortstop if it is eventually deemed necessary. However, he feels that it’s becoming clear that the Mets intend to try to fill the shortstop hole from within, giving Wilmer Flores an opportunity to prove himself. Left field may be the more problematic area of need for New York, and while GM Sandy Alderson would like to fill that void via trade, Madden says, the dearth of power hitters in the game might make it difficult to swing. He suggests Michael Cuddyer as a viable free agent option, which makes some degree of sense for the Mets in my opinion. While Madden doesn’t state it, Cuddyer could start at first base versus left-handed pitching to shield Lucas Duda and jump to the outfield against righties. Madden also rightly notes that payroll doesn’t guarantee success, and a look at this year’s contenders and non-factors proves that.
- Triple-A manager Wally Backman is joining the coaching staff for the final nine games of September, and a team insider tells Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com that the possibility of adding Backman to the 2015 coaching staff is “under consideration.” Many fans prefer Backman to manager Terry Collins, Rubin notes, but Collins says he views Backman as an ally rather than a threat: “We have a very strong relationship. Wally and I are very good friends. We always have been — for a lot of years. … He brings a lot to the table.”
- Madden’s colleague, Andy Martino, writes that the Mets shouldn’t have to subtract payroll by trading someone like Bartolo Colon or Daniel Murphy in order to add a free agent such as Cuddyer or another bat. The baseball ops department should be granted what it needs to work with, as Alderson “does not exactly ask for the moon.” He also notes that Alderson and Backman have a good deal of philosophical differences, so if Backman is on next year’s staff, it’ll mean the GM didn’t want to choose that battle or he feels he can keep a better eye on him with the big league club.
Blue Jays center fielder Colby Rasmus discussed his disappointing season and pending free agency in a lengthy and excellent interview with Scott Macarthur of TSN.ca. Rasmus’s comments are too lengthy and complicated to encapsulate fully and fairly here, but are well worth a read (or a listen) to anyone interested in understanding one of the more interesting free agent situations in the game. Ultimately, Rasmus comes across as an extremely thoughtful player who, perhaps, needs the right environment to thrive. Though he did not say outright that he does not view that place as Toronto, Rasmus did say that his time with the Cardinals was at times “so unenjoyable that I had trouble wanting to come to the yard everyday and enjoy it,” and noted that he has “kind of run into some of that” this season as well. Said Rasmus: “This year has been a tough year and I’m just going to go home, enjoy it, go back to the drawing board and try to work my tail off this offseason to get in good shape and hopefully find a place to where I fit in well and I can help my team win.” It will be fascinating to see how his free agency turns out; though he has had good years and bad, Rasmus just turned 28, offers rare power for a center fielder, and has put up two approximately four-win seasons.
- Mets starter Dillon Gee is under team control for next year, but as Newsday’s Marc Carig writes, he could find himself squeezed out of the rotation after a tough second half. “I’ll have a spot somewhere,” said Gee. “It might not be here but it will be somewhere.”
- The Mets could be more and more inclined to hold off on adding a shortstop given the recent play of Wilmer Flores, as Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. “We’re getting a lot more comfortable,” said GM Sandy Alderson. “One of the reasons for giving [Flores] as much playing time as we have is to build up his number of plate appearances to get him more comfortable to try to establish sort of a baseline.” Alderson said that Flores has done a solid job defensively at short, noting that Ruben Tejada and Matt Reynolds also remain internal options to take the position next year.
- While Yasmani Tomas makes a good deal of sense for the Phillies, that does not mean that they are favorites to sign him, writes David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News. Other clubs in better position to contend will likely place an increased value on adding a bat like Tomas given their spot on the win curve, Murphy suggests.
Here’s the latest out of the National League:
- A repeat of last year’s late-season extensions seems unlikely for the Giants, tweets Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. The club is not talking about new deals with any of its pending free agents, says Schulman. That would include, of course, third baseman Pablo Sandoval. In a recent poll, MLBTR readers indicated a collective expectation that Sandoval will find a new home next year.
- Mets GM Sandy Alderson explained that his recent comments on the club’s younger players have been somewhat misinterpreted as forecasts of the team’s spending plans, as Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports. Saying that his statements were intended to focus on the team’s younger players, particularly given his audience (related to one of the team’s affiliates), Alderson emphasized that it would be unfair to “assume that we’ve made decisions about what we’re going to or not going to do at those positions.” Though Martino notes that the organization still needs to prove it actually has the ability and willingness to bump up its spending, Alderson maintains that he has no complaints and believes in the club’s process. “It’s important to keep in mind a couple things,” he said. “One is, I actually believe we will have some payroll flexibility that goes beyond what some people are thinking. But at the same time, I don’t think we expect to go out and spend money just to get to a threshold. We have to see what’s there, both in terms of the free agent market and over time the trade market. We have to evaluate what we have.”
- Veteran Phillies righty A.J. Burnett has bumped the value of his 2015 player option to $12.75MM with tonight’s start, his 32nd, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki notes on Twitter. While it remains to be seen whether he decides to return, Burnett’s injury-free but less productive 2014 campaign makes it unlikely that he would deliver much in return via trade. (Of course, his 20-team no-trade clause also presents a significant barrier.)
The Braves announced at a groundbreaking ceremony today that their new home will be called SunTrust Park, reflecting a sponsorship agreement with the financial institution. Set to open in time for the 2017 season, the new ballpark is expected to deliver an important new revenue stream for the organization. Of course, the surprise deal to move the club to Cobb County has drawn its share of criticism for the financing agreement and political maneuvering that paved the way.
Here’s more from the National League:
- While the Braves entered the season with a whole new financial outlook — having completed the stadium deal, a restructuring of the club’s television contract, and several notable player extensions — things have not gone as hoped on the field. MLB.com’s Mark Bowman looked back at some of the developments that have led to what he calls the team’s most disappointing season in decades. Given the club’s difficulties, Bowman suggests that the job security of GM Frank Wren is increasingly in question looking forward.
- Mets GM Sandy Alderson has indicated that the team has more young players that it would like to protect from the Rule 5 draft than it has 40-man roster spots to do so, as ESPNNewYork.com’s Adam Rubin reports. The club will, of course, need to be strategic regarding its eligible players, assessing the possibility that another team will take certain players and keep them active for the full season necessary to keep control. Rubin lists all the team’s possibilities for elevation to the MLB roster, along with the slightly more advanced players who could be set loose to accommodate new additions.
- The shortstop position continues to be a major question mark for the Mets heading into the offseason. As Rubin notes, Ruben Tejada could theoretically be a non-tender (or release) candidate, less due to concerns with cost than the roster crunch. Tejada has only a .225/.338/.284 slash, though defensive metrics like his work and he has yet to turn 25. Meanwhile, Wilmer Flores has not yet delivered on his well-regarded ability at the plate at the MLB level, but has had less trouble handling the position than many expected. As Carson Cistulli of Fangraphs writes, advanced metrics have viewed his work (in a limited sample) as roughly league-average, which could be enough to give him a shot next year given his offensive upside. As with last year, the upcoming free agency period could be an interesting one for Mets fans hoping for a long-term solution at the shortstop position. Though GM Sandy Alderson has expressed that payroll expansion is unlikely, the market includes a number of quality veterans.
The Mets are expected to bring back both general manager Sandy Alderson and manager Terry Collins for the 2015 season, sources tell Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. Contract details haven’t been finalized with either man, though since Collins is already signed through 2015, Alderson’s status is the only one that needs to be immediately addressed. The GM’s previous deal will expire at the end of the season, and though the Mets hold a team option on his services for 2015, Martino reports that it’s more likely the Mets will work out an extension with Alderson rather than just exercise the one-year option.
Alderson and Collins both joined the team prior to the 2011 season, and the rebuilding Mets have a 297-339 record under both men. It had been assumed that Alderson would return in 2015, and though Collins’ status was perhaps in question earlier in the season, recent signs pointed towards his return as well. The skipper signed a two-year extension with the Mets last September that covers him through 2015, plus a team option for 2016.
While wins and losses haven’t been a major concern for the Mets in recent years, this could be a different story in 2015 when Matt Harvey is back from Tommy John surgery and joins the several other promising young players on New York’s roster. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Mets only announce that Collins is returning and don’t work out any further extension; the team will want to see if Collins is the right man to manage a contender before making a longer-term commitment. At most, the Mets could exercise Collins’ 2016 option so he could avoid lame-duck status next year.
The Mets will make an official announcement on Alderson and Collins at the end of the season, and sources tell Martino that the club could confirm both are staying during a single press conference, though nothing has yet been decided.
Today is the bicentennial of The Star-Spangled Banner. MLB.com’s Doug Miller chronicles the link between our country’s national anthem and its national pastime from the first time it was sung before a baseball game (May 15, 1862) to the great and not-so-great renditions. From the national anthem to the National League East, here are today’s notes from the division:
- Rafael Soriano is making progress after working on his mechanics, but there is no timetable to reinstall him as the Nationals‘ closer, according to James Wagner of the Washington Post. MLBTR’s Jeff Todd noted recently Soriano’s $14MM club option for 2015 will not vest and the Nationals are all but certain to decline the option making him an interesting free agent to watch.
- Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg won’t speak ill of Ryan Howard or suggest a trade would make sense, but he admits a move to first base could be beneficial for Chase Utley, writes the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Matt Gelb. “I think playing first base would eliminate a little wear and tear at that position,” Sandberg said. “Whether that’s a consideration or not has yet to be seen.” Gelb suggests a plan for 2015 where Utley is slated to play about 130 games with 100 of them at first base.
- Kyle Kendrick isn’t sure if he made his final home start in a Phillies‘ uniform last night, but it sounds like he’d like to stay put in Philadelphia, if possible. “I don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s out of my control. But if I’m somewhere else, I’ll miss it,” Kendrick told reporters, including Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com.
- The Mets have shut down left-hander Dana Eveland for the remainder of the season because of elbow inflammation, reports MLB.com’s Tim Healey. The 30-year-old, who will become a free agent at the end of the season, has had a career year with the Mets posting a 2.63 ERA, 8.9 K/9, and 2.0 BB/9 in 30 relief outings (27 1/3 innings).
Earlier in the week, we learned the Mets expect to maintain a steady payroll in the low-to-mid-$80MM range. Although the club may prefer to avoid trading from their pitching depth or adding significant payroll, they’ll need to be opportunistic to succeed in 2015, writes The New York Post’s Joel Sherman. The club is well aware that free agent signings can backfire and pitching depth can vanish with the pop of a couple ligaments. Per Sherman, the New York’s perceived plan to spend when fans return to the ballpark is “backwards.” The franchise spends less on player salaries than the mid-market Braves, yet they have powerful potential revenue streams from their Northeast location, relatively new stadium, and TV network. Sherman suggests the club remain open to signing a few veterans like Melky Cabrera, Jed Lowrie, or Mike Morse. An alternative source of value could be to pick up possible castoffs like Matt Kemp or Jose Reyes.
- Alderson is “right” to note that money doesn’t equate to success, says Bill Madden of the New York Daily News. Madden emphasizes the Mets woeful performance in recent free agent markets, but he also believes the club should be open to expanding payroll in the right move – including trades. He mentions Red Sox outfielder Yoenis Cespedes as a sort of ideal trade target.
- Russell Martin is a stealth MVP candidate and the Pirates need to re-sign him, writes David Golebiewski of GammonsDaily.com. Martin blends offense and defense at a critical position. While the Pirates are generally penny pinchers, they should do what is necessary to retain the 31-year-old free agent. In addition to his personal virtues, Pittsburgh lacks a viable internal replacement. MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes believes “a four-year deal north of $50MM” to be possible.
Kirk Gibson’s good relationship with chief baseball officer Tony La Russa might help him keep his job with Diamondbacks, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman writes. The Diamondbacks are struggling and are in the process of replacing Kevin Towers as their general manager, but Gibson has proactively sought the advice of La Russa, a Hall of Fame manager. “They communicate a lot, and (La Russa) probably feels Gibby can improve,” notes a source of Heyman’s close to the Diamondbacks. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, however, tweets that there is little support for Gibson within the Diamondbacks’ clubhouse. Here are more notes on managers.
- La Russa says he, and not the Diamondbacks’ next GM, will make the decision on Gibson, Zach Buchanan of the Arizona Republic writes. A previous report indicated that the next GM would decide whether Gibson would stay.
- Terry Collins is “all but certain” to return to the Mets, Heyman writes. The Mets have won eight of their last ten games, and the team’s ownership appears to back Collins. Also, a number of the team’s younger players, including Lucas Duda, Travis d’Arnaud, Juan Lagares, Jacob deGrom, Jeurys Familia and Jenrry Mejia, have had good or fairly good seasons.
- It wouldn’t be a shock if Ron Gardenhire stepped down as manager of the Twins, Anthony Castrovince of Sports On Earth writes. The Twins will likely give Gardenhire the opportunity to manage in 2015 if he wants, but Gardenhire has been on the job since 2002 and is likely on his way to a fourth straight 90-loss season. If he were to retire, it would be hard to blame him, Castrovince writes.
MLBTR’s thoughts and best wishes are with Giancarlo Stanton as he recovers from a frightening incident in which he was struck in the face by a fastball from Brewers right-hander Mike Fiers last night. Stanton has been diagnosed with a laceration and facial fractures, and appears to be done for the season, though the Marlins have said that surgery likely won’t be required. The NL MVP candidate tweeted this morning a heartfelt thanks to baseball fans for the support he has received and, more importantly, announced that he is feeling much better. As Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets, Stanton is still eyeing a comeback this season, which would be a remarkable return.
As we all wish Stanton a speedy recovery, here’s more on the Marlins’ franchise player and the rest of the NL East…
- Dave Cameron of Fangraphs examines what a potential Giancarlo Stanton extension would look like for the Marlins, exploring two different options. Firstly, Cameron outlines a shorter extension that buys out his prime years (ages 27-32) but leaves him a chance at one more significant free agent deal. His second hypothesis is for a Joey Votto-style extension that buys out 10 free agent years on top of his remaining two arbitration years (which Cameron pegs at $30-35MM). Based on WAR/$ and factoring in for some slight inflation, Cameron pegs the shorter deal at $240MM over eight years, though he notes that Stanton would likely feel the need to top Miguel Cabrera‘s $248MM guarantee. The 10-year extension could fetch a $270MM guarantee, which, when paired with the remaining $30-35MM would amount to a 12-year deal worth $300MM+, in Cameron’s estimation.
- While he’s tired of hearing that Daniel Murphy is “more valuable to the Mets than to other clubs,” Matthew Cerrone of SNY’s MetsBlog is beginning to believe it’s true after speaking with six talent evaluators from other clubs. Four officials told him that Murphy would likely be viewed as a super-utility option, while one said that he could see a contending team making a push for him, but more as a secondary option than a primary target. Ultimately, with Dilson Herrera still just 20 years old, Cerrone feels that an extension is probably the best course of action for the Mets. I examined a potential Murphy extension earlier this summer, theorizing that a four-year deal in the $45-48MM range might make sense.
- MLB.com’s Mark Bowman has previously examined the possibility of an Evan Gattis trade to clear room for Christian Bethancourt to serve as the team’s everyday catcher, and he recently got the opinion of several Braves players and coaches on the possibility of Bethancourt starting in the future. Gerald Laird called Bethancourt “the catcher of the future” noting that while it’s understandable to want to keep Gattis’ bat in the lineup, “you can’t sit this kid.” Freddie Freeman praised Bethancourt’s improving approach, while hitting coach Greg Walker and manager Fredi Gonzalez both gave him rave reviews as well. Of course, with the lineup struggling to score as it is, the Braves may want to keep Gattis and place him in the outfield rather than dangle him on the trade market.
While the Mets look to have primed themselves for a potential run next year, the organization’s expectation is that payroll will remain in the low-to-mid-$80MM range, reports ESPN.com’s Buster Olney (Insider link). A major portion of that (just over $54MM) is already promised to veterans David Wright, Curtis Granderson, Bartolo Colon, and Jon Niese. And several players — including Daniel Murphy, Bobby Parnell, Dillon Gee, and Lucas Duda – will be in line for sizeable salaries through arbitration. GM Sandy Alderson said recently that the team will “have some flexibility,” Olney says it seems likely that the front office will need to look for buy-low options to fill its various areas of need.
Here’s more from New York:
- The Mets face a fairly significant upcoming roster crunch, writes Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. Players like Wilmer Flores, Jenrry Mejia, Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Andrew Brown, and Cesar Puello will be out of options for the first time. And the 40-man will remain full heading into the fall since the team has only two free agents (Daisuke Matsuzaka and Bobby Abreu) and needs to accomodate returns from the 60-day DL (Matt Harvey and Bobby Parnell). Creating roster space for new additions and Rule 5 protection will require some tough, early choices for New York.
- With no indication from the Mets that a large payroll expansion is coming, the club may hope for a production boost from a combination of internal improvements and shortened fences, writes Newsday’s Marc Carig. Though bringing in the fences again would obviously impact opponents as well — and has been in the works for some time — Carig notes that there could be some home-team benefits. In particular, reeling in a spacious right-centerfield might result in some additional home runs, given that several of the club’s best hitters thrive hitting to that alley. And if the team’s own rotation can reach its potential, the corresponding benefit to the opposition may not match the Mets’ own yield. For his part, Alderson emphasizes that the changes to dimension are designed solely to enhance the fan experience at Citi Field.
- As it looks to transition back into contention, the club is facing a potentially difficult and embarrassing legal situation, as Selim Algar of the New York Post reports. Former head of marketing and ticket sales Leigh Castergine — the organization’s first-ever female senior vice president, per the report — has sued the club and COO Jeff Wilpon (son of owner Fred Wilpon) for allegedly firing her based on moral opposition to her becoming pregnant without being married. The suit apparently includes numerous specific details that, if proven, could conceivably have important implications for the team’s front office structure.