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Since “the Mets have showed no inclination to engage Daniel Murphy‘s representatives in extension talks,” ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin believes the second baseman could be a prime trade candidate. The Mets seem likely to deal Murphy for an outfielder in the offseason, though one Major League executive tells Rubin that the Mets could get a higher return in a deal by waiting until midseason. Murphy is eligible for arbitration for the third and final time this winter before hitting free agency after the 2015 season.
Here’s some more news about the Amazins…
- Also from Rubin’s piece, he believes the Mets’ 2015 payroll will be around the $100MM mark. Though this is an increase from their $85MM mark this season, Rubin notes that the payroll was going to rise to roughly $93MM anyway due to player raises. Any further expenditures could have to be offset by moving existing salaries, like dealing Murphy or a starting pitcher.
- Speaking of trading a starter, Rubin feels that either Dillon Gee or Jon Niese are likely to be dealt this winter. Oft-cited trade candidate Bartolo Colon is 41, will earn $11MM in 2015 and is only contracted for the one year, so the Mets could command a higher return for one of their younger, controllable starters.
- Mets GM Sandy Alderson spoke with the media (including Adam Rubin) on Sunday and noted that Citi Field’s fences in center and right-center field will “likely” be altered next season. “I think [the new dimensions will] be good for the game, good for the fans. I’m sure that one or two of our players will benefit as well,” Alderson said.
- Alderson also touched on the Mets’ need for a hitting upgrade, though he doesn’t think his team will need that great a jump from their current “middle of the pack” status in the NL’s offensive ranks to being a top-five offensive club in the league. Metsblog’s Matthew Cerrone notes that while many Mets fans clamor for a new slugger, the team’s power numbers were actually pretty good in 2014. “More than anything – the Mets need more hitters that put the ball in play. That’s it. It should not be overcomplicated,” Cerrone writes.
- The Mets will reassign hitting coaches Lamar Johnson and Luis Natera, sources tell Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. An official announcement on the 2015 coaching staff is expected to come on Tuesday. Bench coach Bob Geren will return next season, while former Met and fan favorite Wally Backman (manager of the franchise’s Triple-A affiliate) isn’t expected to be promoted to a big league coaching job.
For the second consecutive year, MLB has a no-hitter to close out the regular season. The Nationals’ Jordan Zimmermann threw the first no-hitter for the franchise since their move to Washington, D.C., but needed a diving, over-the-shoulder grab by leftfielder Steven Souza, who entered the game as a defensive replacement for Ryan Zimmerman in the top of the ninth, to preserve the 1-0 gem. “No-doubt double and [Souza] comes out of nowhere. Whatever he wants, I’ll buy him anything,” Zimmermann said (as tweeted by the Washington Post’s James Wagner). As for his defensive wizardry, Souza (as quoted by Paul White of USA Today) “knew it was over my head. I was just hoping I had a prayer of laying out. Anything can happen when you hit the ground. I came down like a football catch and that thing wasn’t getting out.” Henderson Alvarez, who tossed last year’s season-ending no-hitter, was the victim today.
Elsewhere in the National League:
- The Marlins will discuss a contract extension with Giancarlo Stanton this offseason, reports Joe Frisaro of MLB.com. “That is our plan, to talk with him about extending him beyond his arbitration years,” said Marlins President of Baseball Operations Michael Hill. “We have to hear from them and what their goals are, and what they hope to accomplish. We have some ideas we’ll streamline and tighten up as have those meetings. And hopefully we’re on the same page and can get something done.” Stanton is represented by the Wasserman Media Group, per MLBTR’s Agency Database.
- Earlier today, Marlins manager Mike Redmond received a contract extension. Brewers manager Ron Roenicke, meanwhile, is still awaiting his fate. “Yeah, I don’t know where we stand,” Roenicke told reporters, including MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy. “Yeah, it’s always uncomfortable when you’re not sure what’s going to happen. You do the best you can do, and you know when you’re a manager, that sometimes if it doesn’t go well, that you’re the guy that’s going to get blamed for it.” The Brewers lost to the Cubs to finish the year at 82-80 and 9-22 since August 26.
- Ryan Howard is just as unclear about his 2015 status with the Phillies, according to Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. “Whether it’s going to be here or not, I don’t know. But I’ll be playing baseball. So my future is certain in that aspect,” said Howard, who went so far as to ask reporters if they think he has played his last game as a Phillie.
- Phillies right-hander A.J. Burnett, who will undergo hernia surgery next week, remains undecided about exercising his $12.75MM player option, writes MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki. “It’s ultimately going to come down to me,” Burnett said. “I had the same thoughts last year. Then I woke up and I wanted to compete. So I can’t just shut that down if it’s still there. But then again, my youngins, they have a say in it.“
- Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post opines losing has taken such a toll throughout the Rockies organization that players, coaches, and other staff members are wondering if there is a vision to right the franchise.
- Wally Backman will not be added to the Mets‘ coaching staff in 2015, sources tell Andy Martino of the New York Daily News.
Here’s the latest out of the game’s eastern divisions:
- Phillies hurler Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez will have a chance to start next spring, reports Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. “The plan for him is to try to get him to the point where he’s a starter again and to put him in the mix for us next year,” said GM Ruben Amaro Jr., who said it remains to be seen whether he’ll earn a role. “I don’t know, but we have starter deficiencies and we have holes there and we’d like to put him in a position where he can at least compete for a spot,” Amaro explained.
- Meanwhile, the Phillies announced a significant front office change: assistant GM Marti Wolever, who ran the team’s amateur scouting efforts, will not be back next year. As MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki writes, Philadelphia has had some positives but also some notable negatives in converting drafted players into big league production. Of course, some of the young players that Wolever brought in were ultimately dealt away before they were able to contribute for the Phils. More front office turnover could well be coming, says Zolecki.
- Mets assistant GM John Ricco says that the club has flexibility due to its array of young arms, as Matt Ehalt of the The Record reports. “We’ll look at it and decide if we feel we can move one or more starters in a deal to fill out other areas on the team that are not as deep,” said Ricco. “It’s not a bad situation to be in. As you look around the league and see the injuries to pitchers, it’s a reminder of how many guys you do need.”
- While he remains undecided on his future, Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda left the impression that he could be leaning away from playing in the big leagues next year. As MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports, Kuroda spoke like someone who will need to be convinced to return: “Right now, I cannot imagine what the answer is going to be,” he said. “I’m just relieved I was able to finish the season without getting hurt. If — and this is a big if — there are such talks, then I’d have to ask myself and think deeply whether I’d be able to produce.” Soon to be 40, Kuroda has not been quite as excellent as he was over his first two years in New York, but has nevertheless been plenty productive with 199 frames of 3.71 ERA baseball.
3:06pm: Abreu has officially announced his retirement to reporters, including Mike Puma of the New York Daily News (Twitter link).
2:59pm: Outfielder Bobby Abreu, who made a surprising Major League comeback with the Mets this season, is expected to announce his retirement tonight, countryman and former big leaguer Omar Vizquel tweeted last night. Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily news hears the same and adds that the Mets have not spoken to Abreu about a future coaching position (Twitter link).
Abreu, 40, played winter ball last season in hopes of making a comeback to the big leagues, and a strong performance gave him an opportunity to do just that. He inked a minor league deal with one of his former teams, the Phillies, but failed to crack their roster in Spring Training. In search of a minor league deal with a better opportunity to get to the bigs, Abreu signed with the Mets, and his big numbers through 15 games earned him a promotion.
Abreu homered in just his fourth game back in the Majors, but that would prove to be his only big fly of the season. He was at one point designated for assignment and released, but he quickly signed a new minor league deal with the Mets and has since been placed back on the 40-man roster. Despite the lack of pop he showed this year, Abreu has posted a .246/.338/.338 batting line (96 OPS+) that is more than respectable for a 40-year-old coming back from a year-long absence from Major League Baseball.
Somewhat surprisingly, Abreu was named to only two All-Star teams over the course of his 18 seasons in the Majors. While he may not have gotten the recognition he deserved in that sense, Abreu’s excellent offensive reputation is well known. He has a lifetime .291/.395/.475 batting line to go along with 288 homers and an even 400 stolen bases. He authored nine 20-homer seasons, including seven in a row from 1999-2005, and he twice crossed the 30-homer threshold, maxing out at 31 in 2001. Abreu also stole at least 20 bases in 12 consecutive seasons (1999-2011), six of which included 30+ steals and one of which included 40 swipes (2004). Abreu put on an absolute spectacle in the 2005 Home Run Derby, winning the contest with 41 homers overall and belting an incredible 24 in the first round alone.
Fangraphs values Abreu’s career at 58 wins above replacement, while Baseball-Reference is more optimistic, pegging him at 59.9 WAR. Abreu will finish his Major League career with roughly $124MM in earnings, according to B-Ref and will undoubtedly generate some Hall of Fame discussion once he is eligible. Congratulations to Abreu on an outstanding Major League career.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins tells Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com that he isn’t sure when his team will contend again, but he’d like to see the club spend to work toward that in the offseason. Rollins has a specific target in mind, as well, having read up on Cuban slugger Yasmany Tomas. Rollins feels that if Tomas is the next slugger to follow in the footsteps of Jose Abreu, Yasiel Puig, Yoenis Cespedes and Jorge Soler, then “We’ve got to get our hands in that market.” Rollins continued, speaking more generically about spending to improve rather than just spending on Tomas: “We have enough money so you can’t say we don’t. … We’re in a big market, a big-market payroll. So you have to go out there and make it happen.”
Here’s more from Salisbury and more from the NL East…
- Jonathan Papelbon didn’t appeal his seven-game suspension because he didn’t want it to carry into next season, the closer tells Salisbury. Papelbon maintains that the crotch-grabbing gesture he made toward the fans was simply an adjustment: “I truly feel like if the fans really got to me and they wanted something I would have given them a little bit more than that.” Papelbon isn’t sure if the Phillies will try to limit his games finished to prevent his $13MM option (2016) from vesting, but he expects to be on the mound in save situations “regardless of what team” he is on.
- While there’s been plenty of speculation about the Mets trading Bartolo Colon this offseason, ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin wouldn’t be surprised to see the team trade Jon Niese or Dillon Gee instead (Twitter links). While neither would save the Mets as much as shedding Colon’s $11MM salary, Niese will earn $7MM in 2015 (and is guaranteed $16.5MM through 2016), while Gee’s arbitration salary could clear $5MM. Rubin feels if the Mets do indeed make trades to shed salary and free up room for free agent pursuits, the most likely candidates are those three pitchers and second baseman Daniel Murphy.
- Marlins lefty Brad Hand has made a good deal of improvements in terms of strike-throwing, writes Christina De Nicola of FOX Sports Florida, and he’ll enter 2015 with another chance to compete for a rotation spot. The out-of-options hurler and 2008 second-rounder finished the season with a 4.38 ERA in a career-high 111 innings. However, he was better in the second half, posting a 3.89 ERA over his final 13 appearances (11 starts). I’d imagine that, given the Marlins’ pitching depth, Hand could face an uphill battle in securing a rotation spot.
- While he didn’t elaborate much, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution gets the sense that there will be significant roster turnover for the Braves this offseason (Twitter link). The Braves have struggled as a whole in 2014, but particularly at the plate, where the team has batted a combined .241/.306/.360. Each of those rate stats ranks 24th or worse in Major League Baseball, and the team’s 562 runs are 29th in the Majors, leading only the Padres.
Yasmany Tomas continues to await the day when Major League Baseball declares him a free agent, but teams have already gotten a first-hand look at him via a showcase in the Dominican Republic this past weekend. Since that time, he’s already been connected to the Pirates (in more of a due diligence fashion) and held a private workout with the Phillies.
Here’s more on the soon-to-be 24-year-old Cuban masher…
- Tomas was clocked with a 6.9-second 60-yard dash, Badler tweets. That is a surprisingly solid mark given his burly frame, Badler suggests.
- The Rangers will have a private workout for Tomas on Wednesday, a source tells Ben Badler of Baseball America. The Rangers and Phillies both had strong contingents at Tomas’ showcase, Badler continues, while the Mets, Giants, Yankees, D’Backs and Padres were well-represented also. Among the Padres executives in attendance was new general manager A.J. Preller, according to Badler.
- The Phillies were impressed with Tomas after his workout for the team, reports MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki. Philadelphia also held a private workout for Rusney Castillo prior to his signing with the Red Sox, but a source tells Zolecki that the team was just “lukewarm” on Castillo following that effort, and the club has “always” preferred Tomas to Castillo.
- The Marlins had a pair of executives in attendance for the showcase, reports MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro. Director of international operations Albert Gonzalez and vice president of player personnel Craig Weissman both flew to the Dominican Republic to get a first-hand look at Tomas.
It was not easy for Braves president John Schuerholz to dismiss GM Frank Wren, writes MLB.com’s Tracy Ringolsby. Due to a combination of loyalty and good initial hiring decisions, Schuerholz has rarely decided to part ways with top members of his front office. But in this case, the longtime Atlanta executive said that change was necessary, albeit difficult. “It took time for me to get to the point of doing what I did,” said Schuerholz, who also indicated that failures in free agency may not have been the primary source of Wren’s undoing. “It’s not just about success of the club at the Major League level,” he explained, referring to the “life blood” of the club’s scouting and player development. “You have to be cognizant that the strengths of your organization are as strong as they need to be. it is why I used the words ‘cumulative effect’ [during the announcement Monday].”
- Meanwhile, newly-extended Mets GM Sandy Alderson had a variety of interesting comments today, and Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com provides a transcript. Emphasizing that he does not believe the club needs “a giant leap” to contend, Alderson said he expects the team to be active in free agency while remaining cognizant that the open market is, as he described it, a “crapshoot.” After COO Jeff Wilpon indicated that his GM will have payroll flexibility (as Rubin reports on Twitter), Alderson said that he does not know whether the team will see a spike in payroll. He did note that he does not “feel that we will necessarily be constrained by the payroll next year.” With the team needing to improve by approximately ten to twelve wins, according to Alderson, it is looking to add production in any way possible rather than “get[ting] too bogged down in too much specificity now.” That opportunistic approach may take some time to play out, he suggested: “We’re going to explore all of the options and see where it takes us. It may take us a while during the course of the offseason to fully explore what those options are.”
- The Blue Jays will retain manager John Gibbons for next year barring some unforeseen change in circumstances, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Though recent comments from GM Alex Anthopoulos led some to believe that Gibbons could be in some trouble heading into the offseason, Heyman says that the team is planning for 2015 without any intention of finding a new skipper.
- While the Yankees have not played up to expectations after a winter of big spending, the club’s mid-season acquisitions could not have gone much better, writes Dave Cameron of Fangraphs. With the exception of Stephen Drew, all of the veterans added with the hope of a turnaround did just that. contributing far more value in their short stints in New York than they had with their former clubs.
- As the Red Sox continue to tinker with one of the game’s most fascinating talent mixes, those calling for a trade of cornerstone second baseman Dustin Pedroia may need something of a reality check, writes Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. For starters, Pedroia’s deal contains a full no-trade clause, Bradford notes. And when Pedroia’s glove and veteran role are weighed in the balance, says Bradford, the idea of trading him makes little practical sense.
TODAY, 2:22pm: The Mets have officially announced that Alderson has been extended through 2017. The club also announced that Collins will return next year.
YESTERDAY, 2:32pm: Alderson’s new contract will cover the 2015-17 seasons, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter links). The extension will technically be for two years, as the club will exercise his option and two more years to the deal.
2:05pm: Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports that the Mets will announce an extension for Alderson after the season, and he adds that there will also be an announcement that manager Terry Collins has been retained (Twitter links).
1:38pm: Alderson’s contract extension will be for “about three years,” reports Andy Martino of the New York Daily News (on Twitter). However, the deal is not yet complete, and there are still details to be worked out, he hears.
1:25pm: The Mets will exercise their 2015 option on general manager Sandy Alderson and the two side are working toward a contract extension, sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link).
Alderson, 66, was hired as the Mets’ GM following the 2010 season and signed to a four-year contract which contained the aforementioned option for the 2015 season. While the Mets have yet to have a winning season under his watch, Alderson has assisted the Mets in bolstering a farm system and stockpiling an enviable crop of young talent. Alderson acquired Zack Wheeler from the Giants in exchange for a two-month rental of Carlos Beltran, and he chose to trade R.A. Dickey rather than extend him following the knuckleballer’s Cy Young season in 2012. That move netted the Amazins top prospect Noah Syndergaard as well as current catcher Travis d’Arnaud. Last summer, after striking gold on a minor league pickup of Marlon Byrd, the Mets packaged Byrd and John Buck (also acquired in the Dickey trade) to land Dilson Herrera and Vic Black from the Pirates. Additionally, he appears to have made the correct choice in retaining Lucas Duda, rather than Ike Davis, as the team’s first baseman going forward.
Of course, not all of Alderson’s moves have panned out quite so well. The signing of Chris B. Young to a one-year, $7.25MM contract this offseason proved to be a failure, and while Bartolo Colon has pitched well enough to justify the first season of his two-year, $20MM deal, his $11MM salary for 2015 made him too difficult to trade this summer. Curtis Granderson‘s four-year, $60MM contract has the potential to be a negative, though Granderson is in the midst of a torrid finish, perhaps giving hope that he can be more productive in 2015 than he was in an up-and-down 2014.
Alderson’s largest move to date has been the eight-year, $138MM extension signed by David Wright. While “Captain America” looked well worth the money even in an injury-shortened 2013 — he batted .307/.390/.514 with 18 homers and 17 steals — Wright’s power vanished in 2014, which eventually proved to be his second straight injury-shortened season. The 31-year-old batted .269/.324/.374 with just eight homers this season as he battled shoulder and neck problems that finally caused his season to conclude on Sept. 8.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes that the Yankees were somewhat handcuffed this year by their obligation to the legendary Derek Jeter and with that in mind he looks at ten other similar issues that could be brewing elsewhere. The list includes a look across town at the Mets where David Wright isn’t performing the way they had hoped when he inked his eight-year, $138MM extension. Here’s today’s look at the AL East..
- Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times looked at the major decisions the Rays will have to make this winter. Tampa Bay has a decision to make on Ben Zobrist but Topkin sees his $7.5MM option as a slam dunk and says it’s unlikely that they would trade him.
- If Masahiro Tanaka resembles his pre-injury self today against the Blue Jays, it might influence the Yankees spend this offseason, opines John Harper of the New York Daily News.
- One major league evaluator suggested to Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald that there are questions about whether Red Sox target Yasmany Tomas will make enough consistent contact to be successful against the higher-quality pitching he will face in the big leagues. Tomas hit 15 homers in Cuba’s Serie Nacional in 2012-13 but went deep only six times this season, possibly because of a shoulder injury. Boston was in attendance for Tomas’ weekend showcase in the Dominican Republic.
- The Red Sox are likely to have one spot in their 2015 rotation reserved for a young starter and while there are several candidates, it’s not clear who will fit in that role, writes Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe. Rubby De La Rosa, who looked like a keeper a few weeks ago, struggled again on Saturday night in a 7-2 loss against the Orioles. Fellow prospects Anthony Ranaudo, Allen Webster, and Brandon Workman haven’t set the world on fire lately either.
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.