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New York Mets Rumors
The Nationals’ “approach with Ian Desmond has not changed one bit since the end of last season,” GM Mike Rizzo told reporters (including MLB.com’s Bill Ladson) today during a conference call. “Ian Desmond is our shortstop. He is the leader of our team. He is one of the best shortstops in all of baseball, and he is going to be the shortstop of the Washington Nationals. With that said, if a deal comes up that we can’t refuse, we will always look to improve ourselves for 2015 and beyond. But it’s hard to replace one of the best shortstops in all of baseball. The deal would have to be pretty elaborate not to have Ian Desmond on this team.” Of course, such a “pretty elaborate” trade was reportedly discussed between the Nats, Mets and Rays earlier this winter that would’ve sent Desmond to the Mets. Here’s some more from the nation’s capital…
- While that three-team deal was scuttled when the Rays dealt Ben Zobrist and Yunel Escobar to Oakland, it’s still “not out of the question” that Desmond could be dealt to the Mets, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News tweets. “Nothing is imminent” between the two sides, however.
- Executives around the league who have spoken to the Nationals say the team is still trying to move Desmond, ESPN’s Jayson Stark reports (Twitter link). The Nats’ claim that Escobar was acquired to play second base is “spin.” During the conference call, Rizzo was confident that Escobar would fit into the Nationals’ clubhouse and have no problems adjusting to second base.
- The Nationals’ acquisition of Escobar for Tyler Clippard is criticized by Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post. Boswell opines that the trade was a “Plan C” option from a Nats team that couldn’t pull the trigger on preferred offseason moves, and that the trade threatens to weaken both the Nationals’ bullpen and their clubhouse chemistry.
- Escobar’s presence also seems to imply that Desmond’s time in Washington could be up, as Boswell notes that a big extension for the star shortstop doesn’t seem to be forthcoming. The ongoing dispute between the Nationals and Orioles about MASN broadcasting rights could be a reason why Desmond hasn’t been extended, as Boswell hears from two sources that the Lerner family is “almost phobic about knowing their future revenues before spending.”
The Yankees may not have stowed away their checkbook, as MLB.com’s Barry Bloom reports. Owner Hal Steinbrenner told reporters yesterday that time remained for moves. “It’s not over until it’s over,” he said. “We still have a full month before Spring Training. … [W]e’re still the New York Yankees, all you guys know that. We know what the fans expect. We know what the town expects. We’re not going to be afraid to spend money.”
- If the Yankees are still the Yankees, then so too are the Rays still the Rays. As Andrew Astleford of FOX Sports Florida writes, trading away Ben Zobrist is just the latest reminder of the team’s continued strategies. “These trades are difficult, but they’re a necessary part of how we operate,” said president of baseball operations Matthew Silverman.
- One other hallmark of the Rays method is early-career extensions, and one area of risk in such deals is injury, especially for pitchers. Lefty Matt Moore, who is controllable through 2019 under just such a contract, lost virtually all of last season due to Tommy John surgery. He is in a good physical and mental state, tweets Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, and hopes to return to the mound soon while building toward a return to the roster this coming June.
- Topkin also wonders (via Twitter) whether the Braves and Rays could be a match on outfielder David DeJesus. The veteran is owed $5MM this year and a $1MM buyout on a 2016 option, which makes him a reasonably priced target but also does not leave him with a ton of trade value.
- Though Orioles owner Peter Angelos threw cold water yesterday on the idea that momentum was building toward a deal that would result in executive VP Dan Duquette taking over the Blue Jays‘ front office, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports says that the possibility still remains. If nothing else, Duquette wants the job in Toronto, per the report, which chalks up the Angelos statement to negotiating tactics.
- The Mets should make a hard push to acquire shortstop Ian Desmond from the Nationals, Rosenthal argues in the same piece. The recently-acquired Yunel Escobar provides an alternative to Desmond in D.C., and Rosenthal suggests that including Daniel Murphy and adding prospect value could make the trade palatable for the Nats. While I would not write off the idea entirely, it would seem likely that the Nationals would demand a particularly significant return to move Desmond to a rising division rival.
- Staying in the division, Rosenthal says that the Braves should deal away closer Craig Kimbrel. The righty is an expensive luxury for a non-contending team, says Rosenthal, who does note that the club might get better value for him at the trade deadline. That may well be, but it would be interesting to see what teams would give up now for one of the game’s most dominant arms; I’m guessing quite a bit. For its part, Atlanta is “optimistic about the coming season” and has no interest in dealing away Kimbrel, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman tweets.
- The ship has sailed at this point, of course, but Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution opines that the Braves may not have been in need of such a dramatic renovation. While the plan to re-build around young pitching obviously makes sense directionally, Bradley argues that the team now looks destined to be rather dreadful for the next season or two and wonders whether a less drastic plan could have been pursued.
The Marlins are taking a cautious approach to their interest in James Shields, writes MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro. While the Fish undoubtedly have interest, the team simply won’t go to the $100MM range over five years. Frisaro speculates that something in the five-year, $90MM range could be their limit, and even that would be tricky. The Marlins could afford to pay Shields as much as $20MM on a front-loaded deal, but they have $33MM committed to four players in 2016 with a whopping 14 players eligible for arbitration next winter (of course, some could be non-tendered or traded). The target payroll for 2016 is $80MM, making it difficult to commit a huge salary to Shields. The Marlins, Frisaro writes, want to ensure that nothing similar to their 2012 fire sale happens again; that year, they loaded their payroll up over $100MM with the assumption that a new ball park would send revenues to record levels, but the earnings didn’t reach Miami’s projections. That, coupled with a losing season on the field, led to the dramatic restructuring of the roster.
This is purely speculative on my behalf, but I’d think the idea of trading Steve Cishek, who projects to earn $6.9MM in 2015 (to say nothing of what’s sure to be a sizable 2016 salary), would make things easier on the Fish going forward. Allocating that type of cash to one reliever restricts a club with a limited payroll in a substantial way. Then again, the Marlins have been reluctant to listen to offers for Cishek in the past, and one could argue that paying one starter upwards of $20MM is equally limiting. Previous reports have indicated that Miami could have a new TV deal by 2017, so they could soon have much greater means for an increased payroll.
Moving away from Shields, here are a few more notes from the NL East…
- ESPN’s Jayson Stark tweeted yesterday that he’s heard from clubs in touch with the Phillies that Philadelphia is playing up what a great person Ryan Howard is when pitching him in potential trades. While Stark notes that it’s an accurate point, he adds that (unsurprisingly), it’s done little to help the Phillies’ cause. There still appear to be no takers at this point, says Stark.
- Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com looks at the inactivity of the Mets‘ in addressing their shortstop position and concludes that there really hasn’t been an ideal fit for the club this offseason. Ian Desmond, the most recent name in the mix, would’ve cost them Noah Syndergaard and another prospect and is hitting the open market next season. The top free agent shortstop, Hanley Ramirez, signed as a left fielder, and other free agents like Asdrubal Cabrera and Jed Lowrie have significant defensive question marks. Stephen Drew‘s contract was negligible, but as Castrovince notes, a year of Drew is not a clearly better option than getting a definitive answer as to whether or not Wilmer Flores can handle the position.
- Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com ponders if the combination of Ben Zobrist and Yunel Escobar would be an upgrade over the Nationals‘ expected midddle-infield tandem of Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa, had the rumored three-team trade with the Mets and Rays gone through. It’s debatable, he writes, and the second year on Escobar’s contract had significant value for Washington, as Trea Turner likely won’t be ready by 2016, but the Nats could still come out ahead by retaining Desmond for 2015 and adding a second base upgrade. Zuckerman points out that the very fact that the trade was discussed indicates that GM Mike Rizzo is still actively pursuing upgrades and could find an alternative just yet.
The Padres are still involved in some chatter involving Phillies ace Cole Hamels, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. Prior reports had indicated that a hypothetical deal could include recently-acquired, high-upside outfielder Wil Myers, but Heyman says that recently-discussed trade scenarios have been based around San Diego prospects. That being said, the report stresses that nothing is close and that other clubs are still involved. And, of course, GM A.J. Preller said recently that he does not expect any more truly significant deals.
More from the National League West:
- In addition to pursuing free agent starter James Shields, the Diamondbacks are looking at the trade market for a starter and/or catcher, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports. Arizona would be interested in moving an outfield bat, and at least one club (the Orioles) has inquired on David Peralta and Ender Inciarte.
- The Rockies, too, want to add to their rotation, and MLB.com’s Thomas Harding says that the team is increasing its efforts to do so. Mets righty Dillon Gee is said to be a target, of course, though Harding reports that the Rockies have not made an offer. (For what it’s worth, both Harding and Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post suggested the idea of southpaw reliever Boone Logan as a target for the Mets.) Otherwise, Colorado would likely aim for an experienced, back-end right-hander on the free agent market, with Harding saying that names like Ryan Vogelsong, Kyle Kendrick, and Kevin Correia represent the range of pitcher being considered.
- In addition to eyeing the rotation market, the Rockies have several former closers on their radar, per Harding. Francisco Rodriguez, Rafael Soriano, and John Axford are among the late-inning arms that Colorado could make a run at, according to the report.
Following a report from last night in which Andy Martino of the New York Daily News indicated that the Mets are in active trade talks regarding Dillon Gee, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that the Rockies, Padres and Giants are all looking at a trade for the 28-year-old righty.
The Rockies were linked by Rosenthal’s colleague, Jon Morosi, to free agent Ryan Vogelsong last night, and Morosi reported late last week that the Rox also had mild interest in Dan Haren. It’s not surprising to see Colorado looking to add some arms, and Gee would seem a bit of a better fit than either Vogelsong or Haren. For one, his projected $5.1MM price tag (courtesy of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz) is half that of Haren’s. But more importantly, Gee is more of a ground-ball pitcher than either of the other two veteran righties; he posted a 44.1 percent ground-ball rate in 2014 and sports a 45.6 percent mark for his career. While those numbers are roughly league average, they’re much higher than the marks Haren and Vogelsong have posted in recent years. Both have a ground-ball percentage of about 39 percent in that time. Gee is also controllable for two seasons via arbitration — another factor that Colorado likely finds appealing.
It’s a bit puzzling to see the Padres linked to a starting pitcher, but perhaps it shouldn’t be, given how active GM A.J. Preller has been on the trade front this winter. San Diego currently projects to have a strong crop of starters, fronted by Andrew Cashner, Tyson Ross and Ian Kennedy. Beyond that trio, injury-prone but talented righties Brandon Morrow and Josh Johnson will compete with Odrisamer Despaigne, Robbie Erlin andCory Luebke for the final two spots. Of course, both Luebke and Johnson are on the mend from Tommy John surgery, so they’re unlikely to be ready for the beginning of the season. And, Cashner, Morrow and Johnson all have lengthy injury histories, so perhaps it shouldn’t be too surprising that the Friars are looking for more depth. San Diego also traded away the talented Jesse Hahn, who seemed destined for a rotation spot, in the Derek Norris deal with the A’s.
As for the Giants, they’ve had uncertainty surrounding their rotation for quite some time, and that only increased when they learned that Tim Hudson would require ankle surgery that would keep him shelved for eight weeks. Following that news, vice president/assistant GM Bobby Evans told reporters that the team still wasn’t considering adding a Major League arm to its ranks, but that no longer appears to be the case. The Giants have Madison Bumgarner atop the rotation and re-signed Jake Peavy to a two-year deal, but both Matt Cain and Hudson are now coming off surgery, Tim Lincecum has been unstable for the better part of three years, and Yusmeiro Petit has never handled a full season’s workload as a starter (though he has been brilliant as a swingman for the past two seasons). San Francisco also watched Vogelsong hit the open market this winter, further depleting their rotation.
Gee, who turns 29 in late April, worked to an even 4.00 ERA in 137 innings with the Mets last season. He was limited by a strained lat muscle that led to a prolonged DL stint, but he did toss 199 innings the year prior. Over the past four seasons in the Mets’ rotation, Gee has worked to a 4.01 ERA (4.24 FIP) with 6.6 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9. The Mets are known to be looking to shed a veteran starter this winter, and Gee’s name has come up the most frequently of late.
Among the areas that the Mets could be looking to address on their big league roster are left-handed relief and shortstop. I find it unlikely that the Mets receive a starting-caliber shortstop in a trade of Gee, but a left-handed reliever is certainly a plausible return, and they could simply move him for the best package of minor league talent offered by any of the interested parties as well.
There doesn’t seem to be much of a market yet for Ryan Howard, but perhaps there should be, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes. True, the Phillies would have to pay a large chunk of the $60MM on Howard’s contract, but Howard still has home run power and is healthy this offseason. Howard also revised his limited no-trade clause last fall to accommodate possible trades, and would likely approve deals even to teams on his no-trade list, Rosenthal reports. “If you’re looking for a DH and want some left-handed power – which doesn’t exist out there – and a good quality person who knows how to win and wants to play, this guy is the guy to go get,” says GM Ruben Amaro Jr. “The fact that we’ve been so public makes people think we’ll release him. That won’t happen.” Contract aside, Rosenthal thinks Howard’s market value ought be be something like $7MM to $10MM per season. Even that seems ambitious for a 35-year-old who has been below replacement level in two of the last three seasons, however. Here are more notes from throughout baseball.
- This weekend’s trade of Ben Zobrist and Yunel Escobar could make the Rays a potential bidder for Howard, since the Rays gained payroll flexibility in the deal and have pursued stopgap designated hitters and first basemen in the past, Ryan Lawrence of Philly.com writes. It seems unlikely that the Rays would trade for Howard, however. They acquired John Jaso in the Zobrist deal with the idea that he wouldn’t primarily be a catcher, but rather a left-handed bat who might DH or play first base or outfield. (In fact, Jaso has said the Rays plan for him to play mostly DH.) Jaso’s role would seem to overlap with Howard’s potential spot in Tampa, so if Howard’s performance didn’t rule him out as an option for the Rays, Jaso’s presence probably would.
- The Rockies have had discussions with free agent starter Ryan Vogelsong, FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi tweets. The Rockies have been connected to low-cost starting pitchers like Josh Johnson, Aaron Harang, Kevin Correia and Kyle Kendrick, and Vogelsong would seem somewhat similar. Pitchers like Kendrick have shown some ability to get ground balls, however, while Vogelsong is more of a fly ball pitcher, potentially making him an awkward fit for Coors Field. The 37-year-old posted a 4.00 ERA with 7.4 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in 184 2/3 innings with the Giants in 2014.
- The Diamondbacks are trying to acquire a catcher, Morosi tweets. After trading Miguel Montero to the Cubs, the Snakes have Tuffy Gosewisch penciled in as their starter. The only other catcher on their 40-man is Rule 5 pick Oscar Hernandez, who played in Class A last year. They did sign Matt Pagnozzi and re-sign Blake Lalli to minor league deals, but they still appear short on experienced catching.
- The Mets are in active trade discussions involving starting pitcher Dillon Gee, Andy Martino of New York Daily News tweets. Gee’s name came up in the three-team Ian Desmond / Ben Zobrist deal the Mets discussed with the Rays and Nationals, Martino adds. Rumors about Gee have simmered all offseason, with the Rockies, Giants and Twins among the teams connected to the righty. The Mets have reportedly been trying to trade a veteran starter, with Jon Niese and Bartolo Colon as other potential candidates, although Gee appears to be the most likely to be traded.
- The Orioles will get a close look at Rule 5 picks Jason Garcia and Logan Verrett at minicamp this week, Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun writes. Garcia (who was originally selected by the Astros before being traded to Baltimore) just turned 22 and has not yet pitched above Class A, but Encina says the righty impressed the Orioles with his performance against their farmhands in instructional league play last fall. Verrett is more experienced, having held his own as a starter for the Mets’ Triple-A team last year as a 24-year-old. He’s more likely to relieve for the Orioles. It seems unlikely that a contending team would keep two Rule 5 picks on its roster for too long, so the amount of time Garcia and Verrett have to prove themselves might be somewhat limited.
The Nationals, Mets and Rays discussed a three-team deal involving Ian Desmond, Ben Zobrist and Yunel Escobar before the Rays sent Zobrist and Escobar to Oakland, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes. The Mets would have received Desmond, with Zobrist and Escobar heading to Washington and the Mets sending prospects to Tampa. The deal ultimately fell through when the Mets declined to part with two prospects from a list of three, one of whom was pitcher Noah Syndergaard. The Mets also discussed acquiring Zobrist from the Rays in a more conventional two-team trade, although the two teams encountered the same hangup regarding prospects.
The structure of the potential three-team deal makes sense, at least on some level, for all sides. The Mets continue to be weak at shortstop, and Desmond would have been an enormous upgrade over Wilmer Flores and Ruben Tejada. The Nationals had been connected to Zobrist, and Escobar, who is under control through 2016 with an option for 2017, would have provided an everyday shortstop for at least the next two years, helping alleviate a headache that could arrive next offseason as a number of key players become eligible for free agency. (Zobrist, who would have upgraded the Nats at second base while also providing them with options in the outfield, would have joined the list of Nationals eligible for free agency next winter, however.) And it’s hardly surprising that the Rays would have asked for high-upside young talent for Zobrist, since that’s what they ultimately got (in Daniel Robertson and Boog Powell, who they received along with John Jaso and cash) when they sent him to the Athletics.
Desmond is eligible for free agency after the season, however, and Rosenthal notes that the Mets were concerned about paying a high price for a one-year player, particularly given the possibility that they could sign him next winter anyway. The Rays’ asking price evidently was high, even without knowing who they might have received besides Syndergaard — MLB.com and Baseball America both rank Syndergaard as the Mets’ No. 1 prospect, with MLB.com ranking him the No. 10 prospect in all of baseball. The 22-year-old posted a 4.60 ERA with 9.8 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in 133 innings for the Mets’ hitter-friendly Triple-A Las Vegas affiliate in 2014.
The Nationals would not have been concerned about having Desmond play for another team in the NL East, Rosenthal writes. The Cubs, Giants and other teams besides the Athletics and Nationals also had interest in Zobrist.
The latest edition of the MLBTR Podcast focuses on the Padres‘ busy offseason, as Jeff Todd speaks with MLB.com’s Padres beat writer Corey Brock about all of San Diego’s transactions. Jeff also spends a few minutes on how the five NL West teams’ winter moves have created a varied set of expectations around the division. Here’s the latest from around the baseball world…
- The Angels weren’t eager to part with Ricardo Sanchez, but GM Jerry Dipoto told reporters (including MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez) that the club’s young pitching depth made it easier to deal Sanchez to the Braves for third baseman Kyle Kubitza and reliever Nate Hyatt. “What we’ve done, in our draft or in the trades the way we’ve gathered players, is really focus these last three years on adding pitching,” Dipoto said. “Part of what I have talked to our guys about is, ‘If you tap into the pitching, you have the key to get the other things we need.’ “
- Dipoto also reiterated that Kubitza’s acquisition doesn’t necessarily spell the end of David Freese (a free agent next winter) in Anaheim. “David Freese is our third baseman; we’re not in a rush to move David Freese out. But we do feel like now we have someone we can build with,” Dipoto said.
- The Angels aren’t seriously exploring adding a notable starting pitcher since they expect Garrett Richards to be ready by “some point” in April, FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi tweets.
- Also from Morosi, Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik said that his team is “always open” to the possibility of more moves, including another trade for a hitter.
- Endy Chavez or Franklin Gutierrez could potentially fit as candidates to return to the Mariners as minor league outfield depth, MLB.com’s Greg Johns writes as part of a reader mailbag.
- Rockies GM Jeff Bridich recently confirmed that he’d taken some calls about Drew Stubbs, MLB.com’s Thomas Harding writes. “In general, there has been interest in Drew from teams looking for very specific fits in their outfield,” Bridich said. “Teams see him as a fit, but he’s a fit for us as well.” While Bridich didn’t give the impression that any trade was close or even being discussed, it was reported last month that the Rockies had spoken to the Orioles about a possible Stubbs deal.
- The Mets expect interest in their starting pitching to perk up, a team source tells Mike Puma of the New York Post, with Dillon Gee the likeliest candidate to be dealt. Without a trade, the Mets are prepared to use one of their starters out of the bullpen, as the source says a six-man rotation is “unlikely.”
- Also from Puma, Mets GM Sandy Alderson didn’t sound optimistic about his team’s chances of a shortstop upgrade. “We’ve continued to have conversations, but nothing is likely to occur,” Alderson said. “There is currently nothing imminent. I still believe at this point that we will go into spring training with what we have at shortstop.” The Mets never came close to a deal for Troy Tulowitzki, Puma writes, though they talked with Colorado during the Winter Meetings.
10:06am: Parnell did indeed settle for the same $3.7MM salary that he earned in 2014, reports ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin.
Parnell, 30, missed nearly the entire 2014 season — he threw just one inning — with Tommy John surgery just one year after establishing himself as the Mets’ closer. In 2013, the ACES client posted a brilliant 2.16 ERA with 7.9 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 in 55 innings for the Mets, racking up 22 saves along the way after inheriting the ninth-inning gig midseason. Parnell earned $3.7MM in 2014, and his 2015 salary figures to be something similar, although the Mets can technically cut his salary by as much as 20 percent, which would mean a $2.96MM payday.
Seven different Mets were credited with saves this season in Parnell’s stead, but while Jeurys Familia (five), Kyle Farnsworth (three), Carlos Torres (two), Jose Valverde (two) Daisuke Matsuzaka (one) and Dana Eveland (one) all had small tastes of closer duty, it was Jenrry Mejia who stepped up and shouldered the brunt of the load, registering 28 saves in 56 relief appearances (he also made seven starts, totaling 93 2/3 innings).
Parnell may very well open the season on the disabled list, which would give Mejia the inside track on closing to begin the season. However, Parnell will likely earn ninth-inning consideration as well once he is healthy. Any saves that he receives would not only boost his free agent stock but also limit the number of saves which Mejia can accumulate, thereby lowering his future arbitration price tag.
Right-hander Brandon Beachy is mulling over six offers and hopes to make a decision by Friday of this week, reports SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (Twitter link). Beachy has thrown for seven teams over the past 10 days, according to Cotillo. Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets that the Twins are not one of the teams with an offer out. The 28-year-old Beachy was non-tendered by the Braves in December due to the fact that he underwent his second Tommy John surgery last spring. Any club that signs Beachy to a one-year deal would have the right to control him via arbitration, though a team certainly could offer a second year option or even two guaranteed years as a means of enticing him. In 267 2/3 innings at the Major League level, Beachy has a 3.23 ERA with 9.2 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 (all with the Braves).
Here are some more notes on free agents, including the top name on the market…
- There’s no timetable on a decision for Max Scherzer, agent Scott Boras tells MLB.com’s Jason Beck. Boras told Beck that Scherzer is an ownership-level decision, and as Beck points out, Boras has worked out deals with Tigers owner Mike Ilitch for both Prince Fielder and Johnny Damon in years past — both of which came late in the offseason. Nonetheless, Detroit appears to have a full rotation, and their long-term payroll outlook is already questionable. I personally have a hard time envisioning a reunion between the two sides.
- Angels GM Jerry Dipoto told reporters tonight, including Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times (Twitter link), that he isn’t pursuing any free agent pitchers, and that includes both Scherzer and James Shields. The Halos have speculatively been mentioned as fits for both, although as we’ve pointed out here in the past, that seems to be a stretch given their desire to stay beneath the luxury tax threshold.
- DiGiovanna also notes (Twitter link) that a reunion with Gordon Beckham now looks unlikely for the Angels. “We’ve built up quite a bit of infield depth,” Dipoto told reporters. Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register was also on hand, and he tweets that Dipoto said the team is “playing it by ear” regarding Beckham. Fletcher, too, feels that Beckham will sign elsewhere.
- Japanese shortstop Takashi Toritani was on the Mets‘ radar briefly last month, but the team no longer has any intention of pursuing him, tweets Mike Puma of the New York Post. This report only further support the widespread belief that Wilmer Flores is ticketed for the Amazins’ Opening Day shortstop gig. As for Toritani, he’s been connected to the Blue Jays and Padres as well, though neither seems to have particularly serious interest at this juncture.