New York Mets Rumors

New York Mets trade and free agent rumors from MLBTradeRumors.com.

D’Backs Notes: Pennington, Billingsley, Shortstops

Not only does new D’Backs GM Dave Stewart have Kevin Towers’ previous job, but the executive tells Jon Heyman of CBS Sports that he’s actually living in Towers’ old house (Twitter link). That anecdote has little to do with the Diamondbacks’ future, however, so here are some more pertinent links…

  • The Diamondbacks will definitely tender Cliff Pennington a contract, reports Jack Magruder of FOX Sports Arizona (Twitter link). Stewart considers Pennington to be a valuable piece and won’t let him go to save salary. Pennington projects to earn $3.3MM in 2015 and is coming off a .254/.340/.350 batting line with his typically solid defense.
  • The Diamondbacks remain interested in Chad BillingsleyMagruder tweets. Billingsley didn’t pitch in 2014 due to a torn flexor tendon that he suffered while rehabbing from 2013 Tommy John surgery. The interest is hardly surprising, as Billingsley is a former client of Stewart’s from his agency days. Billingsley has since signed on with Octagon’s Steve Hilliard, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweeted last week.
  • Stewart went on-record with Andy Martino of the New York Daily News to say that if the D’Backs are to move either Didi Gregorius or Chris Owings, it would be to acquire controllable, young pitching (All Twitter links). The Diamondbacks don’t have any interest in names like Jon Niese, Dillon Gee or Bartolo Colon, Stewart stated.

Reactions To Mets’ Cuddyer Signing

The Mets jumped the free agent market yesterday in a surprising way, signing right fielder/first baseman Michael Cuddyer to a two-year, $21MM deal that requires the forfeiture of their #15 overall pick in the 2015 draft.  As FanGraphs’ Jeff Sullivan wrote, it was a surprising series of events: Cuddyer wasn’t expected to receive a qualifying offer, then he was expected to accept it once the Rockies made it, and the Mets weren’t expected to be interested in him after the draft pick cost was attached.  More on the signing:

  • Cuddyer said on a conference call with Mets beat writers today that he would have accepted the Rockies’ qualifying offer had he not been signed by the Mets.
  • Sullivan suggests a conservative estimate values the Mets’ lost pick around $10-15MM, and feels the team is “slightly overpaying” overall for Cuddyer.  Personally, I think the Mets valued the pick lower than $10-15MM, as that estimate seems to assume the Mets’ pick would have become one of the game’s 100 best prospects.  If we instead apply Dave Cameron’s 3x valuation of a draft’s slot value, we might get $7.5MM in value, which MLBTR’s Jeff Todd suggested to me yesterday.  Jeff further noted the Mets might have reasons to devalue that estimate.  I also think we were low in estimating Cuddyer’s QO-free market value at two years and $22MM back in mid-October, and his real market value could easily have been two years and $28MM or three years and $36MM.  Clearly the Mets valued the lost pick into their offer one way or another.
  • Andy Martino of the New York Daily News doesn’t even want to hear an argument that the Mets should not have sacrificed the pick for Cuddyer, saying, “Nothing in baseball is more romanticized, fetishized and overvalued than draft picks and prospects.”  Martino feels the Cuddyer signing signaled the right mindset for the Mets.
  • The Mets initially balked at giving up the pick to sign Cuddyer, writes Marc Carig of Newsday, but GM Sandy Alderson changed his mind.  According to assistant GM John Ricco, “I think this is a message that we’re going to be aggressive. And right out of the box, we had a guy we liked and we went out and got him.” The Mets had no interest in offering multiple years to other free agent candidates, says Carig.
  • New Rockies GM Jeff Bridich comes out smelling like roses, snagging a supplemental draft pick most didn’t expect he could get.  Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post has quotes from Bridich, who said, “The way that we looked at it was that if we had Cuddy come back on a one-year deal with us, and had he just purely accepted the offer, that was fine.  We tried to engage on multiyear talks from the get-go. Even before the (qualifying) offer was made.  When the qualifying offer was made, we said, ‘OK, if there is anything to talk about a multiyear offer, let us know. We are ready to engage.’ That doesn’t guarantee it would happen, but we were ready.”  It seems Bridich did a better job of reading Cuddyer’s market than the media did.
  • Joel Sherman of the New York Post likes the signing for the Mets in a 55-45 way.  He explains, “He was the outfielder with flaws the Mets knew they could get and there is an upside that makes this a huge gamble probably worth taking. The Mets did not have to touch their pitching surplus to land Cuddyer. They got this done on Nov. 10. They have their stockpile and all winter to address shortstop.”
  • Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News has quotes from Ricco regarding Cuddyer’s recent spotty health record.  Said Ricco, “He took a physical today. We’ve looked at all the injuries and there was nothing there that we’re too concerned about.  And the age is the age. Certainly there’s risk associated with any signing. And we believe in the player and think he’s going to be a real good fit for us.”

Mets Inquired On Jimmy Rollins

A Mets trade for Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is “not happening,” a source tells Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com.  Rubin says such a move is not on the Mets’ radar due to the $120MM owed to Tulo through 2020, as well as the prospect cost of “two or three blue-chippers.”  More from Rubin:

  • The Mets spoke with the Phillies about acquiring Jimmy Rollins, writes Rubin.  Rubin adds, “The pursuit since has been dismissed because Rollins does not want to leave Philadelphia.”
  • The Mets are unenthusiastic about the available free agent shortstops, and plan to go the trade route to fill the position.  The Diamondbacks, Mariners, White Sox, and Cubs are viewed as viable trade partners.  Andy Martino of the New York Daily News says “it has been difficult, if not impossible” for the Mets and Cubs to agree on the value of Starlin Castro.  Meanwhile, Martino says Alexei Ramirez of the White Sox only emerged as a possibility within the past week.  Martino’s early read has the White Sox seeking the Mets’ top young starters and the Mets pitching their veterans.
  • If the Mets are unable to acquire a shortstop, or go with a defense-first type like Didi Gregorius, they are likely to retain second baseman Daniel Murphy, writes Rubin.  If they get a shortstop who can hit, Murphy is more likely to be dealt if the Mets get a sufficient offer.  Rubin expects the Mets to wait on Murphy until after resolving their shortstop situation.
  • The Mets seek a veteran lefty reliever to complement Josh Edgin in their bullpen.  They are also seeking a backup infielder, unless Wilmer Flores is bumped to that role.
  • The Mets will also consider trading Dillon Gee, Jonathon Niese, or Bartolo Colon.


Quick Hits: Hahn, Street, Kim, Breslow, Mets

White Sox GM Rick Hahn expects his team to mentioned in a flood of trade rumors this offseason, though he doesn’t mind since this winter, some of them will be true.  “We aren’t going to be precluded from any single player because of running up against the limits of our payroll.  And in terms of the rumors, we’ve always operated under the standpoint that we’re going to be involved in any premium player that’s available, whether it’s via free agency or via trade,” Hahn told reporters, including CSN Chicago’s Dan Hayes.  “In years past some of those free-agent fits may have been a little less realistic because of what their market was going to bear out to be versus what we were able to pay. This year I understand why we’re associated with some of the more higher-profile free agent types.”

Here’s some more news from around the game as the GM Meetings roll on…

  • The Angels haven’t “yet” had any extension talks with closer Huston Street, Halos GM Jerry Dipoto tells Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register (Twitter link).  Street’s current contract is up at the end of the 2015 season.
  • An unidentified MLB team has posted the highest bid for Korean left-hander Kwang-hyun Kim, Jee-ho Yoo of the Yonhap News Agency reports.  A follow-up report from Naver Sports (Korean language link, hat tip to Sung-Min Kim for the partial translation), suggests that SK Wyverns, the southpaw’s club, is delaying the official announcement since they aren’t happy that the winning bid was so low.  As MLB Daily Dish’s Chris Cotillo speculates, this could mean that SK Wyverns will reject the bid and Kim won’t be made available.
  • Reliever Craig Breslow is “getting plenty of interest,” ESPN Boston’s Gordon Edes tweets.  The lefty struggled to a 5.96 ERA over 54 1/3 IP in 2014, though Edes notes that teams are seeing last season “as an outlier” given how well Breslow has otherwise pitched in his career.
  • The Metsfeel a sense of urgency” to compete, a team official tells Andy Martino of the New York Daily News, which is partially why the Mets moved quickly to sign Cuddyer.  Martino feels the team will need to add more than just Cuddyer, though a smaller addition is much likelier than a blockbuster for the likes of Giancarlo Stanton or Troy Tulowitzki.
  • Also from Martino, he wonders if Yasmany Tomas would accept a three-year contract that would allow him to hit free agency prior to his age-27 season.
  • An anonymous GM, an anonymous agent and CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman predict the contracts for 50 of the offseason’s top free agents.  They’re only picking contract values, not the actual teams, so Heyman’s game is like an inverted version of the annual MLBTR Free Agent Prediction Contest.

Red Sox Links: Lester, Masterson, Gregerson

Could Jon Lester end up back with the Red Sox after all?  “A well-connected baseball executive who has had conversations on the subject with the Red Sox” predicted to ESPN Boston’s Gordon Edes that Lester would indeed re-sign with his old team.  The exec thought the Sox could be willing to relax their policy against signing pitchers in their 30’s to long-term contracts by offering Lester a six-year deal worth at least $20MM per season.  Unless Lester is still willing to give the Sox a bit of a discount, I would think it’ll take a lot more than six years/$120MM to outbid the field for Lester’s services — MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes predicted Lester would receive, at minimum, a six-year, $147MM contract this winter.  If the Red Sox were willing to give Lester a six/$120MM deal, I would think they would’ve just offered him that deal in extension talks last winter and avoided this entire situation.

Here’s some more from Fenway Park….


Mets, Rockies Discussing Troy Tulowitzki?

7:50pm: Rockies GM Jeff Bridich says that he’s had congratulatory and “what-are-you-looking-for” types of chats with the Mets, but no talks about Tulowitzki, MLB.com’s Thomas Harding reports.  A source tells Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post that the two sides haven’t discussed the star shortstop, though the Mets could be discussing Tulowitzki internally.  (Both links are to Twitter.)

3:43pm: The Mets just announced a two-year deal for Michael Cuddyer, but Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that he isn’t the only significant right-handed bat that has the team’s eye. The Mets have had recent discussions with the Rockies about shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, Passan tweets. While they fear that they cannot afford to add him, the two sides are talking. Newsday’s Marc Carig spoke to a source who characterized the talks as “due diligence” at this point (Twitter link).

A move for Tulowitzki would be expensive both financially and in terms of prospects, but the Mets do have a large stockpile of the type of young pitching which the Rockies covet. Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Rafael Montero all offer varying degrees of upside, and none have even reached arbitration to this point. (Syndergaard has yet to even reach the Majors.) Jon Niese is on an affordable contract, and Dillon Gee has yet to become overly expensive.

While it’s a lot to read into the situation at this time, a Tulowitzki acquisition would mean doubling down on a pair of injury-prone right-handed bats, as he and Cuddyer have both struggled to stay on the field in recent seasons. Tulowitzki is owed $20MM annually through 2019, plus a $14MM salary in 2020 and at least the $4MM buyout of his $15MM club option for the 2021 season. That adds up to a sum of $118MM over the next six years, so it’s not hard to see why the club isn’t certain it can afford to acquire him.

Still, the Mets are better positioned than most clubs to take on a long-term commitment, at least in terms of the other long-term pacts already on the books. David Wright‘s extension was front-loaded, and $20MM salary drops to $15MM in 2019 and $12MM in 2020. That contract is the only one on the books for the Mets beyond 2017, though Curtis Granderson will earn $16MM in each of the next two seasons and $15MM in 2017.


Abreu, deGrom Named Rookies Of The Year

White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu and Mets right-hander Jacob deGrom were named the AL and NL Rookies of the Year by the BBWAA.  Abreu received all 30 first-place votes from BBWAA writers in a unanimous victory, while deGrom received 26 of 30 first-place votes (Reds outfielder Billy Hamilton received the other four).

Abreu was pursued by such teams as the Red Sox, Astros, Marlins, Giants and Rangers last winter, but it was the White Sox who landed the Cuban slugger on a six-year, $68MM contract.  The contract was, at the time, the most expensive deal ever for an international free agent yet Abreu more than lived up to expectations.  He hit .317/.383/.581 with 36 homers over 622 plate appearances and posted a league-best 169 OPS+ in his first Major League season.  Abreu doesn’t even turn 28 years old until January, and it seems like Chicago has a cornerstone player for years to come.  Ozzie Guillen was the last White Sox player to win the ROY Award, all the way back in 1985.

deGrom was the Mets’ ninth-round pick in the 2010 draft and was ranked as only the 10th-best prospect in the club’s system by the 2014 Baseball America Prospect Handbook.  Despite these modest expectations, the 26-year-old deGrom opened several eyes in 2014 by posting a 2.69 ERA, 9.2 K/9 and 3.35 K/BB rate over 140 1/3 IP.  This breakout campaign firmly adds deGrom’s name to a long list of young arms the Mets will be counting on as they look to return to contention.  deGrom is the first Met to be named NL ROY since Dwight Gooden took the honor in 1984.

The Angels’ Matt Shoemaker (40 points), the Yankees’ Dellin Betances (27), the Astros’ Collin McHugh (21) the Yankees’ Masahiro Tanaka (16) rounded out the top five in the AL voting.  Hamilton finished second in the NL balloting with 92 points, well ahead of the Cardinals’ Kolten Wong (14), the Phillies’ Ken Giles (8) and the Diamondbacks’ Ender Inciarte (4).


Mets Sign Michael Cuddyer

3:29pm: Cuddyer’s contract is a two-year, $21MM pact, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link). Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets that he’ll earn $8.5MM in 2015 and $12.5MM in 2016. Essentially, by turning down the qualifying offer, Cuddyer guaranteed himself an additional $5.7MM and a second year.

2:40pm: The Mets announced that they have signed free agent outfielder Michael Cuddyer to a two-year contract.

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Cuddyer, a client of Excel Sports Management’s Casey Close, was the surprise recipient of a qualifying offer last week that caused many to believe that he would be the first to accept the offer. However, Colorado’s decision to extend the QO appears to have been a wise one, as they’ll now net a draft pick at the end of next year’s first round for their loss. The Mets, on the other hand, will forfeit the 15th pick in next year’s draft in order to bring Cuddyer to Queens.

Cuddyer, 36 in March, has long been rumored to be a target of the Mets, although last week’s QO from the Rockies was said at the time to kill their interest in 35-year-old free agent. Clearly, that was either posturing on the Mets’ behalf or something in their thinking changed. He’ll join the Mets’ outfield alongside Juan Lagares and Curtis Granderson and add some punch to the middle of manager Terry Collins’ order.

The signing also allows the Mets to play Cuddyer at first base against left-handed pitching, should the team wish to platoon Lucas Duda, who is a career .212/.292/.317 hitter against southpaws. Cuddyer, on the other hand, has feasted on left-handed pitching in his career, hitting them at a .291/.378/.504 clip. Cuddyer also has extensive experience at first base.

Cuddyer is coming off a strong three-year stretch with the Rockies, and while many will point to Coors Field as a large reason for his gaudy numbers, he hit well away from the Denver launching pad as well. Cuddyer hit .307/.362/.505 as a Rockie and batted .286/.332/.463 on the road during that time. He took home the NL Batting Title in 2013 and batted .331/.385/.543 over the past two seasons. However, a trio of DL stints limited him to 49 games in 2014. Cuddyer had a hamstring strain in each of his legs and also suffered a fracture in his shoulder suffered in a dive for a ball while playing away from his natural position at third base.

From a financial standpoint, Cuddyer’s $8.5MM 2015 salary would appear to eat up a significant portion of the payroll that the Mets have moving forward. ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin noted last month that if the team made a free agent signing that pushed the payroll north of $100MM, a corresponding trade could be made to offset the increase. The Mets could move some salary by trading a veteran such as Bartolo Colon, Daniel Murphy or Jon Niese. Colon may not bring a huge return, given his $11MM salary, but moving either Murphy or Niese would likely return some legitimate talent while simultaneously dropping the club’s payroll. Murphy is projected by MLBTR contibutor Matt Swartz to earn $8.3MM, while Niese is guaranteed a $7MM salary.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


East Links: Hamels, Tomas, Mets, Andrus, Jays

The Red Sox are one of the 20 teams on Cole Hamels‘ no-trade list, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter links). As Rosenthal notes, Hamels wouldn’t necessarily block a trade to Boston, but he may want a team to pick up his 2019 vesting option ($20MM) in order to waive the clause. That would take Hamels’ total guarantee from four years and $90MM to five years and $110MM, likely making him a bit less attractive as  a trade target. Boston has been an oft-rumored potential trade partner should the Phillies decide to move their ace.

More from baseball’s Eastern divisions…

  • Yasmany Tomas isn’t close to a deal of any sort, but Andy Martino of the New York Daily News tweets that Tomas’ agent, Jay Alou, had a one-on-one meeting with Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. at today’s GM Meetings in Phoenix.
  • The Mets saw Tomas, but their scouts didn’t love him and they’re not likely to go near the $100MM range to sign him, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post. He does note that the Mets are looking at outfielders on the trade market and willing to listen on Daniel Murphy again. However, the Mets have been underwhelmed by past offers for Murphy and may just hang onto him, as they’re comfortable giving Dilson Herrera more time to develop in the minors.
  • Sherman also reports that the Yankees are “intrigued” by Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus. The Yankees are trying to get younger and are hopeful of acquiring youthful players that may not have had their best season yet, and Andrus could fit that bill. However, they’re also wary of Andrus’ huge $120MM contract extension, which doesn’t even kick in until next season.
  • Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos tells Sportsnet’s Jeff Blair that he won’t allow other teams to dictate his offseason. What he means by that, Blair explains, is that the Jays won’t wait to see where a certain player signs before pursuing another. Blair recalls the 2006 Winter Meetings, when Anthopoulos was an assistant GM to J.P. Ricciardi. Toronto was hamstrung at the Winter Meetings waiting to hear back from free agents Ted Lilly and Gil Meche, both of whom signed elsewhere in the end. According to Blair, there was some stark internal criticism about how the other team’s plans were held up by other clubs. Toronto’s priority is re-signing Melky Cabrera, Blair writes, but the Blue Jays are aware that his QO and past ties to PEDs could lead to a slow-developing market.

NL Notes: Reds, Stanton, Cubs, Mets

The Reds could improve considerably in 2015 simply by getting the most out of their current roster, writes Richard Justice of MLB.com. With four starting pitchers a year from free agency, GM Walt Jocketty has the difficult decision to “hold ‘em or fold ‘em.” He could take one more shot at the postseason by luring a Michael Morse-type player, or he could begin the rebuilding process now. The market for his soon-to-be free agents could help him make the decision.

  • Marlins GM Dan Jennings says contract extension talks with Giancarlo Stanton are ongoing, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter). There is no time table on the talks. In Justice’s article, he mentions the Cardinals as a possible fit for Stanton is extension talks with Miami fizzle.
  • We’ve heard everything when it comes to the Cubs and their place in the free agent market. GM Jed Hoyer showed part of his hand recently, reports Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago. The club would like to add some veteran leadership with Hoyer saying: “maybe a player in the starting lineup, maybe a bench player, maybe someone in the bullpen, maybe someone in the rotation.” That’s a lot of maybe’s, but the idea is that a veteran presence in each role can help the youngsters improve and develop character. Rogers has more comments from Hoyer that are well worth a read.
  • The Mets need to answer three questions at the GM Meetings, opines Mike Puma of the New York Post. Assuming the club isn’t satisfied with Wilmer Flores, the shortstop market must be gauged. A trade with either Chicago team might be the way to go. Outfield is another area of concern, with only Juan Lagares and Curtis Granderson scheduled for regular roles. Lastly, GM Sandy Alderson should measure interest in Daniel Murphy.