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New York Mets Rumors
Rockies starter Jordan Lyles has apparently escaped last night’s injury scare with nothing more than a significant bruise on his right hand, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post tweets. Lyles says he hopes to make his next start, though it is probably too soon to tell whether he’ll miss some action. The 24-year-old was struck on his throwing hand by an Albert Pujols comebacker last night, with the subsequent swelling leading many to fear that he may have suffered a fracture. Lyles and Eddie Butler have arguably been the Rockies’ most consistent starters this season.
More from the NL West…
- Hector Olivera is expected to arrive in Los Angeles tonight, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports (Twitter link). The Cuban infielder will take his physical and, presuming all is well, his agreement with the Dodgers will finally be official.
- James Shields is delivering on the mound and in the clubhouse for the Padres, leading USA Today’s Bob Nightengale to wonder if the several teams who passed on Shields this winter are now second-guessing their decision.
- Wil Myers has tendinitis in his left wrist as the Padres hope that a few days of rest will help the outfielder avoid a DL stint, MLB.com’s Corey Brock tweets. Myers underwent surgery on his right wrist last year, though he was dealing with an existing left wrist injury at that time as well.
- Don Mattingly deserves credit for keeping the Dodgers in first place despite several key injuries and some underperforming stars, Joel Sherman of the New York Post opines. There have been rumors that the team’s new front office could bring in their own manager after the season is over or if the Dodgers struggled, yet Sherman feels Mattingly is staking his claim as a long-term answer in the dugout.
- Despite the growing buzz surrounding Troy Tulowitzki‘s name, a source tells the Record’s Matt Ehalt that the Mets haven’t changed their thoughts on acquiring the longtime star shortstop. Ehalt cites Tulowitzki’s injury history, the money remaining on his contract and a repeated unwillingness from the Mets to part with top-tier pitching prospects. Wilmer Flores, who homered today, has shown good pop but questionable on-base skills and defense in his first extended look at shortstop in the Majors.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports discussed the Rockies in his latest piece, writing that it’s “obvious to everyone” but Rockies owner Dick Monfort that the time to trade Tulowitzki has come. However, rather than look to begin moving pieces in the wake of a 10-game losing streak, the Rockies are still actively searching for starting pitching in hopes of improving the club. Rosenthal notes that the second wild card spot in each league can often act as “fool’s gold,” leading teams without legitimate hopes of contending to delay, or in some cases, refuse to sell off pieces with an eye toward the future.
Veteran Ryan Doumit, who played last year for the Braves, “considers his playing career over,” according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter). The 34-year-old switch hitter logged 166 plate appearances last year in Atlanta, slashing just .197/.235/.318. He has had many more productive seasons in his decade in the big leagues, of course, and owns a lifetime .264/.324/.432 batting line. Doumit also spent significant time with the Pirates and Twins after being drafted in the second round of the 1999 amateur draft by Pittsburgh. While it appears that Doumit will not look to make a return to the bigs, the wording of the report suggests that he is not yet prepared to make an official retirement.
Here are some NL East Notes:
- The Marlins‘ interest in Rafael Soriano is tied closely to his cost, according to a Twitter report from Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. As things stand, Miami is only willing to bite if it can add him “at a low price,” per the report. It is not terribly surprising to learn that the Fish are not prepared to break the bank at this stage for the veteran righty; as the initial reports of interest suggested, the club is looking at all options to deal with its late-inning relief woes.
- Mets GM Sandy Alderson says he is not currently interested in adding a shortstop,Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News reports. “Nothing has changed,” said Alderson of the team’s current daily deployment of Wilmer Flores. That is not terribly surprising given the timing, of course — to say nothing of the fact that Alderson would not be likely to broadcast any interest he did have — but should at least function to curb any immediate speculation about the possibility of a Troy Tulowitzki blockbuster.
With the teams in the midst of an interesting series at Wrigley Field, Cubs GM Jed Hoyer discussed the oft-speculated match between his club and the Mets, with the former blessed with numerous young middle infielders and the latter possessing a number of appealing young arms. Hoyer acknowledged that there have been discussions between the clubs. “We haven’t made a deal yet, but there’s been matches that made sense, and I’m sure we’ll talk to them in the future,” said Hoyer. Though the Chicago executive noted that it remains likely that the clubs will match up on a deal of some kind “at some point,” it remains unclear whether there is any realistic possibility of traction on a significant deal involving their best respective talent.
- While plenty of water has passed under the bridge in the meantime, the Mets did ask the Cubs about the availability of top shortstop prospect Addison Russell at more than one point over the winter, John Harper of the New York Daily News writes. But talks never moved on that front, as Chicago made clear it was not interested in dealing its newly-acquired blue chip piece. The report, along with the team’s aggressive promotion of Russell to man second base at the big league level, obviously suggests that the Cubs’ internal assessment of Russell meets or exceeds that of the industry as a whole. Indeed, Jesse Rogers of ESPNChicago.com opines that a trade of Starlin Castro — possibly, to the Mets — and commitment to Russell makes good sense for the Cubs, at least in the long term.
- Both clubs are, of course, set to get a good look at the Mets‘ own best prospect, Noah Syndergaard, as he squares off against Russell and company tonight in the first start off his big league career. MLB.com’s Phil Rogers writes that the ascension of Syndergaard is a clear sign that New York is ready to compete — and to do so on its own terms. “It’s been tough,” skipper Terry Collins said yesterday. “There have been times there are big names out there [available in trades or free agency] and we said, ‘We have to hold tight, we have to be patient. Our guys are coming, and when they get here, we’re going to be good for a long period of time.’ And I think that time is right around the corner. I hope it starts tomorrow.” As is the case with Russell, these comments seem to indicate that New York is hopeful that a rising Syndergaard will help drive the club in the immediate term — even in spite of an already quite productive rotation — which certainly reduces the already-low chance that he will be considered as a trade chip. They also provide further reminder that Mets GM Sandy Alderson has been quite selective in striking trades, preferring for the time being to monitor the development of internal talent while adding additional young pieces (quite successfully, of late) when the timing proved beneficial.
- For my money, while attention is focused on the matter now, Chicago would be wise to wait until the last possible moment to decide whether to move a middle infield piece this summer. Much depends upon the information gathered in the meantime on the team’s ultimate postseason likelihood and specific needs, the readiness of Russell, and the development of Javier Baez and Arismendy Alcantara. As a large market club with rising payroll capacity, Chicago can afford to wait to make its moves. Similarly, the Mets are right to take more time in assessing Wilmer Flores at short — to say nothing of watching Dilson Herrera at second and seeing how David Wright responds to his rehab — and getting a better read on their own playoff prospects this year. It remains possible to imagine a scenario where these clubs match up over the summer, or perhaps more plausibly next winter, but the connection remains highly conditional as things stand.
The Mets will promote top pitching prospect Noah Syndergaard to start on Tuesday, GM Sandy Alderson told reporters today, including ESPNNewYork.com’s Adam Rubin (Twitter link). Righty Dillon Gee is headed to the DL with a groin strain, though the injury does not appear to be serious.
Syndergaard, 22, is widely regarded as one of the very best prospects in all of baseball. The towering righty came to New York along with backstop Travis d’Arnaud in the deal that sent R.A. Dickey to the Blue Jays.
Since that trade, Syndergaard has shot up prospect boards by continuing to show a huge fastball, solid control, and quality secondary offerings, as Baseball America explained in rating him New York’s best minor league arm coming into the year. There is a clear industry consensus that Syndergaard is ready and able to be a quality big league pitcher: BA rated him the 11th best prospect in the game, with MLB.com (#10) and Baseball Prospectus (#9) concurring in the general assessment. Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs is somewhat less bullish, but only slightly, as he rated Syndergaard just inside the top 20 while expressing some concern with the consistency of the youngster’s offspeed offerings.
Syndergaard has done nothing to tamper expectations so far in 2015. Over 29 2/3 frames at Triple-A Las Vegas, a tough place to pitch, he has a 1.82 ERA with 10.3 K/9 against 2.4 BB/9. That start to the year seems to answer any questions that might have cropped up after Syndergaard proved somewhat easier to score against than expected last year (4.60 ERA) in his first run at the highest level of the minors.
It remains to be seen, of course, whether Syndergaard will hold down a big league job this year. Certainly, the opportunity is there. While Gee has been as solid as usual, and the Mets have ample rotation depth even after losing Zack Wheeler for the year, the club’s strong 18-10 opening to the year only raises expectations and increases the importance of putting the best product possible on the field.
If Syndergaard is able to hold onto an active roster slot all season, he would set himself up for future Super Two qualification. But by keeping him down to start the year, the Mets would retain control over their prized young arm through 2021. Regardless of roster status, it is not likely that Syndergaard will spend the entire year putting up long outings at the big league level; he has yet to exceed 133 frames in a professional season, meaning the club will likely look to manage his innings.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
David Wright‘s return to the Mets will take longer than expected, as the team announced this afternoon that Wright’s rehab from a hamstring injury has been shut down due to the development of lower back pain. Wright underwent an MRI that did not reveal any structural damage, but the Mets say that he will not resume baseball activities until the back pain has subsided. Wright, 32, was hitting .333/.317/.424 through his first eight games at the time of the injury. Eric Campbell and Daniel Murphy have absorbed the bulk of the playing time at third base, but obviously the loss of Wright for now extended period of time is a notable hindrance on the team. I wouldn’t expect the Mets to pursue any form of long-term option, but a short-term pickup that could competently handle third base and allow Murphy to slide back over to second in place of the struggling Dilson Herrera is at least plausible.
A couple more notes on some Mets pitching prospects…
- Noah Syndergaard, not Steven Matz, would be the next in line should the need for a spot start arise, reports Newsday’s David Lennon (via Twitter). Syndergaard’s Triple-A experience has him ahead of Matz at this time, and with Rafael Montero sidelined, he’d be the next line of defense. As it stands, Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Bartolo Colon, Jon Niese and Dillon Gee comprise the Mets’ rotation. Gee began the year as a trade candidate — he may still be once Syndergaard/Matz have developed more and Montero is healthy — but he’s performed well enough to hold down a rotation spot thus far.
- Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal tweeted yesterday that Mets pitching prospect Domingo Tapia has undergone Tommy John surgery. Tapia formerly ranked as one of New York’s 10 best prospects on Baseball America’s Top 30 list (prior to the 2013 season), but he fell to 19th prior to 2014 and missed the list entirely this past offseason. Last year, the 22-year-old Tapia spent the season with Class-A Advanced St. Lucie and worked to a 3.96 ERA but whiffed just 56 strikeouts against 51 walks. He moved up to Double-A this year but threw just 1 2/3 innings before falling to injury.
Rule 5 Draft pick Logan Verrett, who was designated for assignment by the Rangers in late April, has cleared waivers and been returned to the Mets, according to a press release from the Mets. Texas has also confirmed the move.
The 24-year-old Verrett was originally selected by the Orioles in the most recent Rule 5 Draft. When Baltimore couldn’t find a spot for him and fellow Rule 5 pick Jason Garcia in Spring Training, it was Verrett who the O’s tried to sneak through waivers. However, Texas claimed him and placed him on its Opening Day roster as Spring Training broke.
Verrett appeared in four games for the Rangers, totaling nine innings but yielding seven runs (six earned) on 11 hits and three unintentional walks with just three strikeouts. Verrett did rack up ground-balls at an impressive 57.1 percent clip in his small sample of work, though he also displayed a fastball that averaged just 89.1 mph.
A former third-round selection by the Mets (2011), Verrett has a very strong K/BB ratio throughout his Minor League career, having averaged 7.5 K/9 against 1.7 BB/9 in 411 1/3 innings. He spent the 2014 campaign with Triple-A Las Vegas — an exceptionally hitter-friendly environment — and worked to a 4.33 ERA in 162 innings. Baseball America ranked Verrett 24th among Orioles farmhands this winter after they selected him in the Rule 5 Draft, noting that he mixes four pitches, including a solid-average slider that he is comfortable throwing in any count. Presumably, he will return to the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate and add to New York’s enviable stock of upper-level arms.
Dodgers reliever David Aardsma has allowed his opt-out date to pass without exercising his clause, Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports on Twitter. The 33-year-old has not thrown in the bigs since 2013, but was lights out at Triple-A last year and has continued that success into the current season. He looks like useful relief depth for Los Angeles.
Let’s round up the day’s news with a few more links:
- Giants executive VP of baseball operations Brian Sabean has been taking in the Mets‘ weekend series, ESPNNewYork.com’s Adam Rubin reports. Rubin cautions that it is not clear precisely why Sabean is on hand, though obviously San Francisco looks like a theoretical match for Daniel Murphy — who is slotting in at third base at present while New York awaits the return of David Wright. Of course, his young would-be replacement at second, Dilson Herrera, has looked somewhat overmatched in his first two games back in the bigs, with four strikeouts and an infield hit to show from eight plate appearances.
- The White Sox are still feeling out how they will use rookie lefty Carlos Rodon, as Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com reports. Chicago is burning through Rodon’s service time while giving him relatively little action as the team tries to balance the need to introduce him to the bigs, keep him stretched out, and conserve his innings.
- Agent Scott Boras says he believes that the MLB rules should be loosened to allow the free trading of all draft picks, as Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic writes. “Trade picks, trade players — there should be a whole universe of options,” opined Boras. “I’m a believer that you want as many chips on the table so the intellect can operate and a master plan can be created from a variety of different avenues of trade, draft, scouting and development, free agency, all the structures.” Of course, as one executive notes to Piecoro, opening that avenue of trade activity could potentially transfer leverage to premium players who have a desire to influence their ultimate destination.
- Boras also rejected the idea of allowing teams expanded access to medical information, stating forcefully: “That’s not going to work.” Citing concern with players’ rights not to have their medical information spread broadly to every team, Boras previewed some of the difficulties in addressing what promises to be a tricky issue on which to build a consensus between the players and the league.
Braves third baseman Chris Johnson is expected to miss three to six weeks after receiving good news from his MRI, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports. Because his hand fracture was “preexisting,” per the report, Johnson will not be out as long as originally feared.
Here’s more from New York and the rest of the NL East:
- Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard will qualify for ten-and-five rights tomorrow, as Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News reports. Howard downplayed the importance of that fact as regards his contract status, though he rightly noted that it was a worthwhile achievement standing alone. As Lawrence notes, there is little practical effect, as a modification to Jimmy Rollins‘ contract before his trade left Howard with virtually complete no-trade protection regardless.
- Despite a troubling start to the year defensively — he tacked on a seventh error tonight — Mets shortstop Wilmer Flores is in no danger of being replaced, as Rubin reports. The club thinks that the youngster will return to making the routine plays that are giving him fits right now, with GM Sandy Alderson saying that Flores has “plenty of room” to get back on track.
- Dilson Herrera did not do much in his first appearance of the year for the Mets, but New York is already considering what will happen if he’s as good as advertised during his call-up, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports. The present alignment will feature Herrera at second and Daniel Murphy at third. But when David Wright returns from the DL, something will have to give. GM Sandy Alderson would say only that “the plan” is for Murphy to return to second, adding that “at the moment” there is no movement toward keeping Herrera there. But sources tell Martino that the Mets would be increasingly willing to move Murphy, even for a lesser return and even well before the trade deadline, if Herrera seems ready.
- The Mets will soon face another decision on Cesar Puello, the outfielder whose outright was rescinded earlier in the offseason when he was found to have a back issue that required a DL stint. As ESPNNewYork.com’s Adam Rubin explains, Puello is likely to hit the waiver wire again once his rehab stint is finished.
In this week’s edition of his Inside Baseball column, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports begins by looking at the contentious courtroom showdown that stands between Alex Rodriguez and as much as $30MM worth of home run milestone bonuses. As Heyman notes, people on all sides of the case have reasons to dislike A-Rod. Rodriguez filed a lawsuit (that was eventually dropped) against the MLBPA, and he parted ways with agent Scott Boras more than six years ago. The Yankees’ reasons for resenting Rodriguez are obvious, as are those of the league, with whom Rodriguez battled to reduce a 212-game suspension to a still-significant 162 game ban. Heyman looks at the arguments that can be made by both sides as well as the potential fallout once the situation is finally resolved.
Some highlights from the latest edition of Heyman’s newest weekly column…
- Though the Red Sox aren’t blinking when it comes to trade talks with the Phillies regarding Cole Hamels, one rival GM considers Boston the favorite. The Phillies quite like center field prospect Manuel Margot, and Boston does have other nice pieces. Heyman notes that one scout actually expressed concern to him about Mookie Betts‘ ability to hit the ball on the outer half of the plate, but the Sox remain steadfast in their refusal to part ways with Betts.
- The Cubs aren’t concerned with a potential grievance being filed against them on behalf of Kris Bryant. Rather, their main concern is trying to find a way to extend him beyond his current allotment of team control. Heyman hears that Cubs are already considering trying to make him a Cub for life, though he also notes that it’s a bit early for those discussions.
- White Sox skipper Robin Ventura signed an extension of an unreported length prior to the 2014 season, and Heyman now hears that Ventura is under contract through the 2016 season. The contract length is said to be of little importance to ChiSox owner Jerry Reinsdorf, who loves Ventura.
- The Royals plan to try to do “whatever they can” to retain Alex Gordon beyond the 2015 season. The 32-year-old Gordon’s $12.5MM player option has increased to $13.25MM based on performance escalators, per Heyman. While Gordon has implied that he will exercise the option in the past, it’s exceptionally difficult to envision him merely picking up the option rather than trying for a highly lucrative multi-year deal. The Royals never felt they had a great shot at retaining James Shields, but their hope with Gordon is that the career Royal and Nebraska native might be easier to retain. Heyman adds that while the club is interested in trying to extend Salvador Perez beyond the 2019 season, those talks aren’t likely to come until after the season.
- Juan Uribe is off to a decent start with the Dodgers, but the hot play of Alex Guerrero and the addition of Hector Olivera in Spring Training could eventually lead to Uribe becoming available on the trade market. Uribe’s at hasn’t lined up with his previous seasons to this point, but he’s hit a perhaps surprisingly strong .293/.333/.435 dating back to Opening Day 2013.
- Rival executives are anxiously anticipating a Brewers fire sale following the club’s awful 5-17 start to the season, Heyman hears. One exec listed Carlos Gomez, Khris Davis, Jean Segura, Gerardo Parra, Kyle Lohse and Francisco Rodriguez as players who will draw interest, noting that Jonathan Lucroy is probably untouchable, while Matt Garza and Ryan Braun are somewhat overpriced.
- The Mets were trying for a three-year extension that contained a club option and would’ve guaranteed Lucas Duda a bit shy of $30MM. I’d imagine that with Duda could end up the beneficiary in that scenario, particularly if he can sustain the increase in his walk rate and the more notable decrease in his strikeout rate.
- Multiple Yankees people have shot down the notion that the team would pursue Hamels when asked by Heyman. One replied that the team is “not looking” at Hamels, while another wondered if Hamels is still a legitimate ace or more of just a big name.
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The Mets aren’t expected to make Bartolo Colon available at this year’s trade deadline, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports, barring a situation where “trading him would somehow directly improve their playoff chances.” Colon, Dillon Gee and Jon Niese were all being shopped by the Mets during the offseason but none were dealt, a non-move that could end up being a prudent one for the team given that Zack Wheeler was lost for the season due to Tommy John surgery.
Colon has essentially been seen as a trade candidate ever since he signed his two-year, $20MM free agent contract in January 2014. As Martino puts it, “the Mets might has well have issued Colon a jersey with ‘PLACEHOLDER’ on the back” as the thinking was that the Mets would eventually use the veteran as a trade chip once one of their younger arms was ready to take his spot in the rotation. The Mets didn’t get much interest about Colon at last year’s trade deadline, however, and despite testing his market over the winter, the club began to feel more inclined to keep Colon even late last season.
“Our thinking has changed a lot” about Colon, a team insider tells Martino. Obviously, Colon’s performance has been a factor, but the team also values his clubhouse popularity and his mentorship of young pitchers. Additionally, Martino notes that Colon’s experience could be an asset to a young team that hopes to be in a pennant race.
Colon celebrates his 42nd birthday on May 24, and despite his age and no-frills arsenal (he has thrown his 88.6mph fastball a whopping 88.1% of the time), Colon is still a solidly effective Major League starter. Over 32 2/3 innings this season, Colon has a 3.31 ERA, 25 strikeouts and just one walk allowed, with ERA indicators like FIP, xFIP and SIERA indicating that his performance is no fluke.