New York Mets Rumors


Mets Outright Lannan, Promote Matsuzaka

The Mets have outrighted left-hander John Lannan to Triple-A Las Vegas and purchased the contract of right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka, tweets MLB.com's Anthony DiComo. Lannan will have the option to reject the outright assignment in favor of free agency. ESPN New York's Adam Rubin tweets that Matsuzaka will work out of the bullpen for now.

Lannan, 29, appeared in five games for the Mets this season, allowing seven earned runs on seven hits and a pair of walks in four innings of work. Of those seven hits, three cleared the fence for a home run. The veteran has never pitched outside of the NL East, but he's donned the uniform of three teams in that division: the Mets, the Phillies and the Nationals. After posting a 4.01 ERA in 783 2/3 innings with the Nationals from 2007-12, Lannan has struggled. With Philadelphia and New York, he's managed a combined 5.86 ERA with a 40-to-29 K:BB ratio in 78 1/3 frames.

Matsuzaka spent some time with the Mets in 2013 after signing a minor league deal midway through the season. He started slow but fared well down the stretch, yielding just four earned runs over his final 26 1/3 innings while striking out 21 and walking nine. Matsuzaka then signed another minor league deal with the Mets this winter. He's allowed two runs and punched out 12 hitters in 12 Triple-A innings this season. Matsuzaka's minor league deal calls for a $1.5MM base salary in the Major Leagues, and he also received a $100K retention bonus at the end of Spring Training after he did not make the Opening Day roster.



Minor Moves: Brendan Harris, Blake Forsythe

Here are today's minor moves from around baseball.

  • The Dodgers have released infielder Brendan Harris, Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish tweets. Harris made 117 plate appearances for the Angels in 2013, posting a line of .206/.252/.355. It had been his first appearance to the Majors since 2010. Previously, he had played for the Cubs, Expos/Nationals, Reds, Rays, and Twins.
  • The Mets have announced that they've traded catcher Blake Forsythe to the Athletics for future considerations. Forsythe, 24, hit .192/.271/.362 for Double-A Binghamton in 2013. He was a third-round pick in the 2010 draft out of the University of Tennessee.



Quick Hits: Rodon, Soriano, Abreu, Brewers

In an Insider-only piece for ESPN.com, Keith Law blasted the North Carolina State coaching staff's decision to let Carlos Rodon throw 134 pitches in a start on Friday night. Rodon is expected to be one of the top picks in June's amateur draft, yet Law felt the southpaw's promising future was being risked by a coaching staff desperate to reach the NCAA tournament.

Here's some news from around the Majors...

  • If Alfonso Soriano doesn't retire at season's end, he'd like to play through 2016, preferably as a member of the Yankees, ESPN's Buster Olney reports (Insider-only link). If he has a tough season this year, however, Soriano will retire. The veteran outfielder is in last year of his contract and has previously discussed retiring after 2014, as Soriano's health will also factor into his decision.
  • Bobby Abreu is hitting .500 in Triple-A and is "the best hitter Las Vegas has got by far," a talent evaluator tells Mike Puma of the New York Post. Since Abreu can opt out of his minor league deal on April 30, the Mets will have to make a decision soon, and they could free up a roster spot by moving one of Ike Davis or Lucas Duda.
  • The Brewers have a dozen players making the Major League minimum salary (or slightly above), and this influx of cheap, young talent helps the smaller-market club afford the six $10MM+ salaries on the payroll, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes.
  • Scheduling and tougher PED testing/penalities are two factors for increased injuries this season, according to the New York Post's Joel Sherman.  Travel during both the regular season and Spring Training has become more arduous at a time when players' bodies might not be recovering as quickly due to a lack of performance enhancers.
  • Baseball America's Matt Eddy recaps the week's minor league transactions. 

Edward Creech contributed to this post.



Quick Hits: 2014 Draft, Smith, Headley, Abreu

Left-hander Brady Aiken and righty Tyler Kolek sit atop Baseball America's list of the top 2014 draft prospects, BA's John Manuel writes.  The two high schoolers have supplanted NC State southpaw Carlos Rodon, who was long considered to be the favorite as the first overall pick but hasn't looked great this spring.  Six of the top seven prospects on BA's list (and 11 of the top 15) are pitchers, as several young arms have improved their draft stock this spring while several of the most-regarded hitters haven't fared as well. 

Here's some more from around baseball as we head into the weekend...

  • High-ranking executives from the Astros, Marlins, White Sox, Cubs and Phillies have all recently scouted Kolek's starts, Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle reports.  These clubs hold the top four overall picks in June's draft, while the Phillies pick seventh overall.  According to Manuel, "Kolek has hit 100 mph repeatedly and has the best pure arm in the draft."
  • Joe Smith tells ESPN New York's Adam Rubin (Twitter link) that the Mets were interested in signing him last winter, and "floated" a contract offer similar to the three-year, $15.75MM deal that Smith received from the Angels.  Rubin was surprised that the Mets were willing to commit that much to a setup man, though Smith would've added some quality depth to a Mets bullpen that is already hurting thanks to the absence of Bobby Parnell.
  • Both Chase Headley and the Padres are off to slow starts, which only further complicates the difficult contract-year situation for the third baseman, MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince writes.  With an extension unlikely, Headley could be a midseason trade candidate if the Friars fall out of the race, though if Headley continues to struggle, the Padres could conceivably see him leave for free agency and get nothing in return.
  • The Padres parting ways with Headley is "looking [like] the most realistic option," Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune said during an online chat with readers.  "Players don't get better with age so much anymore, so regardless of what Headley does this year, it doesn't make financial sense to pay for past production," Sanders writes.
  • The Astros made a strong bid for Jose Abreu before the slugger signed with the White Sox, and Houston GM Jeff Luhnow discussed his club's pursuit with MLB.com's Brian McTaggart.  "We stretched ourselves further than we intended to and we came pretty close.  When you factor in the tax advantages of Texas vs. other markets, the gap was really only a couple of million dollars at the end of the day," Luhnow said.  "It's one of those things, should we have pushed a little harder? Possibly. When you're in negotiations like that and you're in a bidding war like that, you have to have limits or you'll be the one that overpays. That's one I do think we came close. He's going to be a good player, and that's why we put all that effort into it."
  • The Tigers have been extraordinarily successful in trades since Dave Dombrowski joined the organization in 2001, Grantland's Rany Jazayerli writes.  Given Dombrowski's impressive with not only the Tigers, but also the Marlins and Expos over his long career, Jazayerli thinks it's too early to write off the much-maligned Doug Fister trade as a mistake for Detroit.



Joel Hanrahan To Work Out For Teams Next Week

Free agent closer Joel Hanrahan will host a showcase for teams next week, reports ESPN's Jerry Crasnick (via Twitter). In a second tweet, Crasnick lists the Mets, Yankees, Angels, Rangers, Rockies, Royals, Athletics, Red Sox and Rays as teams that are believed to have interest in Hanrahan. He adds that somewhat curiously, he hasn't heard much buzz on the Tigers or Phillies being interested, though that could always change.

The 32-year-old Hanrahan underwent Tommy John surgery and also had his flexor tendon repaired and bone chips in his elbow removed on May 16 of last season. He opened the year as Boston's closer after being acquired in an offseason trade that sent Mark Melancon to the Pirates, but he allowed eight runs on 10 hits (four homers) and six walks with just five strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings for the Red Sox before landing on the disabled list.

Prior to that season, Hanrahan had averaged 10.2 strikeouts per nine innings over a five-year stretch between the Nationals and Pirates. The Bucs acquired Hanrahan and Lastings Milledge from the Nats in a deal that sent Sean Burnett and Nyjer Morgan to Washington, and Hanrahan blossomed into a two-time All-Star closer with Pittsburgh. Always one of the hardest-throwing pitchers in the game, Hanrahan's 96.5 mph average fastball from his 2011-13 peak ranked seventh in the game among qualified relievers.



Offseason In Review: New York Mets

As the Mets look to transition from rebuilding to contending, the club made its largest free agent outlay in years, but will go without recovering ace Matt Harvey.

Major League Signings

Notable Minor League Signings
Trades and Claims
Extensions
  • None
Notable Losses
Needs Addressed
 
The Mets addressed their biggest issue, perhaps, by finally saying goodbye to two contracts that turned sour. The club paid its final obligations to both Santana ($5.5MM buyout of $25MM option) and Jason Bay ($3MM buyout on $17MM option). Of course, Bay had already been cut loose, and technically will still be paid for some time due to a deferment arrangement. Likewise, the organization has reportedly made headway in moving past the well-documented financial tribulations of its ownership group.
Granderson
 
The major strategic issue facing Alderson was how to deal with the loss of Harvey, one of the game's best arms, who went down to Tommy John surgery. That constituted a major blow to the team's hopes of beginning to challenge in 2014, and raised the question whether spending would once more be put on hold. But the Mets moved ahead, with Alderson setting down a tall challenge of winning 90 games this year.
 
Having cleared the Santana and Bay contracts, the Mets were able to add the fifth-most in guaranteed money of any team in free agency while opening the season with almost $10MM less on the books than last year. Looking ahead, New York has have the following future obligations: $54.05MM (2015); $45.05MM (2016); and $35.5MM (2017). 
 
So what did GM Sandy Alderson and company get for their cash? First and foremost, it added two veteran outfield options in Granderson and Young. Though the team cobbled together a passable unit last year, they traded away the surprising Marlon Byrd (who would have been a free agent anyway) and was rightly disinclined to rely solely on Juan Lagares, Eric Young Jr., and the defensively-challenged Lucas Duda. An upgrade was clearly in order.
 
In Granderson, the Mets added an established power bat (84 home runs between 2011-12) who missed most of last year due to injury. The cost was high for the qualifying offer-bound 33-year-old: $60MM over four years and the 48th overall choice in the upcoming amateur draft (the team's first choice, tenth overall, was protected). For his part, Young did not require a major commitment, and at age 30 is just a few years removed from a pair of 5-win seasons. But he struggled mightily with injury and performance issues last year. Disappointingly, Young's ongoing quad issues have once again reared up early in the year.
 
The second major area of need that was dealt with by the Mets was pitching. Though blessed with a series of promising young arms -- Zach Wheeler cracked the bigs last year, while Noah Syndergaard, Rafael Montero, and others wait in the wings -- the organization was at least a year away from fielding its full array of new starters. Absent Harvey, the club plainly had some innings to fill, and did so by adding the seemingly ageless Colon (in fact, he's 40), who threw to a 2.65 ERA in 190 1/3 innings in 2013. Of course, New York would be thrilled by a repeat, but more realistically will hope that Colon can carry that innings load at a slightly above average rate.
 
Alderson filled out the rest of the pitching staff with a series of veterans on minor league deals. Matsuzaka and Lannan provide starting depth, though the former is starting off in Triple-A and the latter in the bullpen. And Valverde and Farnsworth were both added to a bullpen that had a decent number of in-house options, some of whom the organization preferred to start out in the upper minors. 
 
Questions Remaining
 
We already covered two glaring roster needs above, but a third -- shortstop -- remains a huge question. Ruben Tejada, of course, opens the year as the starter after a massively disappointing 2013 in which he only logged 227 MLB plate appearances and put up a miserly .202/.259/.260 triple-slash. Though Tejada is not regarded as a good defender at the position, advanced metrics have not been quite as down on him as might be expected by the perception. (For his career, at short, Tejada has a slightly positive UZR/150 and is pegged at -8 DRS with over 2,000 innings in the bank.)
 
Though Tejada is just 24 and had been viewed as a promising prospect, it seems that the front office has soured on him quite a bit and has serious questions about his work ethic and conditioning. Moreover, player and team remain at odds -- last we heard, anyway -- over the decision to recall him just one day after he would have been able to reach three full years of service at the end of the season. Free agent Stephen Drew was a widely-pegged target for New York, but the club seems disinclined to give him the multi-year deal that he seeks. Of course, Drew still remains unsigned, and in theory could still be added, though that seems unlikely unless the Mets improve upon their less-than-inspiring start to the year.
 
Another major question mark that remains unresolved is first base, where Lucas Duda and Ike Davis were expected to battle for the starting role (for this year and, possibly, the future) over the spring. With both sidelined by injuries, that contest never really got started, and both made the Opening Day roster. Duda has been given the first chance to seize hold of the job, with Davis reportedly being shopped. Until a definitive step is taken, that situation remains unclear; even if one or the other is sent packing, moreover, the other will still have much to prove.
 
In the early going, the biggest roster challenge that has arisen is certainly in the bullpen, which has had a rough start to the year. Young power arm Vic Black had been expected to seize a set-up role, but struggled so much in the spring that he was optioned to Triple-A. Then, closer Bobby Parnell suffered a partial tear of the MCL which will require Tommy John surgery. In the immediate term, the question becomes whether Valverde can fill in and whether the rest of the pen can hold things together. Though promotions for younger arms seems to be on the horizon, the Mets must balance their need at the big league level with the desire to keep the focus on an appropriate development timeline for its prospects.
 
Likewise, the starting rotation figures to see its share of flux over the course of the season. Jenrry Mejia got a crack at a role with a solid spring and a need for protection as Jon Niese works his way back, and could stick for the time being. But the 24-year-old has never thrown more than 108 2/3 frames in a professional season, and will certainly face a strict innings limit. Likewise, the pitchers waiting in the wings are not expected to be allowed to carry full starting loads over the entire season. While a late-season return for Harvey remains a theoretical possibility, the club will surely be hesitant to gamble with his future.
 
Deal of Note
 
Granderson unquestionably makes the club better now, but the deal carries some doubt when looked at from other angles. For one thing, the overall commitment is not dissimilar from that given Bay. While the struggles of Bay mean nothing for the outlook of Granderson, that fact illustrates the risk at hand. (Of course, it is fair to think that inflation makes the more recent deal a much-less-significant one in relative terms.) Likewise, the Mets' relatively early strike ended up looking more questionable when the dust finally settled on Nelson Cruz, who ultimately cost just $8MM. While he is a less flexible option, especially for a National League club, and has not matched Granderson's overall production, Cruz required less than 15% the total outlay that the Mets laid out.
 
Of course, the Mets may not have viewed a player like Cruz as a comparable option to Granderson, who the team obviously sees as a valuable long-term piece who fits its expected development arc. "It was what we had to do," said COO Jeff Wilpon. "It was something we wanted to do. It fit well with the plan. And it's a commitment on our part to have him around. He wanted to be around to see the team turn the corner and be a part of it moving forward." Likewise, Alderson cited Granderson's value in impacting the organization's culture. 

"No. 1, he brings a tremendous amount of professionalism," Alderson said. "He brings a personality. He brings credibility. He brings experience. And he brings talent. I think all of those things will be important. I really like the mix of players we have character-wise, personality-wise. I think he will enhance that mix. He's a gregarious, infectious personality."

Ultimately, the deal is not without its risks, but how many free agent contracts are? As Eno Sarris of Fangraphs argued in the aftermath of the signing, Granderson should be a solid-enough defender with a switch to the corner, should be able to stay valuable at the plate, and ultimately may not have received a "glaring overpay." If nothing else, of course, the signing represents the clearest sign that the Mets are ready to supplement their slate of attractive young arms with free agent spending, an important development for an organization that has been in a holding pattern while its owners dealt with the fallout of the Bernie Madoff scandal.

On the other hand, Granderson is already 33, missed much of last year due to wrist injuries, and has seen his strikeout percentage rise quite sharply in recent campaigns. In his limited action last year, Granderson's power dropped back significantly: he landed with a .178 ISO mark, after putting up .290 and .260 marks in 2011 and 2012, respectively. And Granderson, who has never reached base at a consistent clip, is carrying a sub-.320 OBP over the last two seasons. While baseball's inflationary environment means that the deal carries less relative risk than did the Bay contract, it could be that New York is spending a lot of money for a non-impact player who will be well on the decline by the time the team is ready to compete.

Overview

One could say that the team did not make enough of an immediate impact with its free agent signings to warrant the cost. After all, with Harvey out, a jump to playoff contention seems a tall order. But the Opening Day payroll is well shy of last year's tab, and New York can reasonably expect to be better. Given the restlessness of its fans and the organization's hope of building off of a young core to contention in the very near term, it made some sense to put a decent product on the field now while avoiding any truly massive deals that might have stung down the line. The question, of course, is whether that might have been accomplished at a cheaper price, and whether any of the recent commitments will have an impact on future needs.

At present, it is hard to view the Mets' offseason as being fully complete, in large part because major questions (with both short and long-term ramifications) are still open for answers. First base, shortstop, and the back of the bullpen could all see significant moves in the coming months. The true test of Alderson and his staff could well be yet to come, as he navigates the decisions at those spots, manages the team's young arms, and plots the final moves to ready the team for full-on contention.

Photo courtesy of Brad Barr/USA Today Sports Images.



Free Agent Notes: Gimenez, Hanrahan, Available Players

All remains relatively quiet on the compensation free agent front -- as you may have heard, Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales remain unsigned, though each is now freed of the possibility of receiving another QO next year if they sign a one-year deal. While there have been rumblings that Morales could be approaching a contract, specifics remain unclear. Nevertheless, there is still a good bit of motion among some less-heralded names in the season's early going. Here's the latest:



East Links: Sabathia, Mets, Rays, Roberts

While much has been made of CC Sabathia's decline over the past year, Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News writes that it doesn't matter if Sabathia is a true "ace" anymore. Feinsand points to promising starts from Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda in opining that the Yankees can be just fine with Sabathia as a contributor who takes the ball every fifth day. He adds that Sabathia's second start would be perceived a lot differently were it not for one seeing-eye single as well.

Here are some more links pertaining to the game's Eastern divisions...

  • MLB.com's Anthony DiComo tweets that he doesn't get the sense that the Mets are all that interested in Joel Hanrahan, Ryan Madson or any other free agent closers (e.g. Kevin Gregg). Likewise, Matt Ehalt of the North Jersey Record hears from a source that the Mets' plan is to look at internal options for help at this time (Twitter link).
  • Cork Gaines of Rays Index examines the Rays' roster and points out that it's not going to change dramatically over the next few years. While there's a strong likelihood of a David Price trade next offseason, much of the team is controlled through at least the 2016 season. Ben Zobrist and Matt Joyce are exceptions to that rule, but each is controllable through 2015. It's unlikely, Gaines writes, that the Rays will feel pressured to make any big additions next winter, with the possible exception of the bullpen.
  • Both Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi head to Kansas City to square off against the team that traded them, MLB.com's Dick Kaegel points out. Kaegel, who feels the trade has worked for both clubs despite Shields' impending free agency, spoke with Odorizzi, calls the opportunity to return to Kansas City alongside Myers "special" and says he's looking forward to the experience.
  • In the wake of today's agreement between the Red Sox and Ryan Roberts, ESPN's Buster Olney recalls that multiple scouts told him during Spring Training that the Sox would need to add a third baseman if they weren't planning on promoting Garin Cecchini (Twitter link). Boston added Roberts today after Will Middlebrooks hit the disabled list.



AL Notes: Davis, Kottaras, Omogrosso

Mets first baseman Ike Davis might make sense for the Yankees, Newsday's Anthony Rieber writes, suggesting that the Yankees could give up a hard-throwing reliever like Dellin Betances for him. While Mark Teixeira is out with a hamstring injury, Davis would be a good replacement for the Yankees since his left-handed power would play well in their ballpark, Rieber argues. Until the Mets deal Davis, Rieber says, they aren't maximizing his value by keeping him on the bench. Here are more notes from the American League.

  • Catcher George Kottaras, who recently agreed to a minor-league deal with the Indians, will make $950K if he's on the big-league roster, Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish tweets. Kottaras can also receive as much as $50K in incentives based on games played. He can opt out of the deal on April 30 if he isn't added to the roster by then. 
  • Brian Omogrosso's agency, MCA, says (via Twitter) that the pitcher is drawing interest from the YankeesRangers and Blue Jays after pitching at a showcase Friday in Arizona. The White Sox recently released Omogrosso. He appeared in 37 1/3 innings for them in the past two seasons, posting a 5.54 ERA with 8.2 K/9 and 4.3 BB/9.



Pitcher Notes: Taillon, Parnell

The Pirates have announced that Jameson Taillon will undergo Tommy John surgery. Taillon's ulnar collateral ligament was "compromised," GM Neal Huntington told reporters, including the Tribune-Review's Karen Price. "As we walked through the process with Jameson, educated him, he's a smart young man and we walked through it with his family and representatives," said Huntington. "He felt this was the best course of action to get back to full health and stay healthy a long time." Taillon, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2010 draft, typically ranked second on lists of the Pirates' top prospects, behind outfielder Gregory Polanco. Taillon had been expected to contribute down the stretch this season, and his absence will take a toll on the Pirates' pitching depth behind starters Gerrit Cole, Francisco Liriano, Charlie Morton, Wandy Rodriguez and Edinson Volquez. Here are more notes on injured pitchers.

  • The Pirates aren't the only team to lose a pitcher to Tommy John. The Mets have announced that Bobby Parnell will undergo the surgery as well. Parnell's surgery will be performed Tuesday. Parnell was among the Mets' top relievers in 2013, posting a 2.16 ERA with 7.9 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 and serving as their closer for part of the season.
  • If the Mets look outside the organization for relief help, they could turn to Joel Hanrahan, Ryan Madson or Kevin Gregg, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets. Hanrahan and Madson, of course, are coming off injuries of their own -- Hanrahan had surgery last May to repair a torn flexor tendon, and Madson has missed the last two seasons with arm trouble.









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