New York Mets Rumors
Service time is often among the most important factors when determining when to promote a top prospect, a new analysis by Baseball Prospectus suggests (via FOX Sports). For followers of teams such as the Astros, who recently netted themselves an extra year of control of George Springer by waiting two weeks into the season to call him up, the findings don't come as a surprise. The study did produce an interesting data point, however. "Fourteen times in the last seven years, a player who ranked No. 1 on one of our Top 10 prospect lists debuted in April," BP's Zachary Levine writes. Among that group, eight were on their club's Opening Day roster, meaning the team valued that player's potential early-season contributions over the possibility of an extra year of control down the road. While the gaming of service time of top prospects is common, it's perhaps not as rampant as you might expect, the study suggests. Here's a look elsewhere around the majors:
- Being traded to the Pirates is an excellent opportunity for Ike Davis to maximize his considerable talent, Richard Justice writes for MLB.com, praising the clubhouse environment, management and fan support in Pittsburgh.
- The Brewers and Mets had several conversations about a potential Davis trade, but never got close, Brewers assistant GM Gord Ash tells Adam McCalvy of MLB.com. McCalvy reports that the Mets wanted young starting pitching, such as righty Tyler Thornburg, in return.
- Fangraphs' Jeff Sullivan examined what might be fueling Edinson Volquez's early-season success for the Pirates. In addition to showing an improved ability to throw strikes, the right-hander is also throwing better-quality balls when he does miss the zone, Sullivan concludes. If Volquez can maintain these improvements, it'll be yet another successful reclamation project for Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage.
Mets manager Terry Collins says he expects Lucas Duda to settle in and produce now that the Ike Davis trade has opened up the club's full-time first base job, MLB.com's Spencer Fordin reports. Duda, however, says he doesn't feel much has changed. "If I don't produce, I'm not going to play. No matter what the situation is, if I don't get the job done, somebody else will," the slugger commented. More NL East links ...
- A competing GM told Andy Martino of the New York Daily News (via Twitter) that the Mets were right to choose Duda instead of Davis. "They're both platoon guys, but Duda [is] a little better against lefties," the GM said.
- One MLB executive speaking with Newsday's David Lennon (Twitter link) guesses that the Mets may receive either the Pirates' 2013 fifth- or sixth-rounder as the player to be named later in the Davis deal. That would be either fifth-round pick Trae Arbet, a shortstop drafted out of high school, or sixth-round draftee Adam Frazier, a college shortstop. Neither player was ranked among the Pirates' top 30 prospects by Baseball America this offseason.
- The Braves brought on Aaron Harang near the end of Spring Training to eat innings in the season's early going, but now that he's posted a Majors-leading 0.70 ERA in four starts, their plans have changed. In fact, Harang was removed after giving up zero hits through seven innings against the Mets yesterday to help preserve his arm. Manager Fredi Gonzalez says he wants 25-27 more starts from the veteran, according to David O'Brien of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
SATURDAY: Lannan has accepted the assignment, ESPN's Adam Rubin tweets.
WEDNESDAY: 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.
The Braves don't get as much attention as the Cardinals, Athletics or Rays for being well-run teams, but perhaps they should, the New York Post's Joel Sherman suggests. The Braves' relative lack of postseason success may be one factor, says Sherman, but they've made the postseason three times in the past five seasons. Consistency may be one secret to their success. "They have had strikingly little turnover on the baseball side and their philosophy has been consistent throughout," says one NL scout. "They are very clear about the type of player they are looking for and acquire those types." The Braves are off to a great start this season despite losing Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy to Tommy John surgery, and Sherman contrasts the Braves' decision-making heading into the season with that of the Mets. When Medlen and Beachy went down, the Braves acted decisively to replace them, quickly signing Ervin Santana even though he had declined a qualifying offer. The Mets, meanwhile, still have a need at shortstop, and Stephen Drew is still available on the free-agent market. Here are more notes from throughout the National League.
- Cubs GM Theo Epstein will watch NC State pitcher Carlos Rodon pitch on Friday, 670TheScore.com's Bruce Levine tweets. Rodon currently appears highly likely to be the first overall pick in the draft in June, and the Cubs pick fourth. Much can change between now and then, however, and it makes sense for the Cubs to do due diligence.
- Dontrelle Willis, who was recently released by the Giants, is considering becoming a pitching coach, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets. That might seem a little surprising, given Willis' own unorthodox mechanics (as MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez joked), but coaching isn't merely teaching what one used to do, so there's no reason a pitcher with an idiosyncratic delivery couldn't teach pitchers whose deliveries are more typical.
Toolsy Pirates outfield prospect Gregory Polanco ought to be the next top prospect to win a promotion, MLB.com's Jim Callis writes. MLB.com ranked Polanco the No. 13 prospect in baseball heading into the season, and he's done nothing to diminish his reputation since then, hitting .439/.475/.667 in 61 plate appearances so far for Triple-A Indianapolis. "He's done a little bit of everything," says Pirates assistant GM Kyle Stark. "It's been fun to watch. The exciting thing about him is he's extremely driven and has very good feel for making adjustments, so it allows him to keep getting better." Here are more notes from around the National League.
- MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo, meanwhile, argues for Archie Bradley of the Diamondbacks to be the next top prospect to reach the big leagues. Bradley, who raced through the Class A+ and Double-A levels last season, has a 3.31 ERA with 12 strikeouts and six walks in 16 1/3 innings for Triple-A Reno. Mayo suggests that it's not impossible that Bradley's impact on the Diamondbacks could be similar to Jose Fernandez's impact on the Marlins last year.
- With Ike Davis heading to the Pirates veteran Bobby Abreu could be making his way back to the big leagues with the Mets, Tim Rohan of the New York Times writes. In March, the Mets signed Abreu to a minor-league deal, suggesting to him that they might promote him to serve as a lefty pinch-hitter once they figured out what they would do with Davis and Lucas Duda. For now, Abreu is hitting .412/.487/.529 in his first 39 plate appearances for Triple-A Las Vegas.
SATURDAY: The PTBNL in the deal is likely to be a 2013 draft pick, Heyman tweets. He also notes that that player, and not Thornton, is the "key piece." 2013 picks will not be eligible to be traded until the summer.
FRIDAY 6:22pm: The PTBNL is "fairly significant," tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. It is worth bearing in mind, as Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com points out on Twitter, that 2013 draft picks still cannot technically be included in a deal.
5:45pm: A long-awaited deal has finally been struck, as the Mets officially dealt first baseman Ike Davis to the Pirates in exchange for minor league righty Zack Thornton and a player to be named later. A deal involving the struggling Davis has long been rumored, with the Pirates long said to be a likely trade partner.
For New York, the departure of Davis means that the club will move ahead with Lucas Duda as its regular first baseman, a role that he had taken on early in 2014. It also marks the end to an ultimately disappointing tenure in New York for the 27-year-old, left-handed hitting slugger.
Meanwhile, the Pirates will take on the $3.14MM left on Davis's 2014 salary, and will control his rights via arbitration through 2016. Davis will presumably work in some form of platoon with the right-handed hitting Gaby Sanchez, who the club picked up after he too took steps backward after a promising early career.
Once a top-100 prospect, Davis raised expectations with a strong rookie campaign in 2010, in which he hit .264/.351/.440 with 19 home runs over 601 plate appearances at age 23. He was off to a hot start the next year, hitting .302/.383/.543, before he was sidelined with ankle issues. Before the 2012 season, Davis reportedly contracted valley fever, but nevertheless managed to hit 32 long balls in 584 trips to the dish. But his OBP dropped to .308 that year, and he has not returned to form since. Over 407 MLB plate appearances in 2013-14, Davis has just a .205/.329/.337 line with 10 home runs and a rising strikeout problem (he reached a career-high 26.8% K% last year.)
Thornton is a 25-year-old reliever who was working in Triple-A this season after reaching that level late last year for the first time. He did not appear on Baseball America's list of the Bucs' top prospects this year or last year. Pittsburgh acquired Thornton in exchange for Chris Resop in May of last year. According to Thornton's profile on PiratesProspects.com, he has been much more effective against same-handed hitters in his minor league career.
As the profile also notes, Thornton was left unprotected in this year's Rule 5 draft but was not selected even after a good showing in the Arizona Fall League. While he should provide depth to a struggling Mets pen, he seems a disappointing return for a player of Davis's former promise. It remains to be seen, of course, whether the PTBNL can bring additional value to the Mets.
Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com first tweeted that a deal was in the works. Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com (Twitter links) first reported that the deal was done, and that one or two prospects would head back to New York.
The Pirates hope that Ike Davis will be a long-term solution for them at first base, but they aren't giving up on prospect Andrew Lambo, Rob Biertempfel of the Tribune-Review reports (Twitter links). "Hopefully, (Ike Davis) is a move that solves our first base needs for years to come," GM Neal Huntington says. "We still think Lambo is going to be good big league player. Right now Davis is better fit for us. We'll see how it plays out." Lambo had been the presumed starter against right-handed hitters, but he headed back to the minors after a disappointing spring training. He can also play outfield, although the Pirates appear to be set for the foreseeable future there, with Starling Marte and Andrew McCutchen taking two positions and Gregory Polanco soon taking another. Here's more on the trade.
- An executive from another team points out to ESPN New York's Adam Rubin (on Twitter) that Zack Thornton, the minor-league pitcher the Mets acquired in the deal, was eligible for last year's Rule 5 Draft but was not selected. Thornton is now in his age-26 season and has posted great stats in the high minors, so he seemed like a good candidate to be selected in the Rule 5. That every team passed on him might indicate that they aren't enamored of his upside. It is perhaps no surprise, then, that the PTBNL in the deal will be "fairly significant," as CBS Sports' Jon Heyman tweeted yesterday.
- Davis has mixed feelings about the trade, Kevin Kernan of the New York Post reports. "It’s weird, I’ve been with the Mets a long time and made some good friendships," says Davis. "I’m excited. I know a couple of guys [in Pittsburgh] and they have a great young team. Some good veterans too. I’m looking forward to playing and hopefully helping them win."
- Davis' agents at Octagon encouraged the trade, Heyman tweets.
12:19pm: Hanrahan isn't yet negotiating with anyone but is expected to start taking offers next week, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports (via Twitter). Some teams have requested to see Hanrahan's medicals.
FRIDAY, 11:24am: The Twins aren't one of the teams talking contract with Hanrahan, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets. There is similarly "nothing brewing" between Hanrahan and the Mets, The Record's Matt Ehalt reports. The Astros, meanwhile, weren't at the tryout at all, Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle reports (Twitter link).
THURSDAY: Upwards of 20 teams were on-hand today to watch free-agent right-hander Joel Hanrahan's showcase at the University of Tampa today, writes Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (More specifically, ESPN's Buster Olney tweeted that there were 16 to 18 clubs on-hand). Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe tweets that Hanrahan's agents at Reynolds Sports Management are already discussing a contract with multiple clubs after what proved to be a strong audition.
Among the attendees, according to Heyman, were the Red Sox, Yankees, Mets, Royals, Rockies and Indians. Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets that the Twins were in attendance as well, while MLB.com's Jason Beck tweets that the Tigers, too, were one of the clubs in attendance. Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com adds (also via Twitter) that the Orioles, Blue Jays and Rays were present.
Hanrahan appears to be ahead of schedule, Heyman writes, as he was throwing as hard as 93 mph despite being just 11 months removed from Tommy John/flexor tendon repair surgery. Scouts told Heyman that Hanrahan looked "fit and healthy," while another who attended told Cafardo (Twitter link) that Hanrahan "looked great." Wolfson's tweet also mentions that Hanrahan looked impressive.
A two-time All-Star, Hanrahan posted a 2.59 ERA with 10.4 K/9 and 3.8 BB/9 in 229 1/3 innings with the Pirates from 2009-12 before a trade that sent him to Boston last offseason.
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.