Ruben Tejada Rumors
Despite the optimistic financial future that principal owner Fred Wilpon recently outlined to reporters, the Mets might not have as much flexibility as anticipated. The team projects to make $22MM this coming season, once debt payments for Citi Field, diminishing attendance and TV revenues are factored in, Josh Kosman of the New York Post reports. Kosman hears that there's "little room this year to raise salaries." Here are some more Mets-related notes as Spring Training continues...
- There was a time last month that GM Sandy Alderson expected the Mets would add Justin Upton or Michael Bourn, John Harper of the New York Daily News reports. The Mets discussed the possibility of trading Daniel Murphy or Ruben Tejada plus younger pitching prospects to Arizona for Upton, who was ultimately dealt to Atlanta. It's not clear how close the Mets were to acquiring Upton, but some say Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers "indicated strong interest" at a certain point.
- MLB also gave the Mets "favorable signals" that they'd be able to sign Bourn without surrendering the 11th overall draft pick, Harper reports.
- Alderson said the organization's top pitching prospects will make an impact at the MLB level, Kevin Kernan of the New York Post reports. "It’s a marker of future success,’’ Alderson said. Manager Terry Collins added that he envisions some of the prospects becoming power arms for his bullpen.
- The Braves optioned right-hander Jair Jurrjens to Triple-A Gwinnett following a disappointing start against the Dodgers yesterday. The right-hander has a 9.37 ERA through four starts, so he's returning to the minors, where he last spent considerable time in 2007. Jurrjens' path to free agency could be affected if he spends two months or more in the minor leagues.
- Phillies manager Charlie Manuel hasn’t ruled out the possibility of playing Chase Utley at first base when he's activated from the disabled list, Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. If Utley returns before Ryan Howard, the Phillies could mix things up defensively. "We'll figure that out when we get there," Manuel said.
- Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada has the unenviable task of replacing Reyes, but as Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com shows, the 22-year-old has already earned the confidence of his team. Meanwhile, Tejada says Reyes was a "great teammate" in New York before signing a $106MM free agent contract with the Marlins this past offseason.
- Ken Davidoff of the New York Post suggests there's no rush to lock David Wright up long-term despite the third baseman's hot start. Davidoff points out that it's April and that Wright is under team control through 2013. If he's still hitting this well when summer trade talks begin in earnest, the Mets will face a major decision, but we aren't there yet.
The Mets lowered payroll by approximately $50MM this offseason, while division rivals such as the Marlins and Nationals moved aggressively to acquire top talent. However, Mets principal owner Fred Wilpon said his club could surprise some people in 2012. The details...
- Wilpon said the team's finances are "OK" and that he intends to own the franchise "for a very long time," Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com writes.
- Wilpon made it clear that he and GM Sandy Alderson have some misgivings about offering long-term deals. “Are we a little leery of six-year, seven-year, eight-year contracts? Yes. Is Sandy leery of it? You bet. I'm big-time leery of it,” Wilpon said, after suggesting the Mets offered Jose Reyes a deal in the $100MM range.
- One person familiar with the Mets' financial situation told Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com that a lot of things will have to go right for Wilpon and Saul Katz to remain in place as owners.
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post explains that David Wright could become a trade candidate this July or after the season if he rebounds in 2012. Sherman draws a comparison between Wright and Ryan Zimmerman, a childhood teammate of Wright's who just signed a long-term deal with the Nationals.
- In a separate piece, Sherman wonders if the Mets would exercise Wright's $16MM option for 2013 if he falters this coming season.
- Sherman says it's unfair of Mets manager Terry Collins to criticize Ruben Tejada for not showing up to camp early.
The Mets scratched Fernando Martinez and Ruben Tejada from their Triple-A lineup last night, leading to speculation that a trade could be in the works. Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reported that the team was "in dialogue" with the Mariners, but for now, no trade is imminent.
As FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal tweets, Martinez or Tejada have not been placed on waivers, so neither player could be traded at this point. Rubin indicated that Martinez may have been one player on the move in a hypothetical deal with Seattle, but Rosenthal suggests that the late scratches just involve "internal stuff." Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes confirms (via Twitter) that both players will join the big league club in Philadelphia.
Baseball America ranked Martinez and Tejada third and ninth respectively among Mets' prospects heading into this season. The 20-year-old Tejada earned some time in the majors earlier in the year, hitting .212/.297/.250 in 122 plate appearances, while Martinez has spent the season in high-A and triple-A, posting an overall slash line of .256/.321/.458.
More links for Tuesday, as Mike Lowell returns to the Red Sox lineup and blasts a homer over the Green Monster...
- White Sox minor league hitting coordinator Jeff Manto told Paul M. Banks of the Sports Bank that prospect Brandon Short has "some of the fastest hands we have in the organization," when discussing Chicago's prospects.
- Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik told the AP that Don Wakamatsu is the team's manager for the foreseeable future. "We are trying to win baseball games with Don running the ship," Zduriencik said (link at CBS Sports).
- The Red Sox told Lowell they won't release him, according to Alex Speier of WEEI.com (via Twitter). Speier notes that the Yankees were on Lowell's no-trade list (Twitter link).
- The Astros wanted Ruben Tejada and Bobby Parnell from the Mets for Brett Myers, according to Peter Gammons (Twitter link).
- The Mets released Ramon Ortiz Sunday, according to the International League transactions page. GM Omar Minaya signed the right-hander back in June.
- Yahoo's Jeff Passan explains how Barret Loux is a casualty of the rule that guarantees teams a future pick if they fail to sign their first rounder. The D'Backs first rounder has an uncertain future after a failed physical.
- MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo shows how some prospects have performed since switching organizations before the July 31st trade deadline.
- Pat Andriola of FanGraphs explains the Nationals' choices with Adam Dunn, who hit waivers today.
Jose Reyes told Constantino Viloria at the Spanish-language New York paper La Opinion that he is open-minded about his future with the Mets. As in past interviews, Reyes dismissed the possibility that he would play anywhere but with the Mets, the organization that scouted and signed him as a teenager in the Dominican Republic. The team holds an $11MM option on Reyes for 2011, which seems a no-brainer given the options on the free agent market.
However, Reyes added a new twist by telling Viloria that while he would prefer to stay at short, he "hasn't ruled out" changing positions. More specifically, Reyes mentions that "I played several games at second base for the Mets," referring to the 43 games he logged at the keystone in 2004.
Reyes' preferences aside, there is an argument to be made for bumping the 27-year-old one slot to the right. First of all, one of the team's top position prospects (along with Fernando Martinez and others) is 18-year-old shortstop Wilmer Flores, who has been showing promise at the lower levels of the Mets system—though some see his future outside of the infield. In any event, once the Mets are free of their commitment to Luis Castillo at the end of 2011 (or sooner by trade), there is no ready replacement within the upper levels of the system save Ruben Tejada, a natural shortstop like Reyes but without his speed or offensive ceiling.
In terms of offense, Reyes' .735 OPS this season compares little better to other second basemen than it would have back in 2004, when the likes of Jeff Kent and Alfonso Soriano were setting the power bar. For now, his production puts him firmly on the Orlando Hudson watershed line (.729 OPS), well below boppers like Cano/Pedroia/Kinsler/Utley but still above the slappy types like Schumaker/Theriot/Barmes.
However, after a few more months of an injured Castillo, Alex Cora and fliers like Tejada, Reyes' willingness to switch could resurface as a topic of discussion, especially as it may give the team the flexibility to either finally trade Castillo or package one of the shortstop prospects for pitching, as has been bandied recently.
- GM Kenny Williams told Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times that the White Sox aren't desperate for anything right now.
- Reporters asked Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik about Lee, but Zduriencik just repeated that the Mariners are focusing on winning as many games as possible, according to Larry Stone of the Seattle Times.
- MLB.com's Todd Zolecki reports that the Phillies have a scout at tonight's Yankees-Mariners game, though it could be part of the scout's normal coverage.
- ESPN.com's Buster Olney hears that Mets infielder Ruben Tejada would not be enough to anchor a deal for Lee, but prospect Wilmer Flores could be (Twitter links). Earlier today, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes looked at the Mets' ability to acquire Lee without giving up Jenrry Mejia.
- Now that the Indians have given first rounder Drew Pomeranz his physical, they're one step closer to starting negotiations with the left-hander, according to MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince.
- Cal Ripken Jr. told Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun that he may take a job in the Orioles organization. So could Ripken become the team's next manager? No.
- Many players read MLBTR, but something tells me Adam Dunn isn't one of them. He told Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post that he hates trade rumblings when he's involved in them. The Nationals are open to making deals and teams are interested in Dunn.
The Mets are focused on adding pitching and will not pursue a trade for a second baseman, a source tells Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. Luis Castillo has missed almost the entire month with an injured left foot, so 20-year-old Ruben Tejada has filled in at second. The youngster has hit .260/.327/.320 and played well enough defensively for the Mets to feel comfortable focusing on other needs.
Mets executives are engaging in preliminary talks with other teams about pitching help. Cliff Lee would fit in New York, but Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik told Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports that the Mariners aren’t ready to “throw in the towel” yet (Twitter link). That said, Zduriencik is “not a fool” and will sell if the Mariners don’t go on a Texas-sized winning streak (Twitter link).
Ty Wigginton said he would not mind playing for the Mets, but the O’s are reportedly asking for a young shortstop in return. Infielders such as Kelly Johnson, Akinori Iwamura, Craig Counsell, Willie Bloomquist and Adam Kennedy could become options if the Mets change course and pursue a replacement for Castillo.
Baseball's draft begins at 6pm CST today. I'll be hosting a live chat here at MLBTR. Beyond the draft, your afternoon linkage...
- Murray Chass got Nationals president Stan Kasten to admit service time was "one of the factors" in deciding when to call up Stephen Strasburg. Strasburg debuts tomorrow night against Jeff Karstens and the Pirates.
- Lou Piniella is trying rookie Andrew Cashner in a setup role, but the Cubs manager told the Chicago Sun-Times the team is still looking to add a right-handed reliever. Also, Piniella hasn't heard any trade talk about his players.
- NPB Tracker's Patrick Newman tweets Tokyo's Yakult Swallows have acquired first baseman Josh Whitesell and will pay him $300K for the rest of the season. Whitesell had signed a minor league deal with the Nationals in December.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports notes that the Mets are "so high on rookie infielder Ruben Tejada that they'd be reluctant to include him in a trade for a pitcher such as Astros right-hander Roy Oswalt."