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- Dodgers, Braves Discussing Swap Of Uribe, Callaspo
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Sandy Alderson Rumors
Cuban ballplayers coming to the big leagues have never had a higher profile. And with large sums of money being invested in those players, teams have never had more obvious incentives to fully vet them. Nevertheless, tweets ESPN.com’s Buster Olney, different clubs still seem to have widely divergent views about the true talent levels of many players coming over from the neighboring island, creating a true “boom or bust” scenario in some cases.
Here are a few more notes from around the game to start the day:
- One Cuban player who has gone under the radar of late is young second baseman Andy Ibanez. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez notes on Twitter that Ibanez remains unsigned and adds that he could still elect to sign in the next July 2 period.
- Mets GM Sandy Alderson says the team “wasn’t complacent” about addressing the club’s shortstop situation over the winter, as Casey Stern of MLB Network Radio tweets. New York “went through seven or eight opportunities,” says Alderson, but of course ultimately decided to go with in-house options Wilmer Flores and Ruben Tejada.
Sandy Alderson’s new biography (Baseball Maverick: How Sandy Alderson Revolutionized Baseball and Revived the Mets, by Steve Kettmann) contains several interesting background tidbits about many of Alderson’s major transactions as the Mets general manager. ESPN’s Adam Rubin runs down some of the highlights, including some alternate trades for Carlos Beltran and R.A. Dickey, extension talks with Jose Reyes and even a flirtation with Robinson Cano last winter. The book also includes comments from Alderson about the Mets payroll situation, which led to Alderson clarifying his position last week. Here’s some more from the Amazins…
- Perhaps the most timely revelation from the book was that last August, Alderson told Kettmann that Terry Collins’ chances of returning as the Mets’ manager in 2015 stood at roughly 51 percent and “Frankly, for me, that percentage has been eroding.” Alderson was upset that the Mets’ patience at the plate seemed to be dropping, but a meeting with the club’s hitters apparently saved Collins from being fired. Collins is entering the last year of his contract and he’s been rumored to be on the hot seat unless the Mets take a step forward to contention.
- While Zack Wheeler was indeed pitching through pain last season, it was due to a torn tendon in his right elbow, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports. Nothing was thought to be wrong with Wheeler’s UCL until last week’s examination revealed that the right-hander had suffered a tear and would need to undergo Tommy John surgery.
- B.B. Abbott, Wheeler’s agent, told reporters (including Dan Martin of the New York Post) that he has “zero issues whatsoever with how the Mets handled Zack last year or in the offseason.“
- The Mets are only one of several teams interested in Orioles southpaw Brian Matusz, a scout tells Adam Rubin (Twitter link). As teams make roster cuts over the next two weeks, however, “there should be plenty of lefties that shake loose of lesser ilk.” Needless to say, these other left-handed relief options would presumably also come at a much lower price tag than Matusz’s $3.2MM salary.
- The scout also suggests that Marlins left-hander Andrew McKirahan is better than any of the Mets’ internal lefty relievers and would be a good addition to the team if Miami cuts him. McKirahan was selected by the Fish in last December’s Rule 5 draft and must spend the entire season on the Marlins’ 25-man roster or else be offered back to the Cubs.
Lefty Mike Dunn is the rare player who hopes to be criticized for signing a multi-year deal, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports. “I want it to be a situation where, at the end of it, someone can say to me, ‘Well, that was a terrible deal. If you would have done it year to year, you could have made more money,’ ” Dunn said. “That’s what I want it to be. I want to prove I’m worth more than that. I want to live up to that two-year deal, and hopefully surpass it.” The two-year, $5.8MM contract represents a rare multi-year commitment to a reliever for the Marlins, though they were comfortable giving Dunn two years because of his extreme durability. Dunn has averaged 70 appearances a year since 2011 and never been on the DL during his nine-year professional career.
Here’s some more from around the NL East…
- Should the Phillies trade Cole Hamels sooner rather than later? MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki makes the point that the club has already been burned by moving too quickly to deal other recent aces — Curt Schilling in 2000 and Cliff Lee in 2009 — and there’s no reason to rush into a Hamels deal just because of Lee’s current injury concerns.
- The presence of highly-regarded pitching coach Roger McDowell was a big reason why Eric Stults and Jim Johnson signed with the Braves, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes.
- With Josh Edgin possibly facing Tommy John surgery, the Mets are even thinner on left-handed relief pitching options. Manager Terry Collins is “disappointed” (according to ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin) with how his southpaws have performed in Spring Training and said he could even consider having an all-righty bullpen, though GM Sandy Alderson told reporters (including Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal) that he “can’t forsee” a pen without at least one left-hander present.
- The lack of lefty bullpen depth is another example of how the Mets are hampering themselves by a lack of spending, Joel Sherman of the New York Post opines.
- Alderson spoke to reporters (including Adam Rubin) in order to clarify comments made in his biography about the Mets‘ payroll situation. “Some people want to interpret the last four years strictly in terms of what financial resources were available or not available to the Mets….From that standpoint, that’s never been an issue for me,” Alderson said. “I never talked about the payroll as an unfortunate limitation to us. I haven’t talked about it recently. I haven’t talked about it in the past. I don’t intend to. It’s not relevant to me….Look, our payroll is at $100 million right now, which is up about 20 percent from what it was last year. I don’t think anybody has any complaints at all on our end.”
While Dan Haren admits that he did consider retirement this offseason, it wasn’t due to the trade that sent him to the Marlins, he told reporters today at Marlins’ camp (via the Miami Sun-Sentinel’s Juan C. Rodriguez). Haren refrained from speaking directly to the media as he weighed his options this winter, and he feels that may have led to some speculation going overboard. Rodriguez quotes Haren: “I think a lot of things were probably overblown, one, because I never really said anything directly to any media at all. I’m here. I’m happy to be here. I had a good talk with [manager] Mike Redmond. I’m ready to get going.” Specifically, Haren adds that he never requested that the Marlins trade him back to a West Coast team. He hopes to continue his 10-season streak of making 30 or more starts — the second-longest active streak in the Majors, behind Mark Buehrle — and said he considers Marlins Park a good fit for him at this stage of his career and is looking forward to being a Marlin. “[W]ho am I to say where I play? I’m not Clayton Kershaw. I respect the game. It’s given me a lot more than I could have every imagined. I’m excited to be here.”
Here’s more on the Marlins and their division…
- Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill told MLB Network Radio’s Jim Bowden that his team is keeping a finger on the pulse of the available free agent relievers (Twitter link). The Marlins reportedly have interest in Francisco Rodriguez on something in the range of a two-year, $10MM deal, but K-Rod is said to be seeking $10MM for 2015 alone.
- Mike Vurkunov of the Star Ledger tweets that Mets GM Sandy Alderson believes that if his team trades a starting pitcher, it will likely be to acquire prospect depth rather than to supplement the Major League roster. Of course, it is far from clear that a deal will get done at all at this point, though injury situations can always change the demand calculus.
- Phillies prospect Jesse Biddle has been through a rather incredible set of challenges, but says he is back on track entering the spring, as Bob Brookover of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes. Certainly, a healthy and progressing Biddle would go a long way toward boosting perceptions of the club’s farm system.
Jon Niese‘s name surfaced in trade rumors earlier this offseason, but the left-hander tells Kevin Kernan of the New York Post that he has been told he won’t be dealt. “They told me they didn’t want to move me,” Niese said, which is fine with him since he’s excited about the club’s young talent. The Mets have reportedly been shopping Dillon Gee, Bartolo Colon and Niese, though of that trio, Niese was the pitcher the team was least willing to deal since he’s the only lefty in the rotation and is controllable through 2018 (if the Mets exercise both of their options on his contract). Here are some more Amazin’ news items…
- GM Sandy Alderson discussed the positives of the Mets’ pitching surplus during a recent interview with Chris Russo of the MLB Network (hat tip to MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo). “Right now, we feel very good about the fact that we’re eight or nine deep going into the season,” Alderson said. “You always need extra starting pitching. Things will probably work themselves out during Spring Training. Hopefully we don’t have an injury. But we do have some flexibility in the ‘pen, so if somebody has to move to the ‘pen for a period of time, I think that would be acceptable to us.” Earlier this winter, Alderson said he intended to trade a starter prior to Spring Training, though this no longer appears to be the case.
- In a Q&A with season ticket holders on Wednesday, Alderson said the Mets are unlikely to pursue Yoan Moncada, Metsblog.com’s Matthew Cerrone writes. While the Mets have scouted Moncada and “we like him,” Alderson notes that the financial commitment required to sign Moncada would essentially prohibit them from the international market for the next two years. “From my standpoint, it’s a little like the stock market. Do you want to go all in on Shake Shack? Or, do you want to invest in a mutual fund that gives you a little more diversity and a little more spread over time,” Alderson asked. “I think our goal here is that we invest at least somewhat efficiently, but also spread it out so we give ourselves the best chance to succeed.”
- The Mets’ offseason has been underwhelming, Joel Sherman of the New York Post opines, as he feels even a modest $20MM payroll increase could’ve helped address several uncertain positions on the team. Sherman notes that David Wright‘s struggles in 2014 could have a major impact on the Mets’ willingness to spend, as management could be more hesitant about signing major contracts if Wright continues to under-perform over the course of his extension.
Since “the Mets have showed no inclination to engage Daniel Murphy‘s representatives in extension talks,” ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin believes the second baseman could be a prime trade candidate. The Mets seem likely to deal Murphy for an outfielder in the offseason, though one Major League executive tells Rubin that the Mets could get a higher return in a deal by waiting until midseason. Murphy is eligible for arbitration for the third and final time this winter before hitting free agency after the 2015 season.
Here’s some more news about the Amazins…
- Also from Rubin’s piece, he believes the Mets’ 2015 payroll will be around the $100MM mark. Though this is an increase from their $85MM mark this season, Rubin notes that the payroll was going to rise to roughly $93MM anyway due to player raises. Any further expenditures could have to be offset by moving existing salaries, like dealing Murphy or a starting pitcher.
- Speaking of trading a starter, Rubin feels that either Dillon Gee or Jon Niese are likely to be dealt this winter. Oft-cited trade candidate Bartolo Colon is 41, will earn $11MM in 2015 and is only contracted for the one year, so the Mets could command a higher return for one of their younger, controllable starters.
- Mets GM Sandy Alderson spoke with the media (including Adam Rubin) on Sunday and noted that Citi Field’s fences in center and right-center field will “likely” be altered next season. “I think [the new dimensions will] be good for the game, good for the fans. I’m sure that one or two of our players will benefit as well,” Alderson said.
- Alderson also touched on the Mets’ need for a hitting upgrade, though he doesn’t think his team will need that great a jump from their current “middle of the pack” status in the NL’s offensive ranks to being a top-five offensive club in the league. Metsblog’s Matthew Cerrone notes that while many Mets fans clamor for a new slugger, the team’s power numbers were actually pretty good in 2014. “More than anything – the Mets need more hitters that put the ball in play. That’s it. It should not be overcomplicated,” Cerrone writes.
- The Mets will reassign hitting coaches Lamar Johnson and Luis Natera, sources tell Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. An official announcement on the 2015 coaching staff is expected to come on Tuesday. Bench coach Bob Geren will return next season, while former Met and fan favorite Wally Backman (manager of the franchise’s Triple-A affiliate) isn’t expected to be promoted to a big league coaching job.
TODAY, 2:22pm: The Mets have officially announced that Alderson has been extended through 2017. The club also announced that Collins will return next year.
YESTERDAY, 2:32pm: Alderson’s new contract will cover the 2015-17 seasons, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter links). The extension will technically be for two years, as the club will exercise his option and two more years to the deal.
2:05pm: Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports that the Mets will announce an extension for Alderson after the season, and he adds that there will also be an announcement that manager Terry Collins has been retained (Twitter links).
1:38pm: Alderson’s contract extension will be for “about three years,” reports Andy Martino of the New York Daily News (on Twitter). However, the deal is not yet complete, and there are still details to be worked out, he hears.
1:25pm: The Mets will exercise their 2015 option on general manager Sandy Alderson and the two side are working toward a contract extension, sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link).
Alderson, 66, was hired as the Mets’ GM following the 2010 season and signed to a four-year contract which contained the aforementioned option for the 2015 season. While the Mets have yet to have a winning season under his watch, Alderson has assisted the Mets in bolstering a farm system and stockpiling an enviable crop of young talent. Alderson acquired Zack Wheeler from the Giants in exchange for a two-month rental of Carlos Beltran, and he chose to trade R.A. Dickey rather than extend him following the knuckleballer’s Cy Young season in 2012. That move netted the Amazins top prospect Noah Syndergaard as well as current catcher Travis d’Arnaud. Last summer, after striking gold on a minor league pickup of Marlon Byrd, the Mets packaged Byrd and John Buck (also acquired in the Dickey trade) to land Dilson Herrera and Vic Black from the Pirates. Additionally, he appears to have made the correct choice in retaining Lucas Duda, rather than Ike Davis, as the team’s first baseman going forward.
Of course, not all of Alderson’s moves have panned out quite so well. The signing of Chris B. Young to a one-year, $7.25MM contract this offseason proved to be a failure, and while Bartolo Colon has pitched well enough to justify the first season of his two-year, $20MM deal, his $11MM salary for 2015 made him too difficult to trade this summer. Curtis Granderson‘s four-year, $60MM contract has the potential to be a negative, though Granderson is in the midst of a torrid finish, perhaps giving hope that he can be more productive in 2015 than he was in an up-and-down 2014.
Alderson’s largest move to date has been the eight-year, $138MM extension signed by David Wright. While “Captain America” looked well worth the money even in an injury-shortened 2013 — he batted .307/.390/.514 with 18 homers and 17 steals — Wright’s power vanished in 2014, which eventually proved to be his second straight injury-shortened season. The 31-year-old batted .269/.324/.374 with just eight homers this season as he battled shoulder and neck problems that finally caused his season to conclude on Sept. 8.
The Mets are expected to bring back both general manager Sandy Alderson and manager Terry Collins for the 2015 season, sources tell Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. Contract details haven’t been finalized with either man, though since Collins is already signed through 2015, Alderson’s status is the only one that needs to be immediately addressed. The GM’s previous deal will expire at the end of the season, and though the Mets hold a team option on his services for 2015, Martino reports that it’s more likely the Mets will work out an extension with Alderson rather than just exercise the one-year option.
Alderson and Collins both joined the team prior to the 2011 season, and the rebuilding Mets have a 297-339 record under both men. It had been assumed that Alderson would return in 2015, and though Collins’ status was perhaps in question earlier in the season, recent signs pointed towards his return as well. The skipper signed a two-year extension with the Mets last September that covers him through 2015, plus a team option for 2016.
While wins and losses haven’t been a major concern for the Mets in recent years, this could be a different story in 2015 when Matt Harvey is back from Tommy John surgery and joins the several other promising young players on New York’s roster. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Mets only announce that Collins is returning and don’t work out any further extension; the team will want to see if Collins is the right man to manage a contender before making a longer-term commitment. At most, the Mets could exercise Collins’ 2016 option so he could avoid lame-duck status next year.
The Mets will make an official announcement on Alderson and Collins at the end of the season, and sources tell Martino that the club could confirm both are staying during a single press conference, though nothing has yet been decided.
Earlier in the week, we learned the Mets expect to maintain a steady payroll in the low-to-mid-$80MM range. Although the club may prefer to avoid trading from their pitching depth or adding significant payroll, they’ll need to be opportunistic to succeed in 2015, writes The New York Post’s Joel Sherman. The club is well aware that free agent signings can backfire and pitching depth can vanish with the pop of a couple ligaments. Per Sherman, the New York’s perceived plan to spend when fans return to the ballpark is “backwards.” The franchise spends less on player salaries than the mid-market Braves, yet they have powerful potential revenue streams from their Northeast location, relatively new stadium, and TV network. Sherman suggests the club remain open to signing a few veterans like Melky Cabrera, Jed Lowrie, or Mike Morse. An alternative source of value could be to pick up possible castoffs like Matt Kemp or Jose Reyes.
- Alderson is “right” to note that money doesn’t equate to success, says Bill Madden of the New York Daily News. Madden emphasizes the Mets woeful performance in recent free agent markets, but he also believes the club should be open to expanding payroll in the right move – including trades. He mentions Red Sox outfielder Yoenis Cespedes as a sort of ideal trade target.
- Russell Martin is a stealth MVP candidate and the Pirates need to re-sign him, writes David Golebiewski of GammonsDaily.com. Martin blends offense and defense at a critical position. While the Pirates are generally penny pinchers, they should do what is necessary to retain the 31-year-old free agent. In addition to his personal virtues, Pittsburgh lacks a viable internal replacement. MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes believes “a four-year deal north of $50MM” to be possible.
Here’s the latest out of the National League East:
- The Phillies could well attempt to trade outfielder Domonic Brown in an offseason change-of-scenery swap, according to a report from Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Looking at Philadelphia’s options in the outfield next year, Gelb indicates that a return for Grady Sizemore could be attractive given the dearth of options on the free agent market. Meanwhile, the club could remake the rest of its mix if it were to deal Brown and/or veteran Marlon Byrd.
- “There seems to be genuine internal debate and uncertainty over what the [Mets] will do” regarding manager Terry Collins, reports Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. Martino spoke with another club official that thinks it’s difficult to get a feel for Collins’ job security, while another added, “I think we have a ways to go before that’s decided.”
- General manager Sandy Alderson is a different story, Martino writes. Not only is Alderson’s job safe, Martino reports, but there are signs that he’s likely to receive a contract extension from the Mets. Alderson, currently under contract through the 2015 season, has been the Mets’ general manager since taking over for Omar Minaya following the 2010 season.
- Alderson discussed some of the team’s current and future roster maneuvers regarding younger players in an interview with Lynn Worthy of the Press & Sun Bulletin (h/t to MetsBlog). The club will look to give both Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki a look behind the plate next spring, though Alderson noted that the latter does not yet need to be given a 40-man spot. Looking ahead at filling needs at shortstop and in the outfield, Alderson said he is still evaluating internal options — he mentioned Wilmer Flores, Matt Reynolds, and Matt den Dekker as younger players who had played well recently — before deciding on a strategy for the open market. “[W]e’ve got to assess what we have before we start going out and canvassing the free-agent market,” he said.