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Travis D’Arnaud Rumors
Mets manager Terry Collins would like to remain with the team beyond the 2015 season but isn’t worried that he has to contractual guarantee that he’ll be back, writes Steven Marcus of Newsday. Collins, whose contract contains a club option for the 2016 season, tells Marcus that he’s better equipped to handle the uncertainty at the age of 65 than he would have been earlier in his career, and he’s used to receiving short-term renewals from the team. “They know I want to be here,” says Collins. “They know I like it here. But I also understand the business as good as anybody. Hey, look, my job is to go out [and help them] do the best we can do to have a big year. If we do, the rest of it takes care of itself.”
Here’s more on the division-leading Mets…
- Travis d’Arnaud‘s fractured hand will sideline him for six to eight weeks, per Newsday’s David Lennon, but the team had already discussed the idea of eventually having d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki split time at catcher once the latter forced his way onto the MLB roster (All Twitter links). Plawecki has some experience at first base as well, but the Mets wanted him to focus solely on catching this spring in advance of him getting some big league reps. Lennon adds that the Mets considered Plawecki virtually untouchable in trade discussions this offseason, because they were concerned about d’Arnaud’s injury history. While d’Arnaud’s injury was a fluke occurrence as opposed to the flaring up of a prior injury, the decision to hold onto Plawecki certainly looks to have paid off.
- Alex Torres will step into more high-leverage situations against lefties following Jerry Blevins‘ injury yesterday, Collins told reporters, including MLB.com’s Joe Trezza. While there’s no specific timetable for Blevins’ return from a broken forearm yet, Collins implied that the team won’t necessarily look outside the organization for help. “We have a couple of lefties still at Las Vegas that are potential replacements,” said Collins. “Although we lost Jerry, we still have far more depth than we had in, say, mid-Spring Training, because the development of a couple of guys and the fact that we still have Alex Torres.”
- Fangraphs’ Dave Cameron examines his site’s playoff projections, noting that the top three teams — the Nationals, Cardinals and Dodgers — were all widely expected to occupy those slots, and the fourth-ranked team, the Padres, entered the season with similarly high expectations. The Mets currently rank as the fifth-most likely club to earn a playoff berth, per Fangraphs, and while they’ll be tested due to the losses of d’Arnaud and Wright, Cameron notes that it’s not hard to envision them getting there. With 10 wins already in the bank, the Mets have an edge over other Wild Card contenders that have better rosters, such as the Cubs and the Pirates. And if the team upgrades its rotation sooner rather than later by swapping out Rafael Montero or Noah Syndergaard for Dillon Gee, or if a superior fourth outfielder to John Mayberry is acquired, the .500 outlook for the rest of the season could trend upwards a bit and push them into the postseason, he concludes.
The Mets suffered a pair of bad breaks as they extended their winning streak to eight games. Catcher Travis d’Arnaud and left-hander Jerry Blevins both suffered fractures in the 7th inning of the Mets’ 7-6 win over the Marlins: d’Arnaud’s right hand after being hit by a A.J. Ramos pitch and Blevins’ left forearm when struck by a liner off the bat of Dee Gordon. Mets GM Sandy Alderson announced the contract of catching prospect Kevin Plawecki will be purchased from Triple-A Las Vegas and right-hander Hansel Robles will be recalled from Vegas. A 40-man roster move is required to add Plawecki.
Plawecki is ranked 40th overall by FanGraphs’ Kiley McDaniel, 63rd by both Baseball America and MLB.com, and 80th by Baseball Prospectus. Manager Terry Collins told reporters after the game (as tweeted by ESPNNewYork.com’s Adam Rubin) Plawecki will become the Mets’ number one catcher in d’Arnaud’s absence. D’Arnaud told reporters, including Rubin, Plawecki is ready for his MLB debut. “He’s a great catcher, a great player, a really smart player. He can swing the bat really well. And he knows how to work with the pitching staff as well.”
Drafted with the 35th selection in the 2012 draft (a free agent compensation pick obtained when the Marlins signed Jose Reyes), Plawecki is viewed as an offensive-minded catcher. MLB.com’s scouting report on Plawecki, however, gives him credit for having good hands and enough agility to block balls well, but believes the 24-year-old will never be the kind of backstop who can shut down a running game because of his average arm. Plawecki was hitting .229/.250/.343 in 36 plate appearance for Vegas before his call-up, though he hit a much more impressive .309/.365/.460 in 419 PA between Double-A and Triple-A in 2014.
The loss of both d’Arnaud and Blevins figure to test the Mets’ depth. While early, d’Arnaud had the makings of a breakout season with his line of .317/.356/.537 at the time of his injury. Defensively, d’Arnaud also stepped up his game throwing out three of the seven runners attempting to steal after catching just five all of last year. Blevins, meanwhile, has been death on left-handed hitters this season retiring all 14 he has faced. Alderson said a timetable for how long d’Arnaud and Blevins will be out will not be known until both are examined by hand specialists Monday.
Happy birthday to Noah Syndergaard, who turns 22 years old today. Syndergaard likely won’t be celebrating with a Major League debut, however, as the right-hander is already close to his innings limit for the year. Here’s the latest from the Mets…
- Zack Wheeler doesn’t want to be traded, telling Kevin Kernan of the New York Post that “I was part of the rebuilding process and I want to see it through.’’ While the Mets would undoubtedly need a huge return to trade the 24-year-old righty, it has been speculated that the Mets could deal from their pitching depth to acquire a top-tier shortstop or outfielder in the offseason.
- Travis d’Arnaud‘s concussion history has Mets upper management at least exploring a shift from catcher to left field, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News writes. Terry Collins said the issue had been discussed, though not at length or in any serious depth, so if a position switch did happen, it wouldn’t be anytime soon.
- A d’Arnaud position switch is also discussed by Metsblog.com’s Matthew Cerrone. Beyond just d’Arnaud’s health, a move from behind the plate could be inevitable since the Mets are “in LOVE” (capitalization added by Cerrone) with catching prospect Kevin Plawecki. Cerrone isn’t sure if d’Arnaud’s bat would play quite as well in left as it does at catcher, so he suggests that d’Arnaud could also possibly become a trade candidate this winter.
- That said, Newsday’s Marc Carig (via Twitter) hears from a team source that the Mets “have little to no interest in trading d’Arnaud.”
- While many of the Mets’ younger players have performed quite well this season, the team has underachieved due to David Wright‘s off-year and GM Sandy Alderson’s misses in the free agent hitters’ market, John Harper of the New York Daily News opines. Curtis Granderson has only a .688 OPS and is still owed $47MM from 2015-17, while Chris Young has already been released.
Despite reports that Terry Collins is likely to reprise his role as Mets manager in 2015, Joel Sherman of the New York Post gets the sense that a change of skipper is a definite possibility in Queens. Sherman writes that the final six weeks are critical to determining whether or not Collins will return. He explains that the Mets’ upper management believe that plate discipline and power are the key to scoring runs, but the Mets rank 26th in walks in the second half and dead last in the Majors in walks this month. Those trends will have to change, writes Sherman, in order for Collins to remain. As it stands, there is a slight lean toward bringing Collins back, he states, but Sherman feels that Collins needs to demonstrate to his bosses that he is able to consistently emphasize the organizational philosophy.
More from the NL East…
- The Mets face several questions around the diamond, but one area that previously looked like a question mark has been resolved, MLB.com’s Tim Healy writes. Travis d’Arnaud‘s play since returning from Triple-A has been more than enough to solidify him at the position going forward, and Collins offered high praise for the 25-year-old backstop, stating that over the course of a full season, the numbers will dictate that d’Arnaud “is the real deal.” Collins adds that the Mets have gone from batting d’Arnaud eighth and regularly pinch-hitting for him to making him their everyday five-hole hitter, and they’re comfortable with him in that role.
- Nationals second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera is happy in his new setting, but he tells MLB.com’s Bill Ladson that his preference in the long run is to play shortstop. Says Cabrera: “…I just have to see after the season and wait. I like to play short. That’s the position I like to play more. I’m just going to see who wants me to play short, who wants me to play second, and figure it out from there.”
- It’s safe to say that the Marlins‘ Rafael Furcal experiment didn’t work out. Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports that the veteran infielder, signed this offseason to a one-year deal that guaranteed him $3MM, will undergo hamstring surgery and miss the remainder of the season. The 36-year-old appeared in just nine games for the Fish and batted a paltry .171/.216/.229 in 37 plate appearances.
Rockies prospect Daniel Winkler is headed for an MRI after injuring his elbow, Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post writes. Winkler left the Double-A Tulsa Drillers’ game against the Springfield Cardinals in the fourth inning Saturday. Winkler isn’t as well known as Rockies prospects like Jon Gray and Eddie Butler, but he has performed brilliantly this season, posting a 1.41 ERA with 9.1 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 in 70 innings. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- The Mariners will likely need to make a 40-man roster move Monday, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune tweets. Minor-league first baseman Ji-Man Choi is expected to return from a 50-game PED suspension, and he’ll need to take an active spot on the 40-man once again. Choi, 23, was off to a great start for Triple-A Tacoma, hitting .394/.500/.545 in 40 plate appearances there. He hit .295/.394/.535 in 499 plate appearances at three levels in 2013.
- The case of Travis d’Arnaud proves the difficulty involved in predicting which prospects will succeed, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News writes. The Mets optioned d’Arnaud to Triple-A Las Vegas this weekend after he hit .180/.271/.273 in 145 plate appearances so far this season. Nonetheless, many Mets officials remain upbeat about the former top prospect’s future. “He’s so athletic,” says one. “I think he will be a frontline guy, a pretty good everyday player who will hit some home runs. Is he Buster Posey? I don’t know. But do I think he can be in the big leagues on an everyday basis for eight, ten years? Absolutely.”
Daisuke Matsuzaka picked up his first Major League save last night, though it probably isn’t going to be the start of a new career path for the veteran right-hander. Matsuzaka only got the call since Kyle Farnsworth had pitched in three of the Mets’ previous four games and was being rested, and as Fangraphs’ Paul Swydan points out, Dice-K doesn’t fit the traditional closer profile. Anything is possible given the Mets’ unsettled closing situation, however, so be sure to keep following @CloserNews, MLBTR’s sister Twitter feed, for the very latest on ninth-inning personnel changes.
Here’s some news from Citi Field…
- The Mets still haven’t decided whether or not to pursue free agent reliever Joel Hanrahan, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports. The team has been weighing its options for several days now since watching Hanrahan throw at a showcase last week. Almost 20 teams watched Hanrahan throw, so the Mets may face competition if they do decide to make the righty an offer, though an evaluator tells Martino that Hanrahan is still roughly a month away from being able to contribute.
- Also from Martino, there still isn’t anything brewing between the Mets and Stephen Drew, as “there is no momentum” between the two sides.
- Matthew Cerrone of Metsblog.com agrees that a Drew signing looks like a major longshot, and the Mets are more likely to promote Wilmer Flores from Triple-A than acquire a shortstop like Drew or the Mariners’ Nick Franklin.
- If the Mets do deal for a shortstop, Cerrone believes the Diamondbacks are New York’s best option as a trade partner. The two clubs at least discussed a trade during Spring Training and scouted each other’s prospects. According to Cerrone, the D’Backs liked right-hander Rafael Montero and catchers Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki, though Plawecki alone wouldn’t have been enough to secure a deal. All three are ranked amongst the Mets’ top prospects by Baseball America, though Montero and d’Arnaud in particular would take major offers for the Mets to consider a trade.
The Diamondbacks have a good deal of depth at shortstop, as they feel that both Didi Gregorius and Chris Owings are capable Major League shortstops. In addition, three more names on Baseball America's list of Top 30 Diamonsbacks prospects — Nick Ahmed, Sergio Alcantara and Jose Munoz — are shortstops. This has led to some speculation that the Diamondbacks could trade a shortstop in order to address other needs in the organization, and Marc Carig of Newsday now reports (via Twitter) that the Diamondbacks have targeted young catchers in discussing shortstop trades with the Mets.
However, Carig adds that the Mets aren't a good fit for a trade with the D-Backs. Arizona is said to be seeking a Travis d'Arnaud type of talent in exchange for one of their shortstops and doesn't deem fellow catcher Kevin Plawecki a good enough return. As such, the Mets and D-Backs haven't had recent trade discussions about Arizona's shorstops (Twitter links).
For some context, Plawecki ranked fifth on BA's Top 30 Mets prospects heading into the 2014 season. BA calls him a safe bet to bat around .280 and hit somewhere in the range of a dozen homers at his peak level, and his bat is good enough to profile as a starting catcher, according to their scouting report. He has an average arm and is solid when it comes to blocking pitches, per BA.
The Diamondbacks currently have Miguel Montero installed as their everyday catcher, but the 30-year-old's offense slipped in 2013. After batting .283/.361/.457 from 2009-12, Montero slashed just .230/.318/.344 in 475 plate appearances last season. The decline was rapid and clearly unexpected, as it came in the first season of a five-year, $60MM extension that Montero inked in May 2012. He's set to earn $10MM this coming season, $12MM in 2015 and $14MM in 2016-17.
32-year-old righty Rich Harden is not retiring, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. Though he has not played professionally since 2011, and had a comeback bid with the Twins fall apart last year due to multiple, ongoing injury issues, Harden will apparently give it another go. Harden has been brilliant at times in his career, and owns a lifetime 3.76 ERA over 928 1/3 innings (including 9.2 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9).
Here are a few more notes to round out the evening:
- One factor in Bronson Arroyo's decision to sign with the Diamondbacks rather than the Orioles, reports Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun, was the fact that Baltimore had scrapped deals with Grant Balfour and Tyler Colvin over concerns with their physicals. The O's offer was on par with that of the D-Backs: it was for slightly less guaranteed money, but carried a greater third-year option value. While Connolly writes that other factors — including a preference for the NL West — certainly played a role, he says that the risk of a deal falling apart at this stage of the off-season weighed substantially in Arroyo's decision-making process.
- The Marlins have made clear that they hope to extend star outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, but MLB.com's Joe Frisaro reports that Stanton still wants to see what the organization does moving forward. "I want some team security as well," Stanton said. "I'm very pleased with how things panned out for me. But I would like to see it grow. I have my security, somewhat now. I'd like to see a team full of that, which we are going in the right direction." The 24-year-old slugger inicated that he does not expect to engage in talks until after the coming season. "In order for the team to have security," he said. "that doesn't happen in two seconds. That happens over a season or over two seasons. You show me that, and we can get something going."
- A major factor in the rebuilding process of another NL East club — the Mets — is the development of young catcher Travis d'Arnaud. Though he struggled at the plate in limited action last year, the backstop comes with an excellent pedigree with the bat. Promisingly, moreover, he also showed signs of adding value in another area, writes Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com: in his short season of work at the MLB level, d'Arnaud flashed outstanding pitch-framing ability.
The Mets are in the market for offense this winter, so much so that they may not even spend much time considering the free agent market for pitchers. Asked whether the team's preference was to target upside or a stable veteran presence to eat some innings and mentor the Mets' young arms, special assistant J.P. Ricciardi told MLBTR:
“I think the one thing in our favor right now is our pitching in our organization is getting closer to being big-league ready, so that makes us say that we might have some in-house options. So maybe we wouldn't even be as inclined to go out and look at that market. It's kind of a work in progress to see what is available, but I think one of the securities we have is that at least we have some guys coming through the system that can get to the big leagues a little quicker. I don't know if we'd be as willing to jump on something like that right now.”
Instead, it appears that the Mets will focus their efforts on improving the team's offense. “We have a lot of holes in our lineup,” Ricciardi acknowledged, declining to target a specific area of focus. Ricciardi stated that the Mets are committed to Travis d'Arnaud at catcher though he was less committal when discussing Juan Lagares in center field: “I'd say right now, he's probably the guy that we'd say: 'He can play center field.' I think a lot depends on what we're able to bring around him.”
In terms of outfielders, the market is rife with power bats that could improve the Mets' lineup. Shin-Soo Choo, Curtis Granderson and Nelson Cruz could all provide a boost to the club's outfield group, though each would require a draft pick to sign. The Mets are open to forfeiting their second-round pick for “the right player,” though as Ricciardi put it, the team isn't “jumping up and down to give up any picks because we're still trying to build.” Should the Mets surrender a pick, one will likely be their limit. Ricciardi dismissed the possibility of the Mets being as aggressive as the Indians were last season in forfeiting a second-round pick in order to sign both Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher:
“I don't know if we'll be that involved with those type of guys. Like I said, it has to be the right guy for us to even do one, so I can't really sit here and tell you that we're probably thinking about doing two.”
I asked Ricciardi specifically about the organization's top pitching prospect, Noah Syndergaard, and his chances to make the Majors next season despite being just 20 years old: “I don't know. I think a lot's going to depend on how he handles Triple-A. I think we'll use that as a barometer. I don't think – and I can't speak for Sandy – but I don't think we're going to let anyone's youth get in the way. If he's ready to pitch in the big leagues, he's ready.”
Ricciardi also praised the arms of Rafael Montero and Jacob deGrom, as well as the team's core of young relief pitchers in reiterating that the offense will be this winter's primary focus. Asked if he had a preference toward right- or left-handed batters or corner outfielders versus shortstops, Ricciardi simply replied, “I would say 'bats.' We need to improve our offense.”
Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez currently faces a 211-game suspension stemming from his role in the Biogenesis scandal, but his suspension might have been far shorter, perhaps as few as 50 games, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal writes. "At different points, it could have been way, way less than where it is now," a source tells Rosenthal. Rodriguez has appealed his suspension. Here are more notes from around the Majors.
- The Mets have decided Travis d'Arnaud's promotion won't be temporary, Rosenthal tweets. The Mets promoted d'Arnaud after starting catcher John Buck went on paternity leave. Now, Rosenthal writes, the Mets plan to keep d'Arnaud on their roster and give him "significant playing time." That would suggest that Buck is likely to play much less. D'Arnaud, 24, has hit .286/.420/.514 across three minor-league levels in 2013 after having missed much of the season with a foot injury.
- The Rangers are looking for a pitcher to start on Tuesday, Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News writes. Texas has a need in its rotation after Alexi Ogando received an anti-inflammatory injection on Saturday. The Rangers will have Matt Garza pitch on Monday, a day earlier than expected. Josh Lindblom, who has made five starts for the Rangers this year, started Sunday night for Triple-A Round Rock, so he isn't a candidate to pitch Tuesday. The Rangers could promote the recently-acquired Travis Blackley, but Fraley raises the possibility that they could deal for a starter like Dan Haren or Erik Bedard, both of whom have passed through waivers.
- The Indians are not interested in former Phillies outfielder Delmon Young, Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer tweets. Hoynes also notes that the Indians have put in waiver claims on "several players," although they have not been able to trade for any.
- The Twins aren't likely to trade Justin Morneau to the Red Sox, writes Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Morneau cleared waivers on Wednesday, and Sox first baseman Mike Napoli is currently nursing a sore foot. It's not yet clear that Napoli's injury is severe, however, and it's questionable whether Morneau would be an upgrade over options like Daniel Nava and Mike Carp.