Wilmer Flores Rumors

Rosenthal’s Latest: Mets, Baez, Orioles, Trumbo

Despite shaky defense, Wilmer Flores will remain the Mets starting shortstop, reports Ken Rosenthal in his latest video for FOX Sports. However, one alternative is to trade Daniel Murphy, shift Flores to second base, and promote shortstop prospect Matt Reynolds. The move would instantly upgrade the Mets’ infield defense. Per Rosenthal, the club may prefer to promote Reynolds once David Wright returns to action.

As for trading Murphy, the club may look to acquire a prospect or reliever. Aside from Jeurys Familia and a couple role players, the Mets bullpen has been a little shaky. However, strong starting pitching has allowed the club to hide that shortcoming. New York relievers have thrown the fewest innings of any team. Conversely, their starters lead the league in innings pitched. Here’s more from Rosenthal:

  • Cubs second base prospect Javier Baez is on an 11-for-22 streak, leading to speculation that he could be promoted. The easiest way to insert him into the lineup would be to move Kris Bryant to the outfield and Baez to third. Since the club is juggling several important future pieces, they’ll want to be careful about how they handle the logjam.
  • The Orioles are built to sell with eight players on the 25 man roster set to reach free agency after the season. Don’t expect a fire sale anytime soon. Baltimore is just four games back in a shaky AL East. Owner Peter Angelos is loathe to throw in the towel. He famously nixed a couple trades involving Bobby Bonilla and David Wells during the 1996 season. The club later clawed its way into the postseason. It would seem the Orioles’ woes would have to get a lot worse before Chris Davis and others were shopped.
  • Many speculate that Mark Trumbo will be available this summer, however the Diamondbacks have publicly resisted the idea. Per Rosenthal, the club believes they will contend next season once Patrick Corbin and other youngsters solidify the rotation. Trumbo is signed to a $6.9MM contract and has one year of arbitration remaining. Arizona could replace Trumbo with a platoon of David Peralta and Yasmany Tomas.

Heyman’s Latest: Tulo, Soriano, Correa, Garza, Segura, Mets

The latest installment of Jon Heyman’s weekly Inside Baseball column is up over at CBS Sports, and Heyman begins by addressing the Troy Tulowitzki trade talk that has once again surfaced. Heyman, like many others, feels the time has arrived for the marriage between Tulo and the Rockies to come to an end, but neither Tulowitzki or owner Dick Monfort wants to appear to be the “bad guy” in the situation. Heyman hears that Tulowitzki would prefer to play for the YankeesGiants, Dodgers or Angels if he is traded, though one person who knows the shortstop well told Heyman that he may ok with the Mets, Cardinals and Red Sox as well. Tulowitzki’s preferred destination is largely a moot point though, as his contract doesn’t have a no-trade clause. Heyman notes that in a year’s time, Tulowitzki will receive 10-and-5 rights, allowing him to veto any deal. That reality only furthers Colorado’s need to move Tulowitzki, Heyman opines. Heyman also lists 11 clubs that he could see making some degree of sense for the face of the Rockies’ franchise.

Some more highlights from a lengthy but always-informative column…

  • The Cubs “may consider” Rafael Soriano at some point as a means of lengthening their bullpen, according to Heyman. I’d note that while the team has looked a bit thin beyond Hector Rondon and Pedro Strop, the Cubs just got Justin Grimm back from the disabled list and likely won’t be without Neil Ramirez for too much longer.
  • Astros top prospect — and arguably the top prospect in all of MLB — Carlos Correa could be up to the Majors within three weeks, one Houston source estimated to Heyman. Also of note on the Astros front, he writes that a pursuit of Cole Hamels would appear to be a long shot, but Scott Kazmir (Houston native) and Clay Buchholz are names to keep an eye on for Houston, should either become available.
  • Kyle Lohse seems like a natural candidate to be traded this offseason, but the Brewers are particularly interested in shedding Matt Garza‘s contract. The right-hander is guaranteed $12.5MM in 2015 and will earn the same rate in each of the following two seasons. Neither pitcher, however, has been particularly impressive for Milwaukee.
  • Jean Segura is one of the players that the Brewers have the least interest in trading, but Heyman hears that the Padres would be interested, should Brewers GM Doug Melvin entertain offers. San Diego likes Alexi Amarista but prefers to use him in a utility role rather than as a starter.
  • Rival teams seriously doubt that the Mets would ever consider parting ways with Noah Syndergaard, but there’s “a little hope” that the team could be persuaded to part with highly touted left-hander Steven Matz in a trade. Heyman adds that the Mets are going to remain patient with Wilmer Flores as their shortstop for the time being.
  • It’s been reported that Yunel Escobar wanted no part of playing with Oakland, and Heyman hears that the reasoning was as simple as the fact that Escobar is very particular when it comes to geographical preferences and wanted to remain on the East coast. A trade to the Nationals accomplished that goal.
  • The clause in Alex Guerrero‘s contract that allows him to opt out of his deal and elect free agency at season’s end, if he is traded, hinders his trade value. That shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, but given the presence of Guerrero and the versatile Justin Turner, Juan Uribe could end up as a summer trade candidate for the Dodgers.
  • In some agency news, Heyman reports that Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius will now be represented by Casey Close of Excel Sports Management — the agent for Gregorius’ predecessor, Derek Jeter. Gregorius had previously been repped by the Wasserman Media Group.

NL East Notes: Johnson, Howard, Flores, Murphy, Puello

Braves third baseman Chris Johnson is expected to miss three to six weeks after receiving good news from his MRI, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports. Because his hand fracture was “preexisting,” per the report, Johnson will not be out as long as originally feared.

Here’s more from New York and the rest of the NL East:

  • Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard will qualify for ten-and-five rights tomorrow, as Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News reports. Howard downplayed the importance of that fact as regards his contract status, though he rightly noted that it was a worthwhile achievement standing alone. As Lawrence notes, there is little practical effect, as a modification to Jimmy Rollins‘ contract before his trade left Howard with virtually complete no-trade protection regardless.
  • Despite a troubling start to the year defensively — he tacked on a seventh error tonight — Mets shortstop Wilmer Flores is in no danger of being replaced, as Rubin reports. The club thinks that the youngster will return to making the routine plays that are giving him fits right now, with GM Sandy Alderson saying that Flores has “plenty of room” to get back on track.
  • Dilson Herrera did not do much in his first appearance of the year for the Mets, but New York is already considering what will happen if he’s as good as advertised during his call-up, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports. The present alignment will feature Herrera at second and Daniel Murphy at third. But when David Wright returns from the DL, something will have to give. GM Sandy Alderson would say only that “the plan” is for Murphy to return to second, adding that “at the moment” there is no movement toward keeping Herrera there. But sources tell Martino that the Mets would be increasingly willing to move Murphy, even for a lesser return and even well before the trade deadline, if Herrera seems ready.
  • The Mets will soon face another decision on Cesar Puello, the outfielder whose outright was rescinded earlier in the offseason when he was found to have a back issue that required a DL stint. As ESPNNewYork.com’s Adam Rubin explains, Puello is likely to hit the waiver wire again once his rehab stint is finished.


East Notes: Jaso, Yankees, Flores

This year will mark the first Spring Training of John Jaso‘s career where he won’t be working out as a catcher, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes. “It’s definitely going to be different,” says Jaso. “I have no idea. The Big Papi program? I don’t know. … This will be kind of the first time for me.” Topkin notes that the Rays could use Jaso at catcher if there’s an emergency, but he’ll spend most of the season at DH after having concussion issues in each of the last two seasons. The Rays acquired Jaso and two prospects from the Athletics in the Ben Zobrist deal last month, and president of baseball operations Matt Silverman said at the time that he wanted to put Jaso “in the best position to succeed.” Potentially preventing injury by moving Jaso out from behind the plate would certainly help with that. The Rays could also use Jaso at first or in the outfield. Here’s more from the East divisions.

  • GM Brian Cashman said on WFAN Friday that the Yankees had finished their “heavy lifting” this offseason, Brendan Kuty of NJ.com notes. Previous reporting had indicated that the Yankees might pursue in James Shields, but Cashman’s comments indicate that isn’t the case. As Kuty suggests, the idea that the Yankees won’t be a top bidder for Shields is consistent with their approach to the offseason so far — they re-signed Chase Headley and added Andrew Miller, but they’ve otherwise steered clear of top free agents after adding Jacoby Ellsbury, Masahiro Tanaka, Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran last offseason.
  • Wilmer Flores isn’t listening to criticism about the Mets’ shortstop situation, Matt Ehalt of the Record writes. The Mets didn’t add a shortstop this winter and are heading into the spring with Flores as their likely starter, leading to plenty of second-guessing from commentators and fans. “People doubt a lot of people,” says Flores. “I’m not worried about that. I’m just going to go out and play.” Flores hit .251/.286/.378 last season, but he’s hit well in the high minors, and the Mets like his offensive potential. His defense remains open to question, although UZR has liked his glove work in small sample sizes in his first two partial seasons in the Majors. As Mike Petriello wrote for Fangraphs last month, concerns about the Mets’ shortstop situation might be somewhat misplaced. The position is weak throughout the Majors, and Steamer projects Flores will be the 19th most valuable shortstop by WAR in the big leagues in 2015, ahead of some of the top options available this offseason, like Asdrubal Cabrera and Stephen Drew.

East Notes: Rays, Yankees, Mets, Blue Jays

The Rays have made seven trades this offseason with an eye towards cutting payroll and retooling the franchise, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. “It’s a little bit of a threading of the needle,” said GM Matt Silverman. The trades were designed to give the 2015 product a chance to contend while improving the future of the franchise with players like Steven Souza and Daniel Robertson. The team cut payroll by about $10MM and escaped $12.5MM of future commitments. A possible trade of David DeJesus could trim costs by another $5MM. Here’s more from the eastern divisions.

  • With so many bad contracts on the books, it’s hard for the Yankees to swallow a big ticket purchase like Max Scherzer, writes Ken Davidoff of the New York Post. The Bombers have about $210MM committed to the 2015 product. More importantly, there are few roster spots for available for expensive free agents. Every big contract takes away from the roster’s flexibility. Based on the argument, my own conclusion is that the Yankees have to develop at least some young, cost-controlled stars.
  • Across town, the Mets have a payroll less than half that of the Yankees, yet they’ve done nothing to solve their supposed problem at shortstop. Wilmer Flores is the expected starter, although the club also has Ruben Tejada under contract. Of the major free agents, Hanley Ramirez signed to play outfield for the Red Sox while Jed Lowrie, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Stephen Drew don’t project to be much better than Flores. Flores will play on a league minimum contract and possesses growth potential. And as Davidoff notes, Flores is projected to be roughly league average by FanGraphs. For what it’s worth, I haven’t understood the fascination with bringing in a replacement for Flores and Tejada. The club appears to be better off at the position than half the league.
  • The Blue Jays are expected to feature three Canadian born players in the everyday lineup, writes Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com. While that doesn’t really affect the 2015 product in any obvious way, it could have long reaching ripple effects. Russell Martin noted how fellow Canadian Larry Walker inspired him when he was younger. With players like Martin, Michael Saunders, and Dalton Pompey now in the fold, Canadian youngsters have more talented ballplayers to emulate.

Mets Notes: Payroll, Colon, Tejada

The latest on the Mets..

  • GM Sandy Alderson estimates the Mets’ payroll is right around $100MM, reports Adam Rubin of ESPN New York. Alderson expects payroll to remain at that level or decline. As Rubin points out, whatever is left to add will probably cost less than one of Bartolo Colon, Jon Niese, or Dillon Gee. The Mets are expected to trade at least one of the trio.
  • Colon is not the most likely to be dealt, according to Rubin. The Mets are willing to eat some of the $11MM owed to the veteran – perhaps as much as $1MM. However, trade partners are expected to prefer the younger options.
  • Mets skipper Terry Collins says Ruben Tejada will be a candidate for the starting shortstop job, along with Wilmer Flores, if the team doesn’t get a new one, tweets Mike Puma of the New York Post.
  • The Mets could turn to the international market for a shortstop. Korea’s Jung-Ho Kang is expected to be posted soon, and Japan’s Takashi Toritani is another option. However, Alderson admits that the club probably isn’t ready to make a big commitment to either shortstop.
  • Alderson notes that several clubs are willing to spend big money on international free agents. The Mets have not been one of those teams, but that could change.  “I expect we will be in that category soon,” Alderson said.
  • Injured closer Bobby Parnell is expected to open the season on the disabled list, writes Rubin in a separate post. If that should happen, the club would fill the void internally. Parnell missed the 2014 season due to Tommy John surgery.

Alderson On Gregorius, Flores, Pitchers, Trades

Here’s the latest from Mets exec Sandy Alderson, via Adam Rubin of ESPN New York.

  • The Mets currently appear slated to head into 2015 with Wilmer Flores at shortstop, Alderson says. The team did not have significant discussions with the Diamondbacks about Didi Gregorius before Gregorius was traded to the Yankees. “We knew Arizona was looking for young pitching,” says Alderson. “There’s some young pitching we weren’t prepared to trade, but I can’t say we had a lot of extensive conversations with Arizona.” The Diamondbacks reportedly asked for Noah Syndergaard in exchange for Gregorius.
  • Rubin writes that the team has had talks with the Mariners about Brad Miller and Chris Taylor, but they could wait until January to acquire shortstop (if they do acquire one), whether that’s through a trade or through the signing of someone like Jed Lowrie.
  • The Mets are also looking for a left-handed reliever and a right-handed bench bat, but Alderson suggests they could wait until after the Winter Meetings to obtain them.
  • Likewise, the Mets could wait to trade one of their starting pitchers — likely Bartolo Colon, Jon Niese or Dillon Gee — until later this offseason. “[Y]ou look at the free-agent market — not a lot has happened on the pitching side,” says Alderson. “Some of that activity may have to take place before we’re able to really have serious discussions with anyone on a possible trade.”
  • Alderson says he is not overly worried about the possibility of trading Niese and being without a lefty in the Mets’ starting rotation.

Mets Inquired On Jimmy Rollins

A Mets trade for Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is “not happening,” a source tells Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com.  Rubin says such a move is not on the Mets’ radar due to the $120MM owed to Tulo through 2020, as well as the prospect cost of “two or three blue-chippers.”  More from Rubin:

  • The Mets spoke with the Phillies about acquiring Jimmy Rollins, writes Rubin.  Rubin adds, “The pursuit since has been dismissed because Rollins does not want to leave Philadelphia.”
  • The Mets are unenthusiastic about the available free agent shortstops, and plan to go the trade route to fill the position.  The Diamondbacks, Mariners, White Sox, and Cubs are viewed as viable trade partners.  Andy Martino of the New York Daily News says “it has been difficult, if not impossible” for the Mets and Cubs to agree on the value of Starlin Castro.  Meanwhile, Martino says Alexei Ramirez of the White Sox only emerged as a possibility within the past week.  Martino’s early read has the White Sox seeking the Mets’ top young starters and the Mets pitching their veterans.
  • If the Mets are unable to acquire a shortstop, or go with a defense-first type like Didi Gregorius, they are likely to retain second baseman Daniel Murphy, writes Rubin.  If they get a shortstop who can hit, Murphy is more likely to be dealt if the Mets get a sufficient offer.  Rubin expects the Mets to wait on Murphy until after resolving their shortstop situation.
  • The Mets seek a veteran lefty reliever to complement Josh Edgin in their bullpen.  They are also seeking a backup infielder, unless Wilmer Flores is bumped to that role.
  • The Mets will also consider trading Dillon Gee, Jonathon Niese, or Bartolo Colon.

East Notes: Rasmus, Gee, Flores, Tomas

Blue Jays center fielder Colby Rasmus discussed his disappointing season and pending free agency in a lengthy and excellent interview with Scott Macarthur of TSN.ca. Rasmus’s comments are too lengthy and complicated to encapsulate fully and fairly here, but are well worth a read (or a listen) to anyone interested in understanding one of the more interesting free agent situations in the game. Ultimately, Rasmus comes across as an extremely thoughtful player who, perhaps, needs the right environment to thrive. Though he did not say outright that he does not view that place as Toronto, Rasmus did say that his time with the Cardinals was at times “so unenjoyable that I had trouble wanting to come to the yard everyday and enjoy it,” and noted that he has “kind of run into some of that” this season as well. Said Rasmus: “This year has been a tough year and I’m just going to go home, enjoy it, go back to the drawing board and try to work my tail off this offseason to get in good shape and hopefully find a place to where I fit in well and I can help my team win.” It will be fascinating to see how his free agency turns out; though he has had good years and bad, Rasmus just turned 28, offers rare power for a center fielder, and has put up two approximately four-win seasons.

  • Mets starter Dillon Gee is under team control for next year, but as Newsday’s Marc Carig writes, he could find himself squeezed out of the rotation after a tough second half. “I’ll have a spot somewhere,” said Gee. “It might not be here but it will be somewhere.”
  • The Mets could be more and more inclined to hold off on adding a shortstop given the recent play of Wilmer Flores, as Mike Puma of the New York Post reports“We’re getting a lot more comfortable,” said GM Sandy Alderson. “One of the reasons for giving [Flores] as much playing time as we have is to build up his number of plate appearances to get him more comfortable to try to establish sort of a baseline.” Alderson said that Flores has done a solid job defensively at short, noting that Ruben Tejada and Matt Reynolds also remain internal options to take the position next year.
  • While Yasmani Tomas makes a good deal of sense for the Phillies, that does not mean that they are favorites to sign him, writes David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News. Other clubs in better position to contend will likely place an increased value on adding a bat like Tomas given their spot on the win curve, Murphy suggests.

NL East Notes: Marlins, Alderson, Flores, Nats, Uggla

In his latest piece for FOX Sports, Rob Neyer examines the hot starts of both the Marlins and Rockies to see if either club can sustain its success and make a playoff run. While Miami’s trio of Jose Fernandez, Nate Eovaldi and Henderson Alvarez is imposing, he also points out that the club’s hitters are playing over their heads. A year after finishing last in the Majors in scoring, Miami is second in the NL in runs after adding Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Garrett Jones and Casey McGehee but doing little else. As for Colorado, they’ve posted the NL’s lowest strikeout-to-walk ratio, and it’s tough to buy the starts of Charlie Blackmon and Brandon Barnes, Neyer believes.

More links pertaining to the Senior Circuit’s Eastern division…

  • Though the perception is that Omar Minaya left a mess in New York for Mets GM Sandy Alderson, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes that the remnants of that mess are keeping the Mets afloat. He states that one could argue the team’s best players this season were acquired during Minaya’s tenure. Sherman calls Matt Harvey Minaya’s “parting gift” to the team, adding that the trades of Carlos Beltran and R.A. Dickey were made possible because Minaya’s regime brought them in to begin with. He notes that “this is not a final report card” as Alderson hasn’t been in charge long enough for a total transformation, but also points out that none of Alderson’s draftees have made the Majors yet.
  • Baseball America’s Matt Eddy profiles Wilmer Flores for Mets fans as the team prepares to install him in its infield, noting that his bat is his ticket to the Major Leagues, but fans shouldn’t expect him to come close to replicating the .318/.357/.524 batting line he’s compiled in the PCL. He also has defensive flaws, as his slow first step and well-below-average speed make him an imperfect fit at any spot but first base,” says Eddy.
  • The Nationals have weathered injuries to Bryce Harper, Doug Fister and Wilson Ramos in large par due to a dominant bullpen, writes the Washington Post’s Adam Kilgore. Kilgore notes that offseason acquisition Jerry Blevins has been dominant to this point, and indeed, Blevins has a sub-3.00 ERA with the best strikeout rate (11.15 K/9) of his career in this season’s small sample.
  • Despite his well-documented struggles, Dan Uggla isn’t likely to be released by the Braves, writes MLB.com’s Mark Bowman. The Braves don’t appear comfortable biting the bullet on his remaining $24MM, but they also aren’t comfortable with him as their starting second baseman. Atlanta is likely to evaluate its other options — Ramiro Pena and Tyler Pastornicky — in the coming weeks before turning to prospect Tommy La Stella for assistance, adds Bowman.