- There will be ample interest in Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes this winter. The past two seasons have shown how much he can help a lineup — the Athletics faded down the stretch last year after trading him, and the Mets are now thriving after dealing for him.
- If Dave Dombrowski doesn’t promote assistant general manager Mike Hazen to GM, the Red Sox front office could undergo a “mass exodus.” Diamondbacks executive DeJon Watson is another possibility for the GM job, and former Braves GM Frank Wren could fit in as GM or in some other position.
- Matt Wieters has a house in Atlanta and went to Georgia Tech, and he could be a good fit for the Braves this offseason. He might also make sense in Washington, however — Wieters’ agent Scott Boras also represents Nationals stars Max Scherzer, Jayson Werth, Bryce Harper, Gio Gonzalez, Anthony Rendon and Stephen Strasburg. Nats catcher Wilson Ramos has not hit well this season and is eligible for free agency after 2016.
- Corey Seager is off to a hot start to his big-league career, but the Dodgers still seem likely to use him as a backup in the playoffs (depending, perhaps, on the timing of Enrique Hernandez‘s return from a hamstring injury). Jimmy Rollins has hit well enough in the second half (.233/.301/.386), and the Dodgers are big fans of his defense. They also want to demonstrate respect for the roles Rollins and third baseman Justin Turner have played for the Dodgers this season.
- “The planets are aligning” for David Price to score a huge contract this offseason, Rosenthal says. The Blue Jays, Dodgers, Giants, Cubs and Red Sox are all potential contenders for his services.
- Rosenthal says he suspects Tigers manager Brad Ausmus will, in fact, be dismissed after the season is over. The team recently said it hadn’t reached a decision on Ausmus, but it notably did not commit to him for 2016.
The Mets expect that they’ll receive calls on righty Matt Harvey, but have no intentions of discounting his trade value based on the recent shutdown controversy, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports. Harvey is reportedly displeased with some statements from the front office, per Heyman, though it’s far from clear whether there will be any long-term ramifications from the flare-up.
That’s just one of many interesting notes in a column that is chock full of information. Here are some more notable items:
- Also in the news recently, of course, is outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, who has thrived with the Mets and just tweaked his contract to make a re-signing possible. Heyman says that the movement on that front was generated by Cespedes’s side, with the team readily agreeing to the proposal. Steve Adams and I discussed this on Thursday’s edition of the MLBTR Podcast, generally agreeing that he’s unlikely to return despite that agreement given other needs and the presence of Curtis Granderson, Michael Conforto, Juan Lagares, and Michael Cuddyer. But Heyman hears that New York is “expected to make a serious play” for the soon-to-be free agent. Certainly, that’s an important open market storyline to watch this fall and winter. Despite the presence of several other highly-regarded players on the coming market, Heyman says a deal of $175MM (or even more) for the Cuban star would not be surprising.
- The Red Sox‘ GM hiring appears to be wide open, with Heyman writing that Diamondbacks senior VP of baseball operations De Jon Watson presents one possibility from another organization and AGM Mike Hazen could be an internal option. Other names that have come up include the frequently-mentioned Frank Wren and Brewers VP of amateur scouting Ray Montgomery.
- There is a “prevailing belief” that Reds GM Walt Jocketty will keep his position, says Heyman, though manager Bryan Price seems somewhat more likely to lose his job after a rough season. On the other hand, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale did suggest today on Twitter that Jocketty could be shifted into an advisory role, with Cincinnati hiring a new general manager.
- Yankees GM Billy Eppler is seen as the favorite to take the GM position with the Angels, says Heyman. Rangers GM Thad Levine could also get a long look, per the report.
- The Phillies‘ GM position just opened, of course, and Heyman says it will be in high demand among young executives — not only because of Philadelphia’s resources, but because the new general manager could be handed fairly broad authority. Possible names have been filtering out since even before Ruben Amaro Jr. was let go, and Heyman lists Angels AGM Matt Klentak, Giants scouting director John Barr, Royals AGM J.J. Piccolo, and the aforementioned Levine as some of the possibilities.
- Fans calling for the Braves to replace manager Fredi Gonzalez may not get their wish, says Heyman. Gonzalez is “said to be in no jeopardy,” per the report.
- The Tigers have a lot of work to do under new GM Al Avila, and Heyman says their “winter wish list” includes an outfielder — possibly Cespedes, though he may be too expensive, along with two starters and several bullpen arms. Detroit expects to plunk down some cash in the offseason, he adds.
- It’s always seemed likely that the Blue Jays would pick up their $12MM option over veteran righty R.A. Dickey, and Heyman says that is highly likely as things stand. Toronto will also at least attempt to retain lefty David Price, who has obviously been outstanding (even by his lofty standards) since being acquired at the deadline.
- The Dodgers will likely extend lefty Brett Anderson a qualifying offer. The 27-year-old has been well worth the $10MM that Los Angeles paid him this year, putting up a 3.36 ERA over 158 innings — his highest tally since his rookie campaign way back in 2009. Given his age and the fact that he has a nice platform to work from, it would seem likely that Anderson will decline a QO (if extended), though he’ll face a crowded market.
- Padres president Mike Dee tells Heyman that the organization is frustrated, but has good relationships in its upper front office and is looking forward rather than looking back at last winter. San Diego will need to make a permanent decision with its field staff, and is said to be undecided on whether to retain interim skipper Pat Murphy.
- Meanwhile, the Padres are assessing “whether to tweak or completely retool” its roster. Interestingly, Melvin Upton has played well enough that he could end up with a regular role as a platoon partner in center alongside Travis Jankowski. San Diego will face a somewhat difficult decision on whether to make starter Ian Kennedy a qualifying offer, but it appears the organization is leaning towards doing so.
3:57pm: Cespedes’ agents (he is represented by Roc Nation/CAA Sports) were the ones to initiate discussions about amending the clause, tweets Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News. As she rightly points out, having his current club involved in offseason bidding can only serve to increase Cespedes’ ultimate price tag.
3:13pm: The Mets have agreed with recently-acquired outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to a modification of the language in his contract that will remove a previous barrier to the team’s ability to re-sign him as a free agent, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports.
Previously, the contract called for the employing team (originally, the Athletics) to release him at the expiration of the contract. That would have made Cespedes ineligible for a qualifying offer and would have left his current team with just five days to reach a new agreement upon completion of the World Series. Following that five-day window, the Mets would’ve been ineligible to sign Cespedes until May 15, 2016 under the rules of the collective bargaining agreement. (Put concisely, teams cannot re-sign players they released to a Major League deal until the following May.) In that scenario, Cespedes would not have been able to test his market before negotiating with the Mets, making an agreement difficult to work out.
Under the new agreement, Cespedes will be free to sign with the Mets at any point in the offseason, just as he would any other team. It provides him another possible suitor while leaving the team free to re-sign him on the open market.
While the qualifying offer issue may have posed a barrier to reaching such an arrangement between Cespedes and his most recent team, the Tigers, that is no longer an issue. Because Cespedes was traded in mid-season, the Mets are unable to utilize that rule regardless.
In other words, as things stood, the modification appears to be a win-win for player and team. While neither is any more obligated to the other than was the case previously, it is now certainly feasible for New York to pursue a long-term deal with a player who has delivered outstanding results since coming over at the deadline.
In his latest Inside Baseball column, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports provides a laundry list of free agent and trade-related info. He kicks off the piece with a lengthy look at the curiously passive approaches of two teams that were seen as likely to be active sellers: the Reds and Padres. San Diego GM A.J. Preller told Heyman that his team discussed a number of deals and felt that, ultimately, the long-term nature of most of the Padres’ trade chips outweighed the value they were offered. The one notable exception is Justin Upton, who, as first reported by Buster Olney, could’ve fetched Michael Fulmer from the Mets. Regarding Upton talks, Preller told Heyman: “…the evaluation was what we’re being offered versus the value of the pick and having Justin for the rest of the year. There were offers right on the line, but none that made us move.” As for the Reds, Heyman notes that many are questioning the team’s decision to hang onto Aroldis Chapman, who is controlled through 2016, when the Reds may not be competitive until 2017. The Reds backed out of a Jay Bruce-for-Zack Wheeler swap, a source tells Heyman, with a second source telling him that Cincinnati simply “got cold feet” when it came to dealing Bruce. He also spoke to a number of executives who expressed disbelief that neither team was more active at the deadline.
Some more highlights from his column, though there’s far more in the full article than can be summarized here, so it’s worth reading in its entirety…
- The Diamondbacks are still seeking an elite closer after coming up empty in their pursuit of Aroldis Chapman, and they might pursue him again this winter. Heyman lists their priorities as: a closer, a starting pitcher (someone below the tier of Johnny Cueto/David Price) and a bat to slot behind Paul Goldschmidt in the order. The Snakes talked about deals for Jeremy Hellickson, Oliver Perez and Cliff Pennington. They came the closest to trading Hellickson, who drew interest from the Pirates and Blue Jays, he adds.
- Kevin Gausman‘s name was very popular in trade talks with the Orioles, as he was asked for by the Rockies (in exchange for Carlos Gonzalez), the Tigers (Yoenis Cespedes) and Padres (Justin Upton). The Orioles also talked to the Dodgers about Carl Crawford (for a lesser package) but found his injury history and contract too risky.
- Others are “convinced” that the Cubs will land one of the top starting pitchers on the market this winter, with Price as a leading candidate but Zack Greinke, Jordan Zimmermann and Cueto all landing on Chicago’s radar as well. The Cubs are expected to shop both Starlin Castro and Javier Baez this winter. The Padres‘ interest in Baez has been reported many places, though they do have some reservations about Baez’s approach at the plate (as, I would imagine, most teams do).
- The Blue Jays, Astros and Giants all expressed interest in White Sox righty Jeff Samardzija, but the White Sox‘ winning streak plus so-so offers led the team to hold onto the right-hander. Heyman hears that the return would’ve been similar to the one the Reds ultimately got in exchange for Mike Leake, so the Sox simply held onto Samardzija. (Speaking of Leake, he adds that industry consensus pegs Leake as the most likely rental to stay with his new club — perhaps not surprising given Leake’s ties to California and the Giants’ history of retaining such pieces.)
- The Indians received interest not only in Carlos Carrasco, but also in Danny Salazar, Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber. The Dodgers, Cubs and Red Sox all tried for Carrasco.
- The Rockies were always more motivated to trade Troy Tulowitzki than Carlos Gonzalez, as the drama surrounding Tulo had become soap-opera-esque. The team didn’t shop Jose Reyes after the Tulo deal but did have his name come up in talks; Heyman writes that the Yankees are one club that “may have fit,” as they could’ve used him at second base.
- The Angels made a brief run at Yoenis Cespedes but didn’t come close to landing him. Cespedes won the hearts of Mets fans in part by expressing an interest in signing long-term to remain in Queens, but as Heyman notes, Cespedes did the same in Boston and Detroit without any results. A long-term pact between the Mets and Cespedes is more likely than a reunion with the Tigers though, Heyman writes, as Detroit isn’t likely to enter a bidding war for the outfielder, let alone win one.
- The Dodgers showed more interest in Cole Hamels than they did in either Price or Cueto. They were completely closed off to the idea of trading either Corey Seager or Julio Urias, though. He adds that right-hander Jose DeLeon wasn’t available in talks for rental pieces, which could imply that he was at least attainable in Hamels talks.
- Dan Jennings is expected to be welcomed back to the Marlins‘ front office this winter, when the team will search for a long-term manager to replace him. The Marlins are also planning on trying to extend Dee Gordon and Adeiny Hechavarria this offseason, he hears. Talks for Hechavarria went nowhere last winter, and the shortstop’s batting line is nearly identical to its 2014 mark. Defensive metrics are far more impressed with Hechavarria’s work this season, though, for what it’s worth.
- While Rays relief aces Jake McGee and Brad Boxberger were oft-mentioned in rumors leading up to the deadline, other teams came away with the impression that Tampa Bay wasn’t that interested in moving either.
- There’s an “unhappy scene” surrounding the Nationals and manager Matt Williams, Heyman hears. Williams isn’t beloved by many of the team’s players, who feel that he’s “not loose” and “never relaxed.” There are those who have also questioned his bullpen usage, from the decision not to use Drew Storen/Tyler Clippard in the final game of last year’s NLDS to leaving both Jonathan Papelbon and Storen in the bullpen in close road games versus the Mets shortly after acquiring Papelbon (only to have both pitch with a five-run deficit in the next series). Heyman spoke to one Nats player who said the team is loose and has fun regardless of Williams’ demeanor. “I don’t think it affects us,” said the player. “That’s just how he is.”
Recent Mets trade acquisition Yoenis Cespedes says that he likes the idea of staying in Queens for more than just the rest of this year, as Anthony DiComo of MLB.com reports. Of course, the free agent-to-be also notes that matter “is something I can’t control.” Indeed, he is effectively precluded from re-signing with New York as a free agent because of the contractual requirement that the team release him at the end of the year. (An MLB rule provides that teams may not re-sign released players until after the start of the following regular season.)
More on the Mets:
- In that same piece, GM Sandy Alderson indicated that his team’s deadline acquisitions were not made with any particular hope that the new players would sign long-term. “We’ll deal with next season later,” Alderson said. “That’s not to be cavalier about our longer-term view, but … I don’t think there’s any grave concern about the fact that these players may not be here next year. That’s not to say that we wouldn’t want them to be here next year, but that’s something we’ll deal with over the course of the offseason.”
- While a late-year extension for Cespedes is theoretically possible, it doesn’t seem terribly likely, as Marc Carig of Newsday also explains. New York has been quite cautious in handing out massive, multi-year deals, and Cespedes has positioned himself nicely for the upcoming free agent market. Sources tell Carig that they expect his representatives to seek a deal in the $120MM to $150MM range. There is precedent for that kind of cash, of course, though Cespedes will have to contend with the presence of Justin Upton and Jason Heyward alongside him on the market. Shin-soo Choo landed a $130MM deal back in 2013, while Josh Hamilton got $125MM the year prior.
- Before acquiring Eric O’Flaherty from the A’s, the Mets staff chatted about him with recent teammate Tyler Clippard, Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com reports. Clippard, of course, was also just traded from Oakland to New York, and told the media that he saw O’Flaherty (a recent Tommy John patient) rounding into form over the last few weeks. With the move, Clippard, a long-time Nationals reliever, and O’Flaherty, once a staple of the Braves pen, have now congregated with the division-rival Mets.
- Mets assistant GM John Ricco explained that the club added O’Flaherty because it wanted a weapon against opposing left-handed hitters, also via Rubin. “We feel like a lefty reliever was something that we could use — a guy that was more of a strict left-on-left guy,” Ricco explained. “And that’s what Eric really is. So we had our eye on a number of different options and this one came together pretty quickly today. It gave us an opportunity to get a veteran left-on-left guy.”
- Third baseman David Wright is ramping up baseball activities and may be nearing a rehab assignment, as Kevin Kernan of the New York Post writes. Wright earned rave reviews for his workout at Citi Field yesterday, and indicated that he’s currently able to focus more on getting ready to play than worrying about his back. “It’s been a long process and I like the fact we’re finally talking about baseball and not rehab and doctors,’’ Wright said. “You put in all this work to finally get to the point where you are now. For two months you are having trouble standing for a while or walking. To be able now to go through a normal pregame routine, that makes you feel good about the process. You can see the finish line. It feels good.’’
An elite starting pitcher was a luxury good for the Dodgers, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. That’s why Los Angeles passed on talents like Cole Hamels, David Price, and Johnny Cueto despite possessing the prospect depth to acquire their pick of the litter. Instead, the club flexed its financial might to acquire Mat Latos, Alex Wood, Jim Johnson, Luis Avilan, and Jose Peraza. The biggest piece dealt away by the Dodgers was 30-year-old Cuban infielder Hector Olivera. The utility man has not yet reached the majors after signing a six-year, $62.5MM deal with the Dodgers. A full $28MM of that was in the form of a signing bonus.
Here’s more from Rosenthal:
- Cynics may find a way to criticize the Mets deadline transactions. Perhaps they didn’t add enough to the payroll or were too small minded? However, the moves for Yoenis Cespedes, Tyler Clippard, Kelly Johnson, and Juan Uribe provided essential upgrades to a roster that was showing signs of stress. GM Sandy Alderson deserves kudos for improving the club while working within tight constraints. To me, this was Rosenthal’s money quote, “Mets fans will not be satisfied – and should not be satisfied – until the team raises its payroll to a level more commensurate with the New York market.“
- Echoing the sentiments of many analysts, both the Phillies and Rangers did well in the Hamels trade. With the Phillies taking on Matt Harrison and chipping in cash, the Rangers will pay Hamels an average of $13MM to $14MM per season if his option vests. They also hung onto top prospects Joey Gallo and Nomar Mazara. On Philadelphia’s end, acquiring three quality prospects will do much to bolster their future.
- The Blue Jays, unlike the Dodgers, are often described as a cash strapped organization. Instead of taking on payroll like L.A., the Blue Jays dealt 11 prospects and Jose Reyes to acquire Troy Tulowitzki, David Price, Ben Revere, Mark Lowe, and LaTroy Hawkins. They’re 6.5 games back in the AL East and 1.5 games behind the Twins for the second Wild Card slot.
- The Astros also spent their prospect chips for major league upgrades. They made the first deadline strike by acquiring Scott Kazmir then paid a princely sum for Carlos Gomez and Mike Fiers. Interestingly, mid-market teams like the Astros, Blue Jays, Mets, and Royals used prospects in their search for October baseball. The Yankees and Dodgers opted to use money or stand pat.
The Blue Jays‘ somewhat surprising decision this morning to designate Danny Valencia for assignment confused many fans. Valencia has, after all, had a very strong season at the plate, batting .296/.331/.506, and he’s capable of playing several positions and raking against lefties. As Sportsnet.ca’s Ben Nicholson-Smith explains, manager John Gibbons told GM Alex Anthopoulos that he wanted new acquisition Ben Revere to play every day rather than platooning, leaving one of Valencia or Chris Colabello without much of a role. The Blue Jays ultimately decided to keep Colabello, and Anthopoulos thinks Valencia will be claimed on Monday. The GM suggests the Jays aren’t done tweaking their roster, so they could make a minor move or two to improve it, perhaps adding an outfielder.
- The Red Sox were relatively quiet at the deadline, but they expect to look quite different by April, Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston writes. “I think it’s incumbent upon us to make real improvement between now and Opening Day,” says GM Ben Cherington. “We didn’t feel like it had to be this week. And so we went into it with the mindset, we’re going to pursue things we think fall in line with ways we need to improve between now and Opening Day.” Cherington notes that it’s still possible the Red Sox could make deals in August. Potential trade candidates include Mike Napoli and Alejandro De Aza.
- The Mets repeatedly refused to trade pitching prospect Michael Fulmer, and were able to acquire Yoenis Cespedes from the Tigers only when they finally relented, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press writes. To Tigers exec Dave Dombrowski, Fulmer was the key to the deal (which also included another solid pitching prospect, Luis Cessa). “We consider Fulmer a premium-type guy,” Dombrowski says.
Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski and Mets GM Sandy Alderson got to know each other a little bit better on Friday.
“We must have had at least 20 conversations with Sandy Alderson today,” the Tigers GM said, according to Jason Beck of MLB.com (on Twitter).
All of that talking wasn’t for nothing as the two sides agreed to a deal sending Cespedes to New York this afternoon. The Mets didn’t want to part with Michael Fulmer until today, but they had a change of heart that paved the way for the deal. Here’s more out of the AL Central..
- The Tigers made the Yoenis Cespedes deal with the Mets with the belief that they’ll be reunited again this winter, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets.
- Dombrowski said the Tigers didn’t come close to making any other trades, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press tweets.
- White Sox GM Rick Hahn is a little bit frustrated that he couldn’t make a splash today as he was optimistic something would get done, Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com tweets. In the end, he says that the cost did not justify the return.
- Hahn said the only big change in the White Sox‘s strategy was considering short-term rentals, Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune tweets. Ultimately, however, he didn’t want to hurt the club’s long-term future.
The Mets have officially acquired outfielder Yoenis Cespedes from the Tigers, as Bruce Levine of 670thescore.com first reported on Twitter. In return, Detroit will get righties Michael Fulmer and Luis Cessa from New York, as Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported on Twitter. GM Sandy Alderson says the Mets will pay all of the approximately $3.75MM remaining on Cespedes’ 2015 salary, David Lennon of Newsday tweets.
With the move, New York finally lands the power bat it was rumored to be pursuing for some time in the lead-up to the deadline. New York had already added reliever Tyler Clippard, third baseman Juan Uribe, and utilityman Kelly Johnson. After a widely-reported deal for Carlos Gomez fell through, the Mets turned their sights to alternatives and ultimately landed the 29-year-old slugger.
The Mets were said to be going after a controllable piece that was capable of playing center field, such as Gomez, but changed course in adding the free-agent-to-be Cespedes, who has spent most of his time in left. With Michael Cuddyer potentially out longer than had been hoped, Cespedes figures to take over there. But the club is also reportedly considering utilizing Curtis Granderson in center in some situations, as incumbent Juan Lagares has struggled since signing a significant extension before the season.
Cespedes is highly talented, if sometimes inconsistent, but he’s been outstanding in 2015. He’s hitting close to the levels he did in his breakout rookie campaign back in 2012, after two high-power/low-OBP seasons in between, with a .293/.323/.506 slash and 18 home runs through 427 plate appearances. Cespedes is delivering more hard contact, a better line-drive percentage, and more home runs per flyball than he has over any single full season. And Cespedes has increased his output on the defensive side of the ledger as well, drawing strong reviews from defensive metrics.
MLB.com now ranks Fulmer and Cessa the fifth- and ninth-best prospects, respectively, in an improved Tigers farm system. The 22-year-old Fulmer, the 44th overall pick in the 2011 draft, was in the midst of an impressive season at Double-A Binghamton, posting a 1.88 ERA, 8.7 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 in 86 innings. MLB.com notes that his fastball is regularly in the mid-90s, and that he has a strong slider and a changeup good enough that he could one day be a Major League starter.
Cessa, meanwhile, is a 23-year-old converted infielder who performed well for Binghamton, with a 2.56 ERA, 7.1 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9 in 77 1/3 frames. He struggled after a promotion to hitter-happy Triple-A Las Vegas, but maintained his solid peripherals, striking out 24 batters and walking four despite allowing an unsightly 23 earned runs in 24 1/3 innings there. MLB.com notes that his fastball is generally around 93 MPH, and that he could wind up in the back end of a big-league rotation.
Cespedes now finds himself on his fourth team since last summer. He was dealt from the Athletics to the Red Sox, then to the Tigers over the winter, before landing in New York. It’s an unlikely series of transactions, all said.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
1:32pm: Talks between the Mets and Tigers “reignited” on Wednesday night after there had been little contact between the two clubs, tweets Andy Martino of the New York Daily News, who calls a Cespedes acquisition a possibility for the Mets.
1:27pm: The Mets are making a push to acquire Yoenis Cespedes from the Tigers, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (via Twitter). Earlier today the Mets were linked to Cespedes in connection with some doubt regarding Michael Cuddyer‘s health.
The Mets have been working fervently to acquire an outfield bat over the past couple of days. After a near-deal for Carlos Gomez disintegrated, they’ve been tied heavily to the Reds’ Jay Bruce, though those talks are now also said to have cooled. Cespedes wouldn’t fit the Mets’ desire to add a bat that is controlled beyond the 2015 season, but he would certainly provide a boost to a Mets offense that has failed to score enough runs to support an outstanding young pitching staff.
The Tigers figure to be extra-motivated to deal Cespedes, as he’s ineligible to receive a qualifying offer this winter and thus can’t even bring back a draft pick as compensation if he isn’t moved today.