Zack Wheeler Rumors

NL East Notes: Wheeler, Howard, Nationals

The Mets have announced that starter Zack Wheeler underwent successful Tommy John surgery today, as Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com tweets. New York will hope that it is all uphill from here for the well-regarded young righty. While the team certainly appears to have ample rotation depth now and in the future, he still figures as a key cog as the organization looks to ramp up into contention.

Here’s the latest from the NL East:

  • Ryan Howard‘s previously-reported list of teams to which he cannot block a deal did not seem to provide him with much leverage; rather, as I noted at the time, it seemed to be motivated by other considerations. That is, in fact, the case, as Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports: Howard replaced his formerly NL-heavy slate with American League clubs in an effort to help the Phillies find him a new home. Of course, that has yet to occur, though Howard has shown some promise this spring and could be a worthwhile mid-season addition for the right team.
  • While much attention has focused on the potential free agent departure of Nationals starters Jordan Zimmermann and Doug Fister (among other players), Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post writes that the club believes it has more than adequate pitching talent percolating through its system. Of course, it also seems worth noting that the Nationals could conceivably use those arms not only to fill in the big league rotation and provide depth, but also to acquire replacement pieces elsewhere via trade. GM Mike Rizzo has done just that in the recent past, dealing young pitching to acquire players like Denard Span, Doug Fister, and Jose Lobaton.

Injury Notes: Henderson, Wheeler, Rasmus, Wieters

Yesterday, we learned the Brewers had re-assigned reliever Jim Henderson to minor league camp. Milwaukee has rescinded the decision and will instead keep him in major league camp, reports Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The move was made for a couple reasons. The Brewers will place him on the disabled list and can backdate the move. It also allows Henderson to maintain “continuity of treatment” with the major league strength and conditioning team. Though he remains in major league camp, he will only pitch in minor league games for the remainder of spring.

  • The Mets didn’t discuss Zack Wheeler in trade scenarios this offseason because they believed any deal would be scuttled upon reviewing medicals, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Rival executives were left with an impression that Wheeler was part of a protected core. In actuality, a torn tendon, multiple MRIs, and a PRP injection led the Mets to believe a deal was out of reach. With this information in hand, it’s easy to understand why the club kept Dillon Gee on hand as a sixth starter.
  • Angels pitcher Cory Rasmus will miss the next six to eight weeks with a core injury, reports Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com. The injury, which has bothered him on and off for years, will require surgery. Rasmus was used as a swingman last season, pitching to a 2.57 ERA with 9.16 K/9 and 2.73 BB/9. He was expected to contribute to the bullpen.
  • While tests have come back clean, Orioles catcher Matt Wieters is expected to open the season on the disabled list, writes Mark Townsend of Yahoo.com. The club is eyeing a 10-month rehab program, which would have Wieters return to action in mid-April. Manager Buck Showalter says hitting negatively affects his rehab, so he won’t be used as a designated hitter while he recovers.

Zack Wheeler To Have Tommy John Surgery

FRIDAY: Wheeler will have Tommy John surgery on Tuesday or Wednesday, ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin tweets. The surgery will be performed by Mets team doctor David Altchek.

MONDAY 10:26am: Alderson told reporters, including Marc Carig of Newsday, that the team’s belief is that Wheeler has suffered a full tear of the ligament (Twitter link). If that’s the case, it would only solidify the likelihood that he will undergo Tommy John surgery.

9:07am: An MRI taken on his right elbow revealed a torn ulnar collateral ligament for Mets right-hander Zack Wheeler, the team announced this morning. It seems almost inevitable then, that Wheeler is headed for Tommy John surgery, although he will first receive a second opinion, according to the team.

Losing Wheeler for the season would be a significant blow to a Mets team that many, including myself, have expected to contend for a Wild Card berth into the playoffs. The Mets projected to have a rotation of Wheeler, a healthy Matt Harvey, 2014 Rookie of the Year Jacob deGrom, Jon Niese and Bartolo Colon. However, with Wheeler likely shelved, it’ll be Dillon Gee sliding from the bullpen back into the starting rotation. The Mets have to be glad that they hung onto Gee, who was mentioned in trade rumors all offseason but never dealt.

Alderson’s acquisition of Wheeler — then a highly touted prospect with the Giants — in exchange for a half season of Carlos Beltran, has been hailed as one of the GM’s best moves, and with good reason. Wheeler surfaced with the Mets as a 23-year-old in 2013 and turned in 100 solid innings, and he reached 185 1/3 innings last year. Over his two seasons in Queens, Wheeler has worked to a 3.50 ERA with 8.5 K/9, 3.9 BB/9 and a 50 percent ground-ball rate. Armed with a 95mph fastball and a pair of above-average breaking pitches, there was an expectation that Wheeler could take a step forward in 2015, creating a formidable trio atop the Mets’ rotation, alongside Harvey and deGrom.

From a service time standpoint, Wheeler will gain a full year of big league service on the 60-day DL, if he is to miss the entire year, but he should fall shy of Super Two distinction, as he’ll have two years, 98 days of service entering the 2016 season. The Mets control him through the 2019 season, but that does little to soften the blow of his absence from the rotation this coming season.

Top prospect Noah Syndergaard, who has seen his own name surface in trade rumors over the past year, figures to be even more untouchable now, as the likelihood that he pitches in the Mets’ rotation at some point in 2015 has now increased.



Mets Notes: Alderson, Collins, Wheeler, Matusz

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.

East Notes: Cobb, Moncada, Mets

The Rays have announced that starting pitcher Alex Cobb‘s MRI has revealed that he has tendinitis in his right forearm. He will not be able to start Opening Day. Cobb’s injury is just the latest in a long string for the Rays rotation, which is also currently without Drew Smyly (shoulder), Alex Colome (pneumonia) and, of course Matt Moore (Tommy John surgery). Even before Cobb’s injury, the Rays had planned to consider minor moves to upgrade their starting pitching depth. Here’s more from the East divisions.

  • Red Sox GM Ben Cherington isn’t concerned about being fired if his expensive signing of Yoan Moncada doesn’t work out, Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe writes. “We understand that not everything we do is going to work out,” says Cherington. “But we feel good about the process and why we’re doing it.” As Abraham notes, the signing of the 19-year-old Moncada comes with plenty of upside, but it’s risky, too — the Red Sox have already made a series of high-profile investments (though not as high-profile or nearly as expensive as Moncada) in international players who haven’t worked out, like Jose Vinicio, Adalberto Ibarra, Juan Carlos Linares, Tzu-Wei Lin and Dalier Hinojosa.
  • The Mets didn’t anticipate Zack Wheeler‘s elbow issues would be so severe, so that wasn’t why they held onto Dillon Gee, Andy Martino of New York Daily News writes. They did, however, keep Noah Syndergaard in part because of general worries about the health of their starting pitchers, including not only Wheeler (who also had elbow discomfort last year) but also Bartolo Colon and Matt Harvey. Martino also explains why they didn’t trade Wheeler before the news that he would have to have Tommy John surgery, even though they were aware of his prior elbow trouble — they still like his upside and he’ll still be under team control when he returns.

NL East Notes: Wheeler, Braves, Lee, Halladay

ESPN.com’s Jim Bowden (Insider link) lists five spring transactions that ought to occur. Among them are trades involving two veteran Phillies players — Chase Utley and Jonathan Papelbon. While Papelbon has been discussed quite frequently this offseason, as has fellow hurler Cole Hamels, Utley has scarcely seen his name come up in rumors (and is only just returning to action after suffering a sprained ankle). Bowden also advocates an early-career extension for Christian Yelich of the Marlins

Here’s more from the NL East:

  • Injured Mets starter Zack Wheeler dealt with rather significant elbow pain last year, as GM Sandy Alderson has indicated and Andy Martino of the New York Daily News further reports. Per Martino, the team maintains publicly and privately that Wheeler’s UCL never was a matter of concern for the team, but he details some of the developments last year that raised red flags about the young righty’s health. Of course, as Martino is right to explain, there are not only many unknown details but also plenty of medical uncertainties in the world of pitching elbows.
  • The Braves are prepared to announce a deal with Comcast involving the team’s new ballpark and mixed-use development, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. It appears that the cable company will occupy office space and provide technology services for the controversial new facility.
  • Of course, that stadium opening is still years away, and the Braves are still working to resolve numerous roster matters before the start of the upcoming season. MLB.com’s Mark Bowman updates the situation in camp, writing that Jace Peterson appears to have the inside track on a 25-man spot, if not the starting gig at second base. The team has numerous infield and outfield slots still up for grabs.
  • The Phillies have insurance on Cliff Lee‘s contract and will have a chance to recover an unknown sum for the time he is expected to miss, MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports. That will not match the return the team had hoped to be able to achieve if a healthy Lee had turned into an attractive mid-season trade chip, of course. As part of his rest and rehab plan, Lee will not even throw a ball for several months. While the decision not to undergo surgery was announced a mutual one between team and player, Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News tweets that all doctors consulted recommended surgery and that it was Lee’s decision not to pursue that option.
  • As Lee faces the possibility of retirement, former teammate Roy Halladay says he is interested in pursuing sports psychology as a second act, as Zolecki reports.

Mets Links: Wheeler, Montero, Gee, Collins

The Mets found out this morning that Zack Wheeler has a fully torn ulnar collateral ligament, which almost certainly means he’s headed for Tommy John surgery. As Mets fans deal with that difficult news, here’s the latest on the team…

  • Joel Sherman of the New York Post is told that Montero is being considered for the fifth spot in the rotation despite Gee’s preference not to pitch out of the bullpen (Twitter links). The likelier outcome is still that Gee lands in the rotation, as the team doesn’t want to “totally lose” Gee, but Alderson wouldn’t come out and say who would step into the vacated spot.
  • ESPN New York’s Adam Rubin has a full story with quotes from Alderson as well as teammate Michael Cuddyer. The fresh MRI, according to Alderson, was scheduled after the area of pain in Wheeler’s elbow increased in size. Alderson called the finality of the situation and the fact that Wheeler won’t have to manage the type of pain he felt last season in future years a silver lining.

Earlier links

  • GM Sandy Alderson said that the Mets had been forewarned that Wheeler’s elbow was an ongoing concern and the team would have to “manage his medical condition over the course of the season,” via Newsday’s Marc Carig (Twitter links). That would perhaps explain why the Mets weren’t exactly in a rush to trade Dillon Gee, Bartolo Colon or Jon Niese this offseason.
  • While Gee seems the likeliest option to step into the rotation, Fangraphs’ Dave Cameron writes that he’s not the best option for the Mets to replace Wheeler. Rather, Rafael Montero, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz all project to be superior to Gee this offseason and should perhaps be ahead of him on the list of replacements. However, none of that group is making any significant money this season, whereas Gee is earning $5.3MM, which likely plays a role in any potential decision the team will make.
  • Manager Terry Collins’ 2016 club option is valued at $1.2MM, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link). Heyman feels that the Mets should exercise the option now as a show of good faith, though it’s perhaps more likely that Collins’ 2016 fate will be at least in part determined by the performance of a 2015 club that will still be expected to take a step forward even with the loss of Wheeler.
  • For those who didn’t see earlier today, the Mets have reportedly been scouting Orioles left-hander Brian Matusz in the wake of Josh Edgin‘s elbow injury.

NL East Notes: Mets, Coke, Braves

Scouts have identified Cardinals left-hander Sam Freeman and Nationals left-hander Xavier Cedeno as logical trade candidates for the Mets, Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com writes.  Both relievers are out of options and unlikely to make their clubs’ Opening Day rosters, though Rubin stresses that the Mets’ level of interest in either player is unknown.  The Mets could be on the lookout for a lefty reliever in the wake of Josh Edgin‘s decision to undergo Tommy John surgery.  Here’s more on the Mets and other news out of the NL East..

  • The Mets don’t see Phil Coke as someone who can help them, Marc Carig of Newsday tweets.  That has been their internal evaluation for some time and that has not changed in the wake of Edgin’s injury.  Coke signed a minor league deal with the Cubs earlier this month and apparently chose that opportunity over at least one MLB offer.
  • Veteran Wandy Rodriguez has pitched effectively enough to position himself for one of the two vacant spots in the Braves‘ rotation, but the team will still have to decide whether its worth taking a $2MM gamble on a pitcher who has made just 18 starts over the last two years, Mark Bowman of MLB.com writes.  The left-hander inked a minor league deal with Atlanta after failing a physical with the Phillies.
  • The Mets have four lefty options in camp in Sean Gilmartin, Dario Alvarez, Jack Leathersich and Scott Rice, but none have shined thus far, as Matt Ehalt of The Bergen Record writes.
  • Meanwhile, the Mets will be keeping their fingers crossed when it comes to starter Zack Wheeler as they’re sending his MRI results to team medical director Dr. David Altchek, Anthony DiComo of MLB.com tweets.  The Mets, meanwhile, are still saying they’re not concerned about Wheeler’s long-term situation.

Mets Notes: Wheeler, Lefties, Puello

Mets starter Zack Wheeler is experiencing elbow discomfort due to tendinitis, reports Anthony DiComo of MLB.com. Wheeler has dealt with similar discomfort throughout his career, and the pain increased during last season. At no point did it require an injection, but the club has used “anti-inflammatories and other treatments” in the past. For now, Wheeler will rest to see how it responds. Should it progress to a more serious level, the club could turn to Dillon Gee, Noah Syndergaard, or a number of other pitching prospects.

  • With left-handed reliever Josh Edgin headed to the disabled list, the Mets are keeping tabs on the lefty relief market, writes Adam Rubin of ESPN New York. Two early trade candidates are Cardinals southpaw Sam Freeman and Nationals lefty Xavier Cedeno. Both pitchers are out of options and unlikely to make their respective clubs. A scout also floated the idea of Nationals lefty Jerry Blevins. He’s owed $2.4MM, which may exceed what the club is looking to spend. Internal options include Scott Rice, Sean Gilmartin, Dario Alvarez, and Jack Leathersich.
  • Mets outfielder Cesar Puello appears to be in the same situation as Freeman and Cedeno, writes Rubin. Puello is out of options, and he’s either sixth or seventh on the outfield depth chart. If Puello doesn’t make the club, he’ll be exposed to waivers. Last year in Triple-A, the soon-to-be 24-year-old hit .252/.355/.393 with seven home runs and 13 stolen bases.

Quick Hits: Hamels, Forst, Rule 5 Draft, BoSox

We at MLBTR would like to thank our readers for their support during this memorable Winter Meetings.  Our 24/7 coverage over the last four days proved necessary given all of the news and major transactions that came out of San Diego, and our committed readership was right there with us by checking in with MLBTR at all hours of the day and night.  Here’s some more news from around baseball…

  • ESPN’s Jayson Stark lists the teams he feels were the winners and losers of the Winter Meetings.
  • The Phillies‘ hopes of landing a huge return for Cole Hamels took a hit during the Winter Meetings, David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News writes.  The Red Sox, Cubs and Dodgers (the three teams usually cited as the top potential suitors for Hamels) all made moves to solidify their rotations, thus robbing the Phils of some leverage in trade talks.
  • Athletics assistant GM David Forst discusses his team’s offseason moves, the challenges of competing in Oakland and more as part of an insightful interview with Fangraphs’ Eno Sarris.
  • With the Rule 5 Draft in the books, Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper looks at the scouting reports of the players taken and analyzes the prospects’ chances of lasting the entire season on their respective Major League rosters.
  • The Mets checked in on Yoenis Cespedes at the end of the season but were told by the Red Sox that it would take Jacob deGrom or Zack Wheeler to obtain the outfielder, Newsday’s David Lennon reports.  Needless to say, negotiations failed to proceed from there.  Rival teams are constantly asking the Mets about deGrom, Wheeler or Noah Syndergaard, Lennon notes, while the club is instead trying to deal Bartolo Colon, Jon Niese or Dillon Gee from its pitching surplus.
  • The Red Sox need an ace to headline their rebuilt rotation, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe opines.  From that same piece, Cafardo talks to an NL scout who believes the Sox got the better of the Wade Miley trade.  The scout calls the young left-hander an “unrefined [Jon] Lester right now, but he’s on his way to being a No. 2 [starter].  Not sure what the D’Backs are thinking on this one, except to get more bodies.”