Zack Wheeler Rumors

Heyman’s Latest: Padres/Reds, Gausman, Cubs, Rox, Cespedes, Marlins

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.”

NL East Notes: Mets, Wheeler, Bour, Capps, Braves

Mets GM Sandy Alderson and the Wilpon family (the team’s owners), who have drawn plenty of fan and media ire for payroll constraints and a lack of spending in recent years, deserve credit for acting like a big-market team at the trade deadline this year, opines Joel Sherman of the New York Post. The Wilpons didn’t merely pocket the extra money they could’ve saved from the insurance on David Wright‘s contract and the unexpected salary they recouped from Jenrry Mejia‘s suspension but authorized Alderson to spend $8.5MM to bring in Yoenis Cespedes, Juan Uribe, Kelly Johnson and Tyler Clippard. Alderson, too, deserves credit for his willingness to part with a very good prospect (Michael Fulmer) in an effort to win immediately, as well as his persistence in trade talks after the Carlos Gomez deal fell through, he continues. Sherman adds that Mets fans reminded ownership and the front office just how important those decisions were with a raucous crowd as the team swept the Nationals this weekend and created a dead heat in the NL East.

More on the Mets and their division…

  • Speaking to Newsday’s Marc Carig, Zack Wheeler elaborated on his reported phone call to Alderson in which he expressed a strong desire to remain with the Mets as opposed to going elsewhere via trade. “I told him I know it’s a business and he has a job to do, but I’d really like to be here because of what’s about to happen,” said Wheeler. “I’ve been here a couple of years and want to see it through.” Wheeler told Carig that while he knew such a tactic was uncommon, he felt it was the best way to communicate a desire to “stay and be part of this team’s winning future.” Alderson told Carig that in all of his years as an executive, he’d never seen a player make a call of this nature, and the move had “quite an impact.”
  • With Mike Morse now traded, the Marlins will give Justin Bour every opportunity to stick at first base, writes Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Hitting .254/.333/.445 with 10 homers in 234 plate appearances, the 27-year-old Bour is a rare example of a player selected in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 Draft that will have a chance to make a significant impact on his new team’s organization. Miami picked up Bour in the minor league phase of the 2013 Rule 5 Draft.
  • Jackson adds that despite a number of rumors pertaining to fireballing setup man Carter Capps on Friday, the Marlins never came particularly close to trading him. President of baseball operations Michael Hill called Capps a “a championship-caliber piece under team control” when speaking to Jackson.
  • Braves veterans Jonny Gomes and A.J. Pierzynski find themselves in an unusual position, writes MLB.com’s Mark Bowman. Each is a veteran on a cheap one-year deal that remained with his rebuilding team as opposed to being moved at the trade deadline. Gomes recognizes that he could still change teams in August but praised the work that president of baseball operations John Hart has done in restocking the farm and rebuilding the big league roster. Bowman writes that for now, the Braves’ hope is that both Pierzynski and Gomes spend another few weeks mentoring some of the team’s young talent. He also notes that at some point in the next couple of months, the Braves may simply have to cut bait on Chris Johnson and release him, but they’ll take the month of August to continue their longstanding effort to shed a portion of the remaining $20MM or so on his contract.

Mets Notes: Upton, Bruce, Wheeler

The latest post-deadline news out of Queens..

  • The Mets also discussed Justin Upton before dealing for Yoenis Cespedes, a source tells Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter).  The Mets preferred Cespedes in part because of his defense and the Padres also pulled back near the end.
  • A Jay Bruce deal was on the table for a week before the Reds backed out and decided they wanted more from the Mets, according to Marc Carig of Newsday (Twitter links).  While talks were serious and the teams exchanged medical info, the deal never got all that close to happening.
  • Mets GM Sandy Alderson said that he discussed adding another bullpen arm with teams, but he’s happy with the Tyler Clippard addition, Adam Rubin of ESPN.com tweets.  The GM also noted that there are waiver trades in August, which could be an indication of what’s to come.
  • Zack Wheeler called Alderson early this afternoon and expressed his desire to stay and the GM said that made an impact on him, Mike Puma of the New York Post tweets.
  • Alderson says the Mets are going for it, but wouldn’t term it as playoffs-or-bust, Matt Ehalt of The Record tweets.


Mets Trying To Land Jay Bruce

The Mets are making an effort to acquire outfielder Jay Bruce from the rebuilding Reds, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter link), though he adds that they’re also still exploring other options. The report comes on the heels of word from ESPN’s Buster Olney that the Reds would be open to a Bruce-for-Zack Wheeler swap. Andy Martino of the New York Daily News tweets that the current feeling he gets is that New York could pick up Bruce in exchange for Wheeler and another piece. Rosenthal adds to his tweet above that Wheeler would likely be in a deal for Bruce.

Adding an outfield bat — preferably one that’s controllable beyond 2015, such as Bruce — is a known priority for the Mets. Last night, they agreed to terms on a Carlos Gomez swap with the Brewers, but the deal fell through due to reported concerns over Gomez’s medicals and possibly over financial components of the deal. Gomez has since been traded to the Astros.

Bruce has an eight-team no-trade clause, but the Mets aren’t one of the clubs to which he can block a deal. The 28-year-old slugger has rebounded nicely from a down season in 2014 — which was quite possibly derailed by in-season knee surgery from which he rushed back — to post a .257/.341/.486 batting line entering play Thursday. Bruce struggled into mid-May, but since the 16th of that month (an admittedly very arbitrary endpoint on this sample), he’s batted .306/.377/.563 with 12 homers in 62 games.

Should a deal for Bruce come together, the Mets would be acquiring a bat that they can control into the 2017 season. Bruce is earning $12MM this year (of which about $4.52MM remains) plus $12.5MM in 2016. His contract has a $13.5MM team option for the 2017 season that comes with a $1MM buyout. All told, he’d cost the Mets about $30.52MM for the next two and a half seasons.

The Mets’ preference in trades is to add an outfielder that can handle center field, and Bruce doesn’t fit that mold, but the team does still have Juan Lagares as an option in center. And, as Rosenthal tweeted earlier, Curtis Granderson could slide over to center field as well, thereby pushing Lagares into a reserve role. That would cost the team some defensive value, of course, though speculatively speaking, that might be a trade-off they’re willing to make given the team’s run-scoring woes for much of the season.


Aftermath Of The Mets’ Near Acquisition Of Carlos Gomez

As most are aware by now, the Mets and Brewers had agreed to a trade that would’ve sent Carlos Gomez to New York in exchange for Zack Wheeler and Wilmer Flores, but medical concerns derailed the agreement. Reports last night surfaced to say that Gomez’s hip was the issue, though agent Scott Boras issued an adamant denial to FOX Sports saying that Gomez is healthy and has never seen a hip specialist.

Some additional context to the situation as well as the latest on the trade rumors pertaining to both teams in the wake of the failed deal…

  • Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that Gomez had an MRI three to four weeks ago for an abductor issue — not a hip issue — and the reports from that test said he had no issues with his abductor or his hip (Twitter link).
  • Sherman also spoke to Brewers GM Doug Melvin (All Twitter links), who informed him that while the Mets have concerns over Gomez’s medical records, the Brewers do not. Said Melvin: “I don’t believe Carlos Gomez has a physical issue. Our training staff won best in baseball the last 2 years. We take a lot of pride in that. We don’t think anything is wrong with him besides any nick that happens to any ballplayer.”
  • Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel hears that the ultimate issue in the trade may have been financial. A source tells Haudricourt that the initial scenario being discussed would have sent Juan Lagares to Milwaukee, but the Brewers were hesitant because of a publicly known elbow issue through which he is playing and because of Lagares’ $23MM extension, which kicks in next season. The next iteration of the trade became Wheeler and Flores for Gomez, but the Mets then asked that the Brewers include their 2016 Competitive Balance draft pick, which Milwaukee declined to do. Following that, the Mets asked for cash considerations to be included, but the Brewers were also unwilling to pick up any of the tab. It was at that point that the Mets backed out, citing Gomez’s hip, sources tell Haudricourt. (Sherman heard much of the same — Twitter links — though Haudricourt’s report provides much more context on the matter.)
  • The Mets will remain active on the trade market, it seems, and Marc Carig of Newsday hears that the team’s “clear preference” is to get someone who can play center field (Twitter link). Given Lagares’ injury, it makes sense to see the Mets targeting help in that area. I recently broke down the trade market for center fielders, for those wondering what options could be available to New York.
  • The Mets aren’t in on the Padres’ Justin Upton, partially due to his status as a half-season rental, reports Andy Martino of the New York Daily News (Twitter links). The Mets would prefer to avoid rental players, he adds, though he does also note that the team has at least checked in with the Tigers on Yoenis Cespedes following the collapse of the Gomez deal.
  • It’s unclear where this scenario leaves the Mets in terms of trade direction, tweets MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo. The team likes Gerardo Parra but was also unable to agree on a price point in discussions with the Brewers. New York also likes Jay Bruce, but he doesn’t fit their desire for someone who can handle center field. Bruce has just 285 big league inning in center — all coming in 2008.

Medical Concerns Derailed Carlos Gomez-Mets Deal; Brewers Still Plan To Trade Him

11:45pm: Agent Scott Boras adamantly denied that anything is wrong with Gomez from a health standpoint. Via Rosenthal (Twitter links): “Carlos Gomez has never seen a hip doctor and has never had a hip issue in his playing career. Anyone who suggests that is inaccurate and baldly misrepresenting the truth of the player’s condition.”

11:17pm: Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that it was actually the Mets who backed out of the deal due to concerns over Gomez’s hip. Andy Martino of the New York Daily News also hears that Wheeler’s elbow was not the issue (Twitter links).

11:13pm: Tonight’s near-trade of Carlos Gomez to the Mets in exchange for Zack Wheeler and Wilmer Flores has fallen through, and Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports (via Twitter) that Milwaukee’s concerns regarding Wheeler’s medicals caused the deal to collapse. The Brewers, though, are still planning to trade Gomez by Friday’s trade deadline, Nightengale adds.

Wheeler, of course, had Tommy John surgery this spring, so it stands to reason that the Brewers weren’t comfortable with his progress (or perhaps the lack thereof) since the operation in March. By multiple media accounts, the names in the trades were agreed upon, though there was no official announcement of the deal from either club.

Mets GM Sandy Alderson said following tonight’s game that a trade “will not transpire,” so it seems that if Gomez is to be traded, it will be to a team other than the Mets — the organization that originally signed him back in 2002.

Gomez should still hold widespread appeal around the league, as he’s earning $8MM in 2015 and has a more-than-reasonable $9MM salary for the 2016 season. Among contending clubs, the Orioles, Astros, Pirates and Giants have all been linked to outfield upgrades over the past few weeks. The Angels, too, have been in the market for an outfield upgrade, though they’ve added three new players this week (Shane Victorino, David Murphy and David DeJesus), so they’re likely out of the mix for outfielders at this time.

And, while the trade ultimately won’t be pushed across the finish line, it does speak to the Mets’ willingness to deal from their current big league roster in order to upgrade the offense. Flores has been a regular contributor to the team in 2015, though they do have internal replacements including Ruben Tejada, Dilson Herrera and Matt Reynolds. A report from Yahoo’s Jeff Passan earlier in the night also mentioned that Juan Lagares‘ name had come up as a potential piece for the Brewers t acquire, further demonstrating a willingness on Alderson’s behalf  get creative in order to augment his offense. The Mets have also been prominently connected to names such as Justin Upton, Jay Bruce and Gomez’s Milwaukee teammate, Gerardo Parra.


Mets-Brewers Deal For Carlos Gomez Collapses

9:58pm: The deal is off and won’t occur before the deadline, Mets GM Sandy Alderson tells reporters including Anthony DiComo of MLB.com (via Twitter).

EARLIER: The Mets have acquired Carlos Gomez, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.  He says the deal is done pending physicals. In exchange for Gomez, the Mets will send right-hander Zack Wheeler and infielder Wilmer Flores to Milwaukee, according to Bob Klapisch (Twitter link).

Now 29 years old, Gomez cut his teeth in the Majors as a 21-year-old with the Mets. Traded to the Twins as part of the 2008 Johan Santana blockbuster, Gomez spent two seasons in Minnesota and delivered mixed results before being flipped to Milwaukee in a one-for-one swap that sent J.J. Hardy to Minneapolis. His first few seasons with the team resulted in more of the same underwhelming results, but Gomez broke out into superstar territory with an explosive 2012 campaign.

That 2012 season saw Gomez bat .260/.305/.463 with a career-high 17 homers and 39 stolen bases to go along with his elite center field defense. Since that time, Gomez has paired a .276/.336/.475 batting line with some of the game’s best center field defense to deliver more than 16 wins above replacement for the Brewers.


Latest On Mets’ Pursuit Of Outfield Bats

5:25pm: Mike Puma of the New York Post tweets that he’s been told to rule out an acquisition of Yoenis Cespedes from the Tigers (who are reportedly listening to offers on Cespedes and preparing to “reboot”).

However, there’s been “much” discussion between the Mets and Brewers as of late, Puma hears, though those talks aren’t believed to be focused on Carlos Gomez. That would seem to imply that Gerardo Parra is the topic of conversation, although he wouldn’t necessarily line up with Heyman’s report on pursuing a “big bat.”

2:28pm: Despite making several upgrades already, the Mets “have their sights clearly on a big bat,” according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. New York has long been said to be pursuing a corner outfield piece, particularly since learning that Michael Cuddyer would hit the DL.

Other recent reports have indicated that the Mets were somewhat more likely to make a value play, perhaps by waiting for prices to drop just before the deadline. But Heyman suggests that the team could still pursue a more impactful piece, presumably meaning the team is at least considering paying a higher acquisition price.

Per the report, the club has previously been unable to see eye-to-eye with the Padres on Justin Upton, but he could seemingly still represent an option. Another possibility is Jay Bruce of the Reds, and Heyman says that Cincinnati previously showed interest in the injured Zack Wheeler in discussions involving Bruce.


Mets, Brewers Moving Closer To Carlos Gomez Trade

7:54pm: The Mets and Brewers are now moving closer to an agreement, Martino reports (Twitter link).

7:47pm: Yahoo’s Jeff Passan reports (via Twitter) that if a trade is agreed upon, Juan Lagares is expected to be sent to the Brewers in the swap. Lagares’ name has been “prominent” in talks between the two sides, Passan adds.

7:20pm: ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweets that the Brewers have been asking the Mets for one of the team’s “top four” starters (referring to Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom and Steven Matz). He adds that it might be tough to finalize the deal without Milwaukee dropping its asking price.

Rosenthal tweets that one scenario which has been discussed would send Wheeler and Flores to Milwaukee.

6:52pm: The Mets are “pushing hard” for Gomez, tweets Yahoo’s Tim Brown.

6:43pm: Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Mets and Brewers have talked recently and not about Gerardo Parra (All Twitter links). The Mets do like Gomez, he says, but an insider tells him there’s nothing at the finish line yet. Sherman wonders if the Mets value the remaining one and a half years on Gomez’s deal to part with Zack Wheeler, whom Milwaukee likes quite a bit. Sherman also notes that the Brewers like Wilmer Flores, though he wouldn’t be the main piece in any deal.

Rosenthal tweets that the Mets are “working hard” to add a bat, but he was told earlier that the price to acquire him is steep.

6:36pm: The Mets and Brewers have indeed had recent talks regarding Gomez, according to FOX’s Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi (Twitter link), but no deal appears close at this time. The Mets are still looking at other hitters as well, per the FOX Sports duo.

6:31pm: The Mets have asked the Brewers about Carlos Gomez in recent talks with Milwaukee, reports Mike Puma of the New York Post (via Twitter). “The Mets want him,” says Puma.

6:10pm: The Mets are “very close to pulling off a big trade,” Marc Carig of Newsday reports on Twitter. There is momentum towards a deal for a “big bat,” Andy Martino of the New York Daily News tweets. Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com first connected New York to the chase for a “big bat” earlier today. Adam Rubin of ESPN.com tweeted that the team was working on a fan-pleasing trade.

It seems as if a significant acquisition could be in the works, though it’s entirely unclear who that might be. As we covered in an earlier post, New York has shown interest in the past in Justin Upton of the Padres and Jay Bruce of the Reds, both of whom would certainly qualify as sluggers, though Rubin tweets that Cincinnati seems to be focused on moving pitching. The team is specifically said not to be pursuing the new-to-the-market Yoenis Cespedes, and prior reports indicated the same with regard to Carlos Gonzalez.


Latest On Mets’ Pursuit Of Offense

At least based on reports, the Mets appear to be one of the busier teams as we approach the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. Here’s the latest, mostly via FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal:

  • The Mets tried for Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, but they believe Colorado isn’t interested in a trade.
  • The Mets have also looked into utilityman Ben Zobrist and reliever Tyler Clippard of the Athletics, but it appears likely that the Athletics will find better deals for both players, probably in two different trades.
  • New York discussed sending Zack Wheeler to the Reds in a deal for outfielder Jay Bruce, but talks went nowhere. Andy Martino and Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News reported yesterday that the Mets had discussed potential Wheeler deals with multiple clubs.
  • The Mets and Brewers have had talks regarding Gerardo Parra, although it appears that there’s enough interest in Parra that the Brewers’ price has increased. That’s consistent with a tweet this afternoon from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Tom Haudricourt, who wrote that the Brewers have had lots of interest in Parra and will have their choice of various offers.
  • The Mets are also interested in Yoenis Cespedes of the Tigers, but so far, they have nothing to show for it, Marc Carig of Newsday tweets.