Zack Wheeler Rumors

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.”

East Links: Santana, Sox, Cespedes, Phils, Mets

The Braves are expected to make a qualifying offer to Ervin Santana, reports David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. In the event that Santana leaves, the team may pursue a top-of-the-rotation type of arm, O’Brien writes, but their lack of financial flexibility would make the trade market a more likely avenue than free agency. O’Brien adds that he finds it unlikely that Santana would accept the QO — a sentiment with which I wholeheartedly agree. He also notes that should the club lose Santana, it might be more motivated to try to retain Aaron Harang, even though he is in line for a sizable raise from the $2MM he earned in 2014 (including incentives). MLBTR’s Zach Links recently profiled Harang, pegging him for a two-year, $14MM contract. Santana was also profiled by MLBTR, with Tim Dierkes projecting a four-year pact worth $56MM.

Elsewhere in baseball’s Eastern divisions…

  • The Red Sox are prioritizing Pablo Sandoval and Chase Headley as the look toward the offseason, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. The team may also look at Aramis Ramirez, though he’s not believed to be as coveted as Sandoval or Headley and is said to prefer a return to Milwaukee, per Heyman, who adds that the Yankees would like to re-sign Headley. Red Sox third basemen combined to hit just .245/.305/.351 in 2014.
  • Red Sox people strongly denied a previous report that Yoenis Cespedes is hated by the team’s coaching staff, Heyman writes in a second piece. One source called the report “totally untrue,” and manager John Farrell added on MLB Network Radio that the notion was “completely unfounded,” Heyman adds. He goes on to write that a trade of Cespedes is unlikely (though not impossible), given Boston’s overall need for power.
  • The Phillies announced today that their entire coaching staff has agreed to return to the club for the 2015 season.
  • Joel Sherman of the New York Post looks at the second round of changes coming to the dimensions of Citi Field and writes that the new dimensions may give some type of hint as to which players are most likely to be traded by the Mets this offseason. The Mets are planning to make Citi Field more homer-friendly and build the pitching staff around arms that emphasize strikeouts and ground-balls. Names like Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler fit that description, but Bartolo Colon, Dillon Gee and, to a lesser extent, Rafael Montero are all more prone to fly-balls, making them more likely to be dealt.

Mets Notes: Wheeler, d’Arnaud, Alderson

Happy birthday to Noah Syndergaard, who turns 22 years old today.  Syndergaard likely won’t be celebrating with a Major League debut, however, as the right-hander is already close to his innings limit for the year.  Here’s the latest from the Mets…

  • Zack Wheeler doesn’t want to be traded, telling Kevin Kernan of the New York Post that “I was part of the rebuilding process and I want to see it through.’’  While the Mets would undoubtedly need a huge return to trade the 24-year-old righty, it has been speculated that the Mets could deal from their pitching depth to acquire a top-tier shortstop or outfielder in the offseason.
  • Travis d’Arnaud‘s concussion history has Mets upper management at least exploring a shift from catcher to left field, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News writes.  Terry Collins said the issue had been discussed, though not at length or in any serious depth, so if a position switch did happen, it wouldn’t be anytime soon.
  • A d’Arnaud position switch is also discussed by Metsblog.com’s Matthew Cerrone. Beyond just d’Arnaud’s health, a move from behind the plate could be inevitable since the Mets are “in LOVE” (capitalization added by Cerrone) with catching prospect Kevin Plawecki.  Cerrone isn’t sure if d’Arnaud’s bat would play quite as well in left as it does at catcher, so he suggests that d’Arnaud could also possibly become a trade candidate this winter.
  • That said, Newsday’s Marc Carig (via Twitter) hears from a team source that the Mets “have little to no interest in trading d’Arnaud.”
  • While many of the Mets’ younger players have performed quite well this season, the team has underachieved due to David Wright‘s off-year and GM Sandy Alderson’s misses in the free agent hitters’ market, John Harper of the New York Daily News opines.  Curtis Granderson has only a .688 OPS and is still owed $47MM from 2015-17, while Chris Young has already been released.

New York Notes: Sabathia, A-Rod, Myers

C.C. Sabathia received a stem cell injection in his right knee last week and will be out of action until at least July, Yankees GM Brian Cashman tells Joel Sherman of the New York Post.  Cashman said he has checked in with teams about trade possibilities and while “nothing has materialized,” Cashman “will keep an eye out to see if something does.”  Three-fifths of the Bombers’ regular rotation is currently injured, with Ivan Nova out for the season and Michael Pineda on the DL until mid-June at the earliest.

Here’s the latest from the Yankees and Mets in this roundup of Big Apple baseball news…

  • Alex Rodriguez told advisers last summer that he was considering retirement rather than go through a lengthy battle with Major League Baseball over his record PED suspension, reports Teri Thompson, Bill Madden, Michael O’Keeffe, Christian Red and Nathaniel Vinton of the New York Daily News.  A-Rod was convinced to fight his suspension, however, after consulting with Desiree Perez, a New York nightclub manager affiliated with Jay Z and who also played a role in Robinson Cano signing with the Mariners.  Rodriguez may have been motivated to listen to Perez in part because, as the article states, he would like to become a player agent, possibly with Jay Z’s Roc Nation Sports agency.
  • Back when Wil Myers was still a Royals prospect, Kansas City offered him to the Mets for a trade package of Jonathan Niese and Zack Wheeler, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News tweets.  Myers, of course, ended up being the centerpiece of the five-player package the Royals sent to the Rays in exchange for James Shields and Wade Davis.  It’s an interesting what-if to ponder for both the Mets and Royals; Myers would’ve given the Amazins a cornerstone player in the outfield, but at the cost of two quality young arms.  For K.C., Shields was the better win-now move, though he had only two years of team control and Davis has become a relief pitcher.  Wheeler is controllable through the 2019 season while Niese’s five-year contract has club options that could’ve extended the deal through 2018.
  • Also from Martino, he looks at some trade possibilities for the Yankees and Mets this summer.  The Mets looked at LaTroy Hawkins, Fernando Rodney and Grant Balfour over the winter and could explore trading for veteran closer help, plus shortstop could still be a position the Mets are looking to upgrade.  As for the Yankees, they could also use shortstop help but acquiring a big name could be awkward given the awkwardness of benching Derek Jeter during his final season.  A move for Diamondbacks shortstop Didi Gregorius makes sense for both New York clubs.
  • Particularly in the wake of the Sabathia news, the Yankees also need starting pitching.  Martino writes that while the Yankees may not have the prospect depth to attract a major trade chip, their financial resources could help them take big contracts off the hands of losing teams.  Possible trade candidates in this vein could be the Diamondbacks’ Bronson Arroyo or the Blue Jays’ Mark Buehrle or R.A. Dickey (if Toronto falls out of the race, that is).
  • In an Insider-only piece for ESPN.com, Paul Swydan criticizes both the Mets front office and manager Terry Collins for some transactions and personnel moves that Swydan feels “have left the Mets in an all-too-familiar middling position.”

Mets Notes: Wheeler, Syndergaard, Johan, Byrdak

The Mets didn't exactly dazzle fans with their signing of Chris Young but they could be planning to do something a little more exciting in the weeks to come.  The Mets are among the clubs that have been connected to Nelson Cruz and they are still said to have interest in Curtis Granderson.  If GM Sandy Alderson & Co. want to get in on Cruz, however, it could prove to be costly.  The former Rangers outfielder is said to be seeking a four-year, $75MM deal.  More out of Queens..

  • Andy Martino of the New York Daily News wonders if the Mets are going to make a big splash this winter. Martino hears that the Mets were scared by the two-year, $16MM deal that Marlon Byrd landed. At the same time, the Mets have decided to hold a hard line on trading young pitchers like Zack Wheeler and Noah Syndergaard. It's hard to see how they can land an impact bat without dealing one of their desirable impact arms. Martino adds that there is "gossip" around the Mets about GM Sandy Alderson engaging clubs in talks for three-way deals.
  • Agent Chris Leible tells Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet (via Twitter) that client Johan Santana is now throwing from 90 feet in Florida and his shoulder feels much better.  There's currently no timeline set for the one-time Mets ace to sign.
  • More from B-NS, who hears from agent Mike Mosa that Tim Byrdak wants to continue pitching.  Byrdak recovered from left shoulder surgery to pitch in eight games for the Mets in September.  The 40-year-old has a 4.32 ERA with 10.4 K/9 and 4.8 BB/9 across parts of three seasons with the Mets. MLBTR's TIm Dierkes noted ten days back (via Twitter) that two clubs had asked for medicals on the southpaw.