Zack Wheeler Rumors
The Nationals rewrote Major League history on Sunday in yet another sign that the beleaguered franchise has turned the proverbial corner. Bryce Harper and Steve Lombardozzi became the first rookies to hit back-to-back home runs to lead off a game in the modern era. Here's the latest odds and ends from around the league as we look forward to Monday's amateur draft...
- Alfonso Soriano is open to being traded to a contender as he concedes his career is winding down at 36, reports Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times. Soriano has made himself an attractive trade candidate with a 2012 slash line of .267/.311/.460, but remains unlikely to be moved thanks to his hefty contract. The Cubs owe Soriano the remainder of his $18MM salary for this year and $36MM over the next two seasons.
- Cubs manager Dale Sveum hasn't seen team president Theo Epstein or scouting chief Jason McLeod in days and that's because they are in lockdown mode for Monday's amateur draft, says Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. "Theo and Jason and Jed (Hoyer), they've had a whole different system in the draft, and obviously it's worked pretty well," Sveum said. "The high picks they had in Boston panned out pretty good." Equipped with the sixth pick in the draft, the Cubs are expected to take high school center fielder Albert Almora or Puerto Rican shortstop Carlos Correa based upon projections from Baseball America.
- Look for the Mets to consider making minor moves at the trade deadline rather than taking on salary to acquire an expensive veteran, writes Matthew Cerrone of MetsBlog.com. Cerrone points to Buster Olney's comments on Sunday night in which he stated that the team is focused on the big picture when Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler arrive in Queens in as soon as 14 months.
The Marlins will break in their new ballpark tonight when they host the Cardinals and the regular season gets started in earnest. Here are some links from the NL East...
- The Mets "have taken a step backward in the short term" Mike Puma of the New York Post writes in his season preview. Puma points out that David Wright will look to prove himself worthy of an extension and suggests pitching prospect Matt Harvey could be called up by July.
- Mets VP of player development and amateur scouting Paul DePodesta took questions in a Baseball Prospectus chat yesterday and explained that he'll be thrilled if Harvey and Zack Wheeler become dependable starters in the Major Leagues. "If they do, we'll be happy with the results in the long run," DePodesta added.
- Commissioner Bud Selig told Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post that the Nationals are generating lots of buzz this spring. "In terms of people talking about a club that is clearly coming on, it’s the Nationals,” Selig said. The commissioner credits Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg for providing fans with "hope and faith.”
- The trade front is now quiet with the Mets, tweets ESPN's Jerry Crasnick. He says R.A. Dickey is staying put, Jason Isringhausen probably will stay, and Chris Capuano, Scott Hairston, and Tim Byrdak are available but probably will also stay. Mets GM Sandy Alderson said yesterday that he doesn't expect more trades.
- Carlos Beltran's agent Scott Boras will seek a five-year, $70MM deal in free agency, reports Matthew Cerrone of MetsBlog. I can see four years and $52MM if a team extends itself, but Beltran will be 35 in April of next year.
- New Mets prospect Zack Wheeler spoke to reporters today, noting that he found out about his inclusion in the Beltran trade by watching ESPN and he's happy about joining his new team.
The Giants have the worst offense of any National League contender, so GM Brian Sabean pounced on the best hitter available. The Mets officially announced today they've traded right fielder Carlos Beltran and cash considerations to San Francisco for pitching prospect Zack Wheeler. Reportedly, the Mets are sending $4MM to the Giants in the trade.
Beltran (pictured) is hitting .289/.391/.513 with 15 home runs in 419 plate appearances, in what has already become his healthiest season since 2008. Signed by the Mets to a seven-year, $119MM free agent contract before the 2005 season, Beltran's agent Scott Boras negotiated a clause preventing his team from offering arbitration at the deal's conclusion. Such an offer was no sure thing anyway, with Beltran earning $18.5MM this year. About $6.5MM of that remains, of which the Mets are assuming $4MM. Since Beltran has 10-and-5 rights, the trade took 24 hours to become official. The Braves, Red Sox, Pirates, Rangers, Indians, and Phillies had also been involved in trade talks for Beltran.
Wheeler was a big price to pay for two months of Beltran's services. The Giants' sixth overall pick in the 2009 draft, the hard-throwing righty has a 10.0 K/9 in High-A ball this year. The consensus among Keith Law, Baseball America, and Kevin Goldstein is that Wheeler is among the top 36 prospects in the game.
Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.
3:11pm: The Giants and Mets have reached a tentative agreement on a Beltran trade, report Rosenthal and Morosi.
2:27pm: The Mets will pay $4MM of the $6MM remaining on Beltran's contract, an executive not directly involved with the trade tells Sherman. The number is confirmed by ESPN's Buster Olney (Twitter link).
1:30pm: If nothing happens in the next 24 hours to scuttle the deal, it's just Wheeler for Beltran and cash, tweets Sherman. The Mets are sending a significant amount of money, tweets SI's Jon Heyman.
12:17pm: Carlos Beltran is going to the Giants, tweets Yahoo's Tim Brown, with logistics being worked out. Just minor details remain, tweets SI's Jon Heyman. ESPN's Buster Olney tweets that the two teams are at the one-yard line, while Brown reminds us that a 24-hour waiting period applies since Beltran has 10-and-5 rights. The Phillies are just barely hanging on for Beltran, according to multiple reports.
The latest from ESPN's Jayson Stark...
- The Rangers and Phillies are the favorites for Padres closer Heath Bell, with the Cardinals, Angels, Braves, and Reds also in the mix.
- One executive Stark spoke to wouldn't be surprised to see a dark horse like the Reds or Brewers make a late run at Mets right fielder Carlos Beltran.
- An official who spoke with the Rays over the weekend said that while they're not trading James Shields, they'll decide later this week on players like Johnny Damon and Kyle Farnsworth. B.J. Upton could be dealt even if the team closes its 6.5 game wild card deficit.
- The Rays and Blue Jays have been scouting each other's farm systems recently. One scout speculated that the Jays could join a three-team Upton trade somehow.
- One team says Brian Sabean's off-limits prospects are Zack Wheeler, Heath Hembree, and Gary Brown, along with Brandon Belt. That'd leave the team without any top 50 prospects to move, with Francisco Peguero and Ehire Adrianza in the next tier based on Baseball America's preseason rankings. There's also Double-A lefty Eric Surkamp, who brought his ERA down to 2.00 yesterday.
- The Phillies are steering teams to their High-A Clearwater club, as they don't want to trade big leaguers and not to add much more than a million bucks in payroll. Jonathan Singleton, Brody Colvin, Trevor May, Sebastian Valle, and Jiwan James are names to watch there assuming Jarred Cosart is untouchable. Stark says the Phillies have cooled on Beltran and Hunter Pence is a long shot, so the focus is now the back end of the bullpen. Heath Bell is the top target, with Brandon League also on the radar.
Saturday afternoon linkage..
- Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe tweets that the Red Sox and White Sox have been scouting each other a lot in the past week, and it's not just for the upcoming series between the two. Speculation here (from Steve Adams), but both Edwin Jackson and Carlos Quentin were rumored to be potential White Sox trade chips earlier today, and both could help in Boston.
- Phillies prospect Brody Colvin left last night's start because of a groin injury, not because of anything trade-related, tweets FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal.
- Giants GM Brian Sabean says that his list of untouchables list is different than public perception, tweets Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle. Schulman wonders aloud if this means that Zack Wheeler might not be an untouchable.
- Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos has been making more calls than any other GM, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.
- The Cardinals aren't looking to move Colby Rasmus but they're exploring every possible way to improve, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports.
Steve Adams also contributed to this post.
The Carlos Beltran rumors kept streaming in yesterday. Here's a quick recap: the Giants are having some trouble matching up with the Mets; the Indians' interest is cooling; the Mets aren't worried about obtaining Beltran's permission for a deal; The Tigers are focused on pitching; the Rangers have some interest in Beltran; the Brewers would like to scrape together a package and it's too early to rule out the Phillies, Red Sox, Braves or Yankees. Here are today's rumors with the most recent updates up top:
- Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal (via Twitter) notes that if the Mets deal Beltran, he cannot officially approve the trade until 24 hours later. This means that the deadline to trade him is effectively 3:59pm EST Saturday.
- It is highly doubtful that the Giants would part with Zack Wheeler or that the Phillies would move Domonic Brown in a deal for Beltran, tweets Buster Olney of ESPN.com.
- The Mets contacted Scott Boras, Beltran's agent, if his client would be open to the idea of returning to the Mets in the offseason if traded, two sources tell David Waldstein of the New York Times. They were informed that Beltran would consider the idea of re-signing with the Mets.
- Jon Heyman of SI (via Twitter) thinks its highly doubtful that the Braves would part with Mike Minor in a deal for Beltran.
- The Mets are interested in Zack Wheeler, Brandon Belt, and Gary Brown of the Giants and Domonic Brown of the Phillies, tweets Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated. The Braves, he adds, also have prospects of interest.
- The Reds have discussed Beltran, according to John Fay on the Cincinnati Enquirer.
- Some baseball people expect Beltran to use his no-trade clause to ensure that he remains in the National League, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.
- Beltran's full no-trade clause will likely force the Mets to have a few deals lined up days prior to July 31 so that they can move on from one proposal to another should Beltran veto one, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com.
- The trade talks are down to five serious teams, according to ESPN.com's Buster Olney (Twitter links). The Red Sox, Giants, Phillies, Braves and Rangers are involved. The Pirates and Indians are basically out of the conversation, according to Olney. The Mets thought the Giants were the frontrunner two days ago, but other teams have since caught up.
- The Giants, Phillies and Braves appear to be the leaders in the Beltran sweepstakes, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com. The Brewers are also a possibility.
- Beltran told Newsday's David Lennon that he would prefer to stay in the National League. The outfielder prefers not to DH more than once per week and will consider a team's pitching staff before accepting a deal.
- A Mets official told Joel Sherman of the New York Post that there are six or seven active suitors for Beltran. The Mets were watching Braves Triple-A lefty Mike Minor closely yesterday, according to Sherman.
Outspoken Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is a candidate to own a baseball team someday, but as ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark explains, he faces a number of obstacles. Here’s Stark’s analysis of Cuban and other notes from around MLB:
- Bud Selig sees Cuban as a “squeaky wheel,” according to Stark’s sources. The commissioner does not appear to have interest in an owner who wants to be the story or who will “overtly challenge him publicly."
- Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. would like to strengthen his bullpen and he has checked in on a number of relievers, according to Stark.
- Scouts covering the International League say the Rays appear to be evaluating two of their outfielders, Desmond Jennings and Brandon Guyer, in possible anticipation of a B.J. Upton trade. It wouldn’t be surprising if the Rays listen on offers for Upton, but it would be surprising if they weren’t evaluating their own minor leaguers. Stark reported earlier in the week that the Rays are not likely to trade Upton this summer.
- Rival scouts have been eyeing the Giants’ Class-A affiliate in San Jose, especially Heath Hembree, who was recently promoted to Double-A, and top pitching prospect Zack Wheeler.
Mets owner Fred Wilpon offered some revealing comments about his players and his finances in recent interviews with the New Yorker and Sports Illustrated. Here’s the latest on the Mets, including more fallout from Wilpon’s words:
- Carlos Beltran told Newsday’s David Lennon that he’s not an incomplete player, as Wilpon suggested (Twitter link). "I'm not 65 or 70 percent,” Beltran said. “I'm 100 percent."
- Mets ownership has chosen a preferred bidder to buy a minority stake in the team, according to Josh Kosman and Lenn Robbins of the New York Post. The Mets are in advanced talks with a group led by former commodities trader Ray Bartoszek and investor Anthony Lanza, according to the Post.
- The Mets' front office has not yet provided manager Terry Collins with guidelines for using Francisco Rodriguez, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post. If the closer finishes 55 games, a $17.5MM option vests for 2012, something the Mets would surely like to avoid.
- Sherman can only see a team trading for Rodriguez as a setup man or part-time closer.
- Giants prospect Zack Wheeler told Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group that he’s happy in the Giants organization, but finds it flattering to hear himself mentioned as possible trade bait for players like Jose Reyes. "It is a compliment, but also you're with a really good franchise right now that treats pitchers really good and they're good at developing pitchers," Wheeler said.