The Mets would like to re-sign left-handed reliever Jerry Blevins, who was terrific in 2016, and perhaps add another southpaw to their bullpen, according to Adam Rubin of ESPN.com. However, they’re unlikely to make any commitments without having answers from their top two free agents – outfielder Yoenis Cespedes and second baseman Neil Walker. General manager Sandy Alderson said earlier this week that he wants clarity on Cespedes’ intentions by Dec. 8, the end of the winter meetings. Cespedes will surely reject the Mets’ qualifying offer by Monday’s deadline, but Walker “could go either way,” per Rubin (click for Twitter links).
Now for a few AL East notes:
- The Red Sox sent a Manuel Margot-headlined haul to San Diego for closer Craig Kimbrel last Nov. 13, but the deal looks good for Dave Dombrowski & Co. exactly one year later, opines Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald. Although Kimbrel wasn’t elite this past season, having delivered a 3.40 ERA to go with a bloated 5.6 BB/9 in 53 innings, Mastrodonato argues that the Sox struck at the right time to acquire him. The price to land high-end relievers either through trades or free agency has skyrocketed since then, as evidenced by the midseason deals involving Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller and the record contracts Chapman, Kenley Jansen and Mark Melancon will soon receive on the open market. “We have a closer now, we had to pay a heavy price for it but we felt it was worth it,” Dombrowski told Mastrodonato. Barring a sharp decline, Kimbrel should serve as the Red Sox’s closer at least until his current contract runs out after the 2018 season.
- The Orioles could tab Roger McDowell or Frank Viola to replace the departed Dave Wallace as their next pitching coach, per Roch Kubatko of MASNSports.com. Kubatko cautions that the Orioles will have to act quickly if they want to hire McDowell, who is also drawing interest from other clubs. McDowell served as the Braves’ pitching coach over the previous 11 seasons, while Viola has held that role for the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate – Las Vegas – since 2014.
- The Red Sox need to start considering long-term contract extensions for their young standouts, writes Tim Britton of the Providence Journal. Teams like the Cubs, Astros and Pirates have benefited from locking up core talent to club-friendly deals in recent years, and the Red Sox could do the same with shortstop Xander Bogaerts, center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. and right fielder Mookie Betts, Britton contends. Boston hasn’t yet initiated extension talks with any of them, and Britton notes that one potential holdup is the lack of a new collective bargaining agreement. It’s worth noting, too, that all three players are already under control for the next few years. Their days of playing for minimal salaries are about to end, though, as Bogaerts and Bradley are now eligible for arbitration and Betts will join them next year.