- The Yankees and Mets are hardly frequent trade partners, though Newsday’s David Lennon suggests that Lucas Duda could be the answer to the Yankees’ need at first base. With Tyler Austin and the still-injured Greg Bird both unproven commodities at first, Lennon argues that Duda is a proven slugger that can help fill that positional need for the Bronx Bombers, and he could be available if the Mets are indeed open to moving veteran players. After an injury-plagued 2016, Duda has rebounded to hit .253/.365/.565 with 13 homers over 200 PA for the Mets. As a free agent after the season, Duda also wouldn’t represent a long-term roadblock for Bird or Austin at the position.
- While the Mets are reportedly open to dealing veterans, Rosenthal says that Jerry Blevins is maybe the least likely of those players to switch teams. Blevins is enjoying his second consecutive excellent year in the Mets bullpen, and since the team plans to contend again in 2018, exercising the $7MM club option on Blevins would be a good way to lock up some reliable left-handed relief.
5:56pm: Unhappy about being bumped to second base upon his activation today, Cabrera says he has asked to be traded. (Video via MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo, on Twitter.) He also suggested he indicated a willingness to move to another part of the diamond earlier in the year if the team would pick up his 2018 option, but the Mets weren’t interested (via another DiComo tweet).
2:14pm: The Mets are “open for business now,” in the words of ESPN.com’s Buster Olney (via Twitter), whose report suggests the organization is preparing to throw in the towel on a snakebitten season. Per Olney, the Mets are amenable to dealing away a variety of veteran assets.
As things stand, New York is buried a dozen games back of the division-leading Nationals and yet further out of a largely uncompetitive NL Wild Card race. With several of the organization’s best players on the DL (or otherwise battling injuries or performance issues), it’s hard to see a path to the postseason.
Among the players that could be marketed, per Olney, are outfielders Curtis Granderson and Jay Bruce, infielder Asdrubal Cabrera, and reliever Addison Reed. There are other older players on short-term contracts, too, who will presumably be shopped. First baseman Lucas Duda and southpaw Jerry Blevins appear to be the most likely additional trade candidates on the roster, with veteran infielder Jose Reyes perhaps also being a possibility (though he has struggled). Second baseman Neil Walker would also be an option, at least once he’s back from the DL.
None of those players seem like plausible candidates to receive qualifying offers, so the Mets will need to cash them in over the next five weeks or let them walk for nothing. It’ll be interesting to see just how the deadline develops for the Mets, who have been in the postseason in each of the past two seasons and came into 2017 with high expectations. Despite the step back this year, the club will no doubt still be looking to field a competitive roster next year. That stance could shape the club’s approach to the deadline.
New York will be looking for answers at several positions next year. Third base remains an open question with David Wright still unavailable and Reyes slated to return to free agency, while it’s still unclear whether the team will exercise its option over Cabrera. Even if top prospect Amed Rosario steps in at short, Cabrera could conceivably take over at second for the departing Walker or even slide over to the hot corner. It’s possible that youngster Domonic Smith could take over for Duda at first, though otherwise that’s another area with questions.
There are a few internal options on hand, of course, in addition to Rosario and Smith. Wilmer Flores could slot in at a variety of infield spots and there are some other young infielders on the 40-man. In the outfield, Michael Conforto will handle everyday duties opposite Yoenis Cespedes, likely leaving Brandon Nimmo (or some outside alternative) to platoon with Juan Lagares in center. And while there’ll inevitably be some holes to patch in terms of pitching, the rotation ought to be set (knock on wood) and the bullpen will welcome back Jeurys Familia as the closer. Blevins could also be retained to represent a lefty setup man, as he’s controllable via option.
- Mets second-rounder Mark Vientos is taking home an over-slot bonus of $1.5MM — about $405K higher than the No. 59 slot’s value, tweets MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo. The high school shortstop’s bat is strong enough to play at third base if he has to move to the hot corner down the line, as many scouting reports believe will be the case. He’s projected to hit for power and had been committed to Miami before signing.
10:15pm: The Mets only expect Wheeler to require a minimal DL stint and are hopeful that he’ll miss just one start, writes MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo.
“It’s just sore. It’s sustained soreness,” said Wheeler. “It might just be from coming back from two years without throwing, I don’t know. All I can do is just take my time off and try to get better physically, and sort of just reset while I am trying to clear this thing up.”
5:11pm: The Mets announced that they’ve placed right-hander Zack Wheeler on the 10-day DL due to biceps tendinitis in his right arm. The team has also optioned infielder Matt Reynolds to Triple-A Las Vegas and, in a pair of corresponding moves, recalled right-handers Tyler Pill and Erik Goeddel from Vegas.
[Related: Updated New York Mets depth chart]
Wheeler, 27, returned to the mound in 2017 after missing the previous two seasons due to Tommy John surgery and lingering complications. After a hot start to the season, he’s cooled off and seen his ERA balloon to 5.29 thanks to a pair of starts in which he’s been tattooed for 15 earned runs in just 3 2/3 innings. He becomes the sixth Mets starter to land on the disabled list this year, as Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey and Tommy Milone are currently on the DL, while Steven Matz and Seth Lugo were only recently activated.
With Wheeler on the shelf for a yet-undetermined amount of time, the Mets will rely on Jacob deGrom, Matz, Lugo and Robert Gsellman as starters. Presumably, Pill will also be reinserted into the starting mix as well. Wheeler’s workload would’ve become an issue at some point anyhow, so the placement on the disabled list could at least effectively “conserve” some innings for later in the season, assuming he’s able to return to the mound as a starter.
The injury is merely the latest in a season that has been punctuated by health troubles as well as communication issues when it comes to the team’s medical procedures. As MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo points out (Twitter link), Mets officials insisted just yesterday that there was nothing physically wrong with Wheeler, only to place him on the disabled list roughly 24 hours later. In addition to the myriad pitching injuries that were previously mentioned, the Mets have also seen extended absences for Yoenis Cespedes, Neil Walker, Lucas Duda and David Wright, among others.
The Mets have released outfielder Desmond Jennings, per an announcement from the team’s Triple-A affiliate. He had been playing there on a minors deal since early April.
Jennings spent the spring with the Reds, but headed back to the open market after it was decided he wouldn’t crack the Opening Day roster. He caught on with New York despite the team’s crowded outfield depth chart.
The 30-year-old Jennings — a productive regular before knee injuries intervened — slashed .237/.301/.415 over his 229 plate appearances at Las Vegas prior to his release. He did drive eight long balls, but the once-prolific base thief was just 3-for-6 in his stolen-base attempts.
In the aggregate, Jennings didn’t do enough to convince the Mets to clear a 40-man spot to add him when a need arose at the MLB level — as just occurred when Juan Lagares hit the DL. Instead, New York promoted youngster Brandon Nimmo and sent the veteran Jennings back into free agency.
The Mets’ injury woes deepened today — again — as the team learned that center fielder Juan Lagares has suffered a fractured IP joint in his left thumb (h/t Anthony DiComo of MLB.com, on Twitter). He appeared to suffer the injury during action in this evening’s game.
While it’s obviously too soon to know just how long the Mets may expect to go without Lagares, a DL stint seems inevitable. He’d join infielders Asdrubal Cabrera, Neil Walker, and David Wright among position players on the disabled list. Fellow outfielders Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto have also been banged up of late, though both are active, and the team has a variety of pitchers currently on the shelf.
It remains to be seen how the Mets will handle this latest malady, but it stands to reason that the club will want another center-field-capable outfielder on hand. The arrow could point to 24-year-old Brandon Nimmo, though he hasn’t exactly been lighting up the stat sheet at hitter-friendly Las Vegas (.223/.361/.378). Veteran Desmond Jennings is also available, though he’d require a 40-man spot and is hitting only .233/.299/.416 himself.
The Mets announced today that second baseman Neil Walker and right-hander Matt Harvey are both expected to miss the next “several weeks” due to injuries. Gavin Cecchini is being recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas to take Walker’s spot on the roster.
Walker underwent an MRI that revealed a partially torn hamstring, for which he has received a platelet-rich plasma injection. Harvey, meanwhile, was diagnosed with a “stress injury” to his scapula bone following an MRI and a CT scan. He, too, received a PRP injection but will have to wait to begin a throwing program.
In Walker’s case, it’s likely just a matter of waiting until the injury has healed and then allowing him to ramp back up. A three to four week timeline is often cited for grade 2 hamstring strains; while New York was far less specific than that here, that seems to represent at least some benchmark to consider. Still, Walker has been on fire at the plate and his loss is significant.
As for Harvey, a longer-term asset for the Mets, the injury is the latest in a line of worrying ailments to his throwing arm. The one-time ace initially returned from Tommy John surgery with aplomb, but hasn’t been the same since thoracic outlet syndrome symptoms crept up and ultimately required surgery. Harvey will hit the DL with a 5.25 ERA and more questions than ever about his future.
In further Mets injury news, GM Sandy Alderson told reporters today that ace Noah Syndergaard is still at least four weeks away from beginning a throwing program (Twitter link via the New York Post’s Mike Puma). That’s not exactly surprising, though at one point there was at least some hope of a speedier timeline for Syndergaard, who is dealing with a lat tear.
Meanwhile, Alderson faced questions about the decision to call upon Cecchini — and continue to rely on struggling veteran Jose Reyes — rather than handing over the shortstop position to top prospect Amed Rosario. The veteran executive acknowledged that the production (from Reyes and injured starter Asdrubal Cabrera) hasn’t been reliable this year, but suggested Rosario wasn’t viewed as an immediate answer. “The question is if changes would make us better,” he said. “Right now, we’re comfortable.” Though it seems that the youngster could still become an option later this year, Alderson said the organization has “some good players here” and doesn’t want to bring up Rosario until he’s likely to stay for good.
The White Sox will activate righty James Shields to make a start on Sunday, as JJ Stankevitz of CSN Chicago reports (Twitter links). That’ll leave plenty of time for the veteran to show not only that he’s back from a lat strain, but also that he still has some gas left in the tank. Shields, 35, turned in three solid starts to open the year after a terrible 2016 season. Possible trade suitors will be looking to see whether he can manage extended productivity between now and the deadline.
Here’s more on the injury front:
- Mets second baseman Neil Walker appeared to suffer a left hamstring injury while trying to leg out a bunt single in tonight’s game. The club did not reveal any details in an official announcement, though the team did state that Walker is already slated to undergo an MRI tomorrow. Not coincidentally, perhaps, infielder Gavin Cecchini was removed from the Triple-A Las Vegas lineup, as Betsy Helfand of the Las Vegas Review Journal tweets.
- There were also some fresh concerns on the pitching side of the equation for the Mets. Matt Harvey was hooked after four innings and 58 pitches, as David Lennon of Newsday reports (Twitter links). He’ll head in for a medical check tomorrow after what he called a “fatigued” outing in which his fastball velocity dropped as low as 87 mph — a level that, per Harvey, he hadn’t visited since he was a freshman in high school. Also, before the game, the Mets placed lefty Josh Smoker on the DL with a left shoulder strain. New York was forced to lean on the reliever for four innings and 81 pitches last night. Righty Rafael Montero will return to the majors in his stead.
- The Red Sox saw another starter leave with an injury tonight, as southpaw Brian Johnson exited with what the team is calling left shoulder discomfort, as Jen McCaffrey of MassLive.com reports. While all involved expressed hope that the issue wouldn’t turn out to be anything significant, Johnson will be given a full checkup in Boston tomorrow to be sure.
- The Cubs are weighing a DL move for Ben Zobrist, as Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune was among those to report. His left wrist isn’t healing up as hoped, so Zobrist will be looked at more closely tomorrow. If he’s not able to suit up, then a DL placement seems likely.
- There’s some positive news on Angels southpaw Tyler Skaggs. As Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register tweets, the 25-year-old is heading to the team’s spring complex with an eye on making back to the majors by early July. Hell be hoping to finally put an end to the string of injuries that have slowed his promising career. Skaggs is currently working back from an oblique strain.
- Also now looking toward a return is Rangers lefty Cole Hamels. As Stefan Stevenson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports, Hamels could take a rehab start on Friday — the same day that Tyson Ross is set to make his Rangers debut. That could potentially line Hamels up to return to the majors before month’s end. That’s promising news for a Texas team that is off to a middling start to the season. The Rangers are also likely to welcome back first baseman Mike Napoli and outfielder Carlos Gomez in the coming days.
- Things aren’t looking as promising for Padres righty Jarred Cosart. According to AJ Cassavell of MLB.com, on Twitter, Cosart has been diagnosed with a flexor strain. He’s not yet ready to begin throwing and will partake in some rehab efforts at the club’s spring facility.
- Finally, the Dodgers are holding their breath as prized young lefty Julio Urias reports to Dr. Neal ElAttrache for a look at his shoulder. As Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times reports (Twitter links), soreness in the joint has forced the 20-year-old to the DL at Triple-A. Things haven’t gone as hoped this year for Urias, who showed immense promise in 2016. He largely struggled in five MLB starts and was carrying higher-than-usual walk totals at Triple-A.
While Cabrera launched two home runs yesterday, the lingering issue with his thumb has evidently become significant enough to warrant a rest. His prognosis is not specifically known, though it seems there’s little reason at this point to expect an extended absence.
As Marc Carig of Newsday notes (Twitter links), the switch-hitting Cabrera has been bothered especially while hitting from the right side. With left-handed starters scheduled for the next two days, the club evidently found the timing right to allow him to rest up.
At the same time, the Mets are surely at least thinking about alternatives. The 31-year-old Cabrera has not replicated his productive 2016 season at the plate, though with a .244/.321/.392 slash he hasn’t been a problem at the plate. (That’s good for a 94 wRC+, just under league average.) Trouble is, Cabrera relies on the bat to carry him as an everyday player. Thus far, he has rated as a clear negative in the field and on the bases.
Adding to the intrigue is the fact that Jose Reyes has scuffled to a .188/.261/.293 batting line. He’ll likely slide over to shortstop for now, with the hot-hitting Wilmer Flores stepping in at third. But there’s obvious appeal to the idea of promoting top prospect Amed Rosario, who is performing quite well at Triple-A. The Mets are understandably uninterested in using him as a patch, but at some point perhaps they will decide he’s ready to try to take over the shortstop position more permanently.