- Mets manager Mickey Callaway told Deesha Thosar of the New York Daily News and other reporters that there is “no timeline” on a potential return for Robert Gsellman, though they “haven’t ruled out him coming back” in 2019. A partial lat tear seemingly ended Gsellman’s season back in mid-August, though the reliever has been playing toss with no ill effects reported. With less than two weeks remaining in the regular season, the odds are still against Gsellman getting back into New York’s bullpen, though there’s at least some hope now rather than last month’s more grim diagnosis.
Hanhold will be exposed to the other 29 teams via waivers, though he could remain with the Mets organization if he goes unclaimed. Otherwise, the team could trade or release the right-hander, which would send him to the third organization of his career.
Hanhold, 25, hasn’t yet pitched in the Majors this season, having made just three career appearances for the Mets, all of which came a season ago. A former fifth-round selection, he has posted good, if not great, numbers at Triple-A this season: in 63 1/3 appearances, Hanhold has pitched to a 3.84 ERA, striking out 54 batters while walking 26.
29-year-old Donnie Hart will return to the Mets’ 40-man after he was outrighted just over a week ago. He’s tossed just one inning for the Mets this year, but will now have a chance to get into more games as a lefty specialist. He’s got solid career numbers after breaking in with the Orioles, but has gotten only limited opportunities to show his worth in the Majors this year.
- The Mets have named Terry Collins a senior advisor for player personnel, Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets. Collins had already been serving as a special assistant to general manager Brodie Van Wagenen, so it’s unclear what new responsibilities he’ll take on in a changed role. Of course, the 70-year-old isn’t far removed from a run as the Mets’ manager. He held that job from 2011-17 – a span in which the team went 551-583 with two playoff trips, including a World Series appearance in 2015.
It has only been a little over five weeks, so it’s too soon to judge with finality how this year’s trade deadline maneuvers will play out. That said, we’re already half of the way through the period — the regular season portion, at least — for which rental players were acquired. Even players with future control are usually added first and foremost for their immediate contributions (though there are some exceptions). It’d be awfully premature to say anything conclusive about the prospect side of any deals, but we do now have some additional information with which to work.
So, that’s why we’re going to take a glance back over our shoulders at the moves (and major non-moves) that organizations made in the run-up to this year’s trade deadline. We already covered the AL Central, NL Central, and AL East; now we’ll go to the National League East …
There was an argument for the Braves to consider rotation and even outfield improvements at the trade deadline, but the club ultimately focused on the bullpen after the mid-June signing of Dallas Keuchel. Otherwise, the club swung just one other deal, a minor swap of cash for catching depth in the form of John Ryan Murphy.
So, what about those relievers? The club picked up Chris Martin (link), Shane Greene (link), and Mark Melancon (link). That seemed like a sturdy trio, but each got off to an exceptionally rocky start. Thankfully, things have stabilized. Martin sports a 15:1 K/BB rate in Atlanta; Melancon sits at 20:2 and hasn’t yet blown a save in nine chances (though it may not seem that way). Greene gave up a pair of runs in his last outing, but that broke a 13-appearance scoreless streak.
On the other side of the coin, the price paid never figured to hurt the Braves too badly, as they largely parted with upper-level pieces that were stacked behind other prospects. If there’s one that could hurt, it may be Joey Wentz, who posted a 37:4 K/BB ratio while allowing just six earned runs in 25 2/3 innings with the Tigers’ Double-A affiliate after coming over in the Greene trade. Utilityman Travis Demeritte, who went with him, has struggled in brief MLB action. The Martin swap cost another young left, Kolby Allard, who has put a shine on a solid overall campaign by running a 3.78 ERA over six big league starts. He’s succeeding largely by limiting the long ball, which may not be fully sustainable, but his stuff has trended up noticeably since his brief debut last year with Atlanta. Tristan Beck, the key piece in the Melancon swap, has generated good results at the High-A level since the deal.
So, what about the possible needs in other areas? The starting staff has continued to be an internal operation (including Keuchel). While it’s not exactly an ace-laden outfit, the Braves do have plenty of depth and will likely plan to stack pitching in the postseason rather than hoping for lengthy starts. Position-player depth has been an issue, but the club has managed to find solutions by being one of the most aggressive accumulators of players in September. Minor-league signings and claims brought the team Adeiny Hechavarria, Billy Hamilton, and Francisco Cervelli. While it’s certainly arguable the Braves could or should have made at least one more significant addition, the overall approach of supplementing the existing roster has certainly not prevented the team from performing at an impressive level of late.
The D.C. organization pursued something like a Braves-lite strategy, landing its own trio of relief arms but doing so at another tier lower than did the division leaders. Southpaw Roenis Elias (link) and righties Daniel Hudson (link) and Hunter Strickland (link) all arrived on deadline day to buttress a bullpen that has been a source of turnover and turmoil all season long.
Elias was arguably the biggest piece of the three, but has contributed the least due to injury. It’s an unlucky break, though the Nats still can salvage value from the deal by tendering him a contract for the next two seasons to come. The two right-handers have become important pieces in the late-inning mix of the rightly maligned Washington relief corps. Hudson owns a 2.40 ERA in 15 frames, with 9.0 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9; Strickland is sitting at a 4.40 ERA over 14 1/3 innings, with 6.3 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9. They’ve each allowed three home runs.
Securing the services of Elias meant sending Elvis Alvarado and Taylor Guilbeau to Seattle. The control problems of the former disappeared in a dozen-inning rookie ball stint after the trade, so perhaps the Seattle staff helped him figure something out. Gilbeau, 26, has earned his first time in the majors. In eight innings, the southpaw has been tough on lefties (.176/.263/.294) while being knocked around a bit by righties (.267/.353/.467). Another young lefty went to Seattle in the Strickland deal. Aaron Fletcher has thrown 13 innings of 3.46 ERA ball with 15 strikeouts and three walks in 13 Double-A innings. Adding Hudson cost 23-year-old Kyle Johnston, whose solid High-A numbers have tanked since the swap. He carries a brutal 13:20 K/BB ratio in 19 2/3 innings with the new organization.
Add it all up, and the Nats can’t be terribly displeased … but also haven’t been overwhelmingly boosted by their mid-season additions. Indications are that the club was working under tight payroll constraints this summer, so that’s to be expected. Fortunately, infielder Asdrubal Cabrera came cheap. He has been aflame since being signed as a September free agent. The club is still in very good position for the Wild Card, but has to wonder how far it will be able to advance with such an unreliable relief unit.
After adding Jay Bruce earlier in the summer, the Phillies probably wanted to improve their pitching. But they didn’t end up matching their rivals in that regard — not even close, in fact.
Outfielder Corey Dickerson was the team’s biggest addition in the run-up to the deadline, in fact. The primary cost was his remaining salary, with the club also agreeing to send the cross-state Pirates some international bonus capacity and a PTBNL. Dickerson may not even have been added had it not been for Bruce’s health issues. It has turned out to be wise move, as Dickerson carries a .300/.313/.592 batting line through 134 plate appearances.
Taking on money was also a driver in the Jason Vargas deal. The veteran southpaw has taken the ball eight times for the Phillies, managing a 5.01 ERA over 41 1/3 innings with a 1.63 K/BB ratio. That’s a downgrade from the results he posted with the Mets before the trade — 4.01 ERA with 2.08 K/BB ratio — though he’s much the same pitcher by most measures.
Those moves have certainly helped the Phils hang in the Wild Card race, though the club could obviously have stood to make greater improvements. Minor deals for Mike Morin, Jose Pirela, and Dan Straily haven’t delivered a ton of benefit. Morin has seen 21 innings of action but owns a 5.14 ERA. Pirela has seen limited action in the majors, while Straily hasn’t been asked onto the 40-man roster.
Much like their competitors in the division, the Phils have made several additions by signing released players or placing post-deadline claims. Those methods have brought in Drew Smyly, Blake Parker, Nick Vincent, Logan Morrison, and Jared Hughes to help keep things afloat. While more significant reinforcements surely would’ve been preferred, the organization just wasn’t willing to pay what it would have cost.
The most surprising deadline approach came from New York, with the Mets deciding to chase dwindling postseason aspirations. While the organization was rewarded with an inspired run of play, it still seems likely the club will fall short of its goal.
It seemed as the deadline drew nigh that the Mets would function as sellers. Zack Wheeler was an obvious trade piece, with a variety of other veterans also possibilities to move. Instead, the club pursued a stunning swap for local product Marcus Stroman while sending Vargas to the Phils to help offset the cash.
Parting with Vargas hasn’t hurt, though it was curious to see him go to a division rival. Trouble is, Stroman hasn’t been any better. He’s carrying a 5.05 ERA in 35 2/3 frames. While he’s surely a better bet going forward than the aging lefty, Stroman will need to rein in the number of balls leaving the yard (1.8 per nine since the deal). Adding Stroman meant that the Mets ponied up another chunk of young talent from a farm that had already parted with key pieces. Most analysts felt the cost — Anthony Kay and Simeon Woods Richardson — was rather reasonable, though both hurlers have trended up since joining their new organization.
The real head-scratcher in all of this was that the Mets stopped with only the addition of Stroman. He was and is a piece with 2020 value as well, of course, but the club left its bullpen entirely unimproved. The club did go on to add Brad Brach as well as second bagger Joe Panik when they came available in September. Brodie Van Wagenen’s first trade deadline will be an interesting one to revisit down the line.
It was a low-key fascinating trade period for the Fish. Not because they made sell-side moves — that was obvious — but because they ended up shipping out young talent.
It all got started innocently enough, as rental reliever Sergio Romo was sent to the Twins in a deal that netted first baseman Lewin Diaz. The youngster’s batting average and OBP dove with his new club, but he is still showing good power at Double-A. Unfortunately, the deal also cost the Fish 22-year-old righty Chris Vallimont. He had put up solid numbers all season long and finished with a bang, posting a 28:4 K/BB ratio and 3.63 ERA over 22 1/3 High-A innings.
It might have been supposed that the Marlins would try to spin off a few other veterans, with Neil Walker and Curtis Granderson among the short-term players that could hypothetically have been moved. Instead, the Miami club turned to cashing in controllable MLB pitching for buy-low position-player prospects.
First came an intriguing intra-state deal. The Marlins parted with righties Nick Anderson and Trevor Richards in order to pick up young outfielder Jesus Sanchez and reliever Ryne Stanek. With Anderson dominating and Richards performing quite well, there could be some second-guessing here. Then again, Sanchez is a well-regarded young player. He slashed .246/.338/.446 in 78 plate appearances at Triple-A after the swap. That’s hardly a big showing in this year’s hot offensive environment, but it was an improvement over his work in the Rays organization and he’s still just 21 years of age.
At least as surprising was the deal that saw rookie righty Zac Gallen head to the D-Backs in exchange for Jazz Chisholm. Entering the season, this swap would’ve seemed ridiculous. But the two players involved headed in quite different directions. By the time the deal was struck, the former was in the midst of a breakout season, with the age and cheap control needed to serve as a part of a new core. But the Marlins elected to cash in his breakout to take a shot at the long-lauded Chisholm, who had shown big strikeout numbers at Double-A (33.8%). Gallen has continued to excel in Arizona, raising the stakes for Chisholm. But the 21-year-old shortstop did trend up after the move, paring back the Ks and slashing .284/.383/.494 (156 wRC+) in 94 plate appearances with the Marlins’ Double-A affiliate.
It’s impossible to say how this slate of transactions will look in the long run, but it’ll be fun to track these intriguing deals from the rebuilding Marlins.
Though he has remained adamant about his desire to remain with the Mets, that doesn’t mean Noah Syndergaard is content with every aspect of his relationship with the team. Joel Sherman and Kevin Kernan of the New York Post reported today that the big righty has been displeased all season with throwing to primary catcher Wilson Ramos, preferring instead reserve Tomas Nido (or perhaps third-stringer Rene Rivera). Thor’s wrath has spawned a full-blown BatteryMateGate involving lengthy internal meetings and multiple engagements with the media. Ultimately, Mets manager Mickey Callaway and GM Brodie Van Wagenen explained that the club has to take into account more than the preferences of a given pitcher. In addition to being highly compensated and well-respected, Ramos is one of the team’s best hitters. While none of the organizational leaders cracked the whip on the star hurler, they didn’t indicate any inclination to bend on the topic. Callaway put it in particularly blunt terms: “You can’t make everybody happy and it’s not about making guys happy. It’s about winning at this point.” Whether this matter will carry over into the future, if not even impact Syndergaard’s long-term status in New York, remains to be seen.
The Mets are set to welcome one of their offseason additions, as infielder Jed Lowrie has been activated from the injured list, according to Tim Healey of Newsday. In addition, Dominic Smith has been transferred to the 60-day injured list and right-hander Drew Gagnon has been recalled from Triple-A.
Lowrie, one of the Mets’ significant signings of the offseason, has yet to play a game in his new uniform due to a series of left leg injuries affecting the knee, hamstring, and calf. Lowrie, 35, inked a 2-year, $20MM contract with the Mets but began the season on the injured list with a left knee capsule strain that emerged in Spring Training. However, a hamstring strain in May delayed the timetable for his recovery, and it seems that rehab subsequently snowballed into a complicated mess of recovery and re-injury.
With Robinson Cano and Todd Frazier installed at second and third base, respectively, it’s unclear just how much playing time Lowrie will receive. In that regard, not much has changed since Lowrie was signed, when the fit appeared questionable, given the team’s invested in Cano and the presence of promising youngster Jeff McNeil. At the very least, he’ll be able to offer some return on the first year of the Mets’ investment. He’s coming off a pair of productive seasons in Oakland, posting a cumulative OPS of .804, including a career-best 23 home runs last season. While he likely isn’t at full health yet, the Mets will hope for signs that Lowrie isn’t far off those numbers—not only for this season, but with an eye on 2020 as well.
Meanwhile, Smith may very well have played his last game this season; now on the 60-day IL, the earliest he could return would come in the final week of the regular season. If indeed his season is over, he’ll close the book on a breakthrough age-24 season in which he has slashed .278/.352/.506 in a part-time role. However, Anthony DiComo of MLB.com reports that there’s a chance he could be cleared to make another appearance or two, as he’ll be reevaluated in his recovery from a stress fracture in his left foot.
These are the latest players to be outrighted after being designated for assignment …
- Marlins catcher Wilkin Castillo is headed back to the Triple-A roster after being outrighted, per the PCL transactions page. The 35-year-old had returned to the majors this season for the first time since 2009, though he only appeared in two contests. An exceptionally versatile player, Castillo has spent most of his professional career behind the dish but has also lined up at every other position on the field. (Only barely. Though he has five pitching appearances, Castillo has logged just one inning in center field.)
- The Mets outrighted southpaw Donnie Hart to their top affiliate after he cleared waivers, the International League transactions page reflects. Hart, who turns 29 tomorrow, has spent time this year with the Mets and Brewers. He previously appeared in parts of three seasons with the Orioles. While Hart carries a 3.13 ERA in 89 career MLB innings, that relies heavily upon his unsustainable debut showing (one earned run in 18 1/3 innings in 2016). Though he hasn’t been much of a strikeout pitcher in the big leagues, the soft-tossing lefty does have a career 54.1% groundball rate.
Right-hander Jeremy Jeffress, officially released by the Brewers yesterday, has drawn some level of interest from several teams, tweets Yahoo’s Matt Ehalt. The Reds, Mets, Phillies, Rays and even the Brewers are among the teams who’ve inquired about the 2018 All-Star.
Jeffress isn’t postseason eligible, having been cut loose in September, but some of the interested teams would apparently like to proactively lock him up to a deal that covers the 2020 campaign (perhaps via a club option). That’d help to explain Milwaukee’s reported interest in bringing the righty back; the Brewers clearly had no intention of exercising Jeffress preexisting $4.3MM option for the 2020 season, but they (or another suitor) could conceivably try to hammer out an option at a lower base salary with some additional incentives. Any team signing Jeffress would only owe him the prorated league minimum for the remainder of the current season.
It’s also possible, though, that Jeffress could simply sit out the remainder of the season and explore opportunities this winter. He was on the injured list due to a hip ailment at the time of his release, and there’d surely be some benefit to an extended period of rest for the righty. He’ll likely have offseason minor league offers with decent base salaries (though less than the previous $4.3MM) at the very least, meaning there’s no rush to sign at the moment. There’ll surely be teams who are only interested in adding him after the current season draws to a close, so waiting until November to take a deal would widen his market.
Open-market circumstances surrounding Jeffress will always be somewhat atypical, given the right-hander’s history. He’s served multiple minor league suspensions for drugs of abuse (i.e. marijuana) and was charged with a DWI while pitching for the Rangers in 2016. That track record surely contributed to the club-friendly deal Jeffress signed with Milwaukee prior to the 2018 season, which came with two team options at relatively low base rates and plenty of yearly incentives based on innings pitched and games finished.
Jeffress’ release earlier this week marked the end of a radical downturn in performance. The right-hander logged a 1.29 ERA with 10.5 K/9, 3.2 BB/9, 0.59 HR/9 and a 56.4 percent ground-ball rate in last year’s All-Star season before unraveling in the playoffs. He then missed the first several weeks of the 2019 season due to shoulder fatigue.
Upon activation in mid-April, Jeffress pitched well for two months, logging a 2.52 ERA and a 26-to-9 K/BB ratio through his first 22 appearances (25 innings). Since that time, he’s scuffled with an ERA north of 7.00 and a deflated strikeout rate. Jeffress’ velocity has actually improved a bit as he’s distanced himself from the early shoulder fatigue, but the aforementioned hip ailment has added another injury to the ledger. In all, he’s turned in 52 innings with a 5.02 ERA, 8.0 K/9, 2.7 BB/9, 1.00 HR/9 and a 48.4 percent ground-ball rate while enduring a pair of IL stints in 2019. The upside a healthy Jeffress brings to the table is enormous, but he’s struggled to produce consistent results over the past three seasons.
When Robinson Cano went down with a torn left hamstring on Aug. 5, appearances were that the accomplished infielder was likely going to miss the remainder of the 2019 season. Amazingly, at 36 years old, Cano has progressed well enough in his recovery that he will return to action for tomorrow’s game with the division-rival Nationals, according to Mike Puma of The New York Post (link). Cano concluded a two-game rehab appearance with the short-season Brooklyn Cyclones on Sunday.
With Cano out of action, the Mets have split keystone duties between Jeff McNeil and free agent pickup Joe Panik. Production hasn’t been powerful from the veteran Panik, who has offered a .265/.315/.338 line in a limited sample of 74 plate appearances. That said–as has been said before–it’s not as if Cano was his vintage self while wearing a Mets uniform this year, either.
In his first year in Flushing, the eight-time All-Star has hit .252/.295/.415 with 10 home runs in 346 plate appearances. That’s not what the Mets had in mind when they acquired him in an essentially franchise-altering trade this offseason, but even a shade of the Dominican’s former greatness would be greatly welcome as the Mets try to mount a 4.0 game deficit in the NL Wild Card race. After this season, Cano will have four years and $96MM remaining on the ten-year/$240MM contract he signed with the Mariners in 2013.
The Mets have re-signed infielder Ruben Tejada to a minor league contract, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports (Twitter link). Tejada won’t yet be part of the expanded September roster in New York, as he’ll report to Triple-A Syracuse for now.
It was only a brief separation between the two parties, as the Mets just released Tejada earlier this week. He’ll continue to provide backup infield depth at Triple-A, and is probably ticketed back to the big leagues before too long. The 29-year-old has appeared in six games for the Mets this season after signing his initial minors contract back in March. That six-game stint marked Tejada’s Major League appearance since 2017, as he spent 2018 with Baltimore’s Triple-A affiliate and didn’t receive a call-up, ending a string of eight consecutive years of MLB action.
Tejada was hitless over nine plate appearances in those six Mets games this season, but he has a very strong .330/.408/.476 slash line over 304 PA for Syracuse.