The emergence of Brandon Nimmo has left Jay Bruce as something of an odd man out with the Mets, opines Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Sherman notes that the Mets’ outfield in 2019 and beyond is likely to include Nimmo, Michael Conforto and Yoenis Cespedes, making it more difficult for Bruce to secure regular at-bats (barring a move to first base, which would come at the expense of the younger Dominic Smith). According to Sherman, Bruce can block trades to the Orioles, Mariners, Blue Jays, Rays and Athletics, but he can be shipped anywhere else without his consent. Sherman runs through some speculative possibilities in which Bruce, who is owed $28MM from 2019-20, could be swapped out for a player earning at a comparable rate. Of course, it’s also worth noting that Nimmo’s bat has declined in each month of the season since a torrid start, while Cespedes and (to a lesser extent) Conforto come with injury question marks.
- The Mets are considering Blue Jays assistant GM Tony LaCava and Rays special assistant Bobby Heck as candidates to be their next general manager, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. Neither man has been a GM before, though both LaCava and Heck have a wealth of front office experience, particularly in the areas of scouting and player development. LaCava has been with the Blue Jays since 2002, when J.P. Ricciardi (now a Mets special advisor) was Toronto’s GM. Heck has been with the Rays since 2012, following lengthy stints with the Astros and Brewers that saw him play a notable role as both those clubs amassed a strong collection of young talent.
- Mets third baseman David Wright will begin a rehab assignment Sunday, and there’s optimism the long-injured captain will actually return to the major leagues. Manager Mickey Callaway told Tim Healey of Newsday and other reporters Saturday that, in his opinion, “there’s a very good chance” Wright will suit up again for the Mets. Upper body injuries have kept the 35-year-old Wright off a major league diamond since May 2016. He’s signed through 2020 on an eight-year, $138MM contract.
In a rare piece of encouraging news for the woebegone Mets, the team announced that injured third baseman David Wright will begin a rehab assignment on Sunday, when he’ll play five innings for the club’s Class-A affiliate in St. Lucie. It’s not clear whether the 35-year-old Wright has a real chance to return this season, but if he does come back, it would be one of the greatest triumphs of the 2018 campaign. After all, a laundry list of upper body injuries limited Wright to just 75 appearances from 2015-16 and have completely kept him out of MLB action over the past couple years. The seven-time All-Star hasn’t appeared in a major league game since May 27, 2016, or a minor league contest since Aug. 26, 2017.
3:01PM: “Several Mets officials” hope that Ben Cherington becomes a general manager, SNY.tv’s Andy Martino writes. Cherington, the former Red Sox GM and current Blue Jays VP of player development, was recently cited as a potential candidate in reports. While he recently said that he is happy with his job in Toronto, Cherington also said he’d be open to considering an opportunity to run a front office once more. Josh Byrnes, however, may not be in the running, as he has told colleagues that he will likely remain in his current role as the Dodgers’ senior VP of baseball operations.
10:49AM: With Sandy Alderson unlikely to return as the Mets’ general manager in 2018, the team is beginning to lay the groundwork for its search for a new baseball operations leader. Mike Puma of the New York Post reports that Cardinals director of player development Gary LaRocque is one of the early candidates “receiving consideration” from Mets ownership, though the GM hiring process won’t fully begin after the season since the Mets will need permission from rival teams to interview several candidates.
LaRocque is a known figure within the organization, having previously worked for the Mets from 1998-2008 as scouting director, director of player of development, and then as assistant general manager. The 65-year-old LaRocque has never been a general manager, though he has over 40 years of experience in various front office roles, as a scout, and as a minor league coach and manager in the Dodgers’ farm system. This track record of overseeing and developing young talent, as well as LaRocque’s familiarity with the Mets, make him a logical candidate for the team as it moves into what could be a mini-rebuild, though New York held off on dealing any of its true roster cornerstones (i.e. Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard) at the trade deadline.
LaRocque also has the sort of old-school front office resume that is reportedly the preference of Mets owner Fred Wilpon, as Puma writes that “the growing belief is Wilpon will look toward a more traditional baseball person” as the next general manager. While more teams are increasingly turning towards younger executives with analytics backgrounds to run their baseball operations departments, as the 81-year-old Wilpon isn’t likely to hire the type of younger executive “with whom he would perhaps have difficulty connecting.”
This stance isn’t likely to be popular with Mets fans, who are already displeased with the team’s lack of recent success and the common perception that the Wilpon family takes too a heavy hand in the Mets’ day-to-day baseball operations. Puma also notes that some Mets officials feel that the Alderson front office “became too analytics driven in recent seasons.”
Mets assistant GM John Ricco has long been considered to be a candidate to eventually take over the top job, and though he is still in the running, Puma reports that New York is “more likely” to hire its new general manager from outside the organization. Ricco and special assistants J.P. Ricciardi and Omar Minaya have been acting as a three-person management unit in Alderson’s absence, and it appears as though the trio will have at least some influence in the hiring process. Minaya in particular “will have a strong voice in the search,” Puma hears from sources.
- Although he has been among the worst players in baseball this season, 35-year-old infielder Jose Reyes is hopeful of continuing his career in 2019 and would like to do so with the Mets. “Of course I’d want to come back,” Reyes told Howie Kussoy of the New York Post this week. “My body feels good. I feel healthy. We’ll see if there’s an opportunity.” An opportunity could be difficult to come by next year for Reyes, a .186/.261/.281 hitter across 184 plate appearances this season. Despite that disastrous production, though, the Mets haven’t been willing to cut the cord on the longtime franchise staple thus far.
In a recent interview with 94 WIP sports radio in Philadelphia, just-retired outfielder Jayson Werth was critical of agent Scott Boras, saying (via Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post): “I had offers in November, and I was advised by my former agent to wait. Ill-advised, I guess.” The 39-year-old Werth, who largely struggled with the Nationals from 2015-17 and ended up signing a minor league contract with the Mariners in late March, added that he personally “called every team [but one] and tried to get a job.” That one team? The Mets, whom Werth “wouldn’t play for” after spending his career with the division-rival Phillies and Nats. Boras issued a response to Werth’s comments Wednesday, saying (via Janes, on Twitter): “Unfortunately, it appears someone has misled Jayson. We contacted all 30 teams numerous times during the offseason on his behalf, and we have phone logs, emails, and other records to back it up. We received no offers for Jayson in November, or otherwise. We are always prepared to support our work against inaccuracies spread by third parties. We understand the frustration and disappointment players can face and wish Jayson all the best.”
More from around the game…
- Even though former Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright will turn 37 years old on Aug. 30 and is in his second straight injury-plagued season, he suggested Wednesday (via Joe Trezza of MLB.com) that he hopes to pitch in 2019. “I want to see how things end,” Wainwright said. “But it would be really surprising to me if I came out and said I’m retiring.” A free agent at season’s end, Wainwright has made three DL trips this year (two on account of elbow issues) and hasn’t pitched in the majors since May 13.
- It “remains highly doubtful” Braves righty Mike Soroka will pitch again this season, Mark Bowman of MLB.com tweets. Soroka has been out since June 19 with inflammation in his pitching shoulder, and he still hasn’t been cleared to begin throwing again, according to Bowman. The highly touted 21-year-old began his major league career in promising fashion earlier this season, with a 3.51 ERA and 7.4 K/9 against 2.5 BB/9 in 25 2/3 innings, but it appears the Braves will have to make do without him for the remainder of 2018. They currently lead the Diamondbacks by half a game for the NL’s second wild-card spot.
- The Dodgers have placed reliever Daniel Hudson on the 10-day DL and recalled ambidextrous reliever Pat Venditte from Triple-A, per Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. Hudson’s dealing with right forearm tightness – a potentially ominous injury for the 31-year-old, especially considering he’s already a two-time Tommy John surgery recipient. To this point, the Dodgers have gotten a good return on their investment in Hudson, whom they signed to a minor league deal in the first week of April. Hudson has tossed 43 2/3 innings this year and posted a 3.92 ERA with 8.2 K/9 against 3.7 BB/9.
Here are today’s minor league moves, with the newest transactions at the top of the post…
- The Mets outrighted Kevin Kaczmarski to Triple-A after the outfielder cleared waivers, according to MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo (Twitter link). New York designated Kaczmarski for assignment last Thursday. Kaczmarski, a ninth-round pick for the Mets in the 2015 draft, has an even .800 OPS (.301/.382/.418) over 1469 career PA in the minor leagues. He made his big league debut this season, appearing in four games for the Mets.
- The Mets have signed infielder Dylan Tice and left-hander Matt Gage to minor league deals, Anthony DiComo of MLB.com tweets. Both Tice and Gage had been playing independent ball before catching on with the Mets. The 25-year-old Tice was most recently in affiliated ball from 2015-16 with the Cardinals, who chose him in the 36th round of the 2015 draft. Gage, a 10th-round selection of the Giants in 2014, had been with the San Francisco organization until earlier this season. Also 25, Gage opened 2018 with a 3.18 ERA and 6.0 K/9 against 1.2 BB/9 in 22 2/3 innings at the Double-A level.