New York Mets – MLB Trade Rumors 2020-02-20T14:02:28Z WordPress Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Camp Battles: Mets’ Rotation]]> 2020-02-20T14:02:28Z 2020-02-20T14:00:54Z We looked yesterday at the rotation battle in Phillies’ camp. Now, let’s head across the division and see what’s kicking with the Mets.

Last year’s Mets staff was loaded with talent, but didn’t necessarily produce to its ceiling. Even with Jacob deGrom running out to a second-straight Cy Young award and Zack Wheeler setting the stage for a $110MM contract — one he signed with those rival Phils — the unit managed only a  cumulative 4.25 ERA, good for a solid but underwhelming 12th in the game. The staff was still one of the top seven rotations leaguewide by measure of fWAR, but suffice to say the Mets’ best path to a successful season involves a starting group that out-produces virtually all others in baseball.

With Wheeler gone, new Mets skipper Luis Rojas has indicated that only deGrom is assured a rotation spot as camp gets underway. That characterization seems designed to motivate and avoid categorization of existing players. It’s all but impossible to imagine that Noah Syndergaard or Marcus Stroman will be banished to the bullpen. But it’s also a reflection of the fact that the Mets very clearly designed a battle/depth situation at the back of the rotation.

Let’s consider the depth chart …

  1. deGrom, duh
  2. Syndergaard, who has a ceiling as high as any pitcher in baseball
  3. Stroman, acquired last summer with the idea he’d replace the outgoing Wheeler

How does it shape up from there? Let’s look at things by group …

There’s little doubt that the plan is to keep two of these three hurlers in the rotation. If everyone is healthy, the leftover arm will presumably slide into a long relief role. The candidates:

  • Rick Porcello: You hate to say that a contract guarantees a particular role, but the Mets assuredly didn’t promise Porcello ten million bucks to slot his durable arm and craft-over-power stuff into the pen. That said, the veteran righty is looking to bounce back from a rough 5.52 ERA effort and isn’t promised anything (beyond that cash) in a must-win season for the Mets.
  • Steven Matz: The southpaw is the incumbent here and he owns a sturdy career 4.05 ERA. Trouble is, Matz has been dogged by health issues and some inconsistencies. Rojas spoke of some of the challenges facing Matz, who’ll need to earn his hold on a spot in the 5-man unit. He’ll earn $5MM in his second-to-last season of arbitration eligibility.
  • Michael Wacha: It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out for the 28-year-old, whose general career trajectory has been fairly similar to that of Matz. Both have shown the ability to be high-grade starters but also endured stretches of subpar performance and related health issues. He’s only guaranteed $3MM but can earn quite a bit more through incentives, which only adds to the motivation.

Beyond that, things fall off and get quite a bit more speculative. Let’s start with the experienced big leaguers:

  • Seth Lugo/Robert Gsellman: Both of these swingmen have functioned as starters and relievers in the majors. The former morphed into a highly effective reliever last year and doesn’t seem likely to shift out of that role. There’s really no indication that Gsellman will be a serious rotation candidate either. Still, these names are worth considering as part of the broader picture.
  • Erasmo Ramirez: That’s roughly the same situation for the team’s last remaining pitcher with substantial MLB experience. Ramirez has had some real success in the bigs, though his performance — and opportunities — have dwindled in the past few seasons. Bringing him on was like signing a trust veteran catcher to take up residence at Triple-A: you hope you don’t really need him, but feel comfortable calling upon him if you have to.

Otherwise, no pitcher in camp has completed a full season of MLB service. Several have debuted, though it’s tough to say this smattering of arms is laden with upside:

  • Stephen Gonsalves: Once a rather well-regarded prospect, Gonsalves had an ugly 2018 debut and then struggled with arm issues last year. Just what kind of form he’s in remains to be seen … that’s why it’s a camp battle!
  • Walker Lockett, Corey Oswalt, Yefry Ramirez, Pedro Payano: These righties are all in the 25-26 age bracket. They’ve each been drubbed in limited big league chances and have never been seen as a high-ceiling hurlers. But they also each showed either an ability to generate solid results (Lockett, Oswalt) or nice strikeout numbers (Ramirez, Payano) in a tough Triple-A environment last year. Lockett and Oswalt have 40-man spots.
  • Rob Whalen: Another guy in that age range (he recently turned 26), Whalen has shown a fair bit of promise at times in the minors. He halted his career owing to depression and anxiety, thus missing the 2019 season, so it is not yet clear just where he’ll fit upon his return to the Mets organization.

If all that fails, or some youngster shows a spark, the Mets could look to a few would-be MLB debutantes. The slate of options includes some reasonably interesting names:

  • David Peterson: A 2017 first-rounder, Peterson logged a solid Double-A effort last year (116 innings of 4.19 ERA ball with 122:37 K/BB ratio). It’ll be interesting to see how he handles the Triple-A launching pad.
  • Franklyn Kilome: The former Phillies prospect is working back from Tommy John surgery and hasn’t yet appeared in a Mets uniform. He’s a former top-100 prospect, so … who knows?
  • Thomas Szapucki: The 25-year-old southpaw made his own return from TJS last year and showed he can still get minor-leaguers to swing and miss. He’s a fairly interesting guy to watch but has just one Double-A game under his belt. Importantly, like Kilome, he also presently occupies a 40-man roster spot.
Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Latest On Jed Lowrie]]> 2020-02-19T07:30:08Z 2020-02-19T07:30:08Z The first season of the union between the Mets and infielder Jed Lowrie couldn’t have gone much worse. Signed to a two-year, $20MM contract after back-to-back terrific seasons with the Athletics, Lowrie appeared in just nine games in 2019 while battling multiple leg injuries. There’s at least some that hope he’ll be able to contribute in the second season of his deal, though.

Lowrie’s wearing a leg brace at the outset of spring training, but he’s facing “no limitation” and “is full go in practice,” according to manager Luis Rojas (via Deesha Thosar of the New York Daily News). However, there still isn’t a timeline for when he’ll be able to participate in regular-season games.

Even if Lowrie does wind up healthy enough to take the field for a sizable portion of 2020, it’s unclear how much playing time he’ll receive. The switch-hitting 35-year-old has spent most of his career in the middle infield, but the Mets already have second baseman Robinson Cano and shortstop Amed Rosario as up-the-middle starters. Likewise, Lowrie won’t get much of any time at first base because of the presence of Pete Alonso. He does have over 1,000 innings of major league experience at third, but the Mets have Jeff McNeil there, and they’re not giving up on J.D. Davis as an option at the hot corner.

Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Latest On Yoenis Cespedes ]]> 2020-02-18T04:12:41Z 2020-02-18T04:12:41Z
  • It has been a trying couple years for Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, a former star. The 34-year-old missed a sizable chunk of time from 2017-18 and didn’t take the field at all last season as a result of various injuries, including one suffered during a run-in with a wild boar. The Mets then amended Cespedes’ contract back in December, dropping his 2020 salary from $29.5MM to $6MM. Cespedes is now working to return to form in the wake of a long layoff, but he wasn’t cooperative with the media Monday after the Mets’ first full-squad workout, as Deesha Thosar of the New York Daily News relays. Asked if he’d discuss his offseason, his general health or the boar encounter, he offered, “Not today, not tomorrow, not at all this year.”
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Mets Notes: Lowrie, Adams]]> 2020-02-17T01:18:03Z 2020-02-17T01:18:03Z
  • Jed Lowrie’s first season with the Mets saw him limited to eight plate appearances and nine games due to a variety of leg problems, and these injury concerns appear to still be an issue heading into the 2020 campaign.  Lowrie wore a brace on his left leg during his first day in Spring Training camp, and told reporters (including Deesha Thosar of the New York Daily News) that the brace “alleviates my symptoms and makes me feel like myself.”  Aside from saying that his left knee was the main cause of his leg problems, Lowrie didn’t provide much detail on his condition, saying that he was planning to participate in camp exercises with an eye towards being ready for Opening Day.  It remains to be seen how (or even if) Lowrie will be deployed by the Mets this season, as he’ll be fighting for playing time within their crowded infield and might yet still end up on another team, if the Mets can find a taker for his contract.
  • Matt Adams might be the latest name to join the Mets’ outfield picture, as the veteran tells Newsday’s Tim Healey that he is working out as a left fielder.  Adams appeared in 34 games as a left fielder in 2017-18 but left field is “still a fairly new position for me, so the more reps the better,” he said.  “I think just getting with the coaching staff and seeing how I can incorporate both — get my work in at first base, get work in in the outfield and get more comfortable out there.”  Adams signed a minor league deal with the Mets last month, and since his natural first base position is blocked by Pete Alonso, any positional flexibility can only help Adams’ chances of winning a spot on the 26-man roster.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Rays Notes: Montreal, Sternberg, Mets, Roster]]> 2020-02-16T06:25:16Z 2020-02-16T06:24:48Z Conflicting reports have emerged about a potential sale within the Rays’ ownership group, as Montreal businessman Stephen Bronfman told Rejean Tremblay of Le Journal De Montreal (hat tip to’s Ryan McKenna for the translation) that a Bronfman-led group of investors would buy a minority share of the Rays within a few months’ time.  This statement was denied by no less than Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg himself, who told Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times that “there’s nothing happening in months. No way.”

    As Sternberg, Bronfman, and Major League Baseball continue to explore the possibility of the Rays splitting their home schedule between St. Petersburg and Montreal come the 2028 season, Sternberg said that Bronfman’s group “eventually, at a point, I would expect and believe they could and would become minority partners….I need some representation up there.”  A partial sale wouldn’t happen, however, until construction is actually in progress on a new stadium in Montreal, Sternberg stressed.  That ballpark is still very much in the conceptual stages, as land has yet to be secured and the city of Montreal has yet to approve any building.  Still, Bronfman and the Rays are hopeful of having their two-city idea green-lit by MLB by the end of the year.

    Some more from Tampa…

    • Speaking of ownership, Topkin writes in a separate piece that neither Sternberg or Rays minority owner Randy Frankel were planning a bid to potentially buy the Mets.  After plans to sell the club to Steve Cohen fell through, the Wilpon and Katz families still intend to sell the Mets.  Frankel “was involved with a group that expressed interest in 2011” in purchasing the Mets, Topkin writes, while Sternberg is a Brooklyn native who was a Mets fan growing up.  Of course, a Sternberg bid for the Mets would also require him to sell the Rays to another buyer.
    • Assuming no major injuries, the Rays may only have three undecided roster spots to figure out by Opening Day, Topkin writes.  Michael Perez, Kevan Smith, and Chris Herrmann will be battling for the backup catcher position, one bullpen spot will be filled from a plethora of in-house arms, and it remains to be seen whether the Rays will use their 26th roster slot on another reliever or another infielder.  Yoshitomo Tsutsugo’s ability to handle third base could be a deciding factor, as if the newly-signed slugger is capable, the Rays could have enough extra infield depth between Tsutsugo and Joey Wendle to take on the extra reliever.  Whatever the team chooses to do with their 26-man Opening Day roster, of course, can be adjusted during the season — Topkin floats a scenario that would see the Rays start the season with the extra infielder, but then call up an pitcher for extra relief depth during a busy stretch of 30 games in 31 days between April 3 and May 3.
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Zack Wheeler Heard “Crickets” From Mets In Free Agency]]> 2020-02-15T05:06:03Z 2020-02-15T04:49:13Z Phillies right-hander Zack Wheeler and the Mets are engaged in a public feud. Wheeler, a Met from 2013-19, joined the Phillies on a five-year, $118MM contract during the offseason. However, Wheeler indicated Thursday that he had hoped to remain with his longtime team, revealing (via Greg Joyce of the New York Post) that he reached out to the Mets to gauge their interest in re-signing him before he became a Phillie. But Wheeler said he only heard “crickets” from the Mets, adding: “Because it’s them. It’s how they roll.”

    Wheeler went on to suggest the Mets are a dysfunctional organization, but general manager Brodie Van Wagenen took exception to his comments. Van Wagenen expressed “surprise” in regards to Wheeler’s statements, per Tim Britton of The Athletic. The GM also noted, “I feel like this organization supported him in giving him the opportunity to reach major league success.” He then took a shoot at Wheeler, contending, “Our health and performance department, our coaches, all contributed and helped him parlay two good half-seasons over the last five years into $118MM.”

    It should be pointed out that Wheeler has produced palatable results in every season but 2017 – his first year back from a March 2015 Tommy John procedure that helped cost him two campaigns. He has otherwise totaled three seasons with at least 180 innings and ERAs somewhere in the threes. The hard-throwing Wheeler was statistically one of the most effective starters in baseball from 2018-19, during which he put up a 3.65 ERA/3.37 FIP ERA with 8.91 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9 in 377 2/3 frames. Considering that, Van Wagenen’s snipe doesn’t ring true.

    Neither side may look great in this situation, but the spat does make a division rivalry even more interesting. Both teams are looking up at the Braves and the Nationals in the NL East, though all four are arguably good enough on paper to at least compete for the division. Wheeler was the Phillies’ big-ticket acquisition during the winter, while the Mets still boast a strong rotation even in the wake of his departure. Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Marcus Stroman and Steven Matz lead the group, and the Mets have added Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha since free agency opened.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[A-Rod Reportedly Thinking Of Entering Mets Bidding]]> 2020-02-14T20:02:49Z 2020-02-14T19:51:36Z Famed Yankees frenemies Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter, division-rival ownership/front office leaders, and only just a few years after their respective retirements from the field of play? It seems as outlandish to suggest as it is tantalizing to imagine. (More of this, please.) Then again, it didn’t seem particularly likely not long ago that A-Rod would be in a booth and that Jeter would be running the Marlins.

    We’re still a long way from that … let’s call it fascinating … possibility. But we’ve now seen the first indication that A-Rod has designs on the game’s most interesting opportunity — the availability of one of the game’s two New York-based teams. Putting the offbeat all-time great in a prominent position with the Mets is all but guaranteed to produce heretofore unseen reams of backpage headline material.

    According to Thornton McEnery of the New York Post, Rodriguez is “kicking the tires” on trying to spearhead a Mets bid. While he and spouse-to-be Jennifer Lopez are quite wealthy, even they wouldn’t have pockets deep enough to pull this off alone.

    As one A-Rod-linked source puts it: “[Rodriguez] genuinely loves the Mets. He and J-Lo have talked about him buying a team ever since Jeter got the Marlins.” It’s certainly hard to imagine a better opening coming together; owning a MLB organization isn’t the sort of opportunity that’s available on demand.

    Needless to say, there are quite a few potential obstacles to be cleared before we’ll be treated to a Wilpon-A-Rod transition. The rare shot to land a NYC-based pro sports franchise is naturally going to attract wide interest. And it won’t come cheap. Per the report, the existing ownership group is eyeing a deal in the realm of $3B — not including its ownership interest in SNY but also not coming with the hangover team control situation that seems to have scuttled the recently nixed talks with minority Mets owner Steve Cohen.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Details On Mets’ Pursuit Of Mookie Betts]]> 2020-02-13T04:43:12Z 2020-02-13T04:43:12Z Mookie Metts? It didn’t come to fruition, but the Mets did make an effort in December to acquire superstar outfielder Mookie Betts from Boston. The Red Sox ended up trading him to the Dodgers earlier this week.

    One reason talks between the Mets and Red Sox broke down? The Mets weren’t open to moving infielder/outfielder Jeff McNeil for just a year of control over Betts, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports (they also wouldn’t give him to the Indians for shortstop Francisco Lindor). However, the Red Sox regarded McNeil as “integral” to a potential trade package, according to Sherman. Understandably, the Mets weren’t going to part with the versatile, inexpensive 27-year-old after he was one of the majors’ most effective offensive players from 2018-19.

    While the Mets weren’t willing to surrender McNeil for Betts, they did offer packages centered on outfielder Brandon Nimmo and infielder/outfielder J.D. Davis (quality, affordable players in their own right), per Sherman. Those deals also would have included one of the Mets’ infield prospects in either Andres Gimenez or Ronny Mauricio, two top-100 farmhands. It seems the Mets, reluctant to absorb all of Betts’ $27MM salary, also would have tried to include one of their highly paid, unwanted veterans in outfielder Yoenis Cespedes or infielder Jed Lowrie in order to somewhat offset the money they’d have taken on had a deal with Boston gone through.

    Considering that getting under the $208MM luxury-tax threshold was one of the main causes for the Red Sox’s decision to unload Betts (and left-hander David Price with him), adding Cespedes or Lowrie wouldn’t have been palatable for them. They wound up accepting the Dodgers’ offer of outfielder Alex Verdugo and two prospects – infielder Jeter Downs and catcher Connor Wong – saving a total of $75MM in the process.

    Meanwhile, although the Mets went big-game hunting for Betts, their outfield appears as if it’ll enter 2020 with mostly the same cast. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, even though none of the team’s current options can rival Betts. However, to their credit, McNeil, Nimmo, Davis, Michael Conforto and Dominic Smith all had good seasons a year ago. It’s anyone’s guess what the Mets will get from Cespedes after injuries shelved him for the vast majority of the prior three seasons, but he’s back on a reduced salary and has always produced when healthy.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Mets Ownership Still Plans To Sell Team To A New Buyer]]> 2020-02-10T19:46:15Z 2020-02-10T19:39:30Z February 10: Mets COO Jeff Wilpon issued an additional statement on Monday:

    As spring training begins, on behalf of ownership, we would like to share more information explaining why the proposed transaction has ended, however due to confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements we are unable to do so at this time. So right now, I believe we need to focus on the future and not in the past and that’s what we intend to do. We would like to assure our fans that we will continue our commitment to winning in 2020 and beyond and we’ll work hard to earn and maintain everyone’s confidence and trust. We’ll be moving forward to find a new transaction. We will not be giving details or updates on the timeline or process until we are prepared to make a public announcement. Thank you, that’s all I can say for now.

    There’s little, if anything, within Wilpon’s statement that wasn’t already covered in the Sterling Partners statement, although it’s of some note to see a second quote (this one directly attributable to an individual member of the Wilpon family) clearly announcing ownership’s intent to find a new buyer.

    February 6: Now that the proposed deal that would have seen Steve Cohen become the Mets’ new majority owner has fallen through, the club is still going to be put on the market.  In a statement released to media, the Sterling Partners ownership group said “The transaction between Sterling and Steve Cohen was a highly complicated one.  Despite the efforts of the parties over the past several months, it became apparent that the transaction as contemplated would have been too difficult to execute.  Sterling intends now to pursue a new transaction and has engaged Allen & Company to manage that process.

    This may be relieving news for Mets fans, many of whom abhor the team’s current ownership. The duo of Fred Wilpon and Jeff Wilpon took the Mets’ reins in 2002, but success has been hard to come by since then for the club. New York has made just three playoff appearances under Wilpon leadership, and ownership has come under scrutiny time and again for the way it has handled the team.

    Had Cohen ended up as the majority owner of the franchise, he’d have reportedly taken 80 percent of the Mets for approximately $2.6 billion. Cohen would have officially grabbed the reins going into 2025, so even if the Wilpons do find someone to take his place immediately, it may be awhile before that person assumes control of the organization.

    TC Zencka <![CDATA[Michael Wacha Fighting For Rotation Spot]]> 2020-02-10T03:39:45Z 2020-02-10T03:39:45Z
  • Michael Wacha recognizes the starting depth he will be contending against in Mets camp this spring, but he’s undaunted, per Newsday’s Tim Healey. After all, as Healey points out, Wacha twice fought his way back into the Cardinals rotation last season after time in the bullpen. Of course, that might also be a sign that he’s the likeliest of the Mets’ six rotation candidates to start the year out of the money (both literally and figuratively, given the incentives in Wacha’s contract for games started). Wacha finished last season with a 4.76 ERA/5.61 FIP across 126 2/3 innings, and he’s only twice crossed the 150 inning threshold. It’ll be an uphill climb for Wacha to make the rotation by opening day, but it’s not impossible. Given the injury rate, there’s a decent chance he finds his way into the rotation at some point in 2020 regardless.
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    TC Zencka <![CDATA[Mets Notes: Nimmo, Coaching Changes]]> 2020-02-09T05:19:20Z 2020-02-09T05:05:58Z The Mets never entertained the idea of trading centerfielder Brandon Nimmo this winter, despite the rumors, and they’re excited about what he can do under new manager Luis Rojas, per Kevin Kernan of the New York Post (who notes that Nimmo played under Rojas thrice before on his way to the major leagues). An injury limited Nimmo’s effectiveness last season, sapping him of power and limiting him to just 43 games in the first half. Nimmo hit just .200/.344/.323 before the break while playing through injuries. The Mets look forward to a healthy season from Nimmo, especially after his return produced a .261/.430/.565 bounceback in September. Centerfield is a difficult position to fill league-wide, and Nimmo’s infectious personality and exceptional eye at the plate make him a valuable performer for the Mets and a key to their 2020 season. Let’s check in on some coaching changes within the Mets’ organization…

    • Former big league catcher Brian Schneider will join the Mets’ staff as a quality control coach, per’s Anthony DiComo. Schneider joined the organization this winter as the new manager of the Triple-A Syracuse Mets, though he’ll never actually take over in that role. Schneider assumes the role vacated by new manager Luis Rojas, presumably completing Rojas’ staff.
    • The ripple effects of Carlos Beltran stepping down from his post as manager of the Mets continue throughout the organization as Chad Kreuter takes over Schneider’s post as the manager in Triple-A, per Tim Healey of Newsday. Kreuter, like Schneider, is a former big league catcher. He spent the past three seasons managing the Mets’ High-A affiliate in St. Lucie. His replacement has not yet been named. 2020 will be Kreuter’s fourth season with the Mets’ organization.
    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Details On Mets’ Pursuit Of Francisco Lindor In December]]> 2020-02-08T13:24:16Z 2020-02-08T13:24:16Z The Mets were one of several teams reported to have interest in Francisco Lindor back when the Indians are seemingly testing the market for the All-Star shortstop earlier this winter.  Jeff McNeil was known to be one of Cleveland’s prime targets in talks with the Mets about Lindor, and The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal (subscription required) recently shed a bit more light on the “significant dialogue” between the Amazins and the Tribe.

    “The Mets aggressively tried to acquire [Lindor] at the winter meetings,” Rosenthal writes, noting that it would “likely” have cost New York a three-player package consisting of Amed Rosario and two prospects.  Both this proposal and Cleveland’s interest in McNeil were too much for the Mets, however, and beyond the cost in trade chips, Rosenthal has also heard from some corners that “finances played a significant role” in negotiations.

    Lindor’s salary for the 2020 season hadn’t yet been finalized by early December, though MLBTR’s Matt Swartz projected the shortstop for a $16.7MM payday in his second of three arbitration-eligible seasons.  As it happened, Lindor topped this projected number by agreeing to a $17.5MM deal for 2020, an even healthier raise than expected over the $10.55MM salary he earned in 2019.  Assuming Lindor has another outstanding year in the coming season, his arb number for 2021 now looks to fall in range of $23MM-$24MM.

    Still, something in the neighborhood of $41MM over a two-year span is more than reasonable for a player of Lindor’s caliber.  The Mets were known to be trying to move Jeurys Familia and/or Jed Lowrie in order to create payroll space, and the club hasn’t made any hugely expensive acquisitions this winter, signing Dellin Betances, Rick Porcello, Michael Wacha, and Brad Brach to one-year contracts for a combined $25.6MM in guaranteed money (a total that could rise significantly based on options and incentive clauses in the various deals).

    Taking on both a big salary and parting ways with controllable talent like Rosario, McNeil, or prospects was too much for the Mets’ liking, which isn’t an unreasonable stance.  McNeil, after all, has been outstanding in his two MLB seasons and Rosario is coming off the best of his three big league campaigns, with the 24-year-old starting to deliver on some of the potential that made him one of baseball’s best prospects.  That said, the overall crux of Rosenthal’s piece examines how the Mets are still feeling the impact of last offseason’s blockbuster trade with the Mariners, as the added salaries of Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz (who both struggled badly in 2019) have limited payroll flexibility, while moving top prospects Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn both thinned out New York’s farm system and also made the team seemingly more wary about moving any more of its top minor leaguers.

    Had the Mets not swung that deal with Seattle, who knows how the Amazins’ fate could have changed both during the 2019 season or into their business this offseason, as New York could have been more willing to take the jump on a swap for Lindor or another trade target in Starling Marte (though the Pirates also put a high asking price on Marte in talks with the Mets).

    To be fair, Rosenthal notes that as great a player as Lindor is, he “was a luxury item, not a must-have” for a Mets club that already had Rosario, plus top prospects Ronny Mauricio and Andres Gimenez coming up the pipeline at shortstop.  There’s also the fact that the Indians may not have been “especially motivated to act” on a Lindor trade, as the big returns Cleveland reportedly wanted in any potential deal indicated that the Tribe would only move Lindor if presented with a special offer.  The door now appears to be closed on the possibility of Lindor being dealt this winter, as Cleveland addressed their own payroll concerns by trading Corey Kluber to the Rangers.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Details On Steve Cohen's Failed Mets Purchase]]> 2020-02-08T06:03:01Z 2020-02-08T06:03:01Z
  • The Mets’ potential sale to minority owner Steve Cohen fell through Thursday, and now it’s possible he won’t be able to purchase another team, according to Josh Kosman and Thornton McEnery of the New York Post. The belief of the Mets and MLB is that Cohen “acted in bad faith” during negotiations, Kosman and McEnery write. Cohen had been working to buy the franchise for $2.6 billion, but he attempted to change the payment schedule, and he may have wanted to lower the overall sum. And while Cohen wouldn’t have been in line to become New York’s control person until 2025, he’d have wanted input into how the Mets were run before then. That didn’t fly for the Wilpons, the Mets’ current owners. However, the Wilpons still plan to sell the club to a different buyer.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Talks End Between Mets, Steve Cohen Over Ownership Bid]]> 2020-02-07T03:19:14Z 2020-02-07T03:06:47Z 9:06PM: Cohen released a statement to reporters (including Kevin Draper of the New York Times) saying, “I’m very disappointed we couldn’t work out a deal, but as an eight percent holder I’m looking forward to a higher bid for the team.  I want to thank the fans for their support and the respect they showed me and I want to thank Commissioner Manfred and MLB for their support through the process.  I gave it my best shot.”

    1:54PM: News broke earlier this week that hedge fund manager Steve Cohen was ending his bid to become the Mets’ majority owner, and those reports were confirmed today by no less a source than Rob Manfred.  The commissioner told reporters (including the New York Times’ Kevin Draper and the Associated Press) today that “there is not going to be a transaction” between Cohen and the Mets’ current majority owners, the families of Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz.  As to whether new negotiations could arise between the two sides, Manfred didn’t sound overly optimistic, saying “my soothsaying isn’t great. I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

    As per Tuesday’s report from Thornton McEnery of the New York Post, the proposed ownership transfer (which would have seen Cohen fully take over an 80 percent controlling share of the Mets by the 2025 season) fell through due to some proposed changes to the deal made by the Wilpons late in negotiating period.  McEnery went into further detail about these changes today in a new piece for the Post, writing that the role of team COO Jeff Wilpon going forward was under dispute.  The Wilpon family wanted Jeff to remain in his current position “and then maintain a senior role within the organization even after Cohen took over.”

    Whether this was actually the key breaking point in talks, however, remains unclear.  An unnamed former Mets employee told McEnery it is hard to believe that Jeff Wilpon’s future role would have still been unsettled this late in the process, and McEnery also wrote that “one source familiar with the talks said that Cohen was trying to change the financial terms of the deal.”

    Manfred also strongly spoke out in defense of the current Mets ownership group, saying “based on conversations with the buyer and the seller on an ongoing basis, the assertion that the transaction fell apart because of something the Wilpons did is completely and utterly unfair.”

    Cohen is still involved with the Mets, as he purchased eight percent of the club back in 2012.  There have yet to be any reports or even real speculation about whether or not he could look to divest himself of his share of the franchise entirely, or whether he will remain part of the ownership mix.  Likewise, it isn’t known if the Wilpons will continue to pursue a sale of the team, though whatever the future holds, it indeed seems like a Wilpon-to-Cohen deal isn’t happening.  As per McEnery, the Wilpons “are upset and angry with the death of this deal coming out in the press and that they are as ready to kill this deal as Cohen is.”

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Steve Cohen Reportedly Ending Negotiations To Buy Mets]]> 2020-02-04T23:09:32Z 2020-02-04T23:09:32Z New York billionaire Steve Cohen “has decided to walk away” from his bid to buy an 80 percent share of the Mets from the Wilpon family, Thornton McEnery of the New York Post reports. Rumors of the deal falling through surfaced earlier today on Barstool Radio (Twitter link), and McEnery now reports that Cohen is “deeply unhappy” with the Wilpons’ attempt to make late changes to their agreement.

    The Mets have yet to comment directly on the matter, although ownership did release the following statement in response to today’s rumors:

    The parties are subject to confidentiality obligations, including a mutual non-disclosure agreement, and therefore cannot comment.

    It was reported back in early December that Cohen, already a minority owner, was in talks with Fred Wilpon about a five-year sale plan that would see Cohen assume an 80 percent share of the team beginning with the 2025 season. The proposed arrangement would’ve seen Fred Wilpon remain the Mets’ control person and CEO for the next five years, with his son, Jeff Wilpon, staying on board as the COO for that same period of time. Although that’s a ways into the future, the very notion of a sale brought about hope for a Mets fan base that has long been infuriated with one of the game’s most widely criticized ownership groups. Now, it seems as though the status quo will be maintained indefinitely.

    There’s no formal word yet that the deal has been laid to rest, but Joe Pantorno of amNewYork Metro writes that an official announcement could come later this week. If the deal does indeed crash and burn, it’ll be just the latest step in yet another drama-filled Mets offseason.

    The Mets fired manager Mickey Callaway after the season ended and dragged out the interview/hiring process longer than nearly any other club, ultimately hiring Carlos Beltran to replace him. However, when Beltran was named in commissioner Rob Manfred’s report on the Astros’ 2017 sign-stealing scandal, the Mets took their time deliberating before eventually announcing a “mutual” decision to part ways with Beltran before he even managed a game. Quality control coach Luis Rojas was then named Beltran’s replacement. Beyond the sale that wasn’t to be and the hiring of two managers in a single offseason, the Mets also restructured the final year of Yoenis Cespedes’ $110MM contract after he was injured in what was reported to be an incident involving a wild boar on his ranch.