- While he’s now back on the mound for the Mets after rehabbing from shoulder surgery, righty Jeurys Familia has yet to re-take the team’s closer job, as MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo writes. In fact, he has allowed seven earned runs through eight innings since his return from the DL, with just five strikeouts and six walks. As DiComo notes, Familia’s velocity is well off its usual levels, he’s not yet comfortable working back-to-back days, and he says he’s still working to get to full health. The Mets will obviously have to hope that Familia can rediscover his form after several months of rest over the offseason. Familia, 27, will earn at least a modest raise on his $7.425MM salary in his final season of arbitration eligibility.
- The Braves have made a pair of front office hires, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter). Adam Fisher will come over from the Mets to become Atlanta’s assistant GM, while Perry Minasian is moving from the Blue Jays to take a role as director of player personnel.
- Due to what the team described as “general soreness,” Mets right-hander Noah Syndergaard won’t throw any simulated innings today, Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News reports. Syndergaard threw three innings in a minor league rehab start on Thursday and was supposed to toss some simulated frames today in the latest step of his recovery process. Syndergaard has missed much of the season due to a partially torn lat muscle, and with the Mets out of contention and few games left on the schedule, any sort of notable setback could end Syndergaard’s chances of returning to the mound in 2017.
Here’s the latest from Citi Field…
- Pitching coach Dan Warthen had intended to retire after the season but now would like to return in 2018, he tells Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News. Despite Warthen’s plans, “after this year, I want one more year. I don’t want to leave them [the pitching staff] like this.” Warthen, who has been the Mets’ pitching coach since June 2008, is respected around the game and is popular with his pitchers and Mets owner Fred Wilpon, though he does have some critics in the organization. Warthen and the rest of the Mets’ coaching staff (as well as manager Terry Collins) aren’t under contract for 2018, and with wide speculation about Collins’ future, it stands to reason that a coaching shakeup could take place if New York does indeed make a managerial switch.
- The Mets face a difficult offseason, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes, as the team wants to stay competitive but may cut payroll, and planning ahead is difficult since the Mets don’t know how many of their multiple injured stars will rebound in 2018. If the Mets “really a big-market team,” Sherman opines, they’ll bring back Asdrubal Cabrera, Juan Lagares and Matt Harvey next year at a total price tag of roughly $23MM to provide needed roster depth and flexibility. For external help, Sherman feels that the Amazins could add some slightly less-expensive help (he lists such names as free agents Eduardo Nunez, Howie Kendrick, Logan Morrison or possible trade targets Dexter Fowler and Ian Kinsler) rather than aim for a big-ticket free agent like Mike Moustakas or Eric Hosmer.
- Trades could be difficult, Sherman adds, since the Mets have a thin farm system and (even more troublingly) several of their younger players took hits to their trade value in 2017 due to injury or under-performance. First baseman Dominic Smith, for instance, hasn’t produced much in first taste of MLB action, and despite being a top-50 prospect, still has some doubters who question his fitness and ability to hit for power at the big league level. Given these concerns, as one executive puts it, “that is a hard sell and then (the rival GM) is going to ask, ‘why are the Mets willing to get rid of him?’ ”
- The Mets don’t seem to be planning any changes to their training staff or their affiliation with the Hospital for Special Surgery in the wake of the injury-ruined season, according to Newsday’s David Lennon. In an effort to simplify and improve how the team releases medical information to media and fans, the Mets have been publishing a daily injury report listing the progress, prognosis and forthcoming steps for each injured player.
Infielder Jose Reyes told reporters on Friday that he’d like to finish his career with the Mets, but it doesn’t appear the team will re-sign the impending free agent. Mets officials are “lukewarm” about bringing back the 34-year-old, according to Mike Puma of the New York Post, while Marc Carig of Newsday adds (on Twitter) that he’s unlikely to be in their plans next season. Reyes’ fate with the Mets could ultimately hinge on whether they exercise fellow veteran infielder Asdrubal Cabrera’s $8.5MM option (or buy him out for $2.5MM), writes Puma, who notes that Reyes is immensely popular in their clubhouse. Along with his behind-the-scenes presence, including his close relationship with Amed Rosario, Reyes has recovered from a subpar first half to provide a .288/.355/.468 batting line in 155 post-All-Star break plate appearances to make his case for another Mets contract. He signed his current deal last summer after serving a domestic violence suspension as a member of the Rockies, who released him.
- The Mets are set to promote infielder Phillip Evans to the Major League roster, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports (on Twitter). New York recently lost Wilmer Flores for the rest of the season due to a broken nose, so the 24-year-old Evans can provide some additional infield depth. Evans isn’t on the 40-man roster, so they’ll need to make a move to formally select his contract, though New York can accommodate him by moving any of its injured players currently on the 10-day DL to the 60-day DL (e.g. Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler, T.J. Rivera, Michael Conforto). Baseball America ranked Evans 25th among Mets prospects last winter, noting that the 2016 Double-A Eastern League batting champ has enough bat to profile as a utility infielder in the Majors. He’s better suited at second or third, per that report, though he’s primarily been a shortstop in the minors. Evans hit .279/.341/.418 with 11 homers in his first Triple-A season this year.
The Mets announced on Thursday that infielder Wilmer Flores’ season is over due to a broken nose that he sustained this past weekend. As MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo tweets, the team had hoped that Flores would be able to return at some point this week, but today’s reexamination of the injury apparently altered that trajectory.
Flores, who turned 26 last month, turned his second consecutive above-average campaign at the plate, although this also makes for a second straight injury-shortened season as well. In 362 plate appearances, Flores batted .271/.307/.488 (105 OPS+, 106 wRC+) with a career-high 18 homers.
Flores posted a 35.4 percent hard-hit rate that is easily a career-high — a mark that was buoyed by improving his hard contact against right-handed pitching by a considerable seven percentage points. A right-handed hitter, Flores was characteristically strong against lefties this year, but he also turned in a respectable .262/.306/.459 mark against same-handed pitching, which bodes well for his offensive output in future seasons.
This offseason will be the second trip through arbitration for Flores, who will be in line for a nice raise on this year’s modest $2.2MM salary. With four years and three days of Major League service time, Flores won’t reach the open market until the completion of the 2019 season, at which point he’ll be a relatively young free agent (heading into his age-28 season).
Mets general manager Sandy Alderson met with the media yesterday to discuss a host of topics, ranging from next year’s payroll and roster to the health of several key players. Some highlights from his comments and a bit more on the Mets to kick off Wednesday morning…
- Via Mike Puma of the New York Post, Alderson didn’t commit to matching 2017’s Opening Day payroll of roughly $155MM. As Puma notes, the Mets have will see more than $60MM come off the books with Curtis Granderson, Jay Bruce, Lucas Duda, Neil Walker, Addison Reed and Fernando Salas no longer on the roster (plus the potential buyout of Asdrubal Cabrera’s option). Per Alderson, though, the Mets’ payroll was “beyond” expected levels. “So I’m certainly not sitting here and saying, ‘OK, [the payroll] is going to be at least as high this year as it was last year,’” the GM stated, later adding that an “undetermined” portion of the money coming off the books will be reinvested into the on-field product.
- One potential area of need, on paper anyhow, looks to be behind the plate. However, Alderson strongly suggested that Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki are still in good standing with the organization and could be the primary catching tandem in 2018 (link via Peter Botte of the New York Daily News). Alderson indicated that d’Arnaud has improved in terms of some of the “esoteric metrics” that the Mets value, though he didn’t specify in what regards. The 28-year-old d’Arnaud has had a poor season at the plate (.232/.281/.397) and has thrown out just 17 percent of attempted base thieves while turning in slightly above-average framing marks. Perhaps more interesting, though, were his comments on Plawecki. “…I think Plawecki did himself a tremendous service going to (Triple-A) Las Vegas and applying himself and recognizing that he didn’t have to simply accept a backup role going forward as a major-league catcher and that he could work toward the possibility of being an everyday guy.” Plawecki slashed .328/.375/.514 in Las Vegas this year, albeit in a very hitter-friendly environment.
- Via Newsday’s Marc Carig, Alderson also noted that the Mets may be in the market for a veteran starting pitcher to help stabilize the rotation in the wake of another injury-marred campaign for the club’s ballyhooed group of starters. A “Bartolo-type” of starter that can be relied upon for 180-plus innings would indeed seem a logical pursuit for the Mets, and the 2017-18 free agent market will have no shortage of options. Bartolo Colon himself will of course be available, as will innings eaters like John Lackey, Clayton Richard and Doug Fister, among many others.
- Alderson revealed that Michael Conforto’s timeline for a recovery from surgery to repair the posterior capsule in his left shoulder is “roughly six months,” via the Post’s Greg Joyce. That’d put him on track to be ready for Spring Training, although the uncommon nature of his injury makes an exact timeline more difficult to nail down. The GM added that doctors have given no indication that there’s a risk of Conforto needing to alter his swing upon returning: “…[T]he fact that it’s his left shoulder, the fact that it’s his back shoulder when he swings, not his throwing shoulder, according to the doctors, is a positive.”
- David Wright’s status moving forward is “uncertain at best,” Alderson stated, adding that the Mets will have to account for the lack of a definite hot corner option as they enter the offseason (via Carig). Wright, who required surgery to repair his right rotator cuff, is still owed $47MM through the end of the 2020 season. However, 75 percent of that sum is insured while Wright is on the disabled list, so the Mets will receive a sizable amount of compensation from 2018’s $20MM salary if the most recent surgery sidelines Wright for a lengthy period of time. Mike Moustakas will headline a fairly thin crop of free-agent third basemen, and A’s infielder Jed Lowrie figures to be one of several names available on the offseason trade market.
- Right-hander Rafael Montero looks to be pitching his way into the team’s 2018 plans, writes Newsday’s Steven Marcus. Since returning from a demotion to Triple-A, he’s worked to a 4.44 ERA with 8.8 K/9, 4.1 BB/9 and a 46.7 percent ground-ball rate in 77 innings. “We said we either see strikes or, you know,” said manager Terry Collins of the message given to Montero when he was last sent down to the minors. “He went down and threw strikes. And he’s come back and he’s done exactly the same thing. When you have good stuff and you throw it in the strike zone, you’re going to get outs.” Montero will be out of minor league options next season, so he’ll need to break camp with the team or else be exposed to waivers.
The Mets made another series of medical updates today, with the most significant news of the bunch being that infielders David Wright and T.J. Rivera will undergo surgery. Wright will have his right rotator cuff repaired, while Rivera will undergo Tommy John surgery to repair the partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow (with which he was diagnosed in late July). Additionally, left-hander Josh Edgin will have arthroscopic surgery on his left knee, and the Mets confirmed that Michael Conforto will undergo surgery to repair the posterior capsule in his left shoulder this week.
In more non-surgical updates, the Mets announced that Noah Syndergaard will make another rehab appearance on Thursday, while Wilmer Flores has sustained a broken nose and Amed Rosario has a contusion on his right index finger.
For Wright, the shoulder procedure in the latest of a seemingly ceaseless cavalcade of setbacks as he attempts to get back onto the field. The Mets’ captain hasn’t appeared in a big league game since May 1 of last season, and he has already undergone surgery to repair a herniated disk in his neck over what is now shaping up to be a potential two-year layoff from Major League activity. Despite his considerable health issues, Wright is reportedly not considering retirement (as the Post’s Mike Puma wrote last week).
As for Rivera, it’s critical to note that the recovery process for position players that undergo Tommy John surgery is significantly shorter than it is for pitchers. Rather than the standard recovery of 12-plus months for pitchers, Rivera could conceivably be ready for action at some point early in the 2018 campaign. The Mets, however, have yet to provide any sort of timeline and likely won’t do so until the operation has been performed.
That holds true of Conforto as well, though there’s been no shortage of ink dedicated to the ominous nature of his injury. Capsule tears are significant and uncommon injuries, creating the possibility that Conforto will be sidelined for a notable chunk of the 2018 campaign.
As far as Edgin is concerned, the knee issue could mark the end of his tenure with the organization. The 30-year-old had already been outrighted off the 40-man roster, and this injury means that the Mets won’t select his contract and bring him back to the Majors. Edgin has enough service time to elect free agency following the campaign if not on the 40-man, and while he could always re-sign to return to the organization, he’ll now be able to field interest from all 29 other clubs as well.
It was already fairly clear that Conforto would not be back this season. (The Mets also added Nori Aoki today in a signing that probably would have happened independent of the news that Conforto needs surgery.) What’s not known, at this point, is how Conforto’s surgery might affect the timeline for his recovery. Via DiComo, the Mets will not announce a timeline for Conforto’s return until the surgery is complete.
Prior to the injury, Conforto enjoyed a breakout year in 2017, batting .279 with a .384 OBP and an outstanding .555 slugging percentage, with 27 home runs in 109 games. The 24-year-old former top prospect obviously appears set to play a significant role in the Mets’ outfield for the foreseeable future, health permitting.
The Mets have signed veteran outfielder Nori Aoki, MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo tweets. The Blue Jays released Aoki earlier this week, making him eligible to sign with any team for a prorated portion of the league minimum salary.
The 35-year-old Aoki has produced a respectable .274/.319/.402 line over 258 plate appearances with the Astros and Jays this season, but has now changed teams twice, first heading from Houston to Toronto in the Francisco Liriano deal (likely in part to balance salaries in that trade) and now going from Toronto to New York. He has little power, with just five home runs this season, but he retains some of his established ability to make contact and still rates as approximately an average defender in a corner.
Aoki will aid a Mets team that’s short in the outfield following the departures of Jay Bruce and Curtis Granderson last month, as well as significant injuries to Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto. Aoki is eligible for salary arbitration in the offseason, but he would likely be in line to receive a salary above the $5.5MM he’s getting this season, so he appears to be a non-tender candidate.