- Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes is slated to resume his rehab on Monday, Tim Healey of Newsday tweets. Cespedes, out since mid-May with a hip strain, had been nearing a return until suffering a setback last weekend. It remains unclear when he’ll be healthy enough to rejoin the nosediving Mets, and the same goes for ace Noah Syndergaard. The righty is getting “better and better,” though, manager Mickey Callaway told Anthony DiComo of MLB.com and other reporters Saturday (Twitter links). Syndergaard has been out for three weeks because of a finger injury. In better news for New York, closer Jeurys Familia will come off the DL on Sunday, DiComo relays. Familia will end up missing the minimum of 10 days after going on the shelf June 8 with right shoulder soreness.
Here are the day’s deals of note from the top few rounds of the draft (rankings referenced are courtesy of Baseball America, MLB.com, Fangraphs and ESPN’s Keith Law — with the scouting reports from MLB and Fangraphs both coming free to the general public) …
- The Giants agreed to a $1.5MM bonus with second-round choice Sean Hjelle, according to MLB.com’s Jim Callis (via Twitter). A towering righty from the University of Kentucky, Hjelle was taken with the 45th overall choice, which came with a $1,587,600 pick allocation. He ranked as high as thirtieth on pre-draft lists, earning that placement on the Baseball America board. Evaluators seem to think the polished collegiate hurler is likely to be a steady, back-of-the-rotation arm, though he isn’t generally seen as possessing immense upside.
- Mets second-rounder Simeon Woods-Richardson will receive a $1.85MM bonus to forego his commitment to the University of Texas, Callis tweets. That lands above the $1,485,100 slot value at the 48th overall pick. While the right-handed hurler has shown quite a lot of promise at times, there are concerns that he has not consistently maintained that high level throughout his starts. Grades were all over the map, with BA highest at #76. Clearly, the Mets believe they can tap into the tools.
- The Brewers will save some money against the slot value on Micah Bello, their competitive balance round B pick, MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo reports on Twitter. He’ll receive a $550K bonus, leaving the club with some excess pool space from the 73rd overall pick ($824,900 slot). A Hawaiian high-school outfielder, Bello did not draw top-100 billing but placed 121st on BA’s board. He’s credited as a quality overall hitter who may yet have a bit of upside, with some speed and perhaps some untapped power potential, though it’s not clear whether he’ll remain an up-the-middle defender as a professional.
June 15: The Mets have formally announced their deal with Kelenic. His bonus comes in shy of that initial report, checking in at $4.5MM, according to Jim Callis of MLB.com (Twitter link).
June 8: The Mets have agreed to terms with their top draft choice, Jarred Kelenic, according to Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (Twitter link). He’s expected to receive a bonus of around $5MM, per Fan Rag’s Robert Murray (via Twitter).
That number leaves the Mets with some leftovers to utilize on other drafted players. The sixth overall choice with which Kelenic was taken gave the team $5,525,200 of pool space to play with.
Kelenic, an outfielder from Wisconsin, entered the draft with a consensus supporting him as the best position-playing prospect from the high school ranks. Keith Law of ESPN.com was highest on him among prospect writers, listing Kelenic as the sixth-best player available overall.
Scouts value Kelenic both for his existing polish and his projectable tools. He’s seen as having five tools and the will to work to maximize them. If there’s a question, it seems, it’s whether he’ll be able to stick in center field over the long run, though his value doesn’t hinge entirely on his eventual defensive position.
- Catcher Jose Lobaton cleared waivers after being designated for assignment by the Mets and has been sent outright to Triple-A Las Vegas, as noted on the team’s transactions page. It’s the second time that the veteran Lobaton has been designated and subsequently outrighted by the Mets in 2018. While he has the option of rejecting the option of rejecting the assignment in favor of free agency, he accepted his previous assignment and is already once again listed on the team’s roster in Triple-A. Lobaton, 33, has hit just .152/.264/.239 in 53 plate appearances for the Mets thus far in 2018, continuing his struggles from the 2017 season with the Nats. The switch-hitter is a career .271/.352/.419 hitter in Triple-A, however.
The Mets have claimed righty Chris Beck off waivers from the White Sox, per club announcements. The 27-year-old had been designated for assignment by the Chicago organization.
Beck came up as a starter but has mostly worked in a relief role in recent years. He has 119 2/3 MLB innings under his belt, with a cumulative 5.94 ERA and 6.1 K/9 against 5.0 BB/9. The results have improved so far in 2018, as Beck owns a 4.18 ERA in 23 2/3 frames. Frankly, the peripherals don’t really indicate that he has made any strides, though Beck is working at a career-high 95.8 mph with his average fastball.
Perhaps the Mets feel they can unlock something from the former second-rounder. Of course, the club also may simply feel Beck will help improve the team’s depth situation as several hurlers filter back from the DL.
When he hit the DL with a shoulder injury about two weeks ago, it was not really clear how long Mets reliever AJ Ramos would miss. GM Sandy Alderson said today, though, that the righty is expected to sidelined for a significant stretch, as Tim Britton of The Athletic was among those to tweet.
Alderson revealed that Ramos is weighing a surgical route, in fact, though the precise nature of the underlying injury remains unclear. The alternative would be a rehab course that will also require further downtime.
“We certainly don’t expect him back anytime soon,” Alderson said. Though we still don’t know even loose potential timelines, it seems fair to read that as an indication that the Mets will go without one of their most experienced late-inning arms for the foreseeable future.
Of course, the 31-year-old Ramos had not been at his best in 2018. Acquired last summer even as the Mets sold off veterans, and then signed to a $9.225MM salary in his final year of arbitration, Ramos was seen as a key piece of the pen this year. Through 19 2/3 innings, though, he’s carrying a 6.41 ERA with 10.1 K/9 and 6.9 BB/9.
Control problems are nothing new for Ramos, who has 99 career saves but also a lifetime average of 4.9 walks per nine innings. With free agency beckoning at season’s end, though, it was all the more important that he demonstrate he could keep the free passes in check. As things stand, Ramos will have quite a lot to prove if and when he’s able to return later in the season.
- Yoenis Cespedes was on the verge of a return from his hip flexor strain, though a setback in Saturday’s minor league rehab game will require him to restart his recovery program, manager Mickey Callaway told MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo and other reporters. It isn’t clear when Cespedes will be able to return from the injury that has kept him sidelined since May 16, leaving the offense-starved Mets without their best hitter for an even longer period of time. In better DL news, Callaway was hopeful that Jeurys Familia and Wilmer Flores would both be back in action at some point during the Mets’ upcoming road trip.
- Asdrubal Cabrera left tonight’s game due to a tight left hamstring, with Newsday’s Tim Healey (Twitter link) being among those to report that Cabrera will stay overnight in New York to have the problem examined. Losing Cabrera would be yet another big injury loss for the Mets, as the infielder has hit an impressive .283/.323/.498 through 254 PA this season.
- A Cabrera DL stint could help prolong Jose Reyes’ time with the Mets, though as The Athletic’s Lindsey Adler (subscription required) writes, the infielder’s prolonged struggles are creating an uncomfortable situation for both the player and the team. Reyes “has advocates in ownership and the front office” and has yet to speak to team officials about his future, though he seems like an expendable piece after hitting just .149/.213/.203 through his first 80 PA. Reyes said that he is still adjusting to being a part-time player, though he acknowledges that he hasn’t been worthy of more playing time. “So far the opportunities that I’ve had I feel like I didn’t do anything,” Reyes said.
- Right-hander Jamie Callahan will undergo season-ending shoulder surgery, Triple-A manager Tony DeFrancesco told Betsy Helfand of the Las Vegas Journal-Review and other reporters (Twitter link). It’s a tough blow for Callahan, who was acquired as part of the Addison Reed trade last July and looked like a potential candidate to see more time in the Mets bullpen this season. Originally a second-round pick for Boston in the 2012 draft, Callahan began to deliver better results after becoming a full-time reliever in 2016, and he made his MLB debut by appearing in nine games with the Mets last year. Shoulder problems began to crop up early this season, however, and Callahan tossed just 8 1/3 Triple-A innings before hitting the disabled list.
The Mets announced several roster moves after tonight’s win over the Yankees, including the news that first baseman Adrian Gonzalez has been released. On Tuesday, prior to the team’s next game, catcher Jose Lobaton will be designated for assignment. The two open roster spots will be filled by Dominic Smith and Ty Kelly, as the Mets will recall Smith and select Kelly’s contract.
Gonzalez found himself a free agent this winter after the Braves acquired him as part of a payroll-shifting trade with the Dodgers and then almost immediately released the veteran first baseman. With the Braves covering virtually all of Gonzalez’s 2018 salary, the Mets inked him to a minimum-salary contract to see if they could find a bargain if Gonzalez regained any of his old form.
After a hot start in his first few games, however, Gonzalez settled into being a below-average bat and has most recently been caught in a deep slump, with just a .550 OPS over his last 43 plate appearances coming into tonight’s game. He’ll conclude his Mets tenure with a .237/.299/.373 slash line and six homers over 187 PA, with the bulk of his at-bats coming against right-handed pitching.
“A-Gon” began to show some signs of decline in 2016 (though still posting a 111 wRC+) and then cratered in 2017, as a severe back injury limited him to just 71 games and he hit only .242/.287/.355 over 252 PA. Gonzalez has looked generally healthy during his time with the Mets, though at age 36 and showing little sign of his old hitting prowess, one has to wonder if this could mark the end of Gonzalez’s otherwise outstanding 15-year career in the big leagues.
Ranked as one of baseball’s top-100 prospects coming into last season, Smith’s star dimmed after a mediocre start to his MLB career, as he hit just .198/.262/.395 and struck out a whopping 49 times over 183 PA last season. Mets GM Sandy Alderson was rather bluntly critical about Smith’s first stint in the big leagues, and the team’s acquisitions of Gonzalez and Jay Bruce in the offseason indicated that the team felt Smith needed more seasoning before being given another crack at regular first base duty.
The first base picture at Citi Field is still rather unclear, as both Smith and Bruce are left-handed bats and thus not an ideal platoon mix. The right-handed hitting Jose Bautista is also on the roster, and utilityman Wilmer Flores is on the DL. Brandon Nimmo’s emergence as an everyday player has helped the Mets withstand the loss of the injured Yoenis Cespedes, though it could lead to a bit of a roster logjam at the first base and corner outfield spots once Flores and Cespedes return (though the latter may not be back for a while yet).
Further complicating matters is the fact that Asdrubal Cabrera left tonight’s game with a hamstring issue, which could explain why utilityman Kelly is headed for another stint with the Mets. Rookie Luis Guillorme and struggling veteran Jose Reyes also provide infield depth on the roster, and if Cabrera does require some DL time, it could give Reyes some more opportunity to turn around his disastrous season.
Lobaton signed a minors deal over the winter to provide catching depth that quite immediately became necessary as Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki were both sidelined with injuries. With Plawecki back and Devin Mesoraco establishing himself as a regular, Lobaton became the odd man out. This is the second time in under a month that Lobaton will enter DFA limbo, so he could very well clear waivers again and return to Triple-A.
The Mets have signed left-hander Ian Krol to a minor league deal, Betsy Helfand of the Las Vegas Review Journal reports (Twitter link). The Angels designated Krol for assignment two weeks ago, and the veteran southpaw elected to become a free agent rather than accept an outright assignment to Triple-A.
Krol signed a minors deal with the Angels in February and ended up appearing in just one game for the team, tossing two scoreless relief innings back on May 27. He’ll seemingly have a better chance at catching on in a Mets bullpen that is short on lefty options — Jerry Blevins is the only southpaw on the big league roster, while P.J. Conlon is the only other left-hander on the 40-man. It should be noted, however, that left-handed batters have actually fared better against Krol than right-handed batters over the last few years.
After mixed results in his first three MLB seasons, it seemed as through Krol had turned a corner when he posted a 3.18 ERA, 9.9 K/9, and 4.31 K/BB rate over over 51 innings out of the Braves’ pen in 2016. Last year, however, his ERA ballooned up to 5.33 thanks in large part to renewed problems with allowing home runs — his 1.5 HR/9 in 2017 matched his number from 2013-15, though he avoided the long ball in 2016 to the tune of just an 0.7 HR/9. His rough season led to the Braves outrighting him off their roster, costing Krol a projected $1.3MM salary in his second year of arbitration eligibility.
With the Mets looking more like bottom feeders than contenders, there has been speculation that they could listen to proposals for two of their best players, co-aces Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard. The 29-year-old deGrom is under control through 2020, while Syndergaard, 25, is wrapped up through 2021, meaning each would bring back a significant haul in a trade. Of the teams that could go after either, the Yankees perhaps stand out as the most logical suitors, and Buster Olney of ESPN opines that the Mets would have to strongly consider offers from their crosstown rivals. While it would hurt the Mets and their fans in the near term to see one of those starters thriving with the Yankees, the return they’d get back would ease the pain, Olney contends. Ultimately, however, Olney doesn’t expect a deal between the teams to come to fruition, and he goes on to name several other starters the Yankees could pursue prior to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline if they attempt to upgrade their rotation.