- Mets infielder Asdrubal Cabrera has drawn interest from the Indians, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports (via Twitter). The Tribe would use Cabrera (who spent the first seven-plus years of his career in Cleveland) at second base until Jason Kipnis returns from the DL, and Cabrera would them move into a utility infield role backing up Kipnis, Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez. Cleveland could add bench depth if they can’t swing a larger trade, Crasnick writes (Twitter links) though “they appear to be on the fence” about making such a move, with current signs pointing towards nothing major in the works.
With several veterans for sale, the Mets will be one of the most closely-watched teams in baseball as we approach the trade deadline. Scouts from the Mariners, Indians, Cubs and Royals were on hand to see the Mets play on Thursday, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports, and surely those teams and more will be checking in with GM Sandy Alderson in the days leading up to July 31. The latest from Citi Field…
- Reports seem to be mixed on Asdrubal Cabrera’s trade value. Puma reports that the veteran infielder has “several suitors” on the trade market, while Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News hears from an industry source that the Mets have received a “pretty light” amount of interest in Cabrera. That same source notes that the Red Sox, a team previously linked to Cabrera, had “yet to show any real interest.” It may be that Cabrera will need to show that he can handle playing third base before his market really takes off, or any clubs currently interested may have an eye on Cabrera at his usual shortstop position (or at second base).
- As cited in Puma’s report, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Mariners are one of the teams interested in Cabrera. Since Seattle has Robinson Cano, Jean Segura and Kyle Seager entrenched in everyday roles, it would seem that the M’s would be looking at Cabrera as a multi-position bench option. Taylor Motter has filled that role for the Mariners this season, though Motter hasn’t delivered much at the plate and he lacks Cabrera’s track record of performance.
- The Brewers are one of a half-dozen teams who have asked the Mets about closer Addison Reed, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports. Reed is getting the most attention of any Mets player likely to be dealt prior to the deadline, with other reports linking the right-hander to the Red Sox and Yankees. While Reed would be a setup man for those teams with established closers, there’s at least a chance Reed could share the ninth-inning job with Corey Knebel, who has been dominant for much of the season but has blown two of his last five save chances. Milwaukee has been on the search for starting and relief pitching, with Brad Hand, Pat Neshek and Justin Wilson among the names known to be considered by the Brew Crew as bullpen upgrades.
- Left-handed pitching prospect Thomas Szapucki underwent Tommy John surgery on Wednesday, MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo and others reported. Szapucki, a fifth-round pick for the Mets in the 2015 draft, was rated by Baseball Prospectus as the 69th-best prospect in the sport in BP’s preseason rankings. MLB.com and Baseball America weren’t quite as bullish, though they still rated the southpaw as the fourth- and eighth-best prospect, respectively, in New York’s farm system. Given the surgery’s usual recovery timeline of 12-15 months, however, Szapucki is now in danger of missing the entire 2018 season.
The Pirates are on a roll in the NL Central, having just swept the division-leading Brewers in a four-game series. Even prior to today’s win, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports wrote in his weekly notes column that Pittsburgh not only continues to look unlikely to trade Gerrit Cole but is now also unlikely to deal outfielder Andrew McCutchen, who has undergone a remarkable turnaround at the plate since late May.
- The Tigers appear all but entirely unwilling to move young starter Michael Fulmer, per Heyman. That’s largely unsurprising, though perhaps it might have been expected that the club would at least entertain some scenarios in the interest of covering all its bases. While he’d surely draw a major haul, it would probably be tough for the team to part with its best asset while so many expensive veterans remain under contract. Meanwhile, Heyman notes that shortstop Jose Iglesias could be had for the right price, though it’s hard to see that coming together with such limited demand at the position.
- Though the White Sox are clearly in the midst of another aggressive sale, Heyman writes that there are no plans to move Jose Abreu at this time. The slugger is in the midst of a fine season, but there’s a limited market for first base help at this time. With another two years of control beyond this season, the ChiSox will perhaps have more opportunistic times to market him. Derek Holland, on the other hand, could very well be moved in the coming week, and the South Siders would like to move Melky Cabrera as well but would probably need to pay down most of the remainder of this year’s $15MM salary.
- The Indians are a possible landing spot for Jay Bruce, as their offense is currently without the injured Lonnie Chisenhall and Jason Kipnis. The Mets are known to be looking to move Bruce, and it’s worth noting that USA Today’s Bob Nightengale recently reported that Cleveland was in the mix for slugger J.D. Martinez right up until the time he was traded.
- With limited trade partners for Yonder Alonso — especially following the Yankees’ acquisition of Todd Frazier — the Athletics once again touched base with Yonder Alonso’s reps at MVP Sports about an extension, per Heyman. They’ll circle back again and do so later this week as the two sides attempt to find a middle ground. Oakland is in the midst of an all-out rebuild, as executive vice president of baseball ops Billy Beane recently indicated, but Alonso could provide some leadership for the team’s younger players. And, if he sustains his breakout through season’s end and into 2018, he could certainly become a marketable asset in the future when there’s more of a need at his position.
- The Rangers aren’t likely to re-sign Yu Darvish after the season, Heyman writes, as Darvish’s camp has already thrown out Stephen Strasburg’s seven-year, $175MM contract as a potential comp. Texas isn’t prepared to bid that highly to retain Darvish, which is why they’ve at least signaled to teams that they’ll listen to offers on Darvish if they struggle too much between now and the deadline. There’s no plan to move Cole Hamels at this time, though, he adds.
- While the Diamondbacks may have made their biggest move already, the club is still looking at ways to bolster the pitching staff. Heyman pegs Blue Jays righty Marco Estrada as a possibility, though it’s unclear if he’s actively under consideration. It’s fair to wonder, too, whether the club would be better suited to focusing on bullpen help — though, of course, looking at starters doesn’t preclude that possibility.
- While the Cubs have made at least some contact with the Athletics on righty Sonny Gray even since acquiring Jose Quintana, Heyman says that it’s not at all clear that Chicago will be “a strong player” for another controllable starter.
- With Jaime Garcia seemingly going off the board, there ought to be greater focus now on Phillies righty Jeremy Hellickson. He ought to be easier to obtain now than he was last year, Heyman notes, as the Phils are willing to hold onto at least some of his $17.2MM salary to improve the prospect return.
- USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweets that the Royals are closely monitoring Cardinals right-hander Lance Lynn to see if St. Louis makes him available between now and the deadline. ESPN’s Buster Olney reported earlier today that the Royals are looking around for not one but two rental starters to try to make one last run with their current core, and as a free agent at season’s end, Lynn would fit that mold. If the Royals are indeed watching, they probably didn’t mind what they saw today when Lynn tossed six innings of one-run ball against the Mets, though he did allow his 21st homer of the season, which is already far and away a career-high.
- Newsday’s Marc Carig and ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick both hear that Addison Reed is drawing the most interest among Mets trade chips, though Carig notes that there’s nothing close to being completed at this time (Twitter links). The rumor circuit on Reed has been surprisingly quiet, though he’s been linked to the Yankees and Red Sox thus far. The 28-year-old Reed has tossed 45 excellent innings out of the New York bullpen, averaging 9.4 K/9 against a ridiculous 1.00 BB/9 with a 38.8 percent ground-ball rate en route to a 2.40 ERA. He’s logged a 2.02 ERA in 138 innings as a Met and is earning $7.8MM this season.
- Olney also tweets that the Mets would improve their chances of finding a trade partner for Asdrubal Cabrera by playing him at third base. Rival evaluators are hopeful of seeing him at that position before making a determination, per Olney, and it now appears likely that the Mets will accommodate them. Newsday’s Marc Carig reports that Cabrera is set to begin taking grounders at the hot corner, and manager Terry Collins confirmed as much to Carig’s colleague, David Lennon (Twitter link).
It’s tough to imagine at this point that the Mets won’t end up selling a few players at the deadline, but just how many will move remains to be seen. The uncertainty doesn’t really involve the team’s willingness to deal away controllable assets — all indications are it won’t, perhaps barring a surprising offer. Instead, as explored below, there are some questions regarding the short-term veterans that the team is almost certainly willing to trade.
The Mets have received only tepid interest thus far in veteran outfielders Jay Bruce and Curtis Granderson, according to a report from Ken Rosenthal of MLB Network. Perhaps that’s unsurprising, given the inability of the Tigers to draw top-tier prospect talent for elite slugger J.D. Martinez. Both Bruce and Granderson are performing rather well, but neither is to Martinez’s standard and each earns at a higher rate ($13MM and $15MM, respectively).
All that being said, it’s still hard to imagine that these two players wouldn’t represent upgrades for many teams. Both are producing at quality rates — Bruce for the entire season, Granderson since a terrible opening month (though he has been limited by injury of late). Notably, too, New York is amenable to paying down some of their remaining salary obligations, per Rosenthal, if that means enhancing the prospect return.
One interesting element of the Mets’ decisionmaking is the possibility of issuing a qualifying offer to Bruce after the season, as Rosenthal suggests could be the case. If the team is indeed willing to pay him at a steep one-year rate, were he to accept (or recoup draft compensation if not), then that would suggest a higher barrier to a trade. Retaining Bruce does appear to be a plausible strategy given the club’s evident hopes of bouncing back in 2018, particularly since the team’s other top left-handed bat, first baseman Lucas Duda, will enter free agency (and may yet be traded away first). Dealing Granderson instead might help the team avoid an awkward playing time scenario; according to the report, the Mets are telling these two veterans, as well as long-term assets Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto, that the reps will be split evenly at least until the deadline.
Granderson doesn’t appear likely to factor in the Mets’ plans beyond the current season regardless. And he suggests Howie Kussoy of the New York Post that retirement is at least a possibility as soon as the coming offseason. “I’ve made my peace with it,” Granderson says of the eventual end of his playing career. “I’m going to enjoy this season. If an opportunity presents itself for me to play, that’s great. If not, I’ve had a great run and I enjoyed it. … We’ll see what happens, but there are other things I know I want to do.” That statement is hardly a clear sign, given that Granderson is sure to draw interest, but it does bear watching as his next stint on the open market draws near.
As the outfield situation awaits resolution, the team is also surely weighing its options with some veteran infielders. Second baseman Neil Walker is finally ready for a rehab assignment to test his hamstring, beginning on Friday, per MLB.com’s Chris Bumbaca. If all goes well, it seems that Walker could be back in the majors in time to prove his health in advance of the deadline. Though Walker’s $17.2MM salary makes him a possible August trade chip as well, that’s still of note. After all, teams considering second base upgrades may need to make final decisions on alternatives by the end of the month.
Meanwhile, the return of Walker will presumably push Asdrubal Cabrera off of the position that he reluctantly took over recently. According to Newsday’s Marc Carig, Cabrera will prepare to shift over to third base (with Jose Reyes presumably remaining at short, at least until the team decides it’s time to promote Amed Rosario). That’s a nod to the logistics, but perhaps will also allow possible suitors an opportunity to evaluate Cabrera at the hot corner, which he has manned just once previously in the majors. It’s also possible that the Mets could weigh Cabrera as a candidate there for 2018, given that the team could still pick up his option.
Finally, Carig also touches upon the status of two other Mets infielders, T.J. Rivera and Wilmer Flores. Both have drawn some trade inquiries, but it seems the Mets are rather uninterested in trading the controllable options. Indeed, Adam Rubin tweets that a source tells him the Mets “asked for an obscene return” when approached by another organization.
- The Mets are willing to include cash in trades of veterans in order to net better prospects in trades, Rosenthal reports. Specifically, he mentions Jay Bruce and Asdrubal Cabrera. New York, for instance, knows it’d be on the hook for the $2MM buyout on Cabrera’s $8.5MM club option either way and would likely be willing to include that sum in a potential trade. They’d also be willing to pay down some of the remaining $5.26MM on Bruce’s salary, recognizing that said sum is a significant amount for many clubs to add at the midway point of a season. Other rentals the Mets have include Curtis Granderson ($6.07MM remaining), Addison Reed ($3.13MM) and Lucas Duda ($2.93MM). It’s worth noting that Rosenthal didn’t specifically mention Granderson, Reed or Duda by name.
- The Red Sox have been connected to multiple other third basemen, and FanRag’s Jon Heyman adds Wilmer Flores of the Mets to the pile (Twitter link). Heyman notes that the Sox have scouted Flores, Asdrubal Cabrera and T.J. Rivera recently, which meshes with a recent report from the Boston Herald’s Michael Silverman. The 25-year-old Flores (26 next month) and his modest $2.2MM salary wouldn’t put the BoSox in danger of crossing the luxury tax threshold, and he’s versatile enough to slide into a utility role if/when the Red Sox ultimately give Rafael Devers the reins at third base. Flores is hitting .280/.310/.445 with seven homers and a dozen doubles this season, and he’s controllable through 2019.
The Yankees have reached out to their New York City rivals to express interest in first baseman Lucas Duda and reliever Addison Reed, per Mark Feinsand of MLB.com (via Twitter). We’ve heard plenty of chatter about this possible connect, particularly with regards to Duda, it’s notable that the sides are now in conversation.
Both Mets veterans are pending free agents who figure to be available at the trade deadline this summer. With the Yankees still firmly in the postseason hunt in the American League, and the Mets all but buried in the N.L., it’s easy to see the reason for the contact. Still, it’s always notable when these two clubs look to line up, given how rarely they do business with one another.
Duda seems an entirely sensible rental piece for the Yanks, who are also looking at other alternatives to address the team’s needs at first base. He remains an underappreciated offensive force; setting aside his injury-shortened 2016 season, Duda has consistently been over thirty percent better than the league-average hitter (by measure of wRC+) since the start of 2014.
And though Aroldis Chapman and Dellin Betances represent a fearsome late-inning duo, Reed would upgrade any bullpen. He’s likely to draw much wider interest than Duda, who is limited to playing first base (or functioning as a DH). Reed, 28, owns a 2.04 ERA with 10.1 K/9 and 1.5 BB/9 since coming to New York late in 2015 as a reclamation project.
It seems all but inevitable that the Mets will be looking to move both players, who are earning reasonable but hardly bargaining salaries ($7.25MM for Duda, $7.75MM for Reed). The Mets may well put an emphasis on adding pieces that can contribute to the team in the relatively near future, given the organization’s stated inclination to attempt to rebound right back into contention next year. With several holes opening around the roster, GM Sandy Alderson could see merit in that approach, or he could seek to build up the team’s prospect war chest by pursuing higher-upside younger talent.
- Mets righty Addison Reed is said to be drawing quite a lot of interest, with the Red Sox are among the teams weighing pursuit, per Rob Bradford of WEEI.com (via Twitter). Boston will surely be casting a wide net as it looks to address what is perhaps a growing need at the back of the pen. Tim Britton of the Providence Journal highlights the need and also looks at some possibilities from the Red Sox’ perspective.