- Mets GM Sandy Alderson addressed reporters today at the press conference to re-introduce Yoenis Cespedes. He says the club is done with major league signings for the winter, as Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com tweets. That’s not too surprising, of course, as New York has already given out six MLB deals this winter.
- One of those Mets signings left righty Carlos Torres without a roster spot, and he has drawn quite a lot of interest since he cleared waivers and hit the open market, NJ.com’s Brandon Kuty writes. The Yankees have reached out, as have several Asian clubs, per the report. Torres has been a sturdy pen presence in recent years despite tough results in 2015.
The Blue Jays acquired outfielder Darrell Ceciliani from the Mets, as Chris Cotillo of SB Nation first tweeted. Toronto will send a player to be named later in the deal, per a team announcement, though New York calls it a cash deal in its own release.
The 25-year-old had been designated for assignment to clear roster space for Yoenis Cespedes. He’ll provide another outfield option for Toronto, which sacrificed some depth when it shipped Ben Revere to the Nationals for reliever Drew Storen. A left-handed hitter, Ceciliani did reach the bigs last year for New York but accrued only minimal major league experience.
It remains to be seen what the youngster can do with a full opportunity, but he’s shown some promise. He logged an impressive .345/.398/.581 slash and contributed nine home runs and 16 steals in his 255 plate appearances at Triple-A last year, and has generally swung the bat well during his time on the farm.
Notably, too, Ceciliani drew strong ratings from defensive metrics in his short, 129-inning run in the majors last year. He can be deployed all across the outfield, too, adding to his versatility.
- Of course, small market clubs will always need to be more creative than their larger-budget brethren, and August Fagerstrom of Fangraphs explores one key method that most employ: taking advantage of platoons. Fagerstrom looks at projected platoons around the league to identify the combinations with the most promise. Three teams have reasonable expectations of 3+ WAR platoons, should they decide to use them: the Mets (Neil Walker and Wilmer Flores), Red Sox (Jackie Bradley Jr. and Chris Young), and Cardinals (Kolten Wong and Jedd Gyorko). Of course, none of those teams are light spenders, but there are numerous other examples throughout the post, including the possible combination that the Rays just set up with Corey Dickerson and Steve Pearce.
Here are the day’s minor moves:
- Righty Jonathan Pettibone has signed a minor league pact with the Cubs and received an invitation to MLB camp, per a club announcement. The 25-year-old contributed 100 1/3 solid innings as a starter for the 2013 Phillies, registering a 4.04 ERA with 5.9 K/9 against 3.4 BB/9. But significant shoulder issues interrupted that campaign, and he’s hardly pitched competitively since. Pettibone underwent surgery to repair a SLAP tear in 2014, had a second procedure done last summer, and then lost his 40-man spot earlier this winter.
- The Mets have added catcher Raywilly Gomez on a minor league deal, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. The 26-year-old gets a major league camp invite. Gomez spent last year with the Angels’ Double-A affiliate, compiling a .291/.385/.336 slash in 284 plate appearances. He’s also spent time in the Phillies and Diamondbacks organizations.
Mets right-hander Carlos Torres has cleared outright waivers and elected free agency, reports Adam Rubin of ESPN New York (via Twitter). He had been designated for assignment over a week ago. Rubin adds that pursuing an opportunity in Asia “is a possibility” for Torres, though he doesn’t specify whether that is in reference to Japan or Korea. Regardless, either could present Torres with more earning potential than a minor league deal with an MLB club.
Torres, 33, has spent the past three seasons with the Mets and been a largely effective reliever, though he did struggle in 2015. After recording a 3.24 ERA with 8.4 K/9, 2.7 BB/9 and a ground-ball rate of about 45 percent from 2013-14, Torres saw his ERA balloon to 4.68 in 2015. Despite the increase in ERA, Torres’ control remained solid (2.8 BB/9), his velocity actually increased by almost a full mile per hour (from 91.8 in 2014 to 92.5 in 2015) and his ground-ball rate of 48.3 percent was a career-best. FIP, in fact, felt that Torres’ 2015 season was actually superior to his 2014 work, while other metrics like xFIP and SIERA felt there was only a marginal drop-off in his skill set. All told, Torres totaled 57 2/3 innings for the Mets last season — a number that was somewhat limited by a calf strain late in the season.
Torres had agreed to a one-year, $1.05MM salary with the Mets to avoid arbitration. However, because arbitration salaries aren’t fully guaranteed, the team can cut ties with him for $175K. He’ll join a free-agent market that has been largely picked clean but still features some recognizable right-handed names — including Tyler Clippard, Tommy Hunter and Matt Belisle — and be free to sign with any team for any amount.
Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager has been named the game’s best prospect in preseason top-100 and top-101 prospect rankings from MLB.com and Baseball Prospectus. Seager still qualifies for the lists since he retained his rookie eligibility by only making 113 plate appearances for L.A. last season, though he made a big first impression by hitting .337/.425/.561 in his initial taste of the big leagues. Twins center fielder Byron Buxton and Nationals righty Lucas Giolito are ranked second and third on both lists, and overall, the National League dominates the upper echelon of both rankings. Ten of MLB.com’s top 13 prospects are all from NL teams, while 10 of BP’s top 14 youngsters all hail from the senior circuit. Here are some more items from around the National League…
- The details of Yoenis Cespedes’ return to the Mets were detailed by COO Jeff Wilpon, GM Sandy Alderson and agent Brodie Van Wagenen in a conference call with reporters (including Mike Puma of the New York Post) earlier this week. Negotiations quickly picked up steam within about a week’s time, though such important contractual details as Cespedes’ opt-out clause after the first year were agreed upon early in the process.
- Van Wagenen also discussed his Cespedes’ free agency in a Friday interview with Jim Duquette and Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (all links to Twitter). He was in active talks with not just the Mets, but four other teams on the day that Cespedes agreed to re-sign with New York. In regards to the deal’s structure and the opt-out clause, “it was less about looking toward next year and more about being able to control where he was going to be,” Van Wagenen said.
- As the calendar turns to February, the Rockies have yet to make any additions to their shaky rotation, the Denver Post’s Patrick Saunders writes. GM Jeff Bridich stressed that the club expects internal upgrades in the form of better health from Jorge De La Rosa, Tyler Chatwood and Jordan Lyles. As to the club’s rumored pursuit of Yovani Gallardo, Bridich described those reports as “fairly overblown.”
- Multiple Nationals players tell James Wagner of the Washington Post that they don’t anticipate any clubhouse issues with Jonathan Papelbon in the wake of his infamous dugout skirmish with Bryce Harper last season. A larger issue, Wagner notes, might be whether the D.C. fans are as forgiving — it’s not hard to see Papelbon receive his share of boos in the early stages of the season, especially if his performance struggles.
JANUARY 29: New York has placed Torres on outright waivers after being unable to strike a trade, Rubin reports.
Torres had already agreed to a $1.05MM arbitration salary, so any team claiming him would be obligated for that amount. If he is not traded or claimed, then New York would still owe him one-sixth ($175K) of that amount.
The 33-year-old had put together two straight solid seasons as a swingman and long reliever for the Mets, but ended 2015 with a 4.68 ERA over 57 2/3 frames. It’s worth noting, though, that Torres suffered from some ball-in-play (.326 BABIP) and sequencing (65.3% LOB%) misfortune, while his peripherals were otherwise fairly strong. He ended the year with 7.5 K/9 against 2.8 BB/9 and a 48.3% groundball rate, leading ERA estimators to value him at a mid-3.00 level.
Certainly, it isn’t difficult to imagine another club deciding that’s enough of a track record to wager $1MM on. After all, similar background statistics supported 3.24 ERA over 183 1/3 frames over 2013-14. And Torres actually showed a slight velocity increase last year.
Walker’s salary falls just under the midpoint between the respective filing values of $11.8MM and $9.4MM. It also lands only a bit shy of his $10.7MM projection, via MLBTR and Matt Swartz.
Walker, a switch-hitter, has long been a significant offensive contributor. He carries a .272/.338/.431 slash in 3,426 major league plate appearances. He’s not a great fielder, but is solid enough with the glove to profile as a strong first-division regular.
The 30-year-old came over from the Pirates in a trade that sent southpaw Jon Niese to Pittsburgh. He’ll step into the second base role vacated by former Met and current National Daniel Murphy. Walker will qualify for free agency following the 2016 season.
- The Mets are in trade talks with multiple clubs about right-hander Carlos Torres, who was recent designated for assignment when New York signed left-hander Antonio Bastardo to a two-year deal, tweets SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo. Previously, the New York Post’s Mike Puma noted that the Twins may have some interest in the right-hander, who had somewhat of a down year in 2015 but has been a solid ’pen arm for the Mets over the past few seasons. Dating back to 2013, Torres has a 3.59 ERA with 8.2 K/9, 2.7 BB/9 and a 46 percent ground-ball rate in 241 innings.
- The Phillies announced on Thursday that they’ve hired former Google quantitative analyst Andy Galdi as their new director of baseball research and development. GM Matt Klentak spoke excitedly about the fresh perspective that Galdi can bring to the research and decision-making processes in Philadelphia based on his recent experience, writes MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, although it should also be noted that Galdi has a background in sports as well. Galdi served as a baseball operations intern for the Mets in 2009, Zolecki notes, and he also spent two years serving as a statistical analyst in the NBA commissioner’s office. Within Zolecki’s column, Klentak speaks at length about the improvements made to the Phillies’ analytics department in his first offseason as the club’s general manager.
The Mets announced today that they have designated outfielder Darrell Ceciliani for assignment, which will clear clear a spot on the team’s 40-man roster for the newly re-signed Yoenis Cespedes (Twitter link).
The 25-year-old Ceciliani made his big league debut with the Mets in 2015 and batted .206/.270/.279 in 75 plate appearances. While that batting clearly leaves something to be desired, Ceciliani posted huge numbers in the (admittedly hitter-friendly) Triple-A Pacific Coast League, batting .345/.398/.581 with nine homers and 16 steals in 255 trips to the plate. Ceciliani has a history of solid production in the minor leagues, and he’s capable of playing all three outfield positions as well. In last season’s highly limited sample (129 total innings between left field and center field), Ceciliani rated at +6 Defensive Runs Saved and +4.2 runs above average, per Ultimate Zone Rating. Ceciliani has bounced around Baseball America’s list of top Mets prospects dating back to 2010, though he’s slipped each season and rated as the team’s No. 31 prospect last offseason.