- 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.
Pirates closer Felipe Vazquez felt soreness in his left forearm during the last two pitches of his appearance today against the Cardinals, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Elizabeth Bloom reported. The southpaw didn’t speak to the media himself after the game, though Pirates director of sports medicine Todd Tomczyk confirmed that Vazquez was receiving treatment. It’s too early to gauge the seriousness of the problem, though obviously any sort of forearm issue is of great concern, particularly for a pitcher who throws as hard as Vazquez. His fastball has dropped in velocity this season (96.8 mph as opposed to 98.5 mph in 2017), though this year’s total is closer to his career average, so it could be that 2017 proves to be something of an outlier, or perhaps it’s still too early in the 2018 campaign to make conclusions. Vazquez has a 3.54 ERA and 9.74 K/9 through 20 1/3 frames for the Bucs this year, with an increased walk rate and a decreased swinging-strike and grounder rate from his outstanding 2017 season. On the flip side, Vazquez has also yet to allow a home run this year, and he has had some bad luck the form of a .333 BABIP and only a 65.5% strand rate.
Vazquez’s breakout 2017 earned him a four-year, $22MM extension from the Pirates in the offseason, locking him up as a building block on the Pittsburgh roster. Losing Vazquez for any amount of time would be a significant blow to a Pirates team that has surpassed expectations by staying competitive in the NL Central and in the wild card race. Michael Feliz and Edgar Santana are likely the top candidates to take over as closer if Vazquez did have to hit the DL; it’s possible that the Bucs could target ninth-inning help at the deadline if they stayed in the race, though payroll would certainly play an issue in any acquisition.
Here’s some more on some injury situations around baseball…
- Yu Darvish will undergo an MRI on Tuesday, 670 The Score’s Bruce Levine reports (Twitter link), and the Cubs righty has said that the soreness in his right triceps is in a different place than it was in 2015, when Darvish underwent Tommy John surgery. This could be a further sign that Darvish’s current injury isn’t very serious, so he could be back in Chicago’s rotation sooner rather than later.
- Franchy Cordero will likely be placed on the 10-day DL tomorrow due to forearm soreness, MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell tweets. The Padres believe the issue has recently been impacting Cordero’s swing, which could explain his .515 OPS over his last 47 plate appearances. This recent slide cooled off what had been a strong start for Cordero on the season, and the outfielder still owns an overall .237/307/.439 slash line and seven homers over 154 PA.
- Hunter Renfroe is expected to be activated from the disabled list tomorrow to take Cordero’s spot on the Padres roster, Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune writes. Renfroe hasn’t played since April 17 due to elbow inflammation, and he has nine Triple-A rehab games under his belt as he prepared for his return to the majors. Acee notes that the rehab assignment may have essentially doubled as an opportunity for Renfroe to get his bat on track, as the former top prospect got off to a slow start this season and has yet to really break out in the big leagues, though Renfroe has crushed left-handed pitching.
- A DL stint could be in the offing for Wilmer Flores, as the Mets infielder left today’s game in the fourth inning due to back soreness. MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo reports that Flores has flown back to New York for examination, and the Mets will have Phillip Evans on hand in Atlanta tomorrow if a roster move needs to be made. Flores is hitting .248/.320/.398 through 128 PA this season and has continued to be a versatile infield depth piece for the Mets, most recently seeing a lot of third base time filling in for the injured Todd Frazier.
It appears that the Phillies are transitioning right-hander Jake Thompson into a relief role, writes Todd Zolecki of MLB.com. Once part of the six-player return for Cole Hamels, Thompson has only made four relief appearances in his professional career (majors and minors included). Three of those appearances came last year, however, and he’s been used largely out of the bullpen in Grapefruit League play. Thompson says that nobody has directly told him he’ll become a reliever, but believes it to be the case. “They think the slider and split can work in short periods, miss bats and get ground balls,” Thompson said of Philadelphia’s coaching staff. “They’ve built up my pitch count a little bit, so if something happens I can still do both. I’m fine with it. Anything that can get me in the big leagues and stay I’d be willing to do.”
Other news from some of baseball’s Eastern teams…
- It wasn’t long ago that Braves third baseman Rio Ruiz was struggling with a new swing and seemed destined to start the season in the minors, David O’Brien writes in a piece for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. That outlook has changed dramatically, as Ruiz’ offensive output has been a lot more impressive over the past couple weeks. The 23-year-old’s uptick in production coincides with an injury to Johan Camargo, who’s set to open the season on the disabled list. Though the organization seems to believe Camargo can return as soon as he’s eligible, manager Brian Snitker left room for interpretation on whether Ruiz can stick at the position even then. ““Rio has worked his ass off the last couple of years. He’s getting better,” said Snitker. “You never know, situations happen, door gets opened and a guy doesn’t give it back. You never know.”
- Mets manager Mickey Callaway says he doesn’t expect Adrian Gonzalez to play every day, and not even against every right-hander (h/t Anthony DiComo of MLB.com). That likely means more playing time for Wilmer Flores. “Wilmer deserves to play, and not just against lefties,” said Callaway. That’s not the only interesting comment Callaway made today, as he confirmed that Seth Lugo is being considered as a rotation candidate following an excellent Grapefruit League outing in which the right-hander struck out five while allowing no runs across four innings. The presence of Lugo in the rotation would likely make Zack Wheeler, who had another rough showing today, the odd man out. “”We have some big decisions to make,” Callaway said on the subject.
Left-hander Sean Newcomb will open the year in the Braves’ rotation, Gabriel Burns of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes. He’ll be part of a quintet that should also include Julio Teheran, Brandon McCarthy and Mike Foltynewicz, though it’s not yet clear who will occupy the fifth spot. The 24-year-old Newcomb debuted in the majors last season and recorded a 4.32 ERA/4.19 FIP across 100 innings, also posting a promising K/9 (9.72) but a troubling BB/9 (5.13). Braves manager Brian Snitker is impressed with the progress Newcomb has made since last year, saying: “Amazing where he’s at to me right now from where he was a year ago. How much improvement that guy’s made. The confidence, his mound presence, the competitiveness, the whole thing from a year ago today. It’s so much better.”
Now for the latest on one of Atlanta’s division rivals…
- The Mets are considering trading out-of-options right-hander Rafael Montero, who’s drawing some interest from other teams, Matt Ehalt of The Record reports. A deal is not imminent, though, according to Ehalt. The 27-year-old struggled in the majors last season during his first extensive action in the bigs, with a 5.52 ERA and a 5.07 BB/9 over 119 innings (34 appearances, 18 starts). He did strike out 8.62 batters per nine and log a 4.37 FIP, though, to go with a 48.1 groundball percentage.
- Mets southpaw Jason Vargas took a line drive off the right hand Friday, and now his status for the start of the season is in question, per Tim Healey of Newsday. X-rays came back negative, but Vargas noted that “it’s sore,” and he’s set to see a hand specialist (though he seems largely unconcerned). Manager Mickey Callaway added that he’s “not quite sure” whether the Mets will be able to open the year with Vargas, who’s currently in line to start their third game of the season. The Mets added Vargas on a two-year, $16MM deal in the offseason, hoping he’d provide a competent innings eater to a rotation that lacked those during an injury-plagued 2017.
- More on the Mets, who utilized infielder Wilmer Flores in left field on Saturday. If the Mets are serious about Flores as an outfield option, it could benefit the rest of their roster, Tim Britton of The Athletic observes (subscription required). Flores as a fifth outfielder would give the Mets the ability to assemble a 13-man pitching staff, including eight in the bullpen, Britton notes. Regardless, Callaway is intent on finding at-bats for Flores, who was an above-average hitter from 2016-17. “You saw why he needs to be playing multiple positions, because the kid can hit,” Callaway said. “We need to get him as many at-bats as we can this season.”
Nationals star Bryce Harper preempted any questions about his future, telling reporters including Mark Zuckerman of MASNsports.com today that he’s focused exclusively on “winning and playing hard” in the current season. Harper also says he’s in top physical form entering what could be his final year in D.C. Zuckerman’s write-up and Harper’s comments provide some worthwhile perspective on what has been quite a notable MLB tenure for Harper, who is now the fourth-longest-tenured Nationals player at just 25 years of age.
More from the NL East:
- There was some ominous news to open camp for young Nationals righty Koda Glover. Per Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post, shoulder soreness is preventing him from throwing at this point. New skipper Dave Martinez understandably said the club will look to bring Glover along slowly, particularly in view of the fact that the 24-year-old hit the shelf with rotator cuff issues after 19 1/3 otherwise promising innings in 2017. Hopes had been that the hard-throwing youngster might push his way back into the Nats’ late-inning mix after picking up eight saves last year, though he’ll first need to reestablish his health.
- Marlins owner Bruce Sherman held a discussion with the press, with Tim Healey of the Sun-Sentinel rounding up his comments. The organization’s designated control person, Sherman has mostly stayed in the background over the initial few months since the sale was completed. But he made clear he’s on board with the approach taken thus far by the front office while emphasizing the need for patience in building a sustainable contender. Most notably, perhaps, Sherman pushed back at the notion that the new ownership group is under-capitalized. “There’s nothing further from the truth,” he said. “We are a very sophisticated, well-heeled, financially set organization, not just for this year but for many, many years to come.”
- Unsurprisingly, the Mets’ binge on veteran free agents is likely over for the winter, per GM Sandy Alderson (via MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo). One might quibble with some of the decisions along the way, or see cause for another addition or two, but Alderson made clear he feels he has seen through his plans for the 2017-18 offseason. “We’ve come a long way from the Trade Deadline last year,” he said. “With Jason’s signing, we’re pretty much where we want to be. … I would be surprised, if not shocked, if somebody else walks into this clubhouse.”
- With Jose Reyes back in the fold and new additions Todd Frazier and Adrian Gonzalez helping to fill out the infield, the Mets are planning to see whether Wilmer Flores is capable of contributing on occasion in the corner outfield, David Lennon of Newsday writes. The idea is to create some more opportunities for getting Flores in the lineup against lefties. Though it’s anybody’s guess how he’ll fare on the outfield grass, Flores says he’s more than willing to give it a try if it means potentially expanding his role.
The deadline for MLB teams to exchange salary arbitration figures with their arbitration-eligible players is today at 1pm ET. As such, there will be a veritable flood of arb agreements piling up in the next few hours — especially in light of a more universal approach to the “file and trial” method for teams. (That is to say, those teams will no longer negotiate one-year deals after arb figures are exchanged and will instead head to a hearing with those players, barring an agreemenr on a multi-year deal.)
Note that you can keep an eye on all of today’s deals using MLBTR’s 2018 Arbitration Tracker, which can be filtered to show only the results of the team you follow and is also sortable by service time and dollar value of the agreement. All projections that are referenced come from MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz’s annual compilation of projected arbitration salaries.
Onto today’s landslide of deals…
National League West
- The Rockies have agreed to a $2MM salary with righty Chad Bettis, MLBTR has learned (Twitter link). That’s a fair sight more than his $1.5MM projection. Bettis surely would have had an opportunity to set a bigger platform for himself, but had to battle through testicular cancer before returning to the hill in 2017. Meanwhile, second baseman DJ LeMahieu has settled for a $8.5MM payday in his final year of arbitration, Jon Heyman of Fan Rag tweets. That’s just a hair short of the $8.8MM he was pegged for in MLBTR’s projections.
- Giants second baseman Joe Panik is slated to earn $3.45MM in his first season of arb eligibility, Devan Fink of SB Nation was first to tweet. That’s just a hair shy of the $3.5MM that MLBTR projected. Lefty Will Smith has settled at $2.5MM, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter). The club has also announced deals with its remaining arb-eligible players, right-handed relievers Sam Dyson ($4.6MM projection), Hunter Strickland ($1.7MM projection), and Cory Gearrin ($1.6MM projection). (H/t John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle, on Twitter). Strickland earns $1.55MM, Nightengale tweets.
- The Padres and Freddy Galvis agreed to a $6.825MM deal for his lone season of team control in San Diego, tweets Robert Murray of FanRag Sports. Galvis, who spent the first several seasons of his career in Philadelphia before being traded this winter, had been projected to make $7.4MM. Infielder Cory Spangenberg settled at $1.7MM, Heyman tweets, falling below a $2.0MM projection. San Diego has also reached agreements with righty Kirby Yates and outfielder Matt Szczur, the team announced. Yates will earn $1,062,500, Heyman tweets, which is just shy of his $1.1MM projection. Szczur, meanwhile, will get $950K, a healthy boost over his $800K projection, per Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune (Twitter link).
- The Diamondbacks agreed to a $7.75MM deal with center fielder A.J. Pollock, Murray tweets. Pollock was projected to earn $8.4MM in his final year of eligibility before free agency. Murray also notes that Brad Boxberger is set to earn $1.85MM next year (Twitter link). Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic adds that lefty Andrew Chafin ($1.2MM projection) and the D-backs have a $1.195MM deal in place. Third baseman Jake Lamb, meanwhile, agreed to a $4.275MM deal with the Diamondbacks, according to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (Twitter link). Lamb, eligible for arbitration for the first time, was projected to earn $4.7MM. He’s controllable through 2020. And ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick tweets that Chris Herrmann ($1.4MM projection) landed a $1.3MM deal. Righty Taijuan Walker has settled for $4.825MM, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter), which is within range but shy of the $5.0MM he projected for. Lefty Robbie Ray has settled at $3.95MM, per Nightengale (Twitter link), which falls short of his $4.2MM projection. Infielder Nick Ahmed will $1.275MM, per Heyman (via Twitter), which tops the projected figure of $1.1MM. Arizona has also announced that Chris Owings and David Peralta have agreed to terms.
- The Dodgers are in agreement on a $6MM deal with lefty Alex Wood, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter). He had projected at $6.4MM. Meanwhile, righty Josh Fields agreed to a $2.2MM deal, tweets Murray. Heyman tweets that Enrique Hernandez will earn $1.6MM. Fields’ projection of $2.2MM was on the money, whereas Hernandez topped his mark by $300K. Fields is controlled through 2019, while Hernandez is controllable through 2020. Southpaw Tony Cingrani gets $2.3MM, Murray tweets, which is just a shade over his $2.2MM projection. Outfielder Joc Pederson has also settled, per J.P. Hoornstra of the Southern California News Group (via Twitter), with Beth Harris of the Associated Press reporting a $2.6MM salary that rather handily tops the $2.0MM that MLBTR projected.
National League Central
- All three remaining Cardinals arb-eligibles have agreed to deals, MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch tweets. Marcell Ozuna will earn $9MM after drawin a much larger $10.9MM projection, Heyman tweets. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz had explained that Ozuna likely wouldn’t quite reach the amount the algorithm suggested, though the actual salary still comes in a bit shy of expectations. Lefty Tyler Lyons ($1.3MM projection) receives $1.2MM, per Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (via Twitter). The Cards have also reached agreement with Michael Wacha for $5.3MM, per Nightengale (via Twitter); he was projected to earn $5.9MM.
- The Reds agreed to a $860K salary with Anthony DeSclafani, tweets Murray. DeSclafani missed the 2017 season due to arm troubles and had been projected to earn $1.1MM. He’ll remain under Reds control through 2020. Billy Hamilton and the Reds have settled on a one-year deal worth $4.6MM, tweets Murray. A popular trade candidate this offseason, Hamilton was projected to earn $5MM and comes with another two seasons of team control. Murray also conveys that Michael Lorenzen agreed to a $1.3125MM deal, which lines up fairly well with his $1.4MM projection.
- The Cubs have struck a deal with lefty Justin Wilson, agreeing to a one-year, $4.25MM pact, according to Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times (Twitter link). Wilson, who had been projected at $4.3MM, will be a free agent next winter. The Cubs alsoagreed to a $950K salary with infielder Tommy La Stella, tweets MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat. La Stella was projected to make $1MM in his first offseason of arbitration eligiblity and can be controlled through 2020. Right-hander Kyle Hendricks and the Cubs have agreed to a $4.175MM salary, per Nightengale (on Twitter). That sum comes in a fair bit shy of his projected $4.9MM projection as a first-time eligible player. The Cubs control Hendricks through the 2020 season. Chicago also agreed with Addison Russell, per Wittenmyer (Twitter link). The shortstop will receive $3.2MM for the coming season.
- Nightengale reports (on Twitter) that the Brewers and breakout closer Corey Knebel settled at $3.65MM. As a Super Two player, Knebel can be controlled through the 2021 season and will be arb-eligible thrice more. He was projected at $4.1MM. MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy tweets that the Brewers and right-hander Jimmy Nelson settled at $3.7MM, which falls $1MM shy of his $4.7MM projection (though some of that discrepancy may be due to Nelson’s shoulder injury). Milwaukee also announced a deal for infielders Jonathan Villar (projected at $3MM) and Hernan Perez (projected at $2.2MM). McCalvy reports that Villar will earn $2.55MM, while terms of Perez’s deal are not yet available.
- The Pirates have avoided arbitration with shortstop Jordy Mercer by settling on a $6.75MM salary for 2018, tweets Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Mercer, who’d been projected to earn $6.5MM, is entering his final year of team control and will be a free agent next winter. Biertempfel also reports that Gerrit Cole will earn that same $6.75MM salary in 2018 — a $3MM raise over last year (Twitter link). He has two years of control remaining and had been projected to earn $7.4MM. Righty George Kontos has also agreed to terms, per Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (via Twitter). He had projected for $2.7MM and will receive a smidge more, at $2,725,000, per Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Twitter link).
National League East
- The Braves reached a $3.4MM deal with righty Arodys Vizcaino, per Jon Heyman of FanRag (Twitter link). He’d been projected at $3.7MM. The Braves and righty Dan Winkler agreed to a $610K salary for the upcoming season, tweets Mark Bowman of MLB.com. Winkler tossed just 14 1/3 innings in the Majors this year as he made his way back from elbow surgery. He’d projected at $800K.
- The Marlins and Miguel Rojas agreed to a $1.18MM deal for 2018, Heyman tweets, placing him north of his $1.1MM projection. Rojas should see additional playing time following the Marlins’ wave of trades this offseason. He’s controlled through 2020. Miami also has a deal in place with infielder Derek Dietrich for $2.9MM, Heyman tweets, after projecting at $3.2MM.
- The Mets were able to settle perhaps their most notable arb case, agreeing to a $7.4MM deal with righty Jacob deGrom, per James Wagner of the New York Times (via Twitter). That’s well shy of his $9.2MM projection, though MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz had explained the formula likely overestimated deGrom’s earning power by quite a wide margin. Fellow top righty Noah Syndergaard gets $2.975MM, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter), which goes a fair sight past the $1.9MM projection for the outstanding young starter, whose 2017 season was limited by injury. And reliever AJ Ramos will take home $9.225MM, according to Wagner (via Twitter). That’s just barely past the $9.2MM projection. Wilmer Flores has also avoided arbitration with the Mets, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports (on Twitter). He’ll receive a $3.4MM salary, which falls within $300K of his projected rate. The Mets control Flores through the 2019 campaign. The Mets and right-hander Matt Harvey agreed to a one-year deal worth $5.625MM, tweets Nightengale. Harvey, who is a free agent next winter, had been projected to earn $5.9MM. Meanwhile, Marc Carig of Newsday tweets that Jeurys Familia will earn $7.925MM for the upcoming year, while Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that catcher Travis d’Arnaud will earn $3.475MM in 2018 (Twitter link). Familia, a free agent next winter, was projected at $7.4MM. The Mets control d’Arnaud through 2019, and his projection was $3.4MM. Righty Hansel Robles gets $900K, Heyman tweets.
- Also via Nightengale (Twitter link), the Nationals agreed to a $6.475MM salary for 2018 with right-hander Tanner Roark. That falls about $1MM shy of his $7.5MM projection but still represents a noted raise of $4.315MM for Roark, whom the Nats control through 2019. Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post adds that Michael Taylor will earn $2.525MM next year. Taylor is controlled through 2020 and was projected at $2.3MM.
- The Phillies and Maikel Franco settled on a $2.95MM salary for the 2018 season, reports Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com (Twitter link). Franco, a Super Two player who’d been projected at $3.6MM, remains under club control with the Phils through the 2021 season. Second bagger Cesar Hernandez will earn at a $5.1MM rate in 2018, per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki (via Twitter). That beats his $4.7MM projection and wraps up this year’s arb business for the Phillies.
The Mets are weighing an earnest pursuit of Japanese star Shohei Ohtani if and when he is posted by the Nippon Ham Fighters, David Lennon and Marc Carig of Newsday report. While the Mets are limited in what they can offer at present, the team could potentially trade for additional pool money. The greater allure than the signing bonus they can offer, though, comes with the endorsement opportunities available to Ohtani by signing with one of the two teams in the nation’s largest market, Carig and Lennon posit. The Mets also have a strong relationship with Ohtani’s agency, CAA, and they could offer Ohtani opportunities to bat not only on the days he’s pitching but occasionally in the outfield. Lennon notes that the Mets should still be considered a long shot, but it’s nonetheless worth noting that another large-market club could be in the mix for his services.
A few more notes out of Queens…
- Mike Puma of the New York Post reports that the Mets are indeed interested in Carlos Santana, as FanRag’s Jon Heyman recently suggested, adding that the interest in Santana has a correlation with some executives’ feelings toward prospect Dominic Smith. The former first-round pick made his big league debut late in the 2017 season and didn’t do much to impress, hitting just .198/.262/.395 with a 26.8 percent strikeout rate in 183 plate appearances. Smith is still just 22 years of age, and Puma hardly suggests that the team has completely given up on the young slugger. But, assistant GM John Ricco also suggested to Puma and other reporters that the club could trade from its big league roster if it meant acquiring other big league talent. He also specifically indicated that Wilmer Flores could platoon with Smith, so there’s certainly the possibility that he could yet play a large role for the Mets moving forward.
- Puma notes within that seem piece that Ricco suggested Asdrubal Cabrera currently factors into the plan as a third baseman. The Mets could shift him to second base if a better option at the hot corner arises, though MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo tweets that the Mets are most likely to add a second base option this offseason with Cabrera penciled in at third base. Puma writes that while the Mets are being open-minded when it comes to the infield, they are not likely to pursue either Eric Hosmer or Mike Moustakas in free agency.
- The Mets are “ramping up” to make a play that has previously been uncharacteristic for them, tweets Carig. New York, it seems, is prepared to add a reliever to their bullpen even at the cost of a three- or four-year contract. Alderson has typically eschewed such commitments, but Carig notes that it’s considered a high priority for the team. The Post’s Joel Sherman points out that new manager Mickey Callaway and pitching coach Dave Eiland bring some insight into a group of free-agent relievers. Joe Smith, Bryan Shaw and Boone Logan pitched for Callaway in Cleveland (Smith was also drafted by the Mets), while Eiland was the pitching coach for Mike Minor in Kansas City.
- Further adding to the notion that the Mets are poised for an active offseason, Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM tweets that Ricco joined him on the air tonight and “made it clear” that the Mets are going to be players on the free-agent market. Bowden notes that position players seem likelier than pitchers, though, with center field, first base, second base and third base all potential areas for addition. The Mets were already linked to center fielder Lorenzo Cain earlier this evening.
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).
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’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.