- The Mets are “extremely excited” about the progress reliever Dellin Betances has made, and they expect him to be a full participant in summer camp, according to general manager Brodie Van Wagenen (via Anthony DiComo of MLB.com). Betances, whom the Mets signed to a $10.5MM guarantee during the winter, missed almost all of last season as a Yankee because of shoulder problems. In his lone appearance of the year, on Sept. 15, the right-hander struck out both batters he faced before suffering a partial left Achilles tear while hopping off the mound. If Betances returns to his typical form this season, though, he should be an enormously helpful pickup for the Mets. The 32-year-old’s a four-time All-Star who has logged a 2.36 ERA/2.31 FIP with 14.64 K/9, 4.01 BB/9 and 117 holds during his 381 2/3-inning career.
- More on the Mets, who have had one player on their 40-man roster test positive for the coronavirus, Van Wagenen told Deesha Thosar of the New York Daily News and other reporters Monday. They’ve also had positive tests among minor leaguers. But the 40-man player is recovering well, and Van Wagenen believes the Mets have been been “incredibly fortunate” to have so few positive tests to his point.
7:44pm: Hughes’ contract is worth a prorated $700K (about $260K over a 60-game season), DiComo tweets.
7:05pm: The Mets have signed reliever Jared Hughes to a major league contract, Anthony DiComo of MLB.com was among those to report. Financial details of the deal aren’t yet known, but Hughes will join the Mets’ 60-man player pool. The right-hander is a client of ISE Baseball.
Hughes, who will turn 35 on July 4, was most recently with the Astros, but he opted out of his minor league contract with them in March. He divided 2019 between the Reds and Phillies, with whom he combined for a 4.04 ERA/5.29 FIP with 6.81 K/9, 3.41 BB/9 and a bloated home run-to-fly ball percentage of 28.9 across 71 1/3 frames.
Last season was the first time Hughes was victimized by the home run ball over a large sample of work. He has long been adept at inducing ground balls, having done so at a 61.5 percent clip during a 519-inning major league career that has also included runs with the Pirates and Brewers. Hughes’ ability to keep the ball out of the air has led to a 13.9 percent HR-to-FB rate and a quality 2.88 ERA, despite an underwhelming K/9 of 6.07.
While Hughes has never flashed the most exciting skill set, he looks like a worthwhile flyer for the Mets, who are banking on a better performance from a bullpen that was a major disappointment in 2019. Along with Hughes, they’ve since added Dellin Betances and Brad Brach to the unit.
While it’s fun to imagine Alex Rodriguez and Jenifer Lopez overseeing the Mets from an ownership suite, they’re not alone in their bidding group … and there are plenty of other competing outfits eyeing the New York organization. At the moment, it’s far from clear just how the ownership transition will turn out.
Seven different groups have received pre-approval from Major League Baseball to pursue the Mets, Scott Soshnick reports at Sportico.com. That includes the three primary bidding groups that have already emerged publicly. The identity of the four other potential suitors remains unknown.
In recent years, we’ve seen teams change hands via differing mechanisms. Last year, John Sherman purchased his hometown Royals in a very quiet, tidy process. The 2017 Marlins sale occurred after a very public, long-running bidding process involving quite a few famous names.
It appears we’re headed for the latter scenario here. While the Mets had seemingly lined up an agreement with minority owner Steve Cohen, that prospective deal collapsed and left the Wilpon ownership group in need of outside bidders.
Under the circumstances, the Wilpons are surely interested in maintaining the interest of a fair number of reasonably serious bidders, at least for the initial phase of the process. First-round bids will be solicited in July, according to Soshnick.
This puts a bow on the Mets’ 2020 draft class. The club had already inked their other five draftees, with its four selections after Ginn all going for well under the slot values attached to their picks.
The New York org needed every penny to reel in Ginn. He was taken 52nd overall, a position that came with a $1,403,200 pool allocation. Clearly, he wasn’t willing to turn pro for that amount.
Ginn, a draft-eligible sophomore out of Mississippi State, is working his way back from Tommy John surgery. But the Mets obviously feel the talent is compelling enough to roll the dice on a full recovery.
Most draft watchers graded Ginn as a first-round talent, in spite of the obvious risk. He was already selected there once before, but spurned the Dodgers back in 2018. Ginn is said by some to possess a potentially front-of-the-rotation arsenal — a big heater, compelling slider, and promising change-up — though others anticipate he’ll settle in more as a back-of-the-staff starter or late-inning reliever.
JULY 1: Cabrera can earn at a $1.1MM annual rate if he makes the roster, Jon Heyman of MLB Network tweets.
JUNE 29: The Mets’ signing spree continued Monday with the additions of outfielder Melky Cabrera, infielder Gordon Beckham and right-hander Erasmo Ramirez. All three have been announced by the club, and all are “expected” to be added to the 60-man player pool, according to the team. They join earlier signees Hunter Strickland and Ryan Cordell in that regard.
At 35 years old, Cabrera isn’t the hitter he once was. That said, the Melk Man also hasn’t batted lower than .273 in the past decade, and his contact skills generally make him a source of a respectable OBP even though he doesn’t walk much.
The switch-hitting Cabrera’s .280/.313/.399 slash with the Pirates last year was below-average on the whole (88 OPS+, 85 wRC+), but he was an average or better hitter in the three preceding seasons. Cabrera carried an .807 OPS into the All-Star break last year, but he hit just .231/.257/.306 down the stretch as his role shrunk. To his credit, he struck out at just a 10.3 percent clip in 2019. He’s no lock to make the roster, but if he can shake off last year’s second-half slide, the Mets could conceivably work him into the DH mix and not need to worry about his glove.
Beckham, 33, inked a minor league pact with the Padres in February but had a rough showing in their initial camp that led to his release. Although he drew five walks, Beckham was hitless in 14 at-bats. He spent the 2019 campaign with the Tigers, hitting .215/.271/.372 with six homers, a dozen doubles and a pair of triples in 240 trips to the plate.
Beckham made his big league debut just one year after being selected with the No. 8 overall pick in the 2008 draft by the White Sox. He wasn’t able to replicate a strong rookie campaign, though, and eventually settled in as a journeyman utility infielder. He’s appeared in the big leagues each year since 2009, but Beckham carries a tepid .237/.300/.367 slash in 3782 plate appearances as a big leaguer.
Ramirez, 30, was a quality arm with the Mariners and Rays from 2015-17, pitching to a combined 3.97 ERA (4.22 FIP) with 7.0 K/9, 2.3 BB/9 and 1.2 HR/9 in 385 1/3 big league innings. A teres major strain wiped out most of his 2018 season, though, and Ramirez has yet to really regain his footing. He spent the 2019 season with the Red Sox’ Triple-A affiliate, for whom he posted a 4.74 ERA with 6.8 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 in 125 1/3 innings.
The Mets announced Monday that they’ve signed right-hander Hunter Strickland and re-signed outfielder Ryan Cordell, whom they’d previously released. Both received non-guaranteed deals, and both players are “expected” to be added to the Mets’ 60-man pool, per the club.
Strickland, 31, joins the Mets with nearly five years of big league service time under his belt. He was limited by a Grade 2 lat strain last year and struggled enormously when on the mound, pitching to a combined 5.55 ERA in 24 1/3 frames between the Mariners and Nationals. His track record on the mound prior to that unsightly campaign, however, was strong. From 2014-18, Strickland worked to a combined 2.91 ERA (3.40 FIP) with averages of 8.4 K/9, 3.1 BB/9 and 0.7 HR/9.
Of course, Strickland has drawn as much if not more attention for other reasons. He incited a benches-clearing brawl in 2017 after throwing at Bryce Harper — an incident most believe to be the result of a years-old grudge against Harper for homering twice off Strickland in the 2014 NLDS. The next year, upon being pulled from a game after blowing a saved, Strickland punched a door out of frustration and sustained a broken right hand. He required surgery and missed the next six weeks.
Cordell, 28, was once a fairly well-regarded prospect with the Rangers and Brewers but hasn’t put it together in the Majors. He’s had 287 plate appearances at the game’s top level but managed just a .205/.267/.335 slash line in that time. Cordell does possess a more solid .266/.323/.455 slash in three Triple-A seasons, and he’s capable of playing any of the three outfield slots.
The length of the season, prorated salaries and protocols for health and safety are finally all set in place, but Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association are still negotiating the manner in which contractual options, performance incentives/bonuses and escalator clauses will be handled, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (subscription required).
Fortunately, an agreement is believed to be “within reach,” per Rosenthal. The league had initially sought to prorate the value of 2021 options using the same formula as 2020 salaries, although the MLBPA obviously pushed back against that notion. There’s still some debate over the handling of vesting options — particularly those that are triggered by reaching a set number of games pitched or plate appearances over the life of multiple seasons. The two sides also must determine how those options would be treated in the event that the season is canceled at any point due to health concerns.
There aren’t too many vesting options in MLB this year, although some of the notable ones include:
- Jon Lester, LHP, Cubs: Lester’s $25MM mutual option ($10MM buyout) for the 2021 season would become guaranteed with 200 innings pitched in a normal season.
- J.A. Happ, LHP, Yankees: Happ’s $17MM club option for the 2021 season would’ve become guaranteed upon making 27 starts or totaling 165 innings in 2020.
- Andrew Miller, LHP, Cardinals: Miller’s $12MM club option for 2021 would have been guaranteed if he totaled 110 games between 2019-20. As Rosenthal explores, there are various ways to interpret how many more games he’d need to pitch to trigger that option — some more beneficial to Miller and others to the Cardinals.
- Charlie Morton, RHP, Rays: Morton’s option is another that comes with a multi-year criteria. His contract calls for a $15MM club option in 2021 if he spends fewer than 30 days on the injured list between 2019-20. The option value decreases if he spends additional time on the injured list. Morton avoided the IL entirely last year. Unlike Miller, who surely hopes the number of appearances he needs to make in 2020 can be prorated, it’d be beneficial to Morton for that number (30) to remain as is. That seems unlikely, but the disparity between the clauses of Miller and Morton illustrates that this isn’t exactly straightforward for the player side. The value of his option
- Kelvin Herrera, RHP, White Sox: Herrera, too, needed 110 games between 2019-20 for his $10MM club option to become guaranteed. He pitched in 57 games last year, leaving him 53 shy of his target.
- Wade Davis, RHP, Rockies: Davis’ $15MM mutual option would’ve converted to a $15MM player option in the event that he finished 30 games. He’d only need to finish out 11-12 games in the shortened 2020 season if the two sides go with a strictly prorated interpretation of the qualifiers.
- Bryan Shaw, RHP, Rockies: Shaw has the same 110-game target for 2019-20 that Miller and Herrera have. He pitched 70 times in 2019 and needed just 40 appearances in 2020 to lock in a $9MM salary for the 2021 campaign.
- Jake McGee, LHP, Rockies: With 60 games pitched or 40 games finished in 2020, McGee would’ve locked in a $9MM salary for the 2021 season. His contract also allowed the option to vest with a with 110 games between 2019-20, but he only pitched in 45 contests last year.
- Stephen Vogt, C, Diamondbacks: Vogt’s contract included a $3MM club option that not only vests but increases to a $3.5MM base upon starting 45 games and appearing n a total of 75 games overall.
- Dee Gordon, 2B/SS/OF, Mariners: Gordon would’ve been guaranteed a $14MM salary for the 2021 season with 600 plate appearances this year. That, of course, was extremely unlikely in the first place, though.
Beyond those options, there are myriad escalator clauses throughout baseball that could be impacted by the shortened schedule. It’s fairly common for club options and/or future salaries to be boosted by steady performance — particularly among players returning from injury. Take Dellin Betances, for instance. His contract with the Mets calls for the value of next year’s $6MM player option to increase by $800K upon pitching in 40 games. He’d receive additional $1MM boosts to that figure for appearing in 50, 60 and 70 games apiece.
The league and the union are also still discussing potential retention bonuses for six-year veterans on non-guaranteed deals. In a typical year, any player with six-plus years of service who finished the preceding season on a 40-man roster qualifies as an Article XX(B) free agent. Such players must either be added to the 40-man roster, released five days prior to Opening Day or paid a $100K retention bonus to remain with the club in the minor leagues. Many players in that situation are released and quickly re-signed to a new minor league deal, but that won’t be possible in 2020 due to the fact that players who are removed from a team’s 60-man pool become ineligible to return to that team this season.
Today marks the deadline for teams to submit their initial spring training player pools, which can comprise up to 60 players. Players are not eligible to participate in either a spring training or regular season game until they are included in the pool. Teams are free to change the makeup of the pools as they see fit. However, players removed from a team’s 60-man (for reasons unrelated to injury, suspension, etc.) must be exposed to other organizations via trade or waivers.
Not all players within a team’s pool are ticketed for MLB playing time, of course. Most teams will include well-regarded but still far-off prospects as a means of getting them training reps with no intention of running them onto a major league diamond this season. A comprehensive review of 2020’s unique set of rules can be found here.
The Mets’ initial 45-year player pool consists of…
- Tyler Bashlor
- Dellin Betances
- Brad Brach
- Jacob deGrom
- Edwin Diaz
- Jeurys Familia
- Robert Gsellman
- Walker Lockett
- Seth Lugo
- Corey Oswalt
- Rick Porcello
- Jacob Rhame
- Paul Sewald
- Drew Smith
- Marcus Stroman
- Michael Wacha
- Matt Adams
- Pete Alonso
- Robinson Cano
- J.D. Davis
- Andres Gimenez
- Luis Guillorme
- Jed Lowrie
- Jeff McNeil
- Max Moroff
- Eduardo Nunez
- Amed Rosario
- Dominic Smith
The Mets have signed first-round pick Pete Crow-Armstrong, Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com tweets. He’ll earn the full slot value of his selection, No. 19, with a $3,359,000 bonus.
The 18-year-old Crow-Armstrong, an outfielder from Los Angeles, committed to Ohio State prior to the draft. He entered the proceedings as a top 25 prospect according to Keith Law of The Athletic (No. 10), Baseball America (No. 17), ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel (No. 18), MLB.com (No. 20) and FanGraphs (No. 25). Law, the biggest fan of Crow-Armstrong among the bunch, praised his all-around game, especially his defense in center field, writing, “The defensive and positional value give him a higher floor than most teenagers in the class have, and the possibility for a 60 bat with 50 power gives him a star ceiling.”
The Crow-Armstrong deal leaves the Mets with just one unsigned draft pick, second-rounder J.T. Ginn, whose selection (No. 52) comes with a recommended value of $1,403,000. The Mets still have about $2.6MM left in their draft pool, per Anthony DiComo of MLB.com, so it seems they’re in good position to sign Ginn.
- Mets fifth-rounder Eric Orze landed a deal for just $20K, Callis reports. His pick, No. 150, was worth a much more lucrative $357,100. As Callis notes, it’s easy to root for Orze, who has overcome cancer twice. On the mound, the righty from the University of New Orleans offers “an above-average, 92-95 mph fastball, an average slider and an above-average splitter,” Baseball America writes.