- Also via Heyman, Eduardo Nunez is seeing his market “heat up” a bit. There are as many as eight teams that have shown interest in Nunez of late, including the Mets, Yankees, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Giants, Braves, Brewers and Royals. (Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area recently suggested that a reunion with San Francisco wasn’t likely, implying that Nunez can receive superior offers elsewhere.) Heyman joins others that have recently reported that Nunez is on the Mets’ radar as a second base option. The Yankees, Red Sox, Braves and Brewers all make varying degrees of sense as well, though it’s tougher to see a clear fit with the Jays, Giants and Royals for various reasons. Toronto has already added Aledmys Diaz and Yangervis Solarte this winter (with Troy Tulowitzki and Devon Travis both still on board as well), while the Giants picked up Evan Longoria and are reportedly striving to remain under the luxury tax threshold. Nunez would almost certainly put them over, as they’re within less than $5MM of that point at present. As for the Royals, they could use a versatile infielder, but they’re also gearing up for a rebuild.
The Mets announced on Thursday that they’ve designated right-hander Chasen Bradford for assignment in order to clear a spot on the roster for first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, whose one-year deal with the team has now been formally announced.
Bradford, 28, made his big league debut with the Mets this past season and racked up a fair amount of time in the bullpen, appearing in 28 games and tallying 33 2/3 innings of work. In that time, the former 35th-round pick posted a solid 3.74 ERA with 7.2 K/9, 3.5 BB/9, 0.8 HR/9 and a hefty 55.9 percent ground-ball rate.
While Bradford doesn’t throw hard — he averaged just 90.6 mph on his fastball in that rookie season — he has a history of limiting walks (1.6 BB/9 in parts of four Triple-A seasons) and has routinely turned in ground-ball rates north of 50 percent in the minor leagues.
Jan. 18: Gonzalez has passed his physical, and the Mets have formally announced his signing via press release.
Jan. 13: The Mets have agreed to sign first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, pending a physical. Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports reported the news via Twitter. Nightengale reported earlier tonight that discussions between the two sides were serious, with Jon Heyman of FanRag confirming shortly thereafter.
As we noted earlier in the evening, Gonzalez was recently traded from the Dodgers to the Braves in a deal heavily driven by luxury tax considerations. By sending the 35-year-old first baseman to Atlanta (along with Scott Kazmir, Brandon McCarthy and Charlie Culberson) in exchange for former Dodger Matt Kemp, Los Angeles will be able to stay under the tax cap for 2018. The Braves granted him his release the following Monday, leaving Gonzalez free to sign with any team willing to pay him the MLB minimum salary. Atlanta, of course, is still on the hook for just under $17MM of his guaranteed 2018 salary.
Presumably, Gonzalez will compete with 22-year-old Dominic Smith for the Mets’ first base job in spring training. GM Sandy Alderson has gone on record saying that the Mets wouldn’t make any moves that eliminate Smith as a possibility at first base, but the presence of a five-time All Star with a chance to bounce back to above-average offensive production leaves the Mets some room to give their first baseman of the future some more seasoning at the Triple-A level. That’s now a much more viable contingency plan if Smith struggles to produce offensively the way he did last season. Indeed, as Heyman notes, there are questions about whether Smith is ready for the majors and in good enough shape to reach his potential.
The deal clearly carries very little risk for the Mets, as they’re only obligated to pay Gonzalez the $545K MLB minimum salary in 2018. And yet the upside of this signing should not be taken lightly. As recently as 2015, the former number one overall pick slashed .275/.350/.480 with 28 homers, good for a 129 wRC+ and 3.0 fWAR. His performance has declined in recent seasons, possibly due to age and absolutely due to injuries, but if he can stay healthy, there’s a chance Gonzalez could bounce back from a -1.1 fWAR 2017 campaign and reward the Mets for bringing him into the fold. As we already noted today, he also carries a lifetime 138 wRC+ against right-handed pitching, making him a potentially great asset even in a part-time role.
The Florida Marlins selected Gonzalez out of Eastlake High School in Chula Vista, CA with the number one overall pick in the 2000 draft. His MLB debut came with the Rangers on April 18th, 2004, but he didn’t truly catch fire until then-Padres-GM Kevin Towers acquired him (along with Chris Young and Terrmel Sledge) for the 2006 season. Gonzalez went on to post ten consecutive seasons of at least 2.9 fWAR between the Padres, Red Sox and Dodgers (38.3 fWAR total from 206-2015), homering 283 times during that span. All told, his .288/.359/.488 lifetime batting line paints a picture of a very impressive career.
Photo Courtesy of USA Today Sports Images
The Mets have designated right-hander Kevin McGowan for assignment as one of the two necessary 40-man roster moves to create space for the signings of Jay Bruce and Adrian Gonzalez, tweets Anthony DiComo of MLB.com. The move has yet to be formally announced by the team, though it’s listed on the Transactions page at MLB.com.
McGowan, 26, made his big league debut with the Mets in 2017 and tallied 8 2/3 innings out of the team’s bullpen. In that time, he yielded five runs on the strength of eight hits (two homers) and five walks to go along with eight strikeouts. McGowan showed rather strong fly-ball tendencies both in his brief MLB tenure and in Triple-A Las Vegas last season, and he averaged 92.6 mph on his fastball in the Majors.
[Related: Updated New York Mets depth chart]
The former 13th-round pick (Mets, 2013) out of Division-II Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire has a career 4.19 ERA with 8.0 K/9 against 3.5 BB/9 in 66 2/3 innings at the Triple-A level. Because his contract was only just selected to the big league roster in 2017, he has multiple minor league options remaining in the event that another club wants to take a shot on him via the waiver wire. If not, he’ll be assigned outright back to Triple-A and vie for a spot with the big league club once again at some point in 2018.
- At today’s press conference to reintroduce Jay Bruce, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson suggested to reporters that his team likely has the budget to make one more notable addition (link via Ken Davidoff of the New York Post). Alderson confirmed recent reports that his preference would be to sign a free agent rather than make a trade. “If we were to try to improve in that area, I think we prefer to sign a free agent, only because it doesn’t require us to give up talent,” the GM said. Alderson acknowledged a trade as a possibility, adding that while his farm isn’t as strong as it once was, the Mets do still have players that have drawn interest from other clubs. There have been suggestions that young outfielder Brandon Nimmo could be on the table if the Mets and Pirates discuss a Josh Harrison trade, though the Post’s Mike Puma tweeted today that the Mets “aren’t particularly enthusiastic” about the idea of trading Nimmo for Harrison.
Veteran Adrian Gonzalez will have the inside track to be named the Mets’ primary first baseman in 2018, reports Mike Puma of the New York Post. The 35-year-old first baseman (36 in May) reportedly agreed to a deal with the Mets over the weekend, though that agreement is still pending a physical. That shouldn’t be considered a formality, given the back issues that Gonzalez has had in recent years. The Mets still view young Dominic Smith as a piece of the future, per Puma, but the organization is not convinced that he’s ready for the big leagues just yet. While Gonzalez comes with virtually no risk — the Mets will only pay him the league minimum, with Atlanta on the hook for the remainder of his $22.35MM salary — he’s coming off a woeful season in which be batted just .242/.287/.355 with three homers and multiple DL stints due to persistent back injuries.
A few more notes on the Mets…
- Puma also tweets that the Mets, even after adding Jay Bruce on a three-year, $39MM contract, are focused on infield additions. New York could conceivably upgrade at either third base or second base (with Asdrubal Cabrera playing the other spot), though the team’s preference is to add a second baseman, according to Puma. He also notes that a free-agent signing is likelier than trade. There are a number of veteran options available in free agency both at second base and at third base (links via MLBTR’s Free Agent Tracker). Options range from Brandon Phillips, Jose Reyes and Neil Walker to Yunel Escobar, Todd Frazier and Eduardo Nunez, with several other veterans that could be had on minor league contracts also available.
- Prior to being traded to the Giants, Andrew McCutchen was a known target of the Mets in trade talks. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic shines some more light on the matter (subscription required and strongly recommended), reporting that New York wouldn’t part with outfielder Brandon Nimmo for a one-year rental of McCutchen. New York still believes Nimmo will develop into a quality big leaguer, though Rosenthal adds that the team believes he could be part of a package in talks with the Pirates regarding Josh Harrison. The 24-year-old Nimmo, who was selected 13th overall in the 2011 draft, hit .260/.379/.418 with five homers and a pair of steals in 215 plate appearances as a rookie last season. It would seem that if the Mets are to entertain the notion of moving him, they’d prefer multiple years of control over whichever more established asset they acquire in his place.
- Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News hears the same as Rosenthal, reporting that the Mets would indeed be willing to include Nimmo in a trade that would pry Harrison away from the Pirates. However, she adds that the Mets would not part with Dominic Smith in order to obtain Harrison, even with Gonzalez in the fold for 2018 and Bruce (who figures to see some time at first base) locked up through 2020. Ackert adds that the Mets were approached about Smith in multiple trade negotiations this winter but weren’t inclined to include him in any of the proposed scenarios. She also notes that Eduardo Nunez, Neil Walker and Jose Reyes are among the team’s potential infield targets in free agency.
Five months after being traded from the Mets to the Indians, Jay Bruce is back in New York. The Mets announced on Tuesday that Bruce has re-signed with the team on a new three-year deal. Bruce, a client of Sosnick, Cobbe & Karon, will reportedly be guaranteed $39MM on the contract and will also pick up a partial no-trade clause that allows him to annually specify five teams to which he cannot be traded. A press conference will be held on Wednesday morning (at which point, presumably, a corresponding 40-man roster move will also be announced).
The three-year deal for Bruce reportedly comes with a $3MM signing bonus that’ll be paid out in $1.5MM installments in 2019 and 2020. He’ll earn $10MM this coming season as well as $13MM in both 2019 and 2020.
“I’m excited to return to the Mets to help finish what we set out to do at the beginning of last season and return to the postseason for the best fans in baseball,” said Bruce in a statement issued via the team’s press release. “We have a terrific group of guys in place and I’m excited to get back to work.”
Bruce has long been a reported target of the Mets, and Mike Puma of the New York Post reported hours before the signing that the two sides had been in contact in the days leading up to the agreement. New York has been seeking an outfielder that can also serve as an insurance policy at first base in the event that young Dominic Smith continues to struggle, and Bruce fits that description to some degree. While Bruce’s experience at first base is limited, he did appear in 12 games at first base with the Mets this past season and worked out there quite a bit before seeing in-game action at the position.
It’s been something of a tumultuous ride for Bruce with the Mets, as he struggled mightily after initially being acquired prior to the non-waiver trade deadline in 2016. Bruce finished that ’16 campaign well but sat through an offseason rife with trade rumors swirling around his name. The Mets reportedly shopped Bruce extensively but weren’t able to drum up much interest. Instead, Bruce returned to Queens and significantly bolstered his stock with a .266/.334/.538 slash in the season’s first half. That production led to a trade to Cleveland, where Bruce continued to hit well down the stretch and in the postseason.
Overall, Bruce turned in a strong .254/.324/.508 slash with a career-best 36 home runs during the regular season. Cleveland’s stay in the postseason was rather abbreviated in nature, but Bruce’s .278/.333/.667 slash and two homers — one of which was a dramatic, game-tying solo shot off David Robertson in the bottom of the eighth inning in Cleveland — certainly helped the Indians push the American League Division Series to five games. Now, Bruce will return to an organization that has come to value his presence not only in the lineup but also in the clubhouse.
“Jay has proven to be a leader both on and off the field while continuing to produce at a high level throughout his major league career,” GM Sandy Alderson said in a statement announcing the deal. “We’re glad to have Jay back in the fold as we continue our pursuit to return to the postseason.”
The Mets have informed Bruce that he’ll likely play some first base this time around, tweets Puma, though it stands to reason that the amount of time he sees at the position will be tied directly to how well the 22-year-old Smith is able to adjust to big league pitching. (Smith hit just .198/.262/.395 through 183 plate appearances as a rookie in 2017.) Of course, Bruce also figures to see plenty of time — if not the majority of his time — in the outfield corners. Currently, the Mets have Yoenis Cespedes, Juan Lagares, Michael Conforto and Brandon Nimmo in their outfield mix, though Lagares’ name has been mentioned frequently in trade rumors and Conforto is returning from significant shoulder surgery.
Between Conforto’s shoulder injury, Smith’s inexperience and the litany of maladies that prevented Cespedes and Lagares from taking the field with regularity in 2017, it seems likely that new manager Mickey Callaway (who knows Bruce well already from his two months in Cleveland) should have ample opportunity to get Bruce into the lineup.
Remarkably, despite the fact that we’re now into the middle third of January, Bruce’s $39MM guarantee is the second-largest guaranteed sum to which any position player has agreed this winter. (Bruce’s former Indians teammate, Carlos Santana, has the largest agreement at $60MM in Philadelphia.) Of the top 20 players on MLBTR’s top 50 free agent rankings back in November, just seven have found new homes, including Bruce. MLBTR’s projection of a three-year, $39MM pact for Bruce proved to be accurate, albeit with a different team.
ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick first reported the agreement (on Twitter). Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic tweeted the terms of the deal. USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reported the annual breakdown of the deal (Twitter links). The New York Post’s Ken Davidoff reported the partial no-trade clause (Twitter link).
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
While Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (subscription required/highly recommended) doesn’t necessarily expect the Orioles to trade Manny Machado prior to the season, he reports that the Diamondbacks are still pushing to acquire the infielder. D-backs second baseman Brandon Drury continues to be one of the players involved in Machado trade discussions, as Rosenthal first reported last month, and left-handed pitching prospect Anthony Banda has also been part of the teams’ talks. Machado would play shortstop in Arizona, potentially pushing Ketel Marte to second base and Chris Owings to a super-utility/outfield role, Rosenthal adds.
A few other items stemming from baseball organizations on the East coast…
- Though the Yankees were in on Cole at one point, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the two sides never actually came close to a deal. The Pirates wanted at least one of Miguel Andujar and Clint Frazier, which may have (in my perspective) provided a reasonable framework to get a deal done. However, the hangup was over the other players involved in the package for Cole; the inability to agree on supplemental players proved an obstacle in getting a deal done.
- The latest on the Mets’ infield comes from Rosenthal, who writes that they’re more interested in acquiring a second base than a third baseman. However, it doesn’t seem they’ve made any headway with the Pirates regarding Josh Harrison, Rosenthal suggests, while free agent Eduardo Nunez may be too pricey at the moment. A reunion with free agent and ex-Met Neil Walker is possible, but there’s competition from the Brewers and other teams, per Rosenthal. Interestingly, even after signing Jay Bruce this week, the Mets are considering bringing back free agent first baseman Lucas Duda, Rosenthal relays.
- Elsewhere on the Mets front, suspended reliever Jenrry Mejia is expected to apply for reinstatement “in the near future,” Matt Ehalt of The Record writes. Major League Baseball hit Mejia with a lifetime ban for performance-enhancing drugs back in 2016, but he’s allowed to appeal after two years. That two-year window will expire in February, which will enable Mejia to vie for reinstatement and get a hearing with commissioner Rob Manfred within 30 days of submitting his application, per Ehalt. If Manfred doesn’t rule in Mejia’s favor, he’d have the ability to appeal to an arbitration panel, Ehalt reports. Regardless, odds continue to be against Mejia ever pitching in MLB again, Ehalt suggests.
8:54pm: There’s “a good chance this may happen,” according to a recent tweet by Heyman.
7:51pm: Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports tweets that the Mets are in “serious discussions” to sign first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, who was recently released following a trade from the Dodgers to the Braves. Jon Heyman of FanRag has since confirmed the rumor.
Gonzalez was shipped to Atlanta in December along with infielder Charlie Culberson and pitchers Scott Kazmir and Brandon McCarthy in a trade that brought Matt Kemp back to Los Angeles, though a candid explanation of the trade would focus more on the salaries of the contracts exchanged than the plans for the players themselves. The true motivator of the trade was luxury tax implications for the Dodgers; the team is now highly likely to remain under that threshold in 2018 and thus reset their escalating penalties. Gonzalez had a full no-trade clause with LA, but waived it on the condition that Atlanta agree to release him (it should also be noted that the Dodgers informed him he’d receive limited at-bats with the club).
While there hasn’t been much chatter about Gonzalez since his release, he’s certainly a reasonable candidate to bounce back. His 2017 campaign was largely characterized by injuries and an unimpressive .242/.287/.355 batting line. But prior to that, he’d slugged at least .435 for ten consecutive MLB seasons. In fact, he owns an impressive .488 slugging and .361 wOBA across his 14-year major league career. It makes perfect sense that a team could want to take a chance on him for the league minimum of $545K.
There’s at least a chance that the 35-year-old Gonzalez is no longer viable as a full-time player, but even if that’s the case, he could still prove incredibly useful in a part-time role. A quick look at his career platoon splits reveals a 138 lifetime wRC+ against right-handed pitching to go with a .297/.371./.519 slash line. Shielding him against left-handed pitchers could help him stay fresh and limit his injury risk as well.
That would make him a perfect fit for a Mets team who have been reportedly looking for a part-time first baseman as a contingency plan in case Dominic Smith is deemed unready to take over the position on a full-time basis. GM Sandy Alderson has made sure to note that the team is high on Smith, and that he “wouldn’t expect us to do something that totally eliminates Dominic as a possibility.” Signing Gonzalez would fall right in line with the Mets’ plans, as he’s an inexpensive, short-term commitment.
We’ve covered a whole lot of arbitration deals today, many of them reached before today’s deadline to exchange filing figures. Some other agreements have come together after team and player submitted their numbers. It’s still possible, of course, that these situations will be resolved before an arbitration hearing becomes necessary. (At this point, we seem to lack full clarity on teams’ approaches to negotiations after the filing deadline. And most organizations make exceptions for multi-year deals even if they have a file-and-trial stance.)
Some situations could even be dealt with in short order. As things stand, though, these unresolved arbitration cases could turn into significant hearings. (As always, MLBTR’s 2018 arbitration projections can be found here; you will also want to reference MLBTR’s 2018 arbitration tracker.)
- Mookie Betts, Red Sox: expected to go to hearing, per Alex Speier of the Boston Globe; Betts filed at $10.5MM, Boston countered at $7.5MM (per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag, via Twitter)
- George Springer, Astros: did not settle, per Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter); Springer filed at $10.5MM, Houston countered at $8.5MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Ken Giles, Astros: did not settle, per Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter); Giles filed at $4.6MM, Houston countered at $4.2MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Collin McHugh, Astros: did not settle, per Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter); McHugh filed at $5.0MM, Houston countered at $4.55MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Jonathan Schoop, Orioles: Schoop filed at $9MM, Baltimore countered at $7.5MM (per Bob Nightengale of USA Today, via Twitter)
- Kevin Gausman, Orioles: Gausman filed at $6.225MM, Baltimore countered at $5.3MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Marcus Stroman, Blue Jays: Stroman filed at $6.9MM, Toronto countered at $6.5MM (per Nightengale, via Twitter)
- Roberto Osuna, Blue Jays: Osuna filed at $5.8MM, Toronto countered at $5.3MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Jose Iglesias, Tigers: Iglesias filed at $6.8MM, Detroit countered at $5.6MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Avisail Garcia, White Sox: Garcia filed at $6.7MM, Chicago countered at $5.85MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Trevor Bauer, Indians: Bauer filed at $6.525MM, Cleveland countered at $5.3MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Jake Odorizzi, Rays: Odorizzi filed at $6.3MM, Tampa Bay countered at $6.05MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Adeiny Hechavarria, Rays: Hechavarria filed at $5.9MM, Tampa Bay countered at $5.35MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Scooter Gennett, Reds: expected to go to hearing, per Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer; Gennett filed at $5.7MM, Cincinnati countered at $5.1MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Eugenio Suarez, Reds: expected to go to hearing, per Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer; Suarez filed at $4.2MM, Cincinnati countered at $3.75MM (per MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon, via Twitter)
- Shelby Miller, Diamondbacks: Miller filed at $4.9MM, Arizona countered $4.7MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Kyle Gibson, Twins: Gibson filed at $4.55MM, Minnesota countered at $4.2MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- J.T. Realmuto, Marlins: have not agreed to terms, per team announcement; Realmuto filed at $3.5MM, Miami countered at 2.9MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Dan Straily, Marlins: have not agreed to terms, per team announcement; Straily filed at $3.55MM, Miami countered at $3.37MM (per Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, via Twitter)
- Justin Bour, Marlins: have not agreed to terms, per team announcement; Bour filed at $3.4MM, Miami countered at $3MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Brandon Maurer, Royals: have hit stalemate, per Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com (via Twitter); Maurer filed at $3.5MM, Kansas City countered at $2.95MM (per Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star, via Twitter)
- Felipe Rivero, Pirates: Rivero filed at $2.9MM, Pittsburgh countered at $2.4MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Kendall Graveman, Athletics: Graveman filed at $2.6MM, Oakland countered at $2.36MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Justin Grimm, Cubs: Grimm filed at $2.475MM, Chicago countered at $2.2MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Mike Foltynewicz, Braves: Foltynewicz filed at $2.3MM, Atlanta countered at $2.2MM (per Heyman, via Twitter)
- Zack Wheeler, Mets: Wheeler filed at $1.9MM, New York countered at $1.5MM (per Ken Davidoff of the New York Post, via Twitter)
- Other tendered players who have not yet reportedly agreed to terms: Yolmer Sanchez, White Sox; Brad Hand, Padres