MLB Trade Rumors » » New York Mets 2018-01-17T04:13:39Z https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/feed/atom Steve Adams <![CDATA[Mets Rumors: Gonzalez, Infield, Nimmo, Harrison]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=112786 2018-01-17T03:04:05Z 2018-01-17T03:04:05Z 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.
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Steve Adams <![CDATA[Mets Sign Jay Bruce]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=112134 2018-01-17T02:05:56Z 2018-01-17T01:40:53Z 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).

Jay Bruce | Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

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.”

[Related: Updated New York Mets depth chart and New York Mets payroll]

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.

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Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Mets To Sign Adrian Gonzalez]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=112514 2018-01-14T13:34:15Z 2018-01-14T03:40:05Z 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.

Adrian GonzalezPresumably, 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

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Connor Byrne <![CDATA[East Notes: Machado, Yankees, Mets]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=112466 2018-01-14T03:17:32Z 2018-01-14T03:10:22Z 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.
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Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Mets In “Serious Discussions” To Sign Adrian Gonzalez]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=112500 2018-01-14T02:56:10Z 2018-01-14T02:22:19Z 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.

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Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Unresolved 2018 Arbitration Cases]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=112362 2018-01-13T03:05:53Z 2018-01-13T00:02:01Z 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.)

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Steve Adams <![CDATA[Mets Avoid Arbitration With Harvey, Flores]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=112260 2018-01-13T06:28:47Z 2018-01-12T21:10:22Z
  • 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.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Mets “Nearly” Struck Trade With Indians For Jason Kipnis]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=112170 2018-01-11T15:53:19Z 2018-01-11T15:53:19Z The Mets and Indians very nearly pulled off a deal that would have sent Jason Kipnis to New York, according to Jon Heyman of Fan Rag. Upper management — Heyman hints on the Mets side — ended up scuttling a deal that seemed to be in place.

    Kipnis was widely rumored to be on New York’s radar last month. For the Mets, the veteran would have plugged a hole at second base. And for the Indians, the considerations were mostly financial, as Kipnis is due $30.5MM on his deal (covering two more seasons along with a buyout on a 2020 option).

    It was money, it seems, that caused the hang-up here. While the prospect cost was not prohibitive, Heyman says that “Mets higher-ups didn’t see Kipnis as good value.” Whether Cleveland would have paid down any portion of the remaining obligations in the proposed agreement is not known.

    At this point, it would appear that the odds of talks re-opening are low. The Mets just landed free agent slugger Jay Bruce in a move that will occupy a significant portion of their remaining payroll availability. On the Indians’ side, moving the Kipnis contract likely would have helped facilitate their pursuit of Carlos Santana, but he reportedly agreed to terms with the Phillies on December 15th — right after the Mets/Kipnis talk heated up and before it died down.

    In any event, the Mets do still need a second baseman — or, perhaps, a third baseman who’d bump Asdrubal Cabrera over to second. As Mike Puma of the New York Post wrote this morning, it seems the club still has a variety of open-market possibilities to consider in the infield. Todd Frazier, Howie Kendrick, Neil Walker, and Jose Reyes are evidently still on the team’s radar, while other trade options are presumably still on the table. (Puma does suggest that free agent Mike Moustakas and trade candidate Starlin Castro are not seen as viable options.)

    For the Indians, meanwhile, the latest indication is that the team will utilize Kipnis at his native position of second base after having bumped him to the outfield late last year. Presumably he could still be moved in the right deal, but the organization may also mostly be preparing to hang on and hope he can return to form. While Kipnis limped to a .232/.291/.414 batting line in an injury-limited 2017 season, he carried a composite .289/.357/.460 line over the prior two seasons and has typically graded as a quality defender.

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    Matt Swartz <![CDATA[Arbitration Breakdown: Jacob deGrom]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=111642 2018-01-11T16:15:22Z 2018-01-11T13:55:37Z Recently, I have been discussing some of the higher-profile upcoming arbitration cases as part of MLBTR’s Arbitration Breakdown series. I rely partly on my arbitration model developed exclusively for MLB Trade Rumors, but will also break out some interesting comparables and determine where the model might be wrong. Full arbitration projections for 2018 are also available.

    Jacob deGrom enters his second year of arbitration eligibility poised to earn a solid bump up from his $4.05MM salary from 2017. He went 15-10 with a 3.53 ERA in 201.1 innings and struck out 239 batters, so my model places him at $9.2MM, good for a $5.1MM raise. This is probably too high based on comparables, as I discuss below, but it should easily be enough to earn him a large raise.

    Players who are past their first year of arbitration eligibility general get raises based on their platform year performance only. So we just need to look for pitchers with roughly 15 wins and a ton of strikeouts, along with respectable ERAs. One such player who got a very large raise is David Price—he got a $5.76MM raise back in 2013 after going 20-5 with a 2.56 ERA and 205 punch outs. That is probably somewhat stale by now, although it certainly looks like a ceiling given the much stronger performance in terms of wins and ERA. A more recent ceiling might be Jake Arrieta’s $7.07MM raise two years ago after going 22-6 with a 1.77 ERA. Like Price, he won a Cy Young, and clearly has better numbers. I think both Price and Arrieta cap how high deGrom’s raise can get.

    More within striking distance is Stephen Strasburg three years ago. He went 14-11 versus deGrom’s 15-10. And his 3.14 ERA is better than deGrom’s 3.53, but when you consider run environment it’s nearly a dead ringer. A panel might not consider run environment, but either way both have ERAs in the 3’s. Strasburg’s 242 strikeouts are of course very similar to deGrom’s 239. Strasburg took home a $3.43MM raise. Add in some salary inflation, and you might get closer to $4MM for deGrom.

    Strasburg is actually the largest raise in the last five years excluding the two Cy Young Award winners (Arrieta and Price), so that might be the best comparable. Tyson Ross had a 13-14 record the same year as Strasburg and just 195 strikeouts, but had a 2.81 ERA. He got a $3.27MM raise. But that is likely to fall below where deGrom gets, and could be viewed as something of a floor. ERA is generally not as important in arbitration as you might expect.

    Garrett Richards is the only other comparable that makes sense to me. His $3.23MM raise two years ago off a 15-12/3.65 performance came with only 176 strikeouts, though. So he also likely helps to establish a floor for deGrom.

    Overall, I think there is a good case case for deGrom to get a raise closer to $4MM than the $5.1MM projection. Look for a salary around $8MM when push comes to shove.

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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Mets Notes: Harrison, McCutchen, Lagares, Kendrick]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=111925 2018-01-07T20:10:25Z 2018-01-07T20:10:25Z Here are the latest rumblings from Citi Field, courtesy of Mike Puma of the New York Post

    • The recent talks between the Mets and Pirates about Andrew McCutchen may have actually been more focused around Josh Harrison, who has long been cited as a Mets target for their hole at second base.  According to Puma, the Mets would’ve taken on the salaries of McCutchen ($14.75MM) and Harrison ($10MM in 2018, plus club options in 2019-20), preferring to give Pittsburgh salary relief rather than to deal prospects from New York’s thin farm system.  Of course, the Mets have payroll restrictions of their own, which is why Juan Lagares (owed $15.5MM in 2018-19) would “almost certainly” have been going back to the Pirates in such a deal to help balance out the salaries.  In my view, this trade doesn’t make much sense for the Pirates unless the Mets added significant minor league talent — Harrison and McCutchen are both quality trade chips for the Bucs, not mere salary dump candidates.  A source tells Puma that a trade between the Mets and Pirates continues to remain unlikely.
    • As for other second base options beyond Harrison, “Howie Kendrick is viewed by the Mets as a potential fit” due to his positional versatility and his reputation as a clubhouse leader.  The Blue Jays and, potentially, the Nationals have been the only other teams linked to Kendrick this winter; interestingly, reports from a month ago indicated that the Mets weren’t interested in Kendrick, though obviously plans can change over the course of offseason business.  Injuries limited Kendrick to 91 games and 344 PA last season, though the veteran was very productive (.315/.368/.475) when he was on the field for the Phillies and Nationals.  Kendrick has seen much more time as an outfielder than as a second baseman over the last two years, though the Mets could deploy him all over the diamond rather than in a strict everyday role at the keystone.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Mets, Jenrry Mejia Avoid Arbitration]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=111914 2018-01-07T17:56:52Z 2018-01-07T17:56:52Z A quick look around the National League…

    • The Brewers are arguably in position to spend big on a free agent starting pitcher this offseason, but it’s unlikely to happen “unless prices come down,” Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes. General manager David Stearns claims he’s “comfortable” with the team’s current rotation options – including the newly signed duo of Jhoulys Chacin and Yovani Gallardo. At the same time, he’s still working to improve the Brewers’ pitching and other areas of their roster. “I wouldn’t say we have anything that is imminent,” he told Haudricourt. “But that can always change with one phone call. We are involved on a number of fronts, some of them farther along than others. We’ll see where that takes us.”
    • Outfield prospect Edward Olivares is someone San Diego had “been on for some time” before acquiring him in Saturday’s Yangervis Solarte trade with Toronto, Padres general manager A.J. Preller said (via Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune). Preller went on to reveal that the Padres may not be done trading infielders, even after shipping out Solarte. “We’re still having discussions on the different infielders, and we’ll see how things play out,” stated Preller, who admitted after acquiring third baseman Chase Headley last month that he could flip him. Other teams had also called about Cory Spangenberg and Carlos Asuaje at that point.
    • The Mets and reliever Jenrry Mejia avoided arbitration this week, settling on a $1.729MM salary, according to Jon Heyman of FanRag (Twitter link). However, Mejia isn’t in position to collect that money, as Heyman notes. Major League Baseball issued Mejia a lifetime ban in February 2016 after his third positive test for performance-enhancing drugs.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Latest On Possible Mets Targets]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=111801 2018-01-06T07:31:58Z 2018-01-06T04:23:21Z
  • The Mets are said to be checking in on the market for third basemen, per MLB.com’s Jon Morosi. The report suggests that the New York organization is positioning itself as a landing spot for Mike Moustakas or Todd Frazier if they reduce their current asking prices. Similarly, the club has checked in on backstop Jonathan Lucroy as well as left-handed-hitting first basemen Adam Lind and Logan Morrison. (Those two potential first base options, of course, occupy quite different market segments given the former’s age and the latter’s breakout 2017 season.) All told, it still seems the Mets are broadly canvassing the market for possible upgrades, but looking to do so with relatively limited financial resources still available.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Mets Have Shown Interest In Andrew McCutchen]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=111740 2018-01-05T05:46:35Z 2018-01-05T05:46:35Z
  • The Pirates and Mets have again engaged in some talks involving long-time Bucs star Andrew McCutchen, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (via Twitter). As things stand, though, it seems there’s no reason to believe the Mets are a particularly likely destination. The 31-year-old looks to be a solid value after a nice bounceback season, but at $14.75MM on a one-year commitment he’s not exactly teeming with value, either. And that’s still a big payroll hit for the Mets, who are reportedly looking to upgrade in several areas without greatly increasing their 2018 financial commitments. From the Pittsburgh perspective, of course, the team seems mostly still to be considering arrangements that will maximize resources without fully committing to win-now or future-oriented extreme. That’s the broad takeaway from the mailbag of MLB.com’s Adam Berry, who nicely covers a variety of topics of interest to Bucs fans.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Mets "Highly Unlikely" To Sign Jay Bruce, Neil Walker]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=111336 2017-12-31T17:17:31Z 2017-12-29T02:27:25Z
  • Jay Bruce or Neil Walker are “highly unlikely” to sign with the Mets, Newsday’s Marc Carig said in an appearance on The Orange & Blue Thing show (Facebook link, Carig joins around the 21:00 mark).  The possibility can’t be entirely ruled out, however, given the nature of this “weird offseason” that has seen so many top free agents remain available as we approach the start of January.  Carig’s segment is well worth a full listen, as he also discusses such topics as the communication issues that has plagued the Mets’ organization and (along those same lines) his recent commentary criticizing team ownership for its lack of transparency.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Latest On Market For Josh Harrison]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=111255 2017-12-28T02:59:44Z 2017-12-28T02:59:44Z In an update on the market for Pirates second baseman Josh Harrison, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review writes that a “handful” of organizations have at least reached out to gauge the asking price. Indeed, there’s some indication that he’s the Bucs’ most heavily pursued trade candidate.

    Among the teams to have reached out are the Yankees, Mets, and Blue Jays. The Yanks were tied recently, albeit somewhat speculatively, to Harrison in relation to a potentially larger move involving Gerrit Cole. Interest from the latter two was reported a few weeks back (see here and here), though it’s notable to hear they’re still in pursuit.

    Though further pursuers haven’t yet been identified, it isn’t difficult to imagine quite a few other clubs having interest. Harrison, after all, can play all over the diamond and would fit quite comfortably on a number of rosters.

    His contract rights are also rather appealing. The 30-year-old will earn a reasonable $10MM in 2018 and can be controlled by successive club options. At $10.5MM and $11.5MM apiece, they won’t exactly come at a bargain rate, but the flexibility is plenty desirable in its own right.

    Harrison likely won’t replicate his excellent 2014 campaign, but was plenty productive in 2017. He ended the year with a solid .272/.339/.432 batting line and career-best 16 home runs to go with a dozen steals. As usual, Harrison rated as a quality defender and baserunner, making him an approximately 3-WAR player despite only carrying league-average production at the plate.

    At this point, it does not seem that any team has emerged as a clear favorite to acquire Harrison — or even that the Pirates are more likely than not to move him. While the organization could fill in from within should it deal Harrison, there’s also little question that he improves the team’s outlook for 2018. Just how inclined the Pirates will be to move him may hinge on whether they end up dealing Cole and/or long-time franchise face Andrew McCutchen.

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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Mets Listening To Offers For Juan Lagares]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=111072 2017-12-24T04:32:11Z 2017-12-24T04:31:48Z The Mets are listening to offers for center fielder Juan Lagares, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. However, Puma notes that there’s skepticism within the industry about a trade coming together. New York may have to eat some of the $15.5MM left on Lagares’ contract in order to move him, suggests Puma, who points out that’s not something the team’s often willing to do. The Mets are already low on available spending room as it is – they may only have around $10MM to play with, per Puma – and that’s without having addressed one of second or third base (depending on where Asdrubal Cabrera plays in 2018) or adding a first baseman/outfielder.

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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Bartolo Colon Interested In Rejoining Mets]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=111068 2017-12-23T22:44:54Z 2017-12-23T22:43:25Z Free agent right-hander Bartolo Colon would consider signing a minor league contract with one team – the Mets – Mike Puma of the New York Post reports (Twitter link). It could be a moot point, though, as the Mets have only shown “minimal” interest in Colon this winter, per Puma.

    There’s already plenty of familiarity between Colon and the Mets, of course, as he pitched for the club from 2014-16 and emerged as a beloved member of the team during that stretch. Colon threw between 191 2/3 and 202 1/3 innings in each of those seasons and combined for a 3.90 ERA, 6.34 K/9 and 1.31 BB/9.

    Colon parlayed his late-career success as a Met into a $12.5MM guarantee with the NL East rival Braves last winter, but his short tenure in Atlanta was disastrous, leading the club to release him in July. Colon finished the year with the playoff-bound Twins on a minors deal and performed better than he did with the Braves, but his results still weren’t appealing. All told, Colon’s age-44 season saw him post a 6.48 ERA with 5.6 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 across 143 innings (28 starts).

    Now, given that he’s set to turn 45 in May and is coming off a dreadful season, a major league deal could be difficult to come by for Colon this winter. Still, Colon is looking to play one more season, which would be his 21st. With 240 victories, Colon is within striking distance of passing Juan Marichal (243) for most wins by a Dominican-born pitcher. While it would make for a nice story to see him accomplish that feat in a Mets uniform, it doesn’t appear likely the two sides will reunite.

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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Mets Receiving Interest In Juan Lagares]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=111014 2017-12-22T23:54:05Z 2017-12-22T21:44:57Z
  • There’s some interest from rival organizations in Mets center fielder Juan Lagares, Heyman reports on Twitter. Of course, it’s far from clear that the New York organization has real interest in dealing away the 28-year-old. To the contrary, indications to date have been that the Mets expect to utilize Lagares quite heavily. The rangy defender last topped 400 plate appearances in 2015 and has not posted a league-average season with the bat since the season before that.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Mets Name Omar Minaya Special Assistant To GM Sandy Alderson]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=110978 2017-12-22T16:33:15Z 2017-12-22T16:30:35Z 10:30am: Newsday’s Marc Carig reports that the move was not well-received within the organization’s front office (all Twitter links). Owner Fred Wilpon’s fingerprints are “all over” Minaya’s return, per Carig, adding that many in the Mets front office had some “serious reservations” about the decision.

    9:15am: The Mets announced Friday that they’ve named Omar Minaya a special assistant to general manager Sandy Alderson. Minaya, of course, served as the Mets’ GM himself from 2004-10 before being replaced in that role by Alderson.

    “Omar has a long history with the Mets,” said Alderson in a statement announcing the move. “He has served the club well in many different areas. Omar will be a resource on scouting and player development, will consult on player acquisitions and will serve as a community ambassador. We are very happy to have him back in the organization.”

    After departing the Mets, Minaya spent four years as the Padres’ vice president of baseball operations before taking a job with the Major League Baseball Players Association, where he served as a senior advisor to executive director Tony Clark. He’ll now rejoin the organization and help evaluate young talent as the Mets look to build up a minor league system that has grown increasingly thin in recent years.

    “I’m excited to return to an organization that I love,” Minaya said in his own statement. “I’m thrilled I can return to scouting and developing young talent. I look forward to working for Sandy and his staff.”

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Mets Rumors: Payroll, Yankees, Bruce, Ramos]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=110956 2017-12-22T05:23:29Z 2017-12-22T05:23:29Z The Mets are set to head into the 2018 season with a payroll reduction of roughly $20MM, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Mets GM Sandy Alderson has roughly $10MM remaining to spend on needs up and down the roster, per Sherman — which is reflective of ownership’s confidence in the team’s ability to make a postseason run. Sherman notes that last winter, Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz believed the team to be poised for another postseason run and spent accordingly, but last year’s cavalcade of injuries and underperformance has now curtailed their willingness to spend at such an aggressive level. The Mets could yet find a bargain option or two late in the offseason to continue rounding out the roster, as was the case last February and Jerry Blevins and Fernando Salas were inked to relatively low-cost, one-year deals.

    More out of Queens…

    • Sherman’s colleague, Mike Puma, writes that Wilpon was “irate” upon learning of the Yankees’ Giancarlo Stanton acquisition. Wilpon frequently gets upset when seeing his crosstown rivals make blockbuster acquisitions, suggesting that business model to be unsustainable (despite the Yankees operating at the top of the payroll chain for decades). Additionally, Puma notes that big-name free agents haven’t been a consideration at any point this offseason and also lists Addison Reed (along with Tommy Hunter and Bryan Shaw) among bullpen options that have been deemed too costly.
    • Puma also tweets that the Mets are still interested in a reunion with Jay Bruce, though they haven’t made him an offer to this point. Given the payroll constraints portrayed in the above-linked columns from the Post duo, it’d be difficult to imagine the Mets winning any sort of bidding war for Bruce. MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo wrote yesterday that the Mets’ interest in Bruce would be contingent on his asking price dropping from its current point — a four-year guarantee.
    • Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports (subscription required and recommended) that one creative means of dealing with their limited resources could be to trade reliever AJ Ramos for a second baseman and then sign another reliever to step into his place. The Record’s Matt Ehalt also hears that the Mets are willing to move Ramos in order to address other needs on the big league roster — second base chief among them. The Mets and Indians “do not have anything brewing” with regard to Jason Kipnis at present, however, and Ehalt also notes that Starlin Castro doesn’t appear to be a target, either (as others have previously reported). Ramos, 31, will be a free agent next year and comes with a projected arbitration salary of $9.2MM, per MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz. In 58 2/3 innings last year, Ramos posted a 3.99 ERA with a hefty 11.1 K/9 rate against a more troublesome 5.2 BB/9 mark.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Mets, Sandy Alderson Agree To New Contract]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=110847 2017-12-21T14:15:59Z 2017-12-21T00:26:29Z The Mets announced that general manager Sandy Alderson has signed an extension of undisclosed length with the team. “I’m excited that Sandy will continue to lead the organization,” Mets COO Jeff Wilpon says in a press release announcing the extension. Previous reports had indicated that Alderson was likely to sign agree to a new two-year deal following the expiration of his previous contract, which ran through the end of 2017.

    “I feel that we have some unfinished business,” says Alderson. “Spring Training is around the corner and our quest to return to the postseason will continue.”

    The 70-year-old Alderson is entering his eighth season as general manager of the Mets, having been first appointed to the post as the successor to Omar Minaya after the conclusion of the 2010 campaign. Alderson’s Mets have posted winning records in just two of his seven years at the front office’s helm, though one of those positive seasons was a 90-win effort that saw the Mets advance to the World Series against the Royals in 2015. The Mets advanced to the postseason the following year as well, though quickly ousted by the Giants in the National League Wild Card game.

    While Alderson takes his fair share of flak from the Mets’ faithful — some of it deserved — an extension has been rumored to be in the works for awhile now, and he’s made plenty of quality moves to better position the team for success. Alderson was in the GM’s chair when the Mets traded half a season of Carlos Beltran for then-prospect Zack Wheeler, and he opted trade R.A. Dickey to the Blue Jays in a package that netted Noah Syndergaard and Travis d’Arnaud rather than extend Dickey on the heels of his NL Cy Young victory. Alderson was also the top decision-maker when the Mets traded for and twice re-signed Yoenis Cespedes. Other, lower-profile moves such as opting to keep Lucas Duda over Ike Davis when the Mets had a pair of young, MLB-ready first base options also proved shrewd.

    Of course, like any top-level baseball executive, Alderson has had his share of misses in his tenure. Allowing Daniel Murphy to walk and sign with the division-rival Nationals stands out perhaps chief among some missteps for the organization, and the 2017 season in general devolved into somewhat of a circus due to rampant injury issues and poor communication (both with the media and, reportedly, internally as well). Among the most eye-opening issues was the fact that Syndergaard reportedly declined a request to undergo an MRI just days before pitching and ultimately being diagnosed with a partially torn lat muscle.

    The Mets are oft-criticized by the New York media for their failures to spend like a large-market powerhouse, though much of that is out of Alderson’s hands. Newsday’s Marc Carig, for instance, recently reported that Alderson and his front office often had to enter the offseason “flying blind,” with little to no information from ownership as to the level at which they’ll be able to spend. The Wilpons drew plenty of criticism over the summer amid the Mets’ medical turmoils, with ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reporting back in May that Jeff Wilpon “meddles” to a considerably greater extent than most owners.

    It remains to be seen exactly how long Alderson will remain at the helm, though Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News reported back in October that assistant GM John Ricco could be in line to succeed Alderson, whether that happens at the conclusion of the 2019 season or further down the line.

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Mets Reportedly Reached Out To A-Gon]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=110729 2017-12-20T04:24:16Z 2017-12-20T04:24:16Z
  • The Mets have indeed “reached out” to Adrian Gonzalez, tweets Olney. (Olney and others had previously suggested the Mets were likely to explore the possibility.) New York’s level of interest isn’t known, but they have a considerably more intriguing option in-house in the form of Dominic Smith, and the market bears a number of considerably more appealing veterans (all of whom, albeit, are more expensive). The 35-year-old Gonzalez could be had for just the league minimum, as the Braves are on the hook for the remainder of his salary, but he’s coming off a season that was ruined by back injuries and saw him post an unsightly .242/.287/.355 slash line in 252 plate appearances.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Market Notes: Red Sox, Hosmer, Royals, Cards, Donaldson, Mets, Kipnis, A-Gon]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=110679 2017-12-19T04:26:17Z 2017-12-19T04:26:17Z Signing Mitch Moreland doesn’t take the Red Sox out of the market for hitting, president of baseball ops Dave Dombrowski told reporters including Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. And adding another stick wouldn’t necessarily mean trading away from the current roster to create space, the club’s top baseball decisionmaker added. But it surely does not seem that Boston will sign another first baseman; rather, a DH/corner outfield bat seems the likeliest possibility.

    • Boston’s decision seems to take it out of the market for Eric Hosmer, which has raised some eyebrows in Royals country. As Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star writes, there are still many barriers remaining to a return to Kansas City for Hosmer, including the possibility that agent Scott Boras will find a way to bring some new suitors into the picture. But keeping Hosmer in Royals blue for the future now seems more plausible than might have been expected when the organization began giving indication it would rebuild. Of course, even if that comes to pass, the general rebuilding plan will remain, the Star’s Rustin Dodd notes on Twitter.
    • The Cardinals appear to be showing more interest in veteran Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson than in Manny Machado of the Orioles, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter). Nightengale posits that the club may believe it’s better situated to pursue a long-term deal with Donaldson — who’s much older than Machado, though both will hit the open market at the same time — which would increase his appeal. Of course, it’s important to bear in mind there’s still no real indication that Toronto will move Donaldson and the St. Louis front office has suggested recently that it’s not all that keen on giving up significant assets for a rental.
    • While there has been some chatter recently connecting the Mets to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post says that possibility is not as likely as it has come to seem. Especially with Carlos Santana moving on, says Davidoff, the Indians are not particularly inclined to part with Kipnis’s contract for a marginal return. New York is trying to thread the needle in finding an upgrade at the position, with the organization concerned with giving up too much in salary or prospect value to make a deal. As the Post’s Joel Sherman writes, the Mets’ lack of top-end, marketable pre-MLB talent has posed an under-appreciated barrier to its winter activity.
    • The Mets, of course, are also eyeing the addition of another option at the first base position. New York had some interest in Moreland, per the above-cited Cafardo piece. And as James Wagner of the New York Times tweets, the Mets intend at least to take a look at the newest entrant onto the open market: Adrian Gonzalez. The veteran will be looking to bounce back after a rough, injury-plagued 2017 season, though he could conceivably bring some upside at a very appealing price.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Tigers Preferred Mets' Kinsler Package To Angels]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=110641 2017-12-18T20:08:34Z 2017-12-18T20:08:34Z
  • The Tigers preferred the package of prospects that the Mets were willing to offer for Ian Kinsler to the package they received from the Angels, writes Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press. However, Kinsler would only waive his no-trade clause to approve a trade to the Angels, forcing GM Al Avila’s hand. Though Avila could’ve waited, Fenech opines that the GM made the right call to act when there was a trade scenario on the table rather than to wait for something unforeseen to arise. Meanwhile, Kinsler tells Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register that Justin Upton has been recruiting him since being traded to the Angels in August, and the Halos’ success in the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes caught his attention as well: “Making moves this winter to push for the next level … That motivates a player like me.”
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Mets Rumors: Bruce, Kipnis, Tribe]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=110608 2017-12-18T04:14:16Z 2017-12-18T04:14:16Z The latest from Citi Field…

    • The Mets have been linked to a possible reunion with Jay Bruce all offseason, and a Mets source tells Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News that the free agent is looking for a four-year contract.  This represents a shift in Bruce’s asking price, as he and his representatives began the offseason in search of a five-year pact worth $80-$90MM and reportedly were still sticking to that demand at the start of December.  Of course, starting with a high number is a common tactic in any negotiation, so it isn’t surprising that Bruce has limited his demand, particularly since the free agent market as a whole has yet to truly kick into gear.  Even four years may be too long for the Mets’ liking — while Bruce would be a valuable contributor at first base or in a corner outfield spot, New York has Michael Conforto (once he recovers from shoulder surgery) and rookie Dominic Smith slated for those spots over the long term.  The Rockies, Blue Jays, and Mariners have also been linked to Bruce at various points over the winter, though Seattle’s acquisitions of Ryon Healy and Dee Gordon may have lessened their desire for Bruce’s services.
    • A source “expressed skepticism” to Newsday’s Marc Carig (Twitter links) that the Mets and Indians would be able to work out a deal involving second baseman Jason Kipnis.  New York has been connected to a wide array of players as it tries to address its hole at the keystone, though with other trade avenues seemingly closing up, it was looking like Kipnis could be the Mets’ top option.  With the Mets also apparently open to taking on salary instead of moving prospects in trades, Kipnis seemed like an even clearer target; one rival executive described Kipnis as one of “the most attainable” second basemen left on the market given that the Tribe seems eager to get his $30.5MM in remaining salary off their books.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[NL East Notes: Nats, Rendon, Mets, Phillies]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=110561 2017-12-17T16:49:01Z 2017-12-17T16:49:01Z Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon implied to Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post and other reporters Sunday that he’d be open to discussing an extension with the team (Twitter link). “Why not stay with one organization?” said Rendon, who has been a member of the franchise since it chose him sixth overall in the 2011 draft. The Scott Boras client has turned into an elite-level player since then, and he’s only two years away from free agency (he’ll make a projected $11.5MM in 2018). Unsurprisingly, general manager Mike Rizzo suggested earlier this week that the Nats would be interested in locking up Rendon before he’s able to leave.

    More on Washington and two of its division rivals:

    • The Mets’ front office enters each offseason “flying blind,” without an exact idea of how much money is available to spend, Marc Carig of Newsday reports. Carig reached out via email to Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon to discuss the team’s payroll, but the executive declined comment through a spokesman. As a result, Carig goes on to criticize the Mets for a lack of transparency and accountability, an unwillingness to spend like the huge-market team they are, and their almost nonexistent scouting presence in the Pacific Rim and Cuba.
    • Even with Carlos Santana, Tommy Hunter and Pat Neshek now aboard, the Phillies may not contend for a playoff spot in 2018. However, those signings are credibility-building moves that will help the team make progress in the win-loss column next season, thus making it a more attractive option for premier free agents in a year, Matt Gelb of Philly.com observes. According to Gelb, the club has done a lot of planning around next winter’s class, one that’s currently slated to include Bryce Harper, Manny Machado and other superstars.
    • Reliever Brandon Kintzler turned down offers to close elsewhere to return to the Nationals as a setup man, Rizzo revealed Sunday (Twitter link via Mark Zuckerman of MASNsports.com). “Part of the thing we like most about him is he’s about the name on the front of the jersey, more so than the name on the back,” Rizzo said. More on Kintzler from Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press, who reports (Twitter link) that the righty’s agent, Kevin Kohler, asked Rizzo during negotiations if he’d re-up Kintzler to a one-year, $5MM contract. Rizzo said he would, but he expressed doubt that Kintzler would accept that. Kintzler’s camp then responded with a two-year, $15MM proposal. In the end, the sides settled on a two-year agreement with a $10MM guarantee and a chance for $6MM million more in incentives.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Mets Interested In Evan Longoria]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=110531 2017-12-17T01:21:29Z 2017-12-17T01:18:02Z The Astros and Phillies have interest in Rays right-hander Chris Archer, joining a slew of previously reported clubs, per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. The Rays clearly wouldn’t have any trouble finding a taker for Archer, thanks to his track record, age (29) and team-friendly contract (four years, $34MM). Teammate and face of the franchise Evan Longoria, the Rays’ longtime third baseman, is three years older than Archer and costs far more (a guaranteed $86MM over a half-decade). But that doesn’t seem to be a prohibitive price tag, as the three-time All-Star is drawing some interest from the division-rival Yankees as well as the Giants, Mets and previously reported Cardinals, according to Topkin.

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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Mets Sign Anthony Swarzak]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=109834 2017-12-16T04:23:43Z 2017-12-16T04:22:43Z The Mets have announced their deal with righty Anthony Swarzak, as Marc Carig of Newsday first reported (via Twitter). It’ll be a two-year, $14MM contract for the Jet Sports Management client, according to Carig. Swarzak will take home a $1MM signing bonus and then salaries of $5MM and $8MM, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter).

    Aug 5, 2017; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Milwaukee Brewers relief pitcher Anthony Swarzak (37) pumps his fist and celebrates as they beat the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    Swarzak, 32, will bolster the late-inning mix for the Mets, who had stated all winter long that the bullpen was a priority. He was the option chosen after New York failed to land a few other targets, Carig notes.

    Of course, the veteran looks to be a nice consolation prize. After all, he turned in 77 1/3 innings of 2.33 ERA ball, with 10.6 K/9 against 2.6 BB/9, in a strong 2017 campaign.

    That was a notable breakout for a reliever that had only once previously allowed less than four earned runs per nine over a full MLB campaign. The eight-year veteran owns a lifetime 4.22 ERA in 561 1/3 career frames.

    While it’s easy to raise an eyebrow at the idea that Swarzak can sustain the improvement, there was more to it than sample fortune. The veteran clearly found something, as he turned in a personal-best 95.0 mph average fastball and a 14.0% swinging-strike rate that dwarfed anything he had shown previously. The velo boost was also evident in Swarzak’s slider, which was quite a different pitch than it was in most of his prior work. He was equally effective against lefties and righties in his sparkling campaign, MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo notes on Twitter.

    For the Mets, the move gives new skipper Mickey Callaway one more arm to call upon when the game is on the line. Deepening the relief corps as much as the organization hopes may still require further acquisitions, though perhaps not at this contractual magnitude. Since the club was chasing some higher-priced pieces that have since signed elsewhere, it’s also possible that there could be some extra cash available for further relief moves or to address other needs.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Mets Sign Jose Lobaton]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=110358 2017-12-15T22:29:03Z 2017-12-15T22:17:12Z The Mets have inked a minors deal with veteran catcher Jose Lobaton, per a team announcement. He’ll receive an invitation to MLB camp next spring.

    Lobaton, a 33-year-old switch-hitter, has played for the division-rival Nationals for the past four seasons. While he is generally regarded as a reliable asset behind the dish, Lobaton has limped to a .210/.281/.307 batting line over 657 plate appearances during his tenure in D.C.

    While he’s an established MLB asset, Lobaton’s struggles of late always made it seem likely he’d end up settling for a minor-league arrangement. Catching depth is always important to have, though, and Lobaton will certainly rate among the better insurance policies around the game.

    Perhaps it’s not too soon to fully rule out a run at a MLB roster spot for Lobaton. Current Mets options Travis d’Arnaud (who’s projected to earn $3.4MM in arbitration) and Kevin Plawecki (who’s out of options) have certainly had their share of ups and downs, after all. But it seems quite likely the Mets will open the 2018 season with those two players sharing time behind the dish.

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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Exploring The Mets' Second Base Options]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=110248 2017-12-15T02:48:41Z 2017-12-15T02:48:41Z
  • The Mets are still looking for help at second base, though they don’t appear to be close on some of the options on the trade market, Mike Puma of the New York Post writes.  Team officials “indicated there was little momentum” in talks with the Phillies on Cesar Hernandez and the Pirates about Josh Harrison, while the Twins are giving the impression that Brian Dozier is unlikely to be dealt.  The BrewersJonathan Villar is available in the wake of his down year, though Villar isn’t seen “as a serious possibility” by the Mets for now.  Looking at outside-the-box possibilities, signing shortstop Zack Cozart and switching him to second base seems like a “long shot” scenario, a source tells Newsday’s Marc Carig (Twitter link).
  • In a full story from Carig, he reports that the Mets are more willing to take on salary than give up significant prospects in trades.  This could lead them to Jason Kipnis, who both Carig and Puma cite as potentially the Mets’ top second base target.  The Indians owe Kipnis $28MM over the next two season, plus a $16.5MM club option for 2020 that carries a $2.5MM buyout.  Also from Carig, he reports that the Mets don’t seem to have much interest in another second baseman, the AthleticsJed Lowrie.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Position Player Rumblings: Red Sox, Machado, White Sox, Cards/Donaldson, Jays/Cain, Mets]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=110156 2017-12-14T17:45:32Z 2017-12-14T17:43:19Z The Red Sox have designs on adding the two top position players on the free agent market, according to the Boston Herald’s Michael Silverman, with ongoing pursuit of both J.D. Martinez and Eric Hosmer. Interestingly, Silverman notes that Boston would likely look to shed some of its obligations to Hanley Ramirez by dealing him away in the event it can acquire both players.

    That scenario seems to be one of several possibilities still remaining for the Red Sox, who are one of the many teams with plenty of work yet to do in settling their regular lineups. Here’s a look in at the latest notes on bats from around the game:

    • Orioles VP of baseball ops Dan Duquette made clear today that he does not foresee striking a deal involving third baseman Manny Machado that is contingent upon extension negotiations, as Joel Sherman of the New York Post was among those to report on Twitter. In other words, it seems any acquiring team would be gaining just one year of control over over Machado. Sherman also hears that the odds are in favor of a deal at this point, tweeting that the White Sox and Cardinals are the “most aggressive” teams in pursuit of the young superstar.
    • For the White Sox, the interest in Machado does not include an intention to flip him in a later swap, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter). While Chicago has made an “impressive” bid for Machado, per Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune, Nightengale also says that the belief on the South Side is that others have offered more. Meanwhile, GM Rick Hahn said that the team’s “focus remains on the long term” and says he won’t “make any sort of move that’s aimed at jumping up” into immediate contention. Despite that cold water, he did say the organization is willing to “take some calculated risks along the way.” Just what the team has in mind with this reported pursuit remains a bit of a mystery, but we’ll have to wait and see how things shake out.
    • While evidently maintaining interest in Machado and pursuing other fronts, the Cardinals are also still “pushing” the Blue Jays to offer up their own star third baseman, Josh Donaldson, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (via Twitter). At this point, though, there’s no reason to believe that Toronto will budge from its stance on Donaldson — namely, that it’s not interested in moving him for anything approaching a reasonable return.
    • Far from dangling Donaldson, it seems the Blue Jays are at least weighing a major addition. The club has interest in free agent center fielder Lorenzo Cain, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter). In theory, Cain could coexist with current center fielder Kevin Pillar, though Cain is also most valuable up the middle. The Jays are interested in committing up to four years, says Heyman, but it seems there are indications Cain will have an opportunity to secure a better deal elsewhere. MLBTR predicted that Cain would land four years in free agency; to this point, we haven’t heard much public discussion of his market, but he’s rather clearly the top available center fielder.
    • While the Mets were able to come away from the Winter Meetings with a relief arm, they have yet to fill their opening at second base. Per Marc Carig of Newsday, Ian Kinsler was not willing to waive his no-trade rights to go to New York. (All links to Twitter.) The club has a variety of other options still in play, Carig explains, adding that the organization was discussing righty Rafael Montero in talks regarding Kinsler.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Royals Acquire Brad Keller, Burch Smith In Trades With Reds, Mets]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=110123 2017-12-14T15:07:06Z 2017-12-14T14:40:51Z The Royals announced that they’ve acquired right-handers Brad Keller and Burch Smith in trades with the Reds and Mets following today’s Rule 5 Draft. Kansas City will send a player to be named later or cash to both Cincinnati and New York in each trade. Keller was selected with the No. 5 pick out of the D-backs organization, while Smith was selected out of the Rays’ system.

    Keller spent the entire 22 season in Double-A despite pitching most of the season at the age of 21. He made 26 starts and totaled 130 2/3 frames with a 4.68 ERA, 7.7 K/9, 3.9 BB/9 and a 49.6 percent ground-ball rate. He had been considered the No. 12 prospect in the D-backs’ organization by Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com but was unprotected on at last month’s deadline to set 40-man rosters.

    The Rule 5 selection could pave the way back to the Majors for Smith for the first time since 2013. Smith tossed 36 1/3 innings for the Padres as a 23-year-old that year, and though he logged an ugly 6.44 ERA, he also punched out 46 batters in that time.

    Now 27 years of age, Smith has seen two seasons wiped out by Tommy John surgery and other arm troubles. But, he was healthy in 56 1/3 minor league innings as he worked his way back across three minor league levels this year — his first action on a mound since 2014. Smith posted a 2.40 ERA with 8.9 K/9 against 3.8 BB/9 before impressing with 29 strikeouts in 20 1/3 innings in the Arizona Fall League.

    Both pitchers will retain their Rule 5 status with the Royals, meaning neither can be optioned to the minors without first being exposed to waivers and then offered back to their original organizations for $50K. If either lasts the entire season on the Royals’ big league roster (with at least 90 days on the active roster and not on the DL), he’ll become their property without any restrictions in 2019.

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    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[NL East Notes: Braves, Mets, Robles, Albers]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=110092 2017-12-14T17:55:40Z 2017-12-14T12:19:08Z Though a few of the Braves’ relief targets have signed elsewhere, GM Alex Anthopoulos has an interesting contingency plan. An article by David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reveals that Atlanta is apparently willing to utilize some of their young upside starters as relievers early on in their careers, if the team can’t add the type of bullpen arms they’re looking for through free agency. “We’ve explored it. A long time ago, starters would break in as relievers,” Anthopoulos says. “It’s something that’s come up internally in our conversations. It’s not something we’re planning on doing right now, but at least it’s been discussed, in light of the market for relievers and the price points right now.” Anthopoulos also notes that the relief market has been “continually strong the last two or three years.” The piece also details the GM’s thoughts on calling up Ronald Acuna. It’s great insight for Braves fans.

    Some other items from across the NL East…

    • Mark Bowman of MLB.com writes that the Braves could seek short-term rotation help this offseason in order to “satisfy their desire to add experience to their inexperienced rotation.” While there might be a desire in the future to “strike a big deal for a legit ace,” Anthopoulos hints that he’d like to take some of the workload off their younger arms. Bowman mentions Wade Miley as one example of a pitcher who could be had on a one-year contract.
    • While the Mets have been linked to Jay Bruce, Anthony DiComo of MLB.com reports (via Twitter) that the club doesn’t appear to be “warm” on any player in the outfield or first base market. Rather, they seem to be focused on second base as their top priority. One notable Mets target at that position already came off the market when the Angels acquired Ian Kinsler from the Tigers. The second base market does have other options, and the Mets have been linked to of Jason Kipnis of the Indians recently.
    • Though it’s not clear what position Nationals outfielder Victor Robles will play in 2018, GM Mike Rizzo says he’ll be an everyday player (via Pete Kerzel of MASNsports.com). Rizzo further specifies that if there isn’t a spot for him in the Majors, the Nats’ top prospect will begin the season at Triple-A. It would seem as though the latter is the most likely scenario, considering Washington has Bryce Harper, Adam Eaton and Michael A. Taylor ticketed for the outfield grass. On the other hand, perhaps Taylor could end up in a part-time role.
    • Before the Nationals agreed to terms with Brandon Kintzler on a two-year contract, the team was exploring the possibility of bringing back Matt Albers on a two-year deal, according to Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post (Twitter link). Ultimately, nothing ended up coming together. Albers was fantastic for Washington last season; the righty posted a sterling 1.62 ERA and 0.85 WHIP. He struck out 9.30 batters per nine innings against just 2.51 walks.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Pitching Market Chatter: Phils, Yanks, Greinke, Cole, Archer, Duffy, CC, Jays]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=109922 2017-12-14T00:51:51Z 2017-12-14T00:51:51Z With a pair of relief signings being wrapped up, the Phillies seem to feel good about that aspect of their roster. Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, via Twitter, the team will turn its gaze to improving the rotation. Both they and the Yankees checked in with the Diamondbacks regarding right-hander Zack Greinke, Robert Murray of FanRag writes. Greinke ending up with either club is unlikely, however, sources informed Murray. With the Rangers also having shown interest in Greinke, we now know at least three teams have inquired about the expensive 34-year-old this offseason.

    Greinke is the latest hurler to land on the radar of the Yankees, who have also eyed Pirates righty Gerrit Cole. Consequently, the Bucs “are gathering names of young, controllable” Yankees they could acquire in a Cole deal, though there’s “nothing close,” Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports (on Twitter). Notably, Brink adds that the Yankees are also “looking at” Rays righty Chris Archer. The 29-year-old has drawn significant interest this winter, but it’s unclear whether the Rays will move him.

    Plenty more pitching rumors…

    • The Royals are giving serious consideration to dealing southpaw Danny Duffy, who’s “extremely popular” on the trade market, Jon Heyman of FanRag tweets. Duffy suggested on Twitter that he doesn’t want to go anywhere, for what it’s worth. “Bury me a Royal,” he declared.
    • As the Blue Jays look for pitching reinforcements, they are giving real consideration to veteran CC Sabathia, as Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca writes. Though manager John Gibbons suggested his own priority is to add bats, he also said he’d welcome the addition of the veteran Sabathia — who has a lengthy history with the Jays’ current front office leadership stemming from their time in Cleveland together.
    • Teams have given up on trying to acquire Reds closer Raisel Iglesias, Heyman reports on Twitter. The Reds understandably want an enormous haul back for the 27-year-old star, who’s under affordable control for the foreseeable future.
    • The Twins and Rays have chatted about veteran righty Jake Odorizzi, per Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press (via Twitter), who adds that Tampa Bay was not interested in Minnesota’s initial offer.
    • Although they’re at the beginning of a full, cost-cutting rebuild, the Marlins aren’t feeling any urgency to deal righty Dan Straily, per Joe Frisaro of MLB.com (Twitter link). Miami’s de facto ace will play his first of three arbitration-eligible seasons in 2018. He’s projected to earn a $4.6MM salary, which even the Marlins can afford.
    • The Mets are not likely to sign another free agent reliever, at least in the near term, according to GM Sandy Alderson and as MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo tweets. Instead, after landing Anthony Swarzak, the organization expects to begin looking to fill its other needs.
    • Brewers GM David Stearns discussed his organization’s situation with reporters including MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy (Twitter links). He said the team was willing to go to two years to get Swarzak, but wasn’t willing to match the dollar amount he ultimately took. The club still has open payroll capacity, which Stearns says he’ll put to good use. “We have spending power this offseason,” he said. “I’m confident we are going to find places to use that effectively.”
    • Before the Astros agreed to a deal with Joe Smith on Wednesday, Brian McTaggart of MLB.com hinted on Twitter that the team could have interest in free agent righty Hector Rondon. Whether that still stands remains to be seen, but the Astros are already chock-full of righty relievers as it is.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Angels, Giants, Mets Among Teams Showing Interest In Todd Frazier]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=109879 2017-12-13T20:30:46Z 2017-12-13T20:30:46Z As many as 10 teams have reached out to Todd Frazier’s camp, including the Angels, Giants and Mets, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports (all links to Sherman on Twitter). Frazier isn’t a top priority for the Yankees at present, though they could circle back around to him depending on how the rest of their moves play out. He was linked to the Red Sox earlier today as well.

    The 31-year-old Frazier (32 in February), split the 2017 season between the White Sox and Yankees, hitting a combined .213/.344/.428 with 27 homers in 576 plate appearances. Though Frazier’s played just 78 innings at first base since Opening Day 2016, he does come with 740 career innings at the position and is drawing interest at both corner infield spots, per Sherman. More notably, it seems that his frequent re-positioning in defensive shifts created a belief among some teams that Frazier could even play an adequate second base if needed, per the report.

    Frazier’s batting average has plummeted in recent years, though that’s due largely to a massive uptick in infield flies than any sort of erosion in contact skills. Frazier whiffed at a 21.7 percent rate last season, which is hardly outlandish in today’s offensive climate. However, he also popped out 31 times — fifth most in baseball — and his 109 infield flies dating back to the 2015 season are far and away the most in baseball.

    That said, Frazier’s overall approach at the plate also came with some positive indicators. His 25 percent chase rate (swings outside the strike zone), far and away the lowest of his career, tied him for the 26th-best mark among big league hitters. He also made contact at a career-high 76.9 percent clip and walked in a career-best 14.4 percent of his plate appearances. Those gains in plate discipline helped to offset his lack of contact and left his overall offensive output at healthy levels (105 OPS+, 108 wRC+).

    Moving Frazier around the diamond certainly enhances his appeal, though it also should be emphasized that he still draws strong marks as a defender at third base. Though he had an abnormally poor year in that regard in 2016, Defensive Runs Saved (+10) and Ultimate Zone Rating (+6.7) both felt his defense was among the best in the game. Only Nolan Arenado ranked above Frazier in both DRS and UZR this past season.

    The Giants have no clear answer at third base, with Pablo Sandoval and prospects Christian Arroyo and Ryder Jones representing the top internal options at the moment. San Francisco third basemen combined to post a putrid .216/.268/.300 batting line in 2017, so it wouldn’t take much to raise the bar from an offensive standpoint. The Angels, meanwhile, have Luis Valbuena as an option at the hot corner, but Frazier would seem to represent a more palatable option there and could help out around the infield as needed.

    As for the Mets, David Wright’s longstanding health concerns and T.J. Rivera’s Tommy John surgery have combined with the inexperience of Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith to create a sizable amount of uncertainty. The team does have Asdrubal Cabrera as an option to bounce around the infield, and bringing in Frazier as a more regular option at third base could free him up to take some reps at second base.

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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Details On Ian Kinsler’s No-Trade Clause]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=109810 2017-12-13T19:10:39Z 2017-12-13T18:57:40Z 12:57pm: Sherman has now tweeted the full list, reporting that the Yankees, Dodgers, Athletics, Padres, Giants, Rays, and Blue Jays are also teams to which Kinsler can block a move.

    9:28am: It has long been anticipated that the Tigers will attempt to deal veteran second baseman Ian Kinsler, who’ll play for a reasonable $11MM salary. Indeed, the organization has made no secret of its intentions to hear offers to cash in one of its few clear trade assets.

    As in the past, though, Kinsler’s partial no-trade rights could become a factor. According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, Kinsler has the right to block deals to three teams that seem to be quite sensible matches on paper: the Mets, Angels, and Brewers.

    Indeed, the Halos may well be targeting Kinsler in particular. According to ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick, via Twitter, the Los Angeles organization has clear interest and may even be prioritizing Kinsler as it continues to search for an upgrade at second. At this point, there’s little clarity on how Kinsler will utilize his rights, though Sherman does note that he seems inclined to okay a deal to Los Angeles.

    Of course, it’s unlikely that Kinsler is thrilled at the prospect of spending the season with the rebuilding Tigers rather than suiting up for a contender. And he has seemingly expressed an interest in just that. There were past indications that Kinsler would seek to use his no-trade clause to gain contract inducements, though he also downplayed that consideration at the time.

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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Mets Interested In Cesar Hernandez, Not Starlin Castro]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=109768 2017-12-13T05:47:42Z 2017-12-13T05:47:42Z
  • The PhilliesCesar Hernandez is the latest second baseman on the Mets’ list of targets, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman reports (Twitter link).  Hernandez may come with the highest asking price, however, of any of the players — Ian Kinsler, Josh Harrison, Jason Kipnis — the Mets are considering, given Hernandez’s controllable salary.  One infielder the Mets aren’t interested in is new Marlins second baseman Starlin Castro.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Mets Interested In Addison Reed, Fernando Rodney]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=109716 2017-12-13T03:12:03Z 2017-12-13T03:12:03Z
  • Fernando Rodney’s name has been increasingly mentioned in recent days, with the Mets and Tigers the latest teams to express interest in the veteran reliever, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweets.  New York and Detroit join the previously-reported Twins, Diamondbacks and Rangers as candidates for Rodney’s services.  Rodney posted solid numbers as Arizona’s closer last season, and likely wouldn’t require a multi-year commitment given that he turns 41 in March.  Detroit could install him at closer with Shane Greene moving back to a setup role, and Rodney could also become a trade chip for the rebuilding Tigers at the deadline.  Rodney might not close with the Mets, but he would further augment a back-of-the-pen mix that includes Jeurys Familia, AJ Ramos and Jerry Blevins.
  • Speaking of Mets relief targets, the team is still in on Addison Reed, Newsday’s Marc Carig tweets.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[New York Notes: Mets Pen, Harvey, Lowrie, Duffy, Yankees Options]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=109670 2017-12-12T21:56:44Z 2017-12-12T21:56:44Z New Mets skipper Mickey Callaway indicated in his comments to reporters that he’s disinclined to utilize a traditional closer, as Mike Puma of the New York Post tweets. While Jeurys Familia has thrived in that role at times in the past, it seems the Mets may at least consider dabbling in more of a late-inning matchup approach, though surely the team’s approach will also depend upon its ensuing transactions. GM Sandy Alderson suggested to reporters, including Marc Carig of Newsday (Twitter link), that bullpen usage plans are still open for consideration.

    More from the New York organizations:

    • Meanwhile, recent chatter surrounding Matt Harvey does not seem likely to go anywhere. Alderson indicated (also via Carig, on Twitter) that Callaway and pitching coach Dave Eiland have recommended the organization retain the former ace. While it’s not clear that anything has changed since the rumors emerged yesterday, that viewpoint seems at least to be informing the Mets’ valuation of a pitcher that has a massive ceiling but who has struggled quite notably of late.
    • While the Mets held at least some conversations with the Athletics regarding second baseman Jed Lowrie, per Puma (via Twitter), the clubs “don’t appear to match up.” That seems to remove at least one possibility from the Mets’ seemingly wide-open search for options up the middle. At this stage, it’s anyone’s guess how the open job will be filled.
    • The Yankees have reached out to the Royals to express interest in lefty Danny Duffy, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports on Twitter. Kansas City seems to be in the early stages of exploring trade scenarios for Duffy and others, but we’ve heard some news trickle out on various possibilities in recent days. The Yanks, meanwhile, have been connected to a variety of names; Sherman also discusses some of the other avenues for building out the Yanks’ rotation.
    • Sherman also looks at the Yankees’ situation from a higher level. Without further salary-shedding maneuvers, he tweets, the team may have something on the order of $20MM to $25MM to work with before reaching luxury tax territory. Given that the organization has possibilities for moving yet more cash off the books, it seems there’s still ample flexibility.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Position Player Rumblings: Padres, Moose, Walker, Napoli, Cards, D-Backs]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=109616 2017-12-12T21:40:03Z 2017-12-12T18:49:37Z The Padres could play a major role in the market over the next few days, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports writes on Twitter. Indeed, the organization has already made one interesting move today. San Diego is looking around for a controllable shortstop and could conceivably match up with the Cubs, Passan suggests. (From an outside perspective, it seems ace reliever Brad Hand would be the most likely Padres piece to pique Chicago’s interest, but that’s just speculation.) Also, the team’s interest in free agent first baseman Eric Hosmer is seemingly increasingly serious. Jon Heyman of Fan Rag tweets that the Friars are “strongly in [the] mix” for Hosmer, while Passan says the sides have gained “traction” in discussions.

    Here’s more from the position-player side of the market:

    • At this point, at least, the Braves are not engaged on the market for third baseman Mike Moustakas, according to Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio (via Twitter). Atlanta does have interest in improving at the hot corner, but it seems that new GM Alex Anthopoulos is not all that intrigued by the powerful but OBP-challenged Moustakas. Of course, there’s still time for the market to develop.
    • Free agent second baseman Neil Walker is still looking for a four-year deal, according to Heyman (via Twitter). That seems like a lofty ask, though, for a 32-year-old player on a market full of possibilities at second. Walker has been a steady producer, to be sure, and finished with a strong .267/.409/.433 run with the Brewers, but with so many other options out there it seems more likely he’ll end up settling for a two or three-year guarantee.
    • The Mets have some interest in free agent Mike Napoli, per the New York Post’s Joel Sherman. Indeed, the club’s new skipper, Mickey Callaway, has reached out to Napoli to discuss the possibility. (The two share a connection from the Indians.) Presumably, Napoli would share time with Dominic Smith at first base, with the organization arranging a natural platoon pairing and then allowing things to play out based upon performance.
    • As the Cardinals continue to seek ways to upgrade after missing on Giancarlo Stanton, they have been scanning the market for alternatives. The team’s preference, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes, is to “turn two of their excess outfielders into one newcomer.” That would seemingly represent a fairly clean way to improve the roster, though of course it will likely also require a rather particular trade partner. It is not difficult to imagine such a team also wishing to receive a sweetener in exchange for giving up a premium asset for volume. There are plenty more details and quotes from the Cards front office in the post.
    • The Diamondbacks have been contacted by other organizations about the availability of their middle infielders, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (via Twitter). Arizona certainly has quite some volume of MLB-level options up the middle, though it’s also not entirely clear at this point just which players (if any) have firmly secured places in the club’s long-term plans. It’s possible that market demand could help dictate the decisonmaking process, too, as the organization seeks ways to navigate a tricky payroll situation. Though none of the team’s top middle infielders are very costly, that very feature might allow the D-Backs to bring back equally affordable pieces that meet needs or perhaps structure a package deal to shed other salary. Chris Owings ($3.8MM arb projection) has only two years of control left, while Nick Ahmed ($1.1MM) has three and Daniel Descalso will hit the open market after earning $2MM in 2018. Ketel Marte and Brandon Drury are still shy of arbitration.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Pitching Market Rumblings: Brewers, Rays, Duffy, Nicasio, Arrieta]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=109592 2017-12-12T17:59:15Z 2017-12-12T17:28:06Z Starting pitching is in the news this morning, with several notable names being discussed. But there are a whole lot of other moving pieces out there. Let’s run down the latest chatter on the pitching market:

    • The Brewers have chatted with the Rays about their potential rotation trade pieces, according to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (via Twitter), who cautions that there’s no indication to this point that “any traction was made.” It’s not immediately clear which Tampa Bay hurlers have piqued the interest of the Milwaukee front office, though surely they’d have the trade pieces necessary to swing a deal for just about anyone. Chris Archer remains the big name to watch, though we don’t yet know whether he’s truly available. The Brewers could conceivably have interest in other pitchers, too, including veteran Jake Odorizzi, but it’s all speculation at this stage.
    • Meanwhile, the Brewers are said to have interest in righty Jesse Chavez, Haudricourt also tweets. We heard yesterday the veteran swingman was likely to find a new home this week.
    • Veteran closer Fernando Rodney has met with the Rangers and Twins, per MLB.com’s TR Sullivan (via Twitter) and Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press (via Twitter). It’s not clear at this point how serious the interest is, though Rodney might conceivably be an option for either club, both of which have largely unsettled ninth-inning plans.
    • Another interesting possibility on the rotation market is Royals lefty Danny Duffy. He has drawn interest from the Cubs, per Robert Murray of Fan Rag. Indeed, K.C. has been contacted by rivals on Duffy and a few other notably interesting assets, MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan tweets. It’s entirely unclear at this point what kinds of scenarios might be pondered on Duffy, but the Royals will surely want a significant return for a player they only recently extended. His contract runs through 2021 and promises him $60MM. While a DUI arrest and elbow surgery introduce some uncertainty into the situation, from a pure on-field perspective Duffy remains a valuable asset as he nears his 29th birthday.
    • The Mets are among the organizations with interest in free agent righty Juan Nicasio, according to Tyler Kepner of the New York Times (via Twitter). The 31-year-old pitched quite well throughout 2017, both before and after an odd series of August transactions. He ended the year with a 2.61 ERA over 72 1/3 innings, with 9.0 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9.
    • We’ve heard some possibility that the Nationals could have interest in free agent righty Jake Arrieta, and ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick tweets that agent Scott Boras is working to sell that potential fit to the team’s ownership. Then again, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post characterizes the Nationals’ interest as “tepid” in a tweet. The division-rival Phillies are reportedly also a possibility, along with several other teams, as we covered this morning. Given that the Nats have an opening in their rotation, it isn’t at all surprising to hear that Boras is pushing for it to be filled by Arrieta; after all, his connection to the organization’s ownership is quite well-established by this point. Of course, adding yet another high-priced starter would carry some pretty notable risk for the organization, so it stands to reason that the club will explore other possibilities before deciding whether to join the pursuit of the 31-year-old Arrieta. Crasnick also takes a broader look at Arrieta’s still-developing market, including an extensive examination of Boras’s marketing strategy.
    • While there is action at the top of the pitching market, the Blue Jays seem to be taking a patient approach, as Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca writes. While GM Ross Atkins says there’s a lack of depth in the rotation market, he also has indicated no interest in pushing hard to strike a deal. It seems the organization’s inclination remains to seek value in bolstering the rotation depth.
    • For the Diamondbacks, meanwhile, the team may at least be preparing to consider deals involving some fairly surprising players. Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic runs down the team’s options for trade candidates who might free up some payroll space and enable the team to achieve future value. At the top of the list are center fielder A.J. Pollock and lefty Patrick Corbin. Meanwhile, the D-Backs are certainly still looking to field a competitor in the near term as well. They are one team with some level of interest in reliever Seung-Hwan Oh, according to Murray. Oh was not able to match his compelling MLB debut season in 2017, but still posted 8.2 K/9 against 2.0 BB/9 while carrying a 4.10 ERA over 59 1/3 innings.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[NL East Links: Anthopoulos, Marlins, Yelich, Kendrick, Lind, Harvey]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=109574 2017-12-12T13:15:36Z 2017-12-12T13:15:36Z New Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos spoke to reporters (including MLB.com’s Mark Bowman and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s David O’Brien) about his team’s offseason shopping list, which includes a third baseman, bullpen help, and a controllable starting pitcher.  The “backdrop of everything” with the Braves’ plans, Anthopoulos stressed, is an improved defense.  “If we can improve in just one area defensively, we’re going to make 12 or 13 guys on that [pitching staff] a lot better,” the GM said.  As Bowman points out, this would seem to hint that Matt Kemp or Nick Markakis could be moved, as both outfielders posted subpar fielding numbers last season.  It may still be a while before we see one of Anthopoulos’ signature major trades, however, as he said he is still familiarizing himself with Atlanta’s baseball operations department after only a few weeks on the job.  While he wouldn’t rule out some notable moves, “I would say my thought for Year 1 would be a more cautious approach,” Anthopoulos said.  He also believed that the Braves’ payroll would likely remain around the $130MM mark.

    Some more rumblings from around the NL East…

    • With the Braves looking for third base help, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro believes they could at least be open to a trade for the MarlinsMartin Prado.  One would think Miami would have to eat a big chunk of the $28.5MM owed to Prado through 2019 to make any trade involving the veteran work, as Prado was limited to just 37 games last season due to hamstring injuries and knee surgery.  The well-respected Prado would be a good leader within a young Atlanta clubhouse, however, and Prado has a long relationship with the Braves after spending his first 10 pro seasons in the organization.
    • In two other tweets, Frisaro notes that the Marlins may be better served by trading Christian Yelich, even though the team’s “sentiment…is to retain” the young outfielder.  Getting a big haul of talent in an “overpay situation” for Yelich would greatly help Miami restock its farm system, plus Frisaro cites the factor that Yelich may simply be tired of playing for losing teams.  While Yelich’s name has surfaced in trade speculation, the Marlins are in no particular rush to deal him; the outfielder is locked up on a contract that runs through at least the 2021 season.
    • The Nationals got a lot of production off the bench from Howie Kendrick and Adam Lind last year, and GM Mike Rizzo told MASNsports.com’s Pete Kerzel and other reporters that he is open to a reunion with either player.  Playing time could be an issue, as while both Kendrick and Lind saw significant action in 2017, they theoretically wouldn’t be used as much next year since the Nats expect better health throughout their lineup.  The two veterans could therefore try to sign for teams that could promise them more regular at-bats.
    • The Mets and Orioles have had some talks about Matt Harvey, and while Dan Connolly of BaltimoreBaseball.com is “all for [the O’s] taking a flier on Harvey,” doing so in a trade for Brad Brach would be ill-advised from the Orioles’ perspective.  Dealing a proven quality reliever like Brach is too much of a risk, since Harvey is a question mark after two injury-plagued down years.  Fortunately for Connolly’s concerns, a Brach-for-Harvey trade doesn’t seem to be a likely possibility.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Mets, Rockies, Mariners, Jays Showing Interest In Jay Bruce]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=108286 2017-12-12T01:55:01Z 2017-12-12T01:49:33Z Dec. 11: The Blue Jays are also interested in Bruce, Jon Heyman of FanRag tweets. Of course, the Jays nearly traded for Bruce when he was a member of the Reds in February 2016, and they went on to show interest in him again last offseason.

    While the Mariners are reportedly in on Bruce, Greg Johns of MLB.com doesn’t see a match in the wake of their acquisition of newly minted outfielder Dee Gordon (Twitter link). Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times is similarly skeptical, noting that the Mariners would have to trade away a corner outfielder to make it possible. He doesn’t completely rule that out, though, considering GM Jerry Dipoto’s affinity for making deals (via Twitter).

    Dec. 1: The Mets are interested in Bruce on a three-year contract, tweets Mike Puma of the New York Post. Bruce is still seeking a five-year deal according to Puma, indicating that despite a stagnant free-agent market, he hasn’t gotten anxious and lowered his early-November asking price (at least in terms of years).

    Nov. 30, 6:46pm: Other organizations with some level of interest in Bruce include the Rockies and Mariners, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter).

    It’s not known just how the Rockies view Bruce, but it’s conceivable they’d consider him as a first base target. Colorado was willing to roll the dice on utilizing Ian Desmond at first last year, but ended up using him mostly in the outfield and will likely keep him on the grass in 2017. That leaves first as the team’s most evident need in the field, though perhaps the club could instead view Bruce as a direct replacement for outgoing free agent corner outfielder Carlos Gonzalez.

    Seattle evidently has its eye on a lefty outfield bat, as it has also been linked with Jon Jay (who is, of course, otherwise quite a different hitter than is Bruce). The M’s current outfield mix is more proficient in the defensive and baserunning departments, so Bruce could add a different skillset that might allow for greater situational flexibility.

    5:28pm: The Mets share mutual interest with free agent slugger Jay Bruce, according to a report from Marc Carig of Newsday. Bruce, of course, opened the 2017 season in New York but was dealt in the middle of the year to the Indians.

    It’s far from clear at this point whether the sides match up, but obviously they are plenty familiar after Bruce played 153 games with the Mets between his mid-2016 acquisition and the subsequent trade. Though he struggled initially, Bruce gave the Mets 448 plate appearancs of .256/.321/.520 hitting and 29 home runs in the most recent season — numbers that he largely maintained (.248/.331/.477) upon heading to Cleveland.

    The time that Bruce spent with the Indians may actually have helped link him back to the Mets. Carig’s source notes that Bruce has a positive relationship with new Mets skipper Mickey Callaway, who just came over from the Cleveland organization.

    It’ll be interesting to see how serious the Mets are about adding a player like Bruce, who only is even under contemplation owing to problems with two youngsters the organization had hoped to rely upon. Outfielder Michael Conforto is recovering from major shoulder surgery while first baseman Dominic Smith is coming off of a poor initial showing in the majors while facing some front office scrutiny for his conditioning. There are some generally positive signs for Conforto. And Smith at least seems to be taking the concerns to heart with a stepped-up effort to trim up, as Mike Puma of the New York Post was among those to report (Twitter links).

    Bruce has not spent much time at first, but was used there briefly by the Mets in 2017. Evidently, the team is comfortable with the idea of giving him significant time there. Unlike another rumored possibility, free agent Carlos Santana, Bruce would also provide an option in the corner outfield, where he has spent the bulk of his career.

    Of course, what Bruce cannot do is offer any kind of solution to some of the Mets’ other pressing needs. Signing him, naturally, would draw resources that otherwise might be dedicated elsewhere, which is particularly notable given that Bruce is expected to command a long-term contract. (MLBTR predicts he’ll net $39MM over three years, but it’s certainly possible he could garner more.)

    Notably, per Carig, the Mets are having some difficulty finding traction with potential second base targets. New York’s middling slate of upper-level prospects is “a barrier” in dialogue with the Tigers regarding Ian Kinsler, Carig reports, while the Mets have yet to engage in earnest with the Marlins on Dee Gordon.

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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[FA Rumors: LoMo, Rox, Hunter, Mets, Kintzler, Brewers, O’s, Tigers, Jays]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=109497 2017-12-11T23:41:02Z 2017-12-11T23:41:02Z The latest free agent rumors…

    • Contrary to a report from Sunday, the Rockies haven’t had any discussions about signing first baseman Logan Morrison, per Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post (Twitter link).
    • Reliever Tommy Hunter has emerged as a “prime target” for the Mets in their search for bullpen help, according to Marc Carig of Newsday (on Twitter). The 31-year-old right-hander was quietly excellent over 58 2/3 innings with the Rays in 2017, recording a 2.61 ERA and putting up 9.82 K/9 against 2.15 BB/9.
    • Count the Diamondbacks among those interested in reliever Brandon Kintzler, tweets ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, who expects the former Twins closer to land a two-year deal. Kintzler suggested last month that his wife is rooting for him to sign with Arizona. The Twins continue to monitor him, and they’ve also checked in on almost every other available pitcher, chief baseball officer Derek Falvey revealed (Twitter link via Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com).
    • Brewers GM David Stearns said Monday that he’s likely to “cross paths” at the Winter Meetings with the agents for second baseman Neil Walker and reliever Anthony Swarzak, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tweets. Walker and Swarzak ended last season with the Brewers after coming over in trades and performed quite well during their short stints in Milwaukee.
    • Although the Orioles badly need starters, they’re not inclined to dole out long deals. GM Dan Duquette suggested to Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun and other reporters Monday that four- to five-year pacts for pitchers generally don’t work out well (Twitter link). On the other hand, Duquette hasn’t closed the door on re-signing righty Chris Tillman, who figures to be an affordable, short-term pickup after enduring a dreadful 2017 (Twitter link via Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com).
    • As is the case with Baltimore, the Tigers are in the market for a starter who won’t require a long commitment, GM Al Avila informed reporters (via Evan Woodbery of MLive.com, on Twitter). Detroit is open to reeling in another starter on a one-year deal to join the just-signed Mike Fiers.
    • The Blue Jays are engaging with multiple starters and relievers, GM Ross Atkins told Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet and other reporters Monday. They “will most likely add an infielder,” too, and are looking at outfielders, Atkins said (Twitter link).
    • The Rangers are considering signing catcher Rene Rivera, per Jon Heyman of FanRag (Twitter link). The righty-hitting Rivera, who was with the Mets and Cubs last year, batted .252/.305/.431 in 237 plate appearances. Behind the plate, he caught an excellent 38 percent of would-be base stealers (10 percent above the league average) and, as has been the case for most of his career, held his own as a framer.
    • Right-hander Jesse Chavez appears likely to sign this week, MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes tweets. The 34-year-old Chavez spent last season with the Angels and posted an ugly 5.35 ERA across 138 innings and 38 appearances (21 starts), though he did log acceptable strikeout and walk rates (7.76 K/9, 2.93 BB/9).
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Rangers, Mets Have Discussed Profar/Harvey Swap; Orioles Also Talking Harvey]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=109438 2017-12-11T23:01:10Z 2017-12-11T23:00:28Z 5:00pm: A Brach-Harvey swap is unlikely to occur, Mike Puma of the New York Post tweets.

    4:34pm: The Orioles are discussing dealing a reliever for Harvey tweets Rosenthal, who lists Brad Brach and Darren O’Day as potential trade chips.

    3:28pm: The Rangers aren’t willing to trade Profar for a year of control, Grant tweets.

    2:59pm: The Orioles are also discussing Harvey with the Mets, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (via Twitter). The possible structure isn’t at all clear at this point.

    Heyman, meanwhile, throws some doubt on the entire idea of Texas and New York linking up in a follow-up tweet. Profar’s control rights may be too valuable for Harvey from the Rangers’ perspective, he suggests. The Rangers were also looking into other Mets pitchers, Marc Carig of Newsday tweets.

    2:50pm: The Rangers and Mets have engaged in some discussions on a possible deal that would involve Texas infielder Jurickson Profar and New York righty Matt Harvey. Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News first broached the possibility while Jon Heyman of Fan Rag tweeted that the sides have engaged in some chatter.

    It’s tough to know just what to make of the news at this point. We heard recently that New York will consider moving Harvey, a former ace who has been a shell of himself of late. He’s projected to earn $5.9MM in arbitration before reaching the open market at the end of the season. While the Mets still need the rotation depth and would no doubt prefer to see for themselves whether Harvey can return to form, there’s also a long and checkered history to consider along with the team’s many other roster needs — including a second baseman.

    On the Rangers’ side, Profar has become a forgotten man. He did not receive a late-season call-up after an early demotion to the minors, a decision that also left the Rangers with three more seasons of arb control. That enhances Profar’s trade value, though certainly his marginal overall big league showing — a .229/.309/.329 slash over 718 plate appearances — makes it questionable whether he’ll draw a significant return. Profar has shown more in the minors, though. Indeed, he batted a strong .287/.383/.428 in his 383 trips to the plate at Triple-A in 2017, drawing 43 walks while going down on strikes just 33 times.

    The assumption long has been that the Rangers would look to deal Profar this winter, as he’s out of options and does not have an obvious place on the roster. And the team certainly still needs starting pitching even after two early moves to bolster the rotation. Whether Harvey is the right risk to take, though, is anyone’s guess. He has shown that he can still bring a mid-nineties fastball, but the velo is still down against his pre- and early-post-Tommy John numbers and Harvey also showed a rising walk rate (10.9%) and plummeting swinging-strike rate (7.5%) in 2017.

    Similarly, the Mets will have some questions as to whether it’s worth taking a shot on Profar. All told, it’s a trade scenario that would have been quite a bit more exciting a few years ago but which could still make some sense for both organizations. It’s certainly possible, too, that other pieces could become involved in discussions.

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