On Thursday night, the Giants announced they had signed free agent OF Denard Span to a three-year contract.
Jon Heyman of MLB Network said the deal was worth $31 million over those there years.
The Mets had been linked to Span during the early part of the off-season, but in late December signed another left-handed bat in Alejandro De Aza with the intention of using him in a platoon with Juan Lagares, ending the possibility of a pursuit for Span.
The Mets apparently had concerns about a long-term engagement with Span, presumably because of the health risks he comes with at age-32. That’s understandable, considering he is coming off August hip labrum surgery, his third procedure in the last year.
Span was reportedly willing to workout for interested teams near his home in Tampa, Florida this month, and that was an indication other interested parties are concerned about Span’s health as well, and are weary of meeting such demands.
But it’s surprising the Mets wouldn’t at least watch Span in some baseball activities before jumping the gun on De Aza, who seems like he should have been a mid-to-late January signing anyway.
If he is healthy, however, Span is a catalyst for the top of a lineup, and certainly would’ve been a better fit in center field than De Aza, who has played three games at that position since the 2013 season and was always a below-average defensive player at that position.
And Span has shown to be a winning presence, as the Nationals were 36-25 with him in the lineup in 2015, and 47-54 when he did not play.
Span doesn’t draw a lot of walks, but he makes contact, has first-to-third speed, and when he’s healthy, can be counted on for 200-plus total bases thanks to his ability to take advantage of big ballparks with his triples speed. Acquiring Span would have gone a long way towards improving the team’s on-base percentage, and it would’ve allowed Curtis Granderson to be moved towards the middle of the lineup as well where his power could be much more valuable, and could help account for the loss of Yoenis Cespedes.
Contact rates and on-base percentage something the Mets have strived to improve upon this winter, evident by their pursuit of Ben Zobrist before he went to the Cubs, but haven’t really accomplished in their offensive acquisitions to date.
The Mets have had one of the highest profile front offices in the industry since Sandy Alderson took over as the club’s general manager following the 2010 season, with John Ricco, Paul DePodesta, and JP Ricciardi serving as his chief lieutenants.
But now it appears Alderson will be losing a key member of his team.
DePodesta will be leaving the Mets – and the industry altogether – to become the Executive Vice President of the Cleveland Browns, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
DePodesta will serve as chief strategy officer for the Browns, according to Chris Mortensen of ESPN.
DePodesta has served as the team’s Vice President of Player Development and Amateur Scouting, playing a key role in their drafts and associated strategies as well as heading the entire rebuild of the Mets farm system and organization as a whole. He was one of Sandy Alderson’s key set of eyes and ears and an integral voice throughout their rebuild and ascent to National League Champions in the last five seasons.
“Paul completely reorganized the Mets scouting and player development functions and had an extraordinary impact in both areas, but he was also very directly involved in our trade and free agent acquisitions,” Sandy Alderson said in a statement. “His commitment to excellence and his passion for innovation will be missed by the Mets and all of Baseball. I wish him well with the Browns.”
He’s also one of the smartest people in all of professional sports. A graduate of Harvard University, he has served as a front office advisor to Billy Beane in Oakland and Mark Shapiro in Cleveland, as well as General Manager of the Dodgers in 2004 and 2005.
DePodesta was often viewed as the eventual successor to Sandy Alderson as the club’s General Manager.
Said Mets COO Jeff Wilpon, “Working with Sandy, Paul put into process a new approach toward player development throughout our organization. Ownership and all of us at the Mets thank Paul for his tireless efforts. We look forward to seeing Paul’s continued success with the Browns.”
Daniel Murphy spent the first seven years of his big league career in the National League East with the Mets, but entered his final season before free agency uncertain that desire would be fulfilled.
Despite stating his desire to return to the club throughout the last season, the club decided to go in a different direction from Murphy this winter. The Mets failed in their pursuit for Ben Zobrist, and ultimately traded for one year of control in Neil Walker from the Pirates, ending any possibility of a reunion with Murphy.
As it turns out, Murphy won’t be moving too far away, and will be spending a good portion of the next three years contending with his former team for supremacy in the National League East.
Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio is reporting Murphy has agreed to sign a three-year deal with the Nationals, pending a physical.
Murphy received a qualifying offer from the Mets, so the Nationals will lose their first round pick in the 2016 amateur draft, and the Mets will gain a second pick – this one in the compensation round – before the second round of the draft. They will now pick 21st and 29th. (more…)
After an up-and-down 2015 season that saw him struggle with the Mets, get traded to the Angels only to return to New York and contribute down the stretch, Kirk Nieuwenhuis is headed to the Brewers on a waiver claim.
It was a roller coaster season for Nieuwenhuis, as the Mets versatile outfielder went just 3-for-38 with 17 strikeouts to start the season prior to being traded to Anaheim.
Nieuwenhuis was able to contribute a bit once he was re-acquired by the Mets early in the summer, as he became the first player in franchise history to homer three times in a single home game, as well as delivering a clutch, pinch-hit, game-winning home run against the Nationals in September.
With the signing of outfielder Alejandro De Aza, however, there really isn’t a place for Kirk on this roster, as the Mets now have their left-handed hitting platoon outfielder.
De Aza’s ability to play center field on a consistent basis is still in doubt, as he started just one game in center this past season, so the only true center fielder on the Mets roster right now is Juan Lagares.
If necessary, Curtis Granderson can play the position as well, but only occasionally.
Overall, Nieuwenhuis hit .235/.309/.389 with 38 doubles, 17 home runs, 71 RBI, 83 runs scored, 12 stolen bases and a .695 OPS in 263 games over four seasons with the Mets.
Dillon Gee will attempt to crack the Royals pitching staff in 2016, as he has signed a minor league contract with the Royals, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
Gee’s awkward 2015 season began with trade winds swirling around him throughout the winter and through the early part of spring training. The team dispatched him to the bullpen with hopes he could serve as a reliever.
But when Zack Wheeler required Tommy John Surgery, the Mets moved him back into the rotation. However, a few weeks later Gee found himself competing with Rafael Montero for that rotation spot, with Gee ultimately winning out.
But that wouldn’t last forever. Gee went down with an injury in early May and was replaced by Noah Syndergaard in the rotation. When Gee returned, he served as a spot starter and did not fare well then, either.
He was designated for assignment a short while after, and accepted a minor league assignment with Triple-A Las Vegas while he earned his big league salary. He did not return to the Mets after struggling with Las Vegas to the tune of a 4.58 ERA in 14 starts under Wally Backman.
Gee would have been eligible for arbitration again this winter. As such, it was unlikely the Mets would have tendered Gee a contract and brought him back to spring training next year with no obvious role for him to take.
Gee allowed 55 hits, 11 walks and 26 earned runs in only 39 2/3 innings for the Mets in 2015, a span of eight appearances and seven starts.
He went 40-37 with a 4.03 ERA in 114 appearances and 110 starts in six seasons with the Mets.
He was selected by the Mets in the 21st round of the 2007 first-year player draft. He has spent his entire professional career with the Mets organization.
Gee elected free agency following the 2015 season.