The Mets have held firm on their stance that none of their healthy young starting pitchers are available in a trade this winter.
That group is inclusive of Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard.
But in November, assistant GM John Ricco left open the possibility Zack Wheeler could be moved in a trade under the right circumstances, since he won’t be available or 100 percent for most of the 2016 season.
And on Sunday in Nashville, Ricco went as far as to say Wheeler’s placeholder in the rotation – Jon Niese – could also be available in a trade this winter.
Ricco suggested Rafael Montero could serve as a placeholder for Wheeler instead, even though he missed most of the 2015 season with a strained right rotator cuff.
Ricco also said the Mets are weighing the possibility to re-signing Bartolo Colon to serve as a swingman in and out of the bullpen, and the 42-year-old pitcher is open to returning to the Mets in that role.
“The door is still open with him,” Ricco explained. “And I think we’ll meet with his guys out here. I can see a fit there. His versatility and the success he had in the playoffs in that role, and where he is in his career, I think he could fit us on a number of levels. Everything I’ve heard, he would be open to that type of role.”
From a dollars and cents perspective, it might be worth it for the Mets to explore moving Niese and replacing him with Colon. Niese is set to earn $9 million in 2016, and is all but sure to go back to the bullpen when Wheeler is activated from the disabled list, which will take place sometime in June or July.
Colon will presumably command significantly less than the $11 million he earned in the final year of his two-year contract in 2015, and less than the $9 million Niese is set to earn next year as well. And the Mets could then use that cost savings for other assets they’re interested in signing this winter.
Ricco said the club will meet with Colon’s agents at the Winter Meetings this week.
Trade winds are beginning to blow harder and harder around the game. And the Mets appear to be exploring multiple ways to improve their sub-competitive offense ahead of the July 31 trade deadline.
Here is the latest from CBS Sports/MLB Network’s Jon Heyman on the Mets and their search for bats:
- Padres scouts are said to be watching the Mets minor league system, which raises speculation about possible interest in OF Justin Upton. Upton is a great fit for the Mets both in the short and long-term, but can be a free agent at the end of the year, meaning if he’s moved, he is ineligible to receive a qualifying offer if he elects free agency after the World Series.
- The Mets are not enamored with Brewers SS Jean Segura despite Jon Morosi of FOX Sports saying on Friday the club is talking to the Brewers about a possible deal involving the 25-year-old shortstop.
- They have the same sentiments as well as Cubs SS Starlin Castro, who is owed $41 million through 2020. Castro, 25, has been below league average at shortstop defensively and has posted a -0.5 WAR in 2015 while hitting .251 with five home runs and 27 RBI. However, Castro’s 583 hits since 2012 are the fifth-most during that span.
- Regarding diminished Dodgers SS Jimmy Rollins, a Mets executive told Heyman they, “wouldn’t go there.”
- Despite improved an improved performance over the last month, the industry is not particularly intrigued with Jon Niese.
- The Mets had been thought to be progressing on a deal for A’s utility player Ben Zobrist. Joel Sherman of the New York Post said last week Alderson’s interests are high enough in the soon-to-be free agent that the club would consider an above-market value deal for the super-utility player. But for now, A’s GM Billy Beane is not currently making Zobrist available, according to Sherman.
For details on Upton, check out Rich MacLeod’s story from yesterday, which includes four other outfielders the Mets could consider.
For more on Segura, check out this post from Friday morning.
With the Mets still needing at least one infielder and the Cubs continuing to search for starting pitching, the two teams continue matchup well for a potential deal at some point.
As such, the Cubs have discussed the possibility of acquiring Mets LHP Jon Niese, reports FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.
However, Rosenthal believes the Cubs would probably prefer someone better than Niese right now.
In addition, the Cubs interest has dwindled in Niese, and his market does not appear particularly robust at the moment, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.
Rosenthal opines if the Mets want to move Niese and acquire anything of significance in return from the Cubs, he would have to be part of a larger deal.
The Cubs and Mets could eventually come together on a deal. In fact, Cubs GM Jed Hoyer told Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun Times last month a deal will, “happen at some point,” between the Mets and Cubs and expects to speak with the Mets in the future.
Wittenmyer believes a deal is more likely to involve Javier Baez, who has played some shortstop at Triple-A Iowa this season. In fact, Wittenmyer recently reported the Cubs reached out to the Mets about Baez.
Baez comes with his share of problems, specifically with his high strikeout rate and inability to adjust. He got a cup of coffee last year with the Cubs and showed all of that power potential at this level, but also featured a big, one-dimensional swing which didn’t produce much else. He hasn’t played in the big leagues this year and broke his thumb recently, so maybe the two sides could eventually come to terms on a deal at a reduced cost for the Mets.
There’s no denying Baez is young, has a ton of power potential, has decent speed and could eventually evolve into the transformation bat they seek. The problem is, that may not happen this year.
In addition to the Cubs, Rosenthal said on Sunday afternoon the Dodgers have expressed interest in Niese as well, although no active discussions are ongoing.
Last month, Dodgers President Andrew Friedman said he would be seeking starting pitching in the trade market this summer. Even though they traded Juan Uribe to the Braves, they still have Justin Turner, Jimmy Rollins, Hector Olivera, and Alex Guerrero with Corey Seager on the way. So, the Dodgers still have infielders to deal despite shedding their most expensive contract in Uribe.
“Having as many good players as possible not only helps you in constructing your own roster, but allows you the opportunity to have more good players to talk about with other teams,” Friedman explained to reporters in May.
The most appealing of Friedman’s surplus is obviously Guerrero. He’s not particularly young, but he played for a long time in Cuba before defecting and joining the Dodgers as a free agent in 2013. He has shown good power so far this season although he hasn’t walked very much.
His glove seems to be that of a utility infielder: he can play second, shortstop or third, although has yet to play short in the big leagues. He did play a little bit there last season and has experience playing there in Cuba. He’s probably best suited at second base – he’s relatively raw at third and hasn’t played more than seven games at shortstop since 2010. He is owed $21.5 million through 2017 and can opt out of his deal if traded, but if he stays he will only be arbitration eligible when that contract expires and can be controlled through 2021. However, he will be about 32 when he becomes arbitration eligible, which makes the situation a little risky for any interested party.
Alternatively, perhaps Friedman would elect to shop Jimmy Rollins with Seager closing in on his big league debut. Rollins has said the Mets were among his favorites as a landing spot this winter, so he might not be terribly upset if he were moved here. But he’s off to a bad start with at the plate and he has not played well at shortstop, so he might not provide the Mets what they’re looking for in an upgrade right now.
The Dodgers might start out aiming higher in their quest to add starting pitching than what the Mets might be willing to offer. Cole Hamels remains available, albeit at a very high price, according to reports. If that price remains out of touch, perhaps the Dodgers would search the next tier of available pitching, which would make the Mets a theoretical fit for them.
Original post, June 28, 12:07 PM, updated June 28, 2:18 PM, June 29 at 11:15 AM, June 29, 5:20 PM
Still believing David Wright will eventually return, the Mets would like to add a versatile bat via trade who can shift and start at another position when Wright returns.
It’s still not clear if Wright will play again this season, but according to Adam Rubin of ESPN New York, the team doesn’t want to be, “boxed in” at third base if Wright gets back on the field.
As such, Rubin says it’s unlikely the Mets will consider Brewers 3B Aramis Ramirez. The Mets believe Ramirez’s skills are diminishing anyway and don’t currently view him as an upgrade to what they have.
It’s also worth mentioning Ramirez is retiring at the end of the year is owed a large portion of his $14 million salary for 2015, which makes it very difficult for the club to give up anything of value for him anyway.
Once again, the best fit among all the possible players who could be available this summer remainsA’s utility player Ben Zobrist. Dodgers infielder Alex Guerrero fits this profile to a lesser extent, but would also be a very interesting player for the Mets to acquire.
There are multiple reports the club is interested in Zobrist after being interested in him over the winter. He can start at three or four positions on most teams (including the Mets right now), as he can play second base, shortstop, and the two corner outfield spots. He has struggled this year thanks in part to undergoing minor knee surgery in late April, but its a good bet the 34-year-old former All-Star will start to play like the player who has averaged 5.2 WAR per year over the last three years.
This past weekend, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports said the Mets feel they could be outbid by other teams who are willing to deal more in trade. Already, in addition to the Mets, the Yankees, Nationals and Cubs have reported interest in acquiring Zobrist.
Several sources indicated over the weekend the team was still very much in the window shopping phase for roster help, and not particularly active on anyone in particular just yet. It’s possible the Mets need to find a taker for one of their extra starting pitchers before making a deal for the bat or bats they need. Andy Martino of the Daily News recently said the Mets are reportedly trying to move both Dillon Gee and Jon Niese, which would certainly support that notion.
As for Wright, Rubin said there is nothing new on the condition of his back, as Dr. Watkins is away from his office in Los Angeles this week and the two couldn’t meet for their weekly progress update.
After weeks, and in some cases months, of speculation, word around Major League Baseball is that the Mets are “really ramping” up their efforts to trade both Jon Niese and Dillon Gee, per Andy Martino.
“If I’m a GM, I’m starting by asking for Matz or Syndergaard, to see how desperate Sandy is,” a rival executive recently told Martino.
With Daniel Murphy being place on the disabled list on Friday, the need for the Mets to acquire offense has become the forefront of their needs now more than ever. Kristie Ackert recently reported that Aramis Ramirez and Ben Zobrist are two infielders that the Mets have shown interest in.
Dillon Gee (4.46 ERA) has been the subject of trade rumors for months, and has been jerked around from starting rotation to the bullpen and back again, all while just returning off of the disabled list this past week.
Jon Niese (4.42 ERA) got off to a strong start this season but has pitched woefully of late, posting a 6.60 ERA in his last five starts, and allowing four or more earned runs in the last four straight. Niese is owed $9M in 2016 and has a $10M option (with a $500,000 buyout) in 2017, while being paid whatever he is still owed of the $7M he’s making this season.
It has yet to be seen if the Mets would try to package Gee and Niese together, what they’d be looking to get in return and if there are even any takers out there, but this will certainly be a situation to keep an eye on in the coming days and possibly weeks.