Tag: New York Mets

What Is Mets’ Backup Plan to Save Offense If Yoenis Cespedes Leaves NY?

To get Yoenis Cespedes in 2015, the New York Mets had to give up the guy who will probably be the American League‘s Rookie of the Year (Michael Fulmer). To keep Cespedes in 2016, the Mets had to offer him a three-year contract that also allowed him to make $27.5 million in one year and become a free agent.

The first price was high. The second price might have been higher.

The price for 2017 and beyond will almost certainly be higher still.

And what about the price if they allow him to walk away? That could be the highest price of all.

“They’re going to keep him,” an American League scout who closely follows the Mets said Wednesday.

Yes, I told him, I understand. The idea here is to come up with a plan for what to do if they don’t.

“They’re going to sign him,” he repeated, not with the confidence of owning inside information but simply with the belief in what makes sense.

I get it, and I get why general manager Sandy Alderson told reporters (including Adam Rubin of ESPN.com) he wants an answer to the Cespedes question before the Dec. 5-8 winter meetings. As well as waiting worked out for the Mets last winter—they re-signed Cespedes January 26 after he found the market softer than expected—waiting would be a bad strategy this time around.

Cespedes felt like more of luxury a year ago, when the Mets were coming off a World Series. He feels like more of a necessity this time, although that mainly means if he does leave, there’s a real necessity to find someone to fill his spot.

Quite simply, if the Mets’ pitching gets healthy and Cespedes returns to the lineup, this team would have a chance to return to the World Series. With no Cespedes and no ready replacement, the Mets might not have enough offense to even return to the postseason.

They were barely a .500 team when he showed up in 2015 before going on a 38-22 run that began the day of the trade. They were 72-52 with Cespedes in the lineup in 2016 and just 15-21 in games he didn’t start.

He drove in 24 more runs than anyone else on the roster and was 24 times the offensive presence of anyone else they could put in the middle of the lineup.

There’s more.

“Say what you want about Cespedes, he has charisma,” the scout said. “Nobody else on that team has it.”

No position players, anyway.

Still, that hardly means the Mets will sign him at any price. That hardly means they should sign him at any price.

So we’re back at the original question of how to replace him if he leaves, with the caveat that this time, the answer can’t be there’s no way they can let him leave.

The easiest way would be to sign another free agent instead, and James Wagner of the New York Times tweeted from the general managers’ meetings about one possibility:

Jose Bautista makes some sense, especially since Mets executive J.P. Ricciardi traded for him as general manager of the Toronto Blue Jays. He has power, and he’s right-handed—an important consideration for a Mets team that leans lefty.

He’s also 36, trending down and still hoping for a big contract.

Edwin Encarnacion, Bautista’s Blue Jays teammate, is also a free agent. But he fits best at first base, which would require the Mets giving up on Lucas Duda, or at designated hitter, which would require them moving to the American League.

The trade market might be a better answer, even though it would require Alderson to do something he has so far resisted: trading one of his big starting pitchers. Trading a pitcher this winter would be complicated, because the Mets wouldn’t deal Noah Syndergaard, and every other top starter they have will be recovering from some kind of surgery.

Trading Matt Harvey would make the most sense. He has two years left before free agency, and the Mets fully expect him to leave. His health is a factor, though. Harvey’s surgery was to correct thoracic outlet syndrome, and while he’s said to be making a full recovery, it’s unclear how confident other teams will be that he comes all the way back.

The Mets would prefer to keep Jacob deGrom, who underwent surgery in September to address an ulnar nerve issue. But teams would likely view him as a safer bet to come back strong, so he could be a more likely choice to net them the type of hitter they need.

Who would that be? It’s always hard to read the trade market this early in the offseason, with only suggestions about who is available and how much the teams would want in return.

To truly replace Cespedes, the Mets must think big, which means asking about players like Andrew McCutchen and Miguel Cabrera. And that means being open to trading not just Harvey or deGrom, but also top prospect Amed Rosario.

McCutchen is coming off his worst season, and he’s eligible for free agency after next season. Position-wise, though, he’s the best fit, because he can play center field. Cabrera plays first base, turns 34 in April and has a huge contract that runs until he’s 40, with a full no-trade clause. But he might be the biggest lineup-changer in baseball.

McCutchen’s Pittsburgh Pirates and Cabrera’s Detroit Tigers both seem open to listening to trade offers this winter. It’s still hard to know how willing the Tigers would be to moving Cabrera; they could also deal outfielder J.D. Martinez, who could be of interest but is not in Cabrera’s class as a lineup force.

Ryan Braun could be a more realistic option, but the rebuilding Milwaukee Brewers would likely want mostly young players in return. Rival scouts who follow the Mets’ farm system say there’s not much of great value beyond Rosario, although 23-year-old Robert Gsellman’s 2016 big league debut could make him attractive.

If they’re willing to offer Harvey and/or deGrom, the Mets may have plenty of options on a winter market devoid of top free-agent starting pitchers. Either one could be a fit for teams like the Texas Rangers, Chicago Cubs or Boston Red Sox, all of which have deep lineups.

Alderson’s reticence to trade a starter is understandable, because the Mets rely so heavily on their pitching. They’ll go to spring training with some concerns about Harvey and deGrom, but also about Steven Matz (who had shoulder issues and surgery to remove a bone chip from his elbow) and Zack Wheeler (still recovering from a 2014 Tommy John surgery).

“If they keep the pitching healthy, they might be able to win a lot of games 2-1,” a National League scout said.

If they don’t re-sign Cespedes or find an adequate replacement, they might need to win all their games 2-1. But how do they replace him?

“They’re going to keep him,” the first scout predicted again.

When you look at the alternatives, it’s easy to understand why they should.


Danny Knobler covers Major League Baseball as a national columnist for Bleacher Report.

Follow Danny on Twitter and talk baseball.

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Jon Niese’s Contract Option Declined by Mets: Latest Comments, Reaction

The New York Mets have reportedly declined the option of Jonathon Niese, ending the player’s second stint with the franchise, per Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball and Matt Ehalt of the Record.

New York will pay a buyout worth $500,000, and Niese will be a free agent.

The Mets traded the left-handed pitcher to the Pittsburgh Pirates last offseason for Neil Walker, a move Pirates general manager Neal Huntington admitted he regretted. He was then sent back to New York for Antonio Bastardo.

Unfortunately, he struggled in both locations, posting a 4.93 ERA in Pittsburgh before allowing 14 earned runs in 11 innings with the Mets.

It was altogether the worst full year of his career, ending with a 5.50 ERA with an FIP of 5.62, per Baseball-Reference.com.

While the 30-year-old pitcher has had better days in the past, including a 13-win season in 2012 when he posted a 3.40 ERA, he clearly wasn’t worth the $10 million it would have cost to keep him on the roster.

Niese is now a free agent and will hope to take advantage of a light pitching market around the league. He has been a quality starter in the past, posting a 4.07 career ERA in 211 appearances (197 starts) with a 69-68 record.

If given a chance, he can provide depth to a team’s rotation or a long reliever out of the bullpen.

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Jose Reyes’ Contract Option Picked Up by Mets: Latest Details and Reaction

After playing well in 60 games for the New York Mets in 2016, infielder Jose Reyes will be back with the team next season. 

Per Jon Heyman of TodaysKnuckleball.com and James Wagner of the New York Times, the Mets exercised Reyes’ 2017 contract option that pays him the league minimum. 

Major League Baseball hasn’t announced the official minimum salary for next season. It has been $507,500 each of the previous two seasons, per the Associated Press (via ESPN.com).

While Reyes will not earn much money from the Mets, he’s still owed $22 million in 2017 from the Colorado Rockies, who released the former All-Star in June after he served a 51-game suspension for violating MLB‘s domestic violence policy. 

Reyes was arrested and charged with abuse of a family or household member last October in Maui, Hawaii, per Thomas Harding of MLB.com. 

The Mets signed Reyes at the end of June. He made his season debut on July 5 and hit .267/.326/.443 with 25 extra-base hits in 255 at-bats. 

Facing some key roster decisions this offseason—most notably if they can re-sign Yoenis Cespedes, assuming he opts out of his contract, which ESPN’s Adam Rubin noted is expected to happen no later than Saturday—keeping talent at an affordable salary is essential for the Mets. 

Reyes is no longer the dynamic talent he was during his prime years, but he played well after sitting out the first half of the 2016 season and is clearly comfortable in the New York market to be worth the small financial investment the team has in him. 

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Jeurys Familia Arrested: Latest Details, Comments and Reaction

New York Mets closer Jeurys Familia was arrested Monday on a domestic violence charge.  

Per Andrew Wyrich and Abbott Koloff of NorthJersey.com, authorities in Fort Lee, New Jersey, filed a complaint against Familia alleging the pitcher caused “bodily injury to another” and that they noticed a chest scratch and bruise on the right cheek of the victim. 

The Mets issued a brief statement included in Wyrich and Koloff’s report: “The matter was brought to our attention and we are monitoring the situation.”

The name of the alleged victim in the case was redacted in court papers that Wyrich and Koloff obtained.

In the complaint filed, officers noted they had probable cause “to believe that domestic violence had occurred.” 

An anti-domestic violence group who Familia represented has cut ties with the pitcher after the arrest, according to Brendan Kuty of NJ.com. New York City council speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito released a statement regarding the news: 

I am deeply disturbed by the allegations against [Jeurys] Familia and call on MLB to launch an immediate and thorough investigation. We created #NotAFan so fans can communicate that domestic violence is absolutely unacceptable and to give a voice to fans who didn’t have one before. I will be reaching out to the Mets and the Familia ads will be removed from the campaign. Last week it was Josh Brown this week it’s Familia. The problem is rampant. The solution is to confront it.

Familia was charged with simple assault in the complaint. Fort Lee police Chief Keith Bendul said officers responded to a call regarding a dispute at a Park Avenue apartment after 2 a.m. on Monday morning, though he did not offer specific details regarding the situation or parties involved.

Familia recently completed his third full season for the Mets. He led the National League with 67 games finished and 51 saves during the 2016 regular season. 

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Yoenis Cespedes Reportedly to Opt Out of Mets Contract: Latest Details, Reaction

Although there are two years remaining on his contract, New York Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes reportedly intends to opt out of his deal following the World Series.

Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball reported the Cuban slugger will pass up $47.5 million over the next two seasons to become a free agent. ESPN.com’s Adam Rubin confirmed the report.

Per Heyman, two anonymous general managers expect Cespedes to land a deal in the neighborhood of $100 million over four years. Heyman added that the Mets and Cespedes have an “open dialogue.”

According to Rubin, however, the Mets are pessimistic about their chances of bringing back the two-time All-Star.

While the 31-year-old missed 30 games this season, he still hit .280 with 31 home runs and 86 RBI, making him by far the most dangerous run producer in New York’s lineup.

The Mets acquired him via trade with the Detroit Tigers in 2015, and he went on to hit .287 with 17 homers and 44 RBI. He earned National League MVP consideration despite playing in just 57 regular-season games for a Mets team that went on to reach the World Series.

Cespedes re-signed with the Mets last offseason despite having plenty of interest from other clubs, and New York can ill afford to lose him. The Mets ranked 26th in MLB in runs scored with him.

The Mets made the playoffs before getting ousted by the San Francisco Giants in the NL Wild Card Game, but a third straight year of postseason baseball may not be in the cards if Cespedes walks.


Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter.

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Tim Tebow Records 1st Arizona Fall League Hit

For all those hooked on the Arizona Fall League baseball during the ALCS and NLCS, you can rejoice in knowing that New York Mets prospect Tim Tebow‘s drought is over. 

On Tuesday, Tebow recorded a single against Chicago Cubs prospect Duane Underwood to break an 0-for-13 hitless streak to start off his professional baseball career.

The Heisman Trophy winner at the University of Florida and former Denver Broncos and New York Jets quarterback signed a minor league deal with the Mets on Sept. 9. 

Mets general manager Sandy Alderson explained what he saw in Tebow after his showcase in August, via Adam Rubin of ESPN.com:

Any player evaluation starts with tools. From that standpoint, without grading everything out, suffice it to say Tim has been a great athlete. He has demonstrated more than rudimentary baseball skills. We think, with his commitment to success, that this is an opportunity that is worthwhile.

In terms of power, in terms of arm, in terms of foot speed, all of those things, we think he can be a baseball player. I think that is underscored by his competitiveness and his determination to succeed and to improve. From our standpoint, this is another opportunity for us to develop a player and see where it goes. We understand most players don’t make it to the major leagues.

Having not played organized baseball since his junior year of high school, Tebow originally reported to the Mets’ instructional league where he started things off with a bang in his first at-bat.

While he hasn’t found that kind of success at the plate in the Arizona Fall League, Tebow has been making plenty of headlines. 

In his AFL debut alone, he face-planted into the outfield wall and helped a seizure victim after the game, via ABC News:

Tebow isn’t expected to see time in the major leagues. At 29 years old, it’s unlikely he’ll develop his game up toward a level that can see him attain success professionally. 

But for now, he is putting fans in the seats, bringing attention to the Arizona Fall League and pursuing his dream of playing professional baseball. 

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Terry Collins Says 2017 Season May Be Last as Mets Manager

Terry Collins won’t commit to the New York Mets beyond the 2017 season.

The 67-year-old manager said Thursday the upcoming season could be his last, according to Adam Rubin of ESPN.com. 

“I just need to re-evaluate at the end of this coming year what’s going on, where I am, how I’m feeling,” Collins said. “I’ve always said a lot of it will be dictated by how I’m feeling. This was a tough year.”

The 2016 season was a strenuous one for the oldest manager in the majors, featuring an assortment of injuries to key players like David Wright, Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and others. Despite the issues, the Mets were still able to reach the postseason with an 87-75 record before losing to the San Francisco Giants in the National League Wild Card Game.

In addition to the stress involved in coaching, Collins also cited the travel as holding him back:

It takes a toll on everybody. You talk to the players. If you noticed, that [Labor Day game] was the day we gave everybody off because they were stinking beat. This travel is hard, especially with the late-night scheduling that is prevalent throughout baseball. There are so many night games where you’re traveling after the game and getting into towns at 3 or 4 o’clock in the morning. And the next thing you know, if you ever have a day game pop up on you, it’s tough to do.

Collins has managed the Mets for six seasons, compiling a 481-491 record in that span. He led the squad to the World Series in 2015 and became just the second manager in franchise history to take the team to the playoffs in consecutive seasons. 

Prior to his time in New York, he spent six years managing the Houston Astros and the then-Anaheim Angels during the 1990s and has a 925-925 record in his career.

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Tim Tebow Discusses Decision to Stay with Fan Who Suffered Seizure

New York Mets outfielder Tim Tebow was signing autographs on Tuesday after an instructional league game in Scottsdale, Arizona, when a nearby fan suffered a seizure. The former Heisman Trophy winner told reporters on Wednesday that it was an easy decision to comfort the man during the scary situation. 

According to ESPN.com’s Adam Rubin, Tebow put the situation in perspective after he stood beside and prayed for Brandon Berry: 

Let me ask you a question: What would be more important, that I go to the locker room and I get on the bus and we get back a little bit quicker? In my opinion, it’s not even a choice. It’s the right thing to do. It’s what you’re supposed to do, in my opinion.

You just try to, in those moments, be there for people to help people. Because there is not a bigger, better, greater thing you can do in life than to be there for people in a time of need to help them.

Christian Byrnes on Twitter relayed a photo of Tebow and Berry as the events unfolded: 

“The guy that I was signing for, he turned to his right, and I could see on his face something happened,” Tebow said, per Rubin. “So then I looked over. I saw Brandon, right as he was getting to the ground and going into a seizure. I just wanted to be there and pray for him.”

Berry later told the Associated Press’ Jake Seiner he was OK after he returned home following a brief stint in the hospital.  

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Complete Offseason Guide, Predictions for the New York Mets

Manager Terry Collins didn’t hesitate to use his All-Star closer like his counterpart Buck Showalter did, but the results for New York Mets were the same as they were for the Baltimore Orioles in the Wild Card Game—an abrupt end to a promising season.

That the Mets even reached the playoffs, considering the significant injuries the team suffered over the course of the year, should be celebrated. But after being shut out by San Francisco in the National League‘s play-in game, a long offseason awaits the club.

Collins will most assuredly be back in the dugout next season. How the roster he’ll be managing will look, however, is anyone’s guess.

What follows is an overview of some of the decisions that the team will have to make—and some of the players they may look to—in order to bolster the roster for a return trip to the postseason, and perhaps the Fall Classic, in 2017.

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NL Wild Card Game 2016: Giants vs. Mets Breakdown and Predictions

When the 2016 MLB season began, few people figured the New York Mets and San Francisco Giants would be here.

Sure, a majority of baseball pundits and fans expected both teams to be playing in October. But most thought they’d be respective division winners readying for the National League Division Series—not participants in the Wild Card Game.

With both teams starting outstanding pitchers in Wednesday’s win-or-go-home game, the matchup can be dissected a multitude of ways, with each suggesting a different outcome. Follow along to determine who you think will win Wednesday’s NL Wild Card Game.

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