Dec 07

Mets Face Competition For Zobrist

If the Mets really want Ben Zobrist, they might have to give in on that fourth year as there’s a growing line of suitors for the versatile infielder, who, by the way, is an accomplished hitter who can also play the outfielder.

The reported dollars start around $50 million and he’s looking for four years. The Mets want three, and in what should be regarded as bluffing more than anything else, say they could still re-sign Daniel Murphy.

Reports have the Giants having interest, but where he’ll play is the question. They could stick him in left, but their infield is set. I doubt he’ll want to go there just to be a role player, but if Zobrist wants to win the Giants will get his consideration.

The Mets will also get competition from the Washington Nationals, and Zobrist would bring some stability and professionalism to their dysfunctional clubhouse. I also don’t need to remind you the Nationals have deeper pockets than the Mets.

One report recently had the Dodgers showing interest, but they just signed Chase Utley. That signing should also preclude the Dodgers as a potential landing spot for Murphy.

The Yankees continually say they aren’t in the market for Zobrist, but I’ll never discount their propensity for bluffing.

Meanwhile, the Angels, White Sox, Indians and Orioles could all use a second baseman. Of the four, the Angels appear the most willing to write the big check.

ON DECK: Potential landing spots for Murphy.

 

Dec 06

Mets’ Top Five Winter Meetings Objectives

Despite going to the World Series, the Mets head into the Winter Meetings with several issues. Let’s face it, they wouldn’t be the Mets without questions. GM Sandy Alderson won’t represent the Mets in Nashville, but his lieutenants have the following grocery list of items they hope to address:

ZOBRIST: Lead domino for Mets. (Getty)

ZOBRIST: Lead domino for Mets. (Getty)

Question: Will they get the second baseman they covet?

Answer: That would be Ben Zobrist at the expense of Daniel Murphy. The Mets make no secret Zobrist is the object of their affection, but at the same time appear to be hedging their bets by saying it is possible they could bring back Murphy.

I think they are posturing on that one, but Zobrist’s camp said they would like to wrap things up by the end of the meetings. If they don’t, let’s hope the Mets will not fall into a familiar trap and chase him at the expense of losing out on other options.

Question: Will they restock their bullpen?

Answer: If they do, it won’t be with Darren O’Day, who is expected to re-sign with Baltimore. (Of course, the Mets once had O’Day, but had to cut him loose when Mike Pelfrey refused to miss a start by going on the disabled list). The Mets already tendered contracts to Addison Reed and Jenrry Mejia.

The Mets are not expected to bring back Tyler Clippard, but Yusmeiro Petit, Ryan Mattheus and Steve Cishek are on the market.

Question: Whom can they trade for a bat?

Answer: For the second straight winter they will attempt to deal Jon Niese, who showed some promise during the playoffs working out of the bullpen. At 29, and one year remaining on his contract (with team options for 2017 and 2018) Niese has value both to the Mets and prospective buyers. He’s also left handed, has had some success and still throws hard. There are things to like about him.

However, with the anticipated emergence of Rafael Montero and Zack Wheeler due back in July, there’s no room for him in the rotation.

Question: Can they obtain a center fielder?

Answer: After the 2014 season, the Mets extended Juan Lagares to a five-year, $23-million contract, but now they want to find a platoon for him. He’s clearly fallen out of favor.

The most prominent names are Dexter Fowler, Gerardo Parra and Denard Span, but they might be too expensive and likely not willing to sign for a platoon situation.

Question: Will they make a free-agent splash?

Answer: I wouldn’t count on it, unless you’re counting on Zobrist to be that splash. However, reports are he could be had for something in the $50-million range. Conversely, Murphy could come for less.

One thing we can count on is they won’t re-sign Yoenis Cespedes. His reported price is six years at over $100 million.

Dec 05

Lagares Contract Turning Into Bust

Is it too soon to call Juan Lagares a bust?  As of now, that appears the call on the Mets’ 5-year, $23-million deal given to the flashy center fielder after his 2014 Gold Glove Award winning season. He might get a pass because of a bad elbow allowed base runners to take liberties on him.

However, after a summer in which balls were consistently hit over his head and he lost his starting job after the Yoenis Cespedes trade, the Mets go to the Winter Meetings with the idea of obtaining a center fielder to platoon with Lagares. What does that say?

LAGARES: Falling short. (Getty)

LAGARES: Falling short. (Getty)

We know the Mets won’t re-sign Cespedes or move Curtis Granderson to center. And, we also know Lagares has a lot of room for improvement at the plate and must stop his defensive regression if he’s to remain in the Mets’ plans.

Working in Lagares’ favor is the contract that will pay him $2.5 million in 2016, $4.5 million in 2017, $6.5 million in 2018 and $9 million in 2019. While that might not be a lot of money for a full time player, it could be too much for a platoon player, and definitely a lot for late-inning defense.

The primary free-agent targets to platoon with the .259-hitting Lagares are Denard Span and Dexter Fowler, both of whom will command a large salaries, and most likely would not accept a platoon situation. Gerardo Parra and Colby Rasmus are corner outfielders, but the Mets have MIchael Conforto and Granderson. And, if you go further down to David Murphy and Will Venable, the Mets might as well stick with Kirk Niewenhuis.

Lagares has not played to the level the Mets want, but the limitations of the market could prohibit a chance. But, that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been a bust so far.

 

 

Dec 04

Alderson Diagnosed With Cancer; Will Not Attend Winter Meetings

The Mets announced Friday GM Sandy Alderson has been diagnosed a treatable form of and will undergo chemotherapy for the next eight to 12 weeks.

The cancer was detected when Alderson underwent a medical procedure three weeks ago.

“Surgery was performed at Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York and as a result of that procedure, the doctors confirmed that Sandy has cancer,’’ Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon said in a statement. “The doctors believe and have told Sandy that the cancer is very treatable and are optimistic about a full recovery.’’

Wilpon said Alderson will not attend next week’s Winter Meetings and will receive treatment at Sloan Kettering.

Assistant general manager John Ricco, and J.P. Ricciardi and Paul DePodesta will go to the meetings with the following priorities: sign infielder Ben Zobrist; obtain a center fielder; and restock the bullpen.

Dec 02

Mets To Tender Contract To Mejia

One of the Mets’ most intriguing contract questions will be answered today when they are expected to tender reliever Jenrry Mejia a contract.

Mejia, who is serving his second suspension, will miss the first 100 games of the 2016 season. The 26-year-old Mejia was to earn $2.595 million last year, but only earned a prorated portion for the three weeks he played.

MEJIA: To be offered contract. (AP)

MEJIA: To be offered contract. (AP)

By virtue of the collective bargaining agreement, arbitration-eligible players tendered contracts must get at least 80 percent of their previous year’s salary, which would be $2.076 million in Mejia’s case. However, considering the time Mejia missed because of suspension, and the time he will miss next year, that figure according to ESPN will be about $1 million.

Of course, the Mets can offer whatever they want, and because their bullpen needs, it makes sense to keep Mejia around in hope he turns himself around.

Also no-brainers among the Mets’ arbitration-eligible players that will be tendered contracts are Matt Harvey, Lucas Duda And Jeurys Familia.

Because of their bullpen holes, I also expect the Mets to tender set-up reliever Addison Reed and relievers Carlos Torres and Josh Edgin.

However, remaining a question is shortstop Ruben Tejada, who made $1.88 million last year. Tejada would make a good insurance policy if his recovery from a broken leg sustained in the NL Division Series heals properly.

If they cut Tejada loose, it would mean confidence in Wilmer Flores, Dilson Herrera and Matt Reynolds. The conventional wisdom in keeping with those three is predicated on the Mets not re-signing Daniel Murphy.

There still remains the possibility of the Mets signing free agent Ben Zobrist.