Aug 01

Mets Get Bruce From Reds; Raises Questions

Updated to include quotes from Sandy Alderson and Terry Collins.

You can still find Brandon Nimmo with the Mets. Nimmo had been traded to Cincinnati for Jay Bruce, but that changed when he reportedly failed his physical and had to be replaced by second base prospect Dilson Herrera. Minor league lefty prospect Max Wotell was also included in the trade.

BRUCE: Running to Mets. (AP)

  BRUCE: Running to Mets. (AP)

The Mets added Herrera after the Reds found something they didn’t like with Nimmo’s physical. Nimmo had a foot injury earlier this year.

Mets GM Sandy Alderson would not confirm it was Nimmo who had the medical issue, but that’s not hard to figure out since he was pulled and Herrera was added.

The 29-year-old Bruce is expected to offer the punch that has been severely lacking, hitting .265 with 25 homers and a league-leading 80 RBI, and perhaps most importantly, a .360 average with RISP. Bruce has been on the Mets’ radar for over a year when they offered Zack Wheeler last July before landing Yoenis Cespedes.

“We haven’t had time to talk about playing time will be broken down,” Alderson said. “He’ll provide a big presence in the middle of the lineup. … One player could have a significant impact. Somebody like Jay Bruce can be a catalyst.”

Q: What is Bruce’s contractual status?

A: Bruce is in the final months of a six-year, $51 million contract, which includes a $13 million option (or $1 million buyout) for 2017. Bruce is making $12.5 million this season. Alderson said the club option was essential.

“We would not have done the deal without the extra year of control,” Alderson said. “We would not have done the deal as a rental.”

Specifically, this gives the Mets a safety net should Cespedes opt out and leave after this season.

Q: Where will Bruce play?

A: With Cespedes insisting on playing left field, Bruce could go to right field with Curtis Granderson moving to center.

Q: How does the deal impact Cespedes and Michael Conforto?

A: If there is a time to put Cespedes (strained right quad) on the disabled list it is now (actually, it should have been three weeks ago). Having Bruce gives the Mets the flexibility of placing Cespedes on the disabled list now, which is preferable to risking an injury and losing him in September. What Bruce does is offer the Mets a safety net should Cespedes opt out after this season.

As for Conforto, he’ll stay up here if Cespedes goes on the DL. However, there’s a strong chance they’ll send him back to the minors and bring him up again in September unless there’s an injury before then.

Q: What about the long-term future with Granderson?

A: It’s all fluid now as Granderson has one more year on his contract and the Mets can choose not to bring back Bruce for 2017.

Q: Does it matter that even with Bruce the Mets don’t have a conventional outfield?

A: Not in the least, simply because the Mets don’t have a conventional outfield now. Bruce will report to the Mets tomorrow. Beginning Wednesday, the Mets will have five games in American League parks (two with the Yankees and three in Detroit), where they can buy some time with Cespedes.

Unbelievably, Collins said the Mets hope Cespedes might be able to play center field by the end of the week.

Q: What is the fallout with Herrera?

A: The sticking point in getting Lucroy from the Brewers was them not wanting to give up Herrera. This could enhance their chances of keeping Neil Walker, who can opt out if he wants after the season. Of course, that could mean giving him more money. Part of the reason why Alderson let Daniel Murphy walk was in part because of Herrera. Alderson said the Mets have some infield depth for next year with Wilmer Flores and Jose Reyes.

Q: Anything else?

A: Right at the deadline, the Mets reaquired Jon Niese from Pittsburgh for lefty reliever Antonio Bastardo. Niese will be used primarily out of the bullpen – “I didn’t forget the job he did last year [in relief],” Collins said – but could be slotted in if another starter needed a day of rest.

Jun 03

Wright To DL; Here’s Appetizing Options To Replace Him

The anticipated is now reality and for the second straight season the Mets will place David Wright on the disabled list for an extended period. They are saying possibly six weeks, which could mean a return in late July or August, or maybe not at all this year.

WRIGHT: Who is behind him? (AP)

WRIGHT: Who is behind him? (AP)

Knowing Wright’s condition entering the season, the Mets had to have several contingency plans, including Wilmer Flores and Eric Campbell – enter your scream here – or possibly moving Neil Walker to third and bringing up Dilson Herrera.

Those don’t sound appealing, but how excited are you at giving Matt Reynolds a real chance? I’m warmer to that because I want to see if Reynolds can be a viable player. Wright’s injury seems the only way he’ll get a chance.

The trade market includes getting Kelly Johnson back from the Braves – they should have re-signed him in the first place – or going after Milwaukee’s Aaron Hill, San Diego’s Yangervis Solarte or the Angels’ Yunel Escobar.

* Hill, 34, is making $12 million and is a free-agent after the season, so there won’t be a long-term commitment. He’s hitting .274 with six homers and 21 RBI.

* Solarte, 28, is making $525,500 and is arbitration eligible this winter. He’s hitting .339 with three homers and 13 RBI.

* Escobar, 33, is making $7 million this year with the Angels holding a team option of $7 million (with a $1 million buyout). He’s hitting .306 with three homers and 13 RBI.

All are serviceable and none should be too expensive.

Thinking outside the box, the Yankees would probably love to unload the underperforming Chase Headley, who making $13 million this year in exchange for hitting .232 with three homers and 11 RBI. However, scuttling any chance of him coming crosstown is that he’ll make $13 next year and in 2018.

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Dec 16

Will Miss Murphy And Gee

Nobody knows where Daniel Murphy will land, but we know it won’t be with the Mets. I haven’t totally discounted him signing with the Yankees. I’m still thinking the Orioles and Angels are strong possibilities.

GEE: Will miss him and Murphy. (AP)

GEE: Will miss him and Murphy. (AP)

Wherever he goes, I will miss him. It was fun watching him during the playoffs and I hope his power display wasn’t a fluke. Murphy played his heart out for the Mets and he deserves his payday. I hope he gets it.

What I’ll remember most about Murphy is how he bounced from position to position before settling in a second base. He wasn’t the second coming of Roberto Alomar, but he worked hard into being a decent fielder. I’ll remember his long at-bats, often resulting in a drive in the gap. And, of course, there were his gaffs on the bases and in the field. One play I’ll always remember was him sliding into third. The third baseman kept his glove on Murphy in the hope he’d move off the bag, but Murphy grabbed the glove and moved it off him. Somehow, I found that funny.

My favorite Murphy moment was him going from first to third on a walk during the playoffs. A heads-up play from a guy whose attention has a tendency to wander.

From a reporter’s perspective, Murphy was great to work with as he didn’t duck any issue and always gave thoughtful answers.

Murphy is gone, but I’ll miss him and wish him well.

The same goes for Dillon Gee, who just signed a minor league deal with Kansas City.

As with Murphy, Gee isn’t physically gifted with those special skills. He wasn’t overpowering, but he was never afraid to take the ball. There were times when he was ripped, but he never offered any excuses. He was always stand up.

Gee had his moments of success despite being a 21-round draft pick. He is 40-37 with a 4.03 ERA lifetime. I thought he got a raw deal from the Mets last year, and with that I knew he was gone.

Both Murphy and Gee played hard and played with heart. I’ll miss them.

 

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.

 

Nov 13

Murphy Rejects Mets; Both Sides Win

As expected, Daniel Murphy rejected the Mets’ $15.8-million qualifying offer this afternoon, a decision that makes a winner out of both sides.

Here’s how the Mets are winners:

MURPHY: Now an ex-Met. (AP)

MURPHY: Now an ex-Met. (AP)

1) They will receive a compensatory draft pick, which is what they really wanted in the first place.

2) With Murphy gone, the Mets are able to pursue free-agent Ben Zobrist, who is a better player, and if unable to sign him, are free to move Wilmer Flores from shortstop to second base, where he’s stronger defensively. The Mets can also explore playing Dilson Herrera at second base if they prefer.

3) With no financial obligations to Murphy, the Mets have $15.8 million free to spend elsewhere.

4) Whatever retooling plans the Mets have, they can move on to them quickly.

Here’s how Murphy is a winner:

1) The Mets can still sign Murphy if they choose, but aren’t expected to make the effort. Doesn’t that really mean they didn’t want him in the first place?

2) Coming off a stellar postseason, Murphy is in the prime earning years of his career. Had he accepted the qualifying offer, he would have delayed free agency by one year, and taken a huge gamble that likely wouldn’t have been rewarded with a multi-year contract. He’ll likely be offered a contract the Mets wouldn’t come close to making.

3) Much has been made of Murphy’s defensive limitations, but now he’s free to sign with an American League team and be a designated hitter.

4) The Mets yanked Murphy around for years at a variety of positions and numerous times attempted to trade him. Now, he’ll be able to sign with a team that really wants him.

Where will Murphy go? The Dodgers and Yankees are two teams prominently mentioned, but Houston and the Angels are other possible suitors.