Dec 22

Mets’ Pitching Concerns Hinders McCutchen Trade Possibility

When it comes to trades involving the Mets – whether made or speculated – entails a great deal of reading between the lines. So it goes with this ember in the Hot Stove boiler involving Andrew McCutchen with the Pirates.

McCUTCHEN: Not happening. (AP)

McCUTCHEN: Not happening. (AP)

Sure, I can throw a lot of crap against the wall like I’ve read on other sites about the Mets giving the Pirates Steven Matz, Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo, and while those are all names that could get it done, it won’t happen.

We all know GM Sandy Alderson is reluctant to dip into his glut of young pitching, but this time it isn’t a matter of being afraid of pulling the trigger, but rather trying to protect the Mets’ pennant hopes for 2017.

I’ve suggested using Gsellman and Lugo for work in the bullpen as well as a protection for their young starters, of which four are coming off surgery: Matt Harvey had season-ending surgery twice in the past three years; Jacob deGrom has had two surgeries; Matz has a problem staying on the field; and Zack Wheeler hasn’t pitched in two years.

Then there’s Noah Syndergaard, who had trouble with a bone spur in his elbow in the second half, so we don’t know how that will be.

With Bartolo Colon gone and five potential starters with health concerns, you can appreciate Alderson wanting a security blanket.

But, Alderson’s apprehension goes deeper. You can also read into this the Mets really don’t know what to expect from their young rotation, and likely won’t until spring training. By that time, they might have to find ways to get Gsellman and/or Lugo innings before Opening Day.

It also tells you Alderson might be concerned the Mets’ window of opportunity is closing faster than he’d hoped.

He’s probably right on that: there’s a question about catching this year, so they’ll be shopping there next winter; they could be without Lucas Duda, Neil Walker and Asdrubal Cabrera; nobody knows about David Wright; and the Mets might not have Jay Bruce or Curtis Granderson.

Alderson is hoping the pitching can hold up and he can get enough hitting from Yoenis Cespedes and what could be a patchwork offense to carry them into October.

Sure, I’d like for them to get McCutchen, but you could see this coming. Trading for McCutchen, or making any kind of deal of that magnitude, pretty much went by the boards after they went all out for Cespedes and ended up with a glut logjam in center field.

Dec 08

Alderson Still Searching

The Mets left Washington this morning the way they often do after playing the Nationals – empty handed. The Mets’ big off-season move consisted of extending Yoenis Cespedes, which they did before leaving New York, but their other objectives were left unfulfilled.

ALDERSON: Still has work to do. (AP)

ALDERSON: Still has work to do. (AP)

They failed to deal Jay Bruce or Curtis Granderson, bolster their bullpen or find a catcher. However, Alderson said the Winter Meetings shouldn’t be defined by three days of lobby fishing in a swanky Washington resort hotel.

“I think we laid some groundwork, as they say, and I’ve had conversations that will continue when we get back to New York,” Alderson told reporters this morning before leaving. “We were pleased with the face we had some dialogue. We’ll pursue things over the next couple of weeks.”The Mets want to trade Bruce (who’ll make $13 million in 2017) and/or Granderson ($15 million). Alderson said the preference is dealing Bruce – although many teams like Granderson – but if he could swing also swing a deal for Granderson, make no mistake, he’ll jump at the chance to save $28 million.

The Mets want to trade Bruce (who’ll make $13 million in 2017) and/or Granderson ($15 million). Alderson said the preference is dealing Bruce – although many teams like Granderson – but if he could also swing a deal for Granderson, make no mistake, he’ll jump at the chance to save $28 million.

However, Alderson’s phone isn’t ringing for either.

“Outfielders, hitters, there’s still a quite of few of them out there. Clubs are still trying to sort out their priorities,” Alderson said. “I think when there’s that kind of supply, things are going to go a little a slower initially as everybody considers their options.”

It’s slow going for the Mets because most teams would rather sign a free agent than give up prospects or players. This could drag into January and might not get done until spring training it at all.

While Alderson insists his priority is a playing time situation in the outfield, reportedly he won’t entirely spend the savings on the bullpen. There are reports Jerry Blevins wants at least $5.5 million and that the Mets are interested in Texas’ Jeremy Jeffress, 29, who had a 2.33 ERA in 59 games last year and is arbitration eligible.

ESPN reports the Mets’ current payroll to be $146 million.

Dec 05

Toronto Cooling On Bruce, Granderson

What does it tell you when you hear that GM Sandy Alderson is willing to take a prospect rather than a major-league ready player for either Jay Bruce or Curtis Granderson?

Can you say “salary dump?”

GRANDERSON: Not going to Toronto. (AP)

GRANDERSON: Not going to Toronto. (AP)

Shedding $13 million for Bruce or $15 million for Granderson tells you of the Mets’ thinking these days. Saving payroll is when Alderson was hired in the first place, so that’s not new.

Reportedly, Alderson is willing to trade both, which means Michael Conforto must be the real deal and nothing better happen to Yoenis Cespedes or the Mets will be sunk.

You can surmise the Mets overachieved the last two years and are financially regressing. That’s not hard to understand, but what is are the reports they are interested in dealing Conforto. They couldn’t have possibly given up on him already.

A source I have in Toronto tells me the Blue Jays are interested in Conforto, but cooled considerably on either Bruce or Granderson. Could it be because the Mets want 25-year-old fireballer Marcus Stroman?

The Blue Jays don’t expect to bring back either Jose Bautista or Edwin Encarnacion, but the acquisitions of Kendrys Morales and Steve Pearce will ease that sting.

 

Nov 30

Trading Bruce Next For Mets

The agreement with Yoenis Cespedes triggered the Mets’ willingness – perhaps eagerness – to deal Jay Bruce.

The three-time All-Star is 29 and will be making $13 million this year, all easily digestible numbers. Word is Toronto, which figures to lose both Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, is interested. Reportedly, Bruce nearly landed in Toronto last year, but the deal fell through.

BRUCE: Toronto bound? (AP)

BRUCE: Toronto bound? (AP)

Several media outlets report the Mets and Blue Jays have spoken, giving legs to the possibility of a trade.

What’s not known is what the Mets are asking for Bruce. Do they want major-league ready talent or prospects? Mets GM Sandy Alderson has a reputation for being a tough negotiator in trade talks, and you’ll recall when the Mets traded R.A. Dickey to Toronto for Noah Syndergaard.

The Blue Jays have to be wary of dealing with Alderson. How can they not be?

What could derail a trade is if the Blue Jays signed Dexter Fowler, who played for the Cubs last season. It is not known if the Blue Jays have any interest in Curtis Granderson, whom the Mets are also reportedly willing to deal.

There’s a lot of stuff flying around this time of year, but the most ridiculous thing I’ve read has the Mets trading Travis d’Arnaud (presumably in a package including Bruce) back to Toronto for catcher Russell Martin.

While Martin would be interesting for a team needing that one catching piece, would the Mets really be interesting in taking on the 33-year-old catcher’s contract that pays $20 million for the next three years? Even if they shed Bruce’s salary, the Mets would choke on Russell’s contract.

Nov 03

Mets Take Step Away From Cespedes; Pick Up Bruce’s Option

The Mets took their first step in moving away from Yoenis Cespedes when they picked up Jay Bruce’s $13-million option Thursday afternoon. Cespedes has until midnight Saturday to inform the Mets he will opt out of his contract to become a free agent.

CESPEDES: Will opt out. (AP)

    CESPEDES: Will opt out. (AP)

The Mets fully expect Cespedes to opt out and have thought that for months. Reportedly their plan is to wait out the process, much like they did with him last winter and Johan Santana years ago.

They took their time last year and Cespedes was on the verge of signing a five-year, $110-million package with Washington before changing his mind and going back to the Mets. Based on such history, figure that’s where the bidding will start, but considering his 31 homers in 2016, it could be higher.

The Mets have been enamored with Cespedes since he powered them to the 2015 World Series. Although he had a flat Series against the Royals, the Mets were hot to bring him back. Cespedes was an electric hitter for the Mets this year, but there were also long dry stretches, injuries, and his high maintenance persona.

They traded for Bruce when Cespedes as hurting and struggling with the hope he would ignite their offense. He did not and clearly disappointed Mets’ fans until the last two weeks of the season.

When the Mets acquired Cespedes from Cincinnati, they said at the time their control over Bruce’s contract was a crucial variable as it was their hedge on Cespedes leaving. That means they’ve been counting on Cespedes – who is at least two years older than Bruce by the way – leaving. Hell, I thought he would opt out when I first learned of his contract.

Reportedly the Mets will offer Cespedes a qualifying offer of roughly $17 million as to acquire a compensatory draft pick. That’s just good business. Cespedes, of course, is expected to decline, which is good business on his part.

Is Cespedes worth $110 million over five years? I don’t think so, but then again it’s not my money.

There are a lot of things $110 can buy, including:

* Adding a closer, an unforeseen need with Jeurys Familia expected to be suspended for at least 30 games after being arrested on domestic abuse charges.

* Signing one or more of their young pitchers to a long-term deal. That is if they are physically able.

* Bringing back Neil Walkers, who filed for free agency today

* Bringing back set-up reliever Addison Reed, who’ll cost them at least $11 million a season.

* Picking up a variety of pieces around the Mets, including patching the bullpen; Lucas Duda; improving their catching; bringing back Curtis Granderson for another year if they desire; and a myriad of other possibilities.

They can do all that, plus extend Bruce, if they move on from Cespedes.