It's the most wonderful time of the year—well, one of them anyway.
The dog days of summer are here, and with them comes the rampant speculation that drives the baseball rumor mill. Unlike the off-season, when rumors take time to build and grow, they come at you fast and furious now with the trade deadline less than a month away.
How is a fan supposed to keep up with it all?
That's where B/R comes in—we'll be bringing you the most up-to-the-minute rumblings about your lovable bunch of upstarts in Flushing, the Mets, along with analysis and everything else that comes with it. The best part—everything will be right here, so there's no risk of missing a juicy rumor that just broke.
Let's see what Mets' GM Sandy Alderson is reportedly up to, shall we?
*This will be updated on a regular basis—often multiple times per day—so while the post date will always show as July 3, simply click to the next slide to see the latest rumors and rumblings about the Mets as they ready themselves for the stretch run.*
UPDATE JULY 31:
The Tigers talked to the Mets about Scott Hairston, but conversations ended quickly:
Tigers have considered Soriano as the RH bat, but don't think great fit. Also looked at Hairston, but Mets asked for 1 of top 5 prospects.
— DKnobler (@DKnobler) July 31, 2012
At this point the Mets have nothing to lose. If they find a GM desperate enough to overpay for Hairston (or anyone else on the roster), so be it. If not, they'll keep plugging along with the team that they currently have, mixing-and-matching their way to the end of the season.
It seems like the Mets still think they could turn things around and still make a playoff run...but they're not really sure if they believe that:
#Mets would listen on Hairston, Byrdak but only for pieces could help in '13. Not interested in A-ball yrs away Rather hold and play it out.
— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) July 25, 2012
Sandy Alderson and company are at least cognizant of the fact that some of their veterans have value to other teams and aren't really part of their vision for the team long-term. Byrdak and Hairston aren't going to bring the Mets a big-time prospect, but guys who are or project to be solid role players.
Update July 30th:
We had previously talked about Ramon Hernandez and Kelly Shoppach as potential catchers that the Mets had interest in, but now we can add a third name to the mix:
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet tw-align-center">
#mets have talked about soto, shoppach & ramon hernandez but prices as "too high.'' if no go, will seek catcher in winter
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) July 30, 2012
It's been two years since Soto could be called a serviceable catcher, and after the season he's putting together for the Cubs in 2012—a batting line of .195/.278/.345 with six home runs and 14 RBI—he's a prime candidate to be non-tendered this winter.
To trade for him now would be foolish and simply making a trade for the sake of making a trade, hoping that Mets' fans are so inept and clueless that they'll be excited at the name.
Veterans like Scott Hairston seem to be safe.
July 22nd Update:
ESPN New York's Adam Rubin was asked on Twitter whether the Mets would become sellers if they fall out of playoff contention. Rubin, citing sources within the team, was adamant in his reply:
I was told under no circumstances would they be sellers. Didn't want to leave clubhouse bare. // RT @BryNaylor: Are NYM sellers after this?
— Adam Rubin (@AdamRubinESPN) July 22, 2012
To that end, he also notes that the team could make deals with next season in mind:
There are also trades that are more lateral -- get back MLB players under control in 2013.
— Adam Rubin (@AdamRubinESPN) July 22, 2012
So while veterans like Scott Hairston, who could be attractive to contenders as the deadline nears are likely safe, you have to wonder if someone like Lucas Duda could find himself shipped out of town to fill a need on next year's squad.
The next week figures to be a very interesting one in Flushing...
ESPN New York's Adam Rubin reports that the Mets have traded utility infielder Omar Quintanilla to the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for future considerations.
Source: Omar Quintanilla traded to Orioles for future considerations.— Adam Rubin (@AdamRubinESPN) July 20, 2012
Quintanilla was designated for assignment earlier this week to make room for Jason Bay's return from the disabled list. In 29 games for the Mets this season, the 30-year-old posted a .257/.350/.371 batting line with a home run and four RBI.
The Mets aren't going to get anything worthwhile back from the Orioles, but at least this is a sign that Sandy Alderson and the Mets' front office is awake and able to use telephones.
Could the Duda-bide somewhere else?
Joel Sherman of the New York Post opines that with Matt den Dekker quickly approaching the major leagues, the Mets should look to move outfielders such as Lucas Duda, who is really a first baseman, and Kirk Nieuwenhuis, who Sherman says most scouts view as a fourth outfielder, in order to obtain long-term help for their bullpen.
An un-named Mets' official tells Sherman:
Acquiring a controllable guy would certainly be our preference. The problem is those guys are so scarce, and the cost, at least at this point, is prohibitive. We agree — the need for 2013 will be there — but that need may be easier to service this winter than now.
Sherman notes that the Tampa Bay Rays have always liked Duda, and with their own first baseman Carlos Pena struggling to stay above the Mendoza line, they may be willing to move one of their young arms to acquire him.
The young arms that Tampa could be willing to move have experience both as starters and relievers, and they include Chris Archer, Wade Davis and perhaps even Jeremy Hellickson.
Even if Duda was moved for one of them and the Mets chose to turn them back into starting pitchers, it'd be a solid move both for 2012 and the foreseeable future.
The Mets think that Ramon Hernandez can help...
Update July 20th:
ESPN's Jayson Stark says that we can probably quash the thought of Ramon Hernandez heading to Flushing.
The Rockies aren't willing to unload the veteran backstop without getting a quality package in return. With prospect Wilin Rosario struggling defensively, the Rockies want to keep Hernandez around to mentor the youngster and groom him to take over full time duties in 2013.
Talks have progressed to the point that Rubin quotes an unnamed executive as saying "I think Hernandez will be a Met."
Hernandez, 36, is a 14-year-veteran who has battled injuries in each of the past four seasons. In 27 games for the Rockies this year, he's posted a .215/.260/.398 batting line with four home runs and 15 RBI. Nine of his 20 hits on the season have gone for extra bases.
Reynolds, a 27-year-old lefty, has appeared in 39 games for the Rockies, posting a 3.38 ERA, 1.26 WHIP and 8.44 K/9.
According to Rubin, the Rockies have interest in utility infielder Justin Turner, and says that prospects including Matt den Dekker, Wilfredo Tovar, Domingo Tapia, Chase Huchingson or Josh Edgin could head back to Colorado.
Hernandez is solid behind the plate, but he doesn't figure to be much of an upgrade offensively over Josh Thole, though he does have considerably more power than the current Mets' starter.
Reynolds is a solid left-handed reliever, and the Mets will take help in the bullpen from whatever side they can get it.
Considering that no big-time prospects would be heading back to Colorado, acquiring one or both Rockies players is a risk worth taking.
Street says it's water under the bridge...does Geren agree?
July 19th Update:
Street may not be available after all.
According to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, both current Padres owner, John Moores and suspected new owner Ron Fowler have given GM Eric Byrnes the OK to try and sign both Street and Carlos Quentin to contract extensions.
It stands to reason that if Street were to rebuff the Padres' advances that they then would look to move him. But what once seemed like a foregone conclusion may be anything but that, leaving one less established closer for the Mets to acquire.
Bob was never good at communication, and I don’t want to speak for anybody else, but it was a sentiment reflected in many conversations during the two years I spent in Oakland, and even recently when talking to guys after I left. For me personally, he was my least favorite person I have ever encountered in sports from age 6 to 27. I am very thankful to be in a place where I can trust my manager.
But that was then, and this is now.
In comments to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, Street changed his tune about the possibility of a reunion with Geren in New York:
If I get to the Mets, that'll be the first bug I go squash.'You're going to have professional differences. I sometimes think had I been a little older and little more mature perhaps I would have reacted differently to the decisions that affected me. I think I'm as much to blame for a lot of it. If I were to get traded to the Mets, it would be up to me to handle it and be professional. I play hard for my teammates, and he'd be my teammate again.
Street, the Padres' lone representative in Tuesday's All-Star Game (he did not see any action), enters the second half of the season with a 1.13 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 12.00 K/9 and 13 saves. A free agent following the season, he offers the kind of veteran experience with no long-term commitment that the Mets should be looking to add as they get closer to the trade deadline at the end of this month.
We can add Oakland's Grant Balfour to the growing list of veteran relief pitchers to which the Mets have been linked, according to Newsday's David Lennon:
Count the A's Grant Balfour among relievers #Mets have targeted with recent scouting efforts/in-house trade discussions.
— David Lennon (@DPLennon) July 18, 2012
Balfour, 34. opened the season as the A's closer before losing the job to Ryan Cook in early May after a six game stint that saw him go 2-for-4 on save opportunities while allowing seven earned runs and nine hits over 4.1 innings of work.
Since being replaced in the ninth inning, Balfour has pitched very well, posting a 2.20 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and 7.2 K/9. A team option exists on Balfour's contract for the 2013 season at $4.5 million, otherwise he's due a $350,000 buyout.
While they surely don't view him as a closer, the Mets' bullpen needs help everywhere. Adding Balfour to the mix would be an excellent step towards getting that group back to being effective.
Broxton could find himself back in the senior circuit before long...
July 18th Update:
CBS Sports' Danny Knobler confirms Adam Rubin's report from yesterday that the Mets are indeed seriously interested in Royals' closer Jonathan Broxton:
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet tw-align-center">
Mets definitely among teams showing interest in Broxton.
— DKnobler (@DKnobler) July 18, 2012
Broxton would be a major upgrade for the Mets—and that would be the case whether Frank Francisco was able to play or not. Adding him to the mix—and soon—should be Sandy Alderson's biggest priority.
July 17th Update:
ESPN New York's Adam Rubin reports that the Mets have been scouting current Royals' closer Jonathan Broxton extensively.
I went more in-depth on Broxton below, but adding him to the back-end of the Mets' bullpen would go a long way towards solving their ninth inning woes.
As first reported by Fox Sports' tag team of Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi, the Royals are willing to listen to offers on closer Jonathan Broxton and list the Mets as a potential suitor.
Broxton, 28, was a two-time All-Star for the Dodgers who has revived his career in Kansas City this season, pitching to a 1.99 ERA, 1.33 WHIP and 21 saves.
No longer the strikeout machine that he once was—his 6.5 K/9 ratio this season is down significantly from the 11.5 K/9 ratio he had for his career headed into the 2012 season—but Broxton has still figured out a way to be effective.
Owed roughly $3 million for the rest of the season—$2 million in salary and another $1 million in performance bonuses—coupled with the fact that he becomes a free agent following the season, Broxton is the kind of pitcher that fits what the Mets are looking to add to their bullpen.
What Royals' GM Dayton Moore is asking in exchange for Broxton is unknown, but it's hard to imagine that any of the Mets' top prospects would come into play.
Sandy Alderson is thinking that slow and steady wins the race...
July 18th Update:
Even with their continued bullpen struggles, Olney reiterated what he said two weeks ago:
Mets are not close on any deal involving a reliever. They remain in a wait-and-see mode.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) July 18, 2012
We have no reason to doubt Buster, but this makes absolutely no sense. Either the Mets' brass thinks that this team can make a playoff run or they can't. By their inaction, I get the sneaking suspicion that it's the latter, which is a crying shame if it's accurate.
In his latest insider-only report, ESPN's Buster Olney says that while the Mets are most certainly looking to add pieces to their bullpen, the team will wait until the market develops before making a move.
This shouldn't be surprising and it makes sense. With more than three weeks to go before the non-waiver trade deadline, the vast majority of teams are still trying to figure out whether they are buyers or sellers which limits the Mets' options.
As teams drop out of the running, expect the chatter around the Mets to only grow stronger.
Is Shoppach an upgrade over Thole?
Mets have considered Kelly Shoppach if price on Ramon Hernandez is too high, which would get Ryan Lavarnway to Boston.— Peter Gammons (@pgammo) July 14, 2012
Shoppach, 32, has appeared in 33 games for Boston this year as the backup for Jarrod Saltalamacchia, posting a batting line of .269/.358/.527 with four home runs and 12 RBI.
A career .227 hitter, Shoppach is solid defensively and wouldn't cost much in terms of prospects to acquire. That being the case, Josh Thole has done a solid job for the Mets this season and has developed a repore with Johan Santana and R.A. Dickey.
If the idea behind acquiring Shoppach (or Hernandez for that matter) is to replace Mike Nickeas with an experienced backup, that's one thing. But if the plan is for either Shoppach or Hernandez to cut into Thole's playing time, that should be avoided at all costs.
Fuentes would be a risky proposition...
Update July 14th:
The Cardinals have signed Fuentes to a minor league deal, so he is no longer an option for the Mets.
The #Cardinals have agreed to terms on a minor league deal with LHP Brian Fuentes.
— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) July 14, 2012
Update July 11:
The A's have released Fuentes, making him a free agent who can now be signed for a pro-rated portion of the MLB minimum salary.
Whether the Mets have any interest remains to be seen, but he is someone worth keeping an eye on as he'd cost no prospects to obtain.
This is more speculation than anything else, but given the Mets' bullpen woes, it merits discussion.
With 36-year-old left-handed reliever Brian Fuentes being designated for assignment by the Oakland A's yesterday, one has to wonder if Fuentes would be an attractive option for the Mets.
While he is owed a considerable amount of money—the remainder of his $5 million salary in 2012 plus an additional $500,000 to buy out the $6.5 million team option in his deal for the 2013 season—Fuentes isn't likely to command much in terms of prospects heading back to Oakland.
Fuentes has experience in the National League, having spent seven seasons with the Colorado Rockies from 2002 through 2008, where he posted a 3.38 ERA, 1.24 WHIP and 115 saves to go along with a 10.3 K/9 ratio.
Should the Mets pursue Fuentes?
It depends on which Brian Fuentes you are getting: the Fuentes who held batters to a .222/.260/.347 batting line with a 2.84 ERA and converted four-of-five save opportunities through his first 19 games this season, or the Fuentes who has seen batters post a .452/.553/.903 batting line with a 19.50 ERA and two blown saves over his last nine appearances.
While the money Fuentes is owed may not be ideal for the Mets, the cost in terms of prospects likely would be.
Fuentes wouldn't be my first choice to bolster the Mets' bullpen, but he's worth taking a chance on. He certainly couldn't be much worse than what they've been throwing out there as of late.
Is Carlos Quentin destined for Citi Field?
Update: July 6
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports says that the Mets are long shots to try and acquire Huston Street from the Padres (and we can presumably include Carlos Quentin in this as well) based on the fact that the team does not want to move their best prospects in any deal.
It remains to be seen if Quentin and/or Street would cost a top prospect as rental players, so I'm not sure that we can completely discount the Mets from pursuing either Padre at this point.
Rosenthal, like ESPN's Buster Olney pointed out yesterday, believes that the Mets will wait as long as possible before making a move.
Andy Martino of the Daily News quotes an unnamed player in the Mets' clubhouse—one who spoke for other members of the team—that upgrading the bullpen isn't the team's biggest need going forward: “A righthanded bat...We can’t hit lefties.”
Whoever "Player X" is has a point. While the Mets have scored 120 runs off of left-handed pitching, the fifth most in baseball entering today's games, they are in the bottom half of baseball in batting average (.244), on-base percentage (.312) and OPS (.679) against southpaws.
One name Martino mentions as a possible acquisition is outfielder Carlos Quentin of the San Diego Padres. Sure to be one of the most sought after bats on the market, Quentin is a two-time All-Star currently hitting .289/.430/.577 with seven home runs and 16 RBI in 29 games played.
While Quentin is a free agent after the season, acquiring him won't be cheap, especially with a number of other teams sure to have serious interest in acquiring him.
Considering that San Diego also has closer Huston Street who is likely to be available, perhaps the Mets can fill two holes with one move? Martino tweeted only last week that the Mets had discussions with the Padres about Mr. Street:
Mets already actively working to get bullpen help. Called Padres to ask about Huston Street, per source.— Andy Martino (@SurfingTheMets) June 30, 2012
Should They Deal With San Diego?
Both Quentin and Street would be excellent additions to the team, each filling a void and giving Terry Collins some additional depth to work with.
Aside from Zack Wheeler and Matt Harvey, who are untouchable (and rightfully so)—and we can include Jeurys Familia in this group as well—anyone else down on the farm would have to be considered a candidate to be included in a package that bought Quentin and/or Street to New York.
Is New York ready for Round Two of K-Rod?
Update: July 5
Andy Martino from the Daily News says that an unnamed veteran in the Mets' clubhouse is against the idea of bringing K-Rod back into the fold. "“Despite what guys might say publicly, I think there is too much baggage there. Why would you go there?”
For all of the positive things that we've heard from players and coaches about the Mets' clubhouse this season, I can't imagine that Sandy Alderson would risk upsetting things by bringing K-Rod back.
Rodriguez, who has a 4.00 ERA, 1.47 WHIP and 8 K/9 ratio in 37 games for the Brewers this year, was the Mets' closer from 2009 through just after the All-Star break in 2011, when he was dealt to the Milwaukee Brewers for right-hander Adrian Rosario and lefty Danny Herrera.
As a Met, K-Rod posted a 3.05 ERA, 1.28 WHIP and a 10 K/9 ratio while saving 83 games. He also served as a major distraction in the clubhouse, getting himself arrested in 2010 after attacking his father-in-law in front of his teammates and their families.
Serving primarily as a setup man for the Brewers, K-Rod has posted a 3.05 ERA, 1.32 WHIP and 9.0 K/9 ratio in 70 games.
A free agent after the season, Rodriguez isn't likely to command much in the way of prospects to re-acquire from the Brew Crew, who have seemingly come to the realization that 2012 just isn't their year.
Is This A Good Idea?
The Mets' bullpen has been the worst in baseball, posting a 4.93 ERA and 1.48 WHIP, blowing 13 saves and allowing opposing batters to post a .265/.337/.414 batting line.
Sure, K-Rod is a risky proposition, more for the unrest he could bring to an otherwise fantastic clubhouse than anything else.
But there's no arguing against trying to stop the bleeding in the bullpen, and perhaps a move back to the bright lights of New York would re-invigorate the 30-year-old free agent-to-be.