Here is a complete wrap-up of Day 1 at the Baseball Winter Meetings in National Harbor, Maryland.
What We’re Hearing
As I reported on Sunday afternoon, Sandy Alderson confirmed that he was in talks with the Baltimore Orioles and that it was a continuation of a discussion that began before they left for the Winter Meetings. Alderson didn’t say much more than that during an interview, but there’s enough buzz and rumors to confirm that the Mets have targeted Orioles right-handed reliever Brad Brach.
Brach, 30, is an ideal candidate to fill that 7th inning role for the Mets bullpen, one of Sandy Alderson’s stated goals for the offseason. Brach also comes with two years of team control which makes him even more attractive to the Mets, but expensive as well. In fact, we’ve learned that neither Curtis Granderson or Jay Bruce alone is enough to get a deal done and that the Mets would have to kick back a mid to high level prospect.
Additionally, it sounded like the O’s also wanted the Mets to eat some salary and that they had much more interest in Granderson than Bruce. Alderson has told teams that the Mets will not eat any salary on either of the outfielders he’s dangling.
Brach has produced a 2.39 ERA over the last two seasons with the O’s, with a 1.112 WHIP and 181 strikeouts in 158.1 innings pitched.
On Monday I reported that Jay Bruce has become like persona non grata here at the Winter Meetings, which is surprising because he is still a 30 homer bat if nothing else and power is a valued commodity. You have some MLB execs making faces or rolling their eyes when his name comes up.
After some digging around and speaking to a couple of people, that two month stretch Bruce had with the Mets has some teams backing off and wondering if he’s the same hitter without on-base machine Joey Votto hitting ahead of him.
It is amazing how turned off teams are on Bruce and one person I spoke to mentioned his OBP and below average defense deflates much of his value, suggesting he’s more of a DH at this point in his career than a right fielder.
After I reported that there was one team that had interest in Bruce but was only willing to offer a B-Level prospect, Jon Heyman posted something interesting later that evening. The Toronto Blue Jays, who have expressed interest in Bruce in seasons past, could be that team I head about.
“The Blue Jays continue to have interest in acquiring outfielder Jay Bruce from the Mets, but they’re offering little,” Heyman said.
It is so glaringly apparent that Sandy wants no part of Jay Bruce on his 2017 roster and teams are all picking up on that. The last thing he wants to do is trade Granderson (who he loves) and risk going into the season with Bruce, who never took to New York and was out-produced in every way by Granderson in the second half. Additionally, Bruce can’t bat leadoff and Granderson can – another reason why Sandy prefers to keep Grandy.
Eventually, Alderson will find a dance partner and he’ll move Bruce, but clearly this hasn’t gone as easy as he first thought it was. My gut feeling tells me that if the Mets were to kick in Brandon Nimmo or Gavin Cecchini, he may have a deal with Baltimore.
Mets Items of Note
By now you know the Mets are fully committed to giving Travis d’Arnaud one last full chance at grabbing the everyday catcher’s job. To that end, d’Arnaud has been in Arizona over the last week working with Kevin Long on his offense and new catching coach Glenn Sherlock on his defense. Here’s to hoping that it all works out in the end for the 28 year old d’Arnaud, who was once considered the top catching prospect in the game.
Sandy Alderson has not shut the door on trading prospects to get the reliever he’s looking for. However, one prospect that will not be traded is Amed Rosario, he’s going nowhere. Last night, Sandy revealed that the plan for Rosario is to have him play multiple new positions next season, with an emphasis on third base. I was a little surprised by this, given that Rosario is the best defensive shortstop the Mets have had since Rey Ordonez one scout told me. That’s some high praise, and unlike Ordonez, Rosario is going to produce offensively as well.
Winter Meetings Rumors & News
The Washington Nationals are in hot pursuit of White Sox ace Chris Sale, and while some other teams are still in the mix, the Nats are the favorites to sign him according to all the buzz. If the Nats were to acquire him, it would certainly give them the best rotation in baseball, and as an added bonus they will move one of their talented backend rotation guys into the pen, much like the Mets intend to do with Seth Lugo, Zack Wheeler or Robert Gsellman.
The San Francisco Giants signed closer Mark Melancon to a four year deal worth $62 million dollars that was heavily front-loaded and included an opt-out after two years. The terms of the deal were very odd to say the least, but in the end the Giants add a huge piece to a bullpen that was in shambles.
The Philadelphia Phillies have agreed to terms with veteran relief pitcher Joaquin Benoit on a one year deal worth $7.5 million dollars. The price of mediocrity is staggering these days.
After a breakthrough season in his walk year, right-hander Rich Hill agreed to terms on a three-year deal worth $48 million dollars with the Los Angeles Dodgers. It was no secret the Dodgers wanted him back.
Monday was kind of a slow day news wise, but there is plenty of buzz to suggest that we will see a ton of movement today with some significant signings and perhaps a blockbuster trade or two. Perhaps the Mets get their man Ziegler today. I have a good feeling about that.