Good morning Mets fans, and happy Thursday! In today’s edition of the hot stove rumor roundup, we have an interesting trade between two borderline competitive American League teams as well as a couple of pitcher and catcher rumors that could very well heat up by the beginning of the weekend.
Mariners, Rays, Working to Swap Position Players
First reported by Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times, the Seattle Mariners are set to kick off the first phase of their overhaul, as the club is set to trade catcher and former first-round draft pick Mike Zunino as well as outfielder Guillermo Heredia to the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for corner outfielder Mallex Smith.
While Smith is clearly the most talented player of the bunch, the transaction will certainly mark the end of an era. Zunino, who had been Seattle’s starting catcher since the middle of the 2013 season, had just finished off back-to-back 20-homer seasons. Dating back to 2016, he had held up a .223/.300/.462 line and 108 wRC+ that, for an offensively challenged position, certainly will provide value for a Tampa Bay roster that will have its work cut out in replacing Wilson Ramos‘ bat.
Dealing Smith also has its benefits for the Rays, as it clears the lane for a starting outfield of Tommy Pham, Kevin Kiermaier, and Austin Meadows, who combined to hit .284/.364/.510 in the second half last year. Seattle meanwhile inherits an upgrade both in the outfield and on the basepaths that is is under team control until 2023. Smith led the American League in triples (10) while combining for 28 net stolen bases and hitting .294/.357/.381 out of the leadoff spot in 2018.
Sabathia Suits Up for Final Year with Yankees
Yahoo Sports‘ Jeff Passan is the first to report that the New York Yankees have agreed to terms on a one-year deal with CC Sabathia worth $8M. Of the deal, Sabathia says “this will be it. 19 years. I’m excited [to finish it up with the Yankees].”
Sabathia, 38, made a strong case for another run after turning in a 3.65 ERA over 29 starts, averaging 8.3 K/9 against 3.0 BB/9 with a 4.16 FIP (his lowest since 2013). It was only fitting that both parties would come to an agreement, as New York quickly swipes a piece for the back of its rotation at a relatively cheap price while Sabathia earns another chance to help bring his team its first ring since his last in 2009.
Cubs Interested in Reunion with Chavez
As first reported by Bruce Levine from 670 The Score, the Chicago Cubs and general manager Jed Hoyer expect to piece together a formidable bullpen using the arms on the free agent market. They are likely to look out for a power lefty to potentially replace free agent southpaw Justin Wilson, but have also expressed interest in bringing back right-handed middle reliever Jesse Chavez.
In his first taste of the Windy City, the 35-year old Chavez was lights-out, as evidenced by his 1.15 ERA/2.39 FIP/2.25 xFIP, 0.79 WHIP, 8.4 K/BB ratio, and 97% stranded-runner rate in 39 innings. Left-handed hitters managed just eight hits (only one for extra bases) in 49 tries against the veteran, for that matter. If the organization trusts that Chavez can maintain value in the general paradigm of these numbers, keeping him in the fold as a useful piece down the road could be a wise investment. That said, it should be noted that he hasn’t gone a full year in the National League since 2009 as a Pittsburgh Pirate.
Angels Eyeing Ramos
One team that could grade out as a nice landing spot for free agent catcher Wilson Ramos is the Los Angeles Angels. According to Maria Torres of the Los Angeles Times, the Angels have currently expressed the most known interest in Ramos, and for good reason. Averaging just 80 wRC+ out of the catcher’s position (19th in the majors), it would certainly be a benefit to grab someone who, even with his physical limitations, has 48 homers and an .826 OPS (120 OPS+) dating back to 2016.
Torres writes that four other teams have inquired about Ramos, but could not reveal further information, since the original interest admission came from the same unnamed club source. Expect the discussion around Ramos’ market value to materialize in the coming days.
An Update on a Familiar Coach
Remember Dave Hudgens? The former Met hitting coach from 2011 to 2014 has reportedly left the Houston Astros’ organization to serve as Charlie Montoyo’s bench coach with the Toronto Blue Jays (team announcement). Hudgens had worked with Houston under A.J. Hinch since 2015, during which the Astros have led the American League in slugging (.439), isolated power (.181), and weighted runs created (110).
Hudgens had been fired from his post with the Mets in May following a tough start to the 2014 season, and vented some of his frustration to Newsday, expressing respect and admiration for Terry Collins, Sandy Alderson, and his players while notably omitting ownership and blasting the team’s broadcast booth, calling them “the naysayers, the guys who disapprove of us, the guys who I listen to on TV all the time, those guys that know everything about the game… the old-school guys that have it all figured out… It just confounds me. It’s just hilarious, really.”