<
>

Morning Briefing: Swap meet for Mets, Nationals

3/31/2015

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. --

FIRST PITCH: Jerry Blevins and Matt den Dekker will get to see their ex-teammates right away. A day after the first trade between the NL East rivals in six years, the New York Mets and Washington Nationals meet for a final time before Opening Day.

Jonathon Niese opposes left-hander Gio Gonzalez in the 1:05 p.m. ET game on Tuesday in Viera.

The last deal between the Mets and Nats was a low-level one, by the way: infielder Anderson Hernandez returned to the Mets for minor leaguer Greg Veloz on Aug. 6, 2009.

TUESDAY’S NEWS REPORTS:

    • The Mets acquired a pair of left-handed relievers on Monday: Blevins from the Nats and Alex Torres from the San Diego Padres. Blevins, who is owed $2.4 million in his final season before free agency, will serve as the left-handed specialist. Torres, under control for five full seasons and making near the major league minimum, will get full innings.

"We were missing a piece," manager Terry Collins said. "We talk about how successful we want to be. There was a piece we needed, and today we went out and got those pieces."

Torres began using a padded cap last season because he watched former teammate Alex Cobb get hit in the head with a line drive. Torres explains the motivation further here.

    • The Mets sent den Dekker to Washington, where he might make the Opening Day roster because of injuries to Nats outfielders Jayson Werth, Denard Span and Nate McLouth. Minor league right-hander Cory Mazzoni and a player to named -- which typically means a 2014 draft pick -- go to San Diego. Den Dekker thought he was getting called into the office to be demoted to Triple-A Las Vegas and was caught off guard by the trade news.

Read columnist Kevin Kernan’s trade reaction in the Post and news stories in the Post, Daily News, Washington Post, UT San Diego, Newsday, Record and at MLB.com.

    • With general manager Sandy Alderson and Collins talking confidently that a third left-hander, Rule 5 pick Sean Gilmartin, should make the Opening Day roster, the bullpen seems pretty much set. The lone remaining question might be: Is Dillon Gee or Rafael Montero in the rotation? The other will work in the pen. The presumption has been Gee gets the rotation spot, but Montero tossed six scoreless innings against the Miami Marlins on Monday and at least slightly muddled things.

Regardless, the Mets are open to trading Gee in April to create a rotation spot for Montero.

The Mets should need to clear bullpen spots for Vic Black and Bobby Parnell in mid-April. Both are now expected to open the season on the DL.

The big loser with Monday’s additions is Buddy Carlyle, who has an out on the eve of the season and is now seemingly displaced from the Opening Day roster. See the updated roster projection here.

Read more on Gee versus Montero in the Post, Daily News, Newsday, Record and at NJ.com and MLB.com.

    • Fred Wilpon, at the request of Collins and captain David Wright, addressed the team in the clubhouse Monday morning. Tim Teufel, Michael Cuddyer and Wright also spoke about their playoff experiences, Marc Carig reports in Newsday.

Wilpon has not done a baseball interview since spring training in 2013. Columnist Bob Klapisch in the Record thinks it is overdue for the public to hear from Wilpon again. Writes Klapsich:

For those keeping score, it’s been two years since Wilpon granted his last interview, which prompts the obvious question: What’s he afraid of? Wilpon turned away from a slam-dunk opportunity to reassure ticket buyers that, yes, he’s got enough money to finance a Mets’ rebirth. One member of the organization said, "Fred didn’t think it was the right time," implying the owner actually is looking for one. But what better chance would Wilpon have than a week before opening day, when so much has gone right for the Mets?

Columnist David Lennon in Newsday agrees. Writes Lennon:

If Hal Steinbrenner can speak to reporters on a semi-regular basis and appear on two New York radio stations, as he did last week, then Wilpon can step away from batting practice for a few minutes to address a few of the Mets' issues. At the very least, some basic stuff, just to let the paying customers know that ownership is not completely tone-deaf to the feelings of a fan base that has felt increasingly alienated.

Read news stories in the Times, Post, Daily News and at NJ.com and MLB.com.

  • Based on comparable contracts outlined by a major league executive, Lucas Duda's extension -- if reached -- could be worth about four years, $31 million (including this season). It also could include a roughly $13 million option for 2019. If Duda instead goes year to year with the Mets, he is not eligible for free agency until after the 2017 season. Discussions are expected to be tabled if there is no deal by Opening Day.

  • In addition to Montero’s six scoreless innings, Duda and Cuddyer homered in Monday’s 7-1 win against the Marlins. Duda produced five RBIs. Cuddyer now has a team-best six Grapefruit League homers. Read more at MLB.com.

  • Though Black is "unlikely" to break camp with the Mets, Daniel Murphy is "touch and go" for being ready, Alderson indicated. In Murphy’s absence, the Mets prefer Danny Muno over Matt Reynolds for a roster spot.

  • The 30 for 30 Short, "Unhittable: Sidd Finch and the Tibetan Fastball" premieres Wednesday at 11 a.m. ET on Grantland.com. Watch a trailer here.

  • The Mets’ payroll has risen to $102.6 million with Blevins’ addition.

  • Ticket sales are up 22.6 percent over the same date in 2014, Mets executive VP Lou DePaoli tells Neil Best in Newsday.

  • Zack Wheeler primarily will rehab in Port St. Lucie, not in New York.

  • From the bloggers ... Mets Report suggests solid performances from Montero and Duda on Monday create questions. ... Blogging Mets opposes signing Duda long term.

BIRTHDAYS: Tom Hausman was born on this date in 1953.

TWEET OF THE DAY:

YOU’RE UP: Did the Mets address their bullpen deficiency with the additions of Blevins and Torres?