Monday's minor matters: Mets, Cardinals adding bench candidates

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henry blanco.jpgFOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal says the Mets and catcher Henry Blanco are close to agreeing to terms.
Blanco, 38, hit .235/.320/.382 in 204 at-bats while playing behind Nick Hundley in San Diego last season. He’s a career .228/.292/.366 hitter, but he’s always been very well regarded as a defender. It’s something of a surprise to see him land in New York. It’s hard to imagine the Mets going with an Omir Santos-Blanco pairing behind the plate, so it looks like Santos will lose his spot once the team lands a starter.
Veteran backup catcher Chris Coste told his hometown paper, the Fargo-Moorhead Forum, that he’s signed a major league deal with the Mets.
Coste hit .224/.301/.317 in 205 at-bats for the Phillies and Astros last season. He turns 37 in February and he’s never been very good behind the plate, so it’s odd to see the Mets putting him on their 40-man roster. He’s not an ideal option as a No. 2 catcher, and he probably no longer has the offensive value to be very useful as a pinch-hitter/backup first baseman/third catcher.
The Cardinals agreed to terms with second baseman Ruben Gotay on a minor league deal.
Gotay was expected to be one of the most sought-after minor league free agents after hitting .272/.429/.450 for the Diamondbacks’ Triple-A club. He’ll provide the same kind of protection for the Cardinals that Jarrett Hoffpauir would have had he not been lost to the Jays on waivers. Gotay is challenged defensively at second base, but he can play there in stints and he’s improved at third base. He might be a legitimate bench player if given the opportunity.

Mets acquire Jacob Rhame from Dodgers

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The Mets acquired right-handed reliever Jacob Rhame from the Dodgers, the team announced on Sunday. Rhame is the player to be named later in the trade that sent outfielder Curtis Granderson to Los Angeles on Friday night. He’s expected to report to the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate.

Rhame, 24, pitched through his second Triple-A campaign with the Oklahoma City Dodgers in 2017, collecting two saves in 41 appearances and logging a 4.31 ERA, 1.9 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 48 innings. While his ERA saw a sharp spike from its modest 3.29 mark in 2016 (perhaps thanks in part to a midseason DL stint due to an undisclosed injury), he’s controlling the ball better than he has in several years and has drawn some attention with a fastball that occasionally touches 98 MPH on the radar gun.

The Mets’ bullpen hasn’t been at its finest over the last few weeks, ranking 16th among its major league competitors with a collective 4.50 ERA and 2.4 fWAR, but likely isn’t looking to add an extreme fly ball pitcher to its staff just yet. Until he gets his big league break, Rhame will beef up Triple-A Vegas’ relief corps alongside fellow right-handers Yaisel Sierra, Joe Broussard and Josh Ravin.

Cardinals and Pirates prepare to play unusual finale in first-ever MLB Little League Classic

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The Pirates and Cardinals will switch things up for Sunday’s series finale, moving from the spacious PNC Park to the renovated Minor League confines of BB&T Ballpark at Historic Bowman Field. Normally the home stadium for the Phillies’ Short-Season Single-A Williamsport Crosscutters, Historic Bowman Field will set the stage for an unusual — and unprecedented — matchup between the NL Central rivals as they take the field for the first-ever MLB Little League Baseball Classic.

The game will cap a packed day for Major League and Little League participants alike, as four Little League double-elimination games will be played in the morning and afternoon before the Pirates’ Ivan Nova and Cardinals’ Mike Leake face off at 7:00 PM ET. Despite drawing national attention, the Classic will be invitation-only, and its projected 2,366 attendees will comprise the lowest capacity attendance figure in Major League history.

The event is designed to spark more interest in the sport, especially among young players, and Cardinals’ manager Mike Matheny called it “grassroots marketing at its finest.” “We all fell in love with the game and started dreaming about playing on a field like this at the age of these kids we’re going to go see in Williamsport,” he told reporters prior to Sunday’s game. “I hope there are some kids that we can encourage and maybe give a different look of the game and create some lifelong baseball fans that might not have been there otherwise.”

Judging by the excitement that infused the pregame festivities among the players, it looks like they’re already on the right track.