The Mets are expected to bid on free
agent big fish like Matt Holliday and Jason Bay to play left field, but
according to Bill Ladson of MLB.com, they have joined the Giants,
Mariners and Braves among teams interested in Nationals outfielder Josh Willingham.
Willingham, 30, batted
.260/.367/.496 with 24 home runs, 61 RBI and a career-high .863 OPS in
2009. While he possesses the thump the Mets covet, he ranks well below average on defense, according to UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating). The Nats resisted parting with him before the trade deadline, but
under team control for two more seasons, he represents one of
the team’s best potential trade chips.
The Nationals would almost certainly
want pitching in return, meaning that major-league ready pitchers like
Jon Niese and Bobby Parnell would have to be discussed. Perhaps the best part of it all for
general manager Omar Minaya, Willingham is a former catcher. Zing.
In other Mets news, the team is reportedly interested in Rod Barajas, while Jon Heyman of SI.com thinks Bengie Molina may want a three-year contract.
Update: Jon Heyman of SI.com now believes the Mets may be waiting out Molina, as they have more money to work with than the Rangers and Royals.
The Astros avoided arbitration with pitcher Mike Fiers, agreeing on a $3.45 million salary for the 2017 season, per Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle. The right-hander was in his first of three years of arbitration eligibility.
Fiers, 31, made 30 starts and one relief appearance for the Astros in 2016. He finished the year with a 4.48 ERA and a 134/42 K/BB ratio in 168 2/3 innings.
Fiers had a much better showing in 2015 as well as in limited action in 2014, so the Astros are hoping he rediscovers that effectiveness going forward. He’ll slot into the back of the starting rotation.
There is little if any controversy to be had about the caps this year’s inductees will wear on their Hall of Fame plaques, but in case there was any doubt at all, it was put to rest this afternoon at the Hall of Fame press conference: Tim Raines will wear a Montreal Expos cap and Ivan Rodriguez will wear a Rangers cap. Jeff Bagwell, of course, never played for a team other than the Houston Astros at the big league level.
Though Raines had some good seasons with the Chicago White Sox and though he helped provide a nice kick start to the Yankees dynasty in the mid-1990s, his best seasons, by far, took place while he was an Expo. It’s also the case that the bulk of his Hall of Fame push came from Expos fans. He was particularly boosted by Jonah Keri, who recently wrote a book detailing the history of the Expos. So, yeah, that’s easy.
Rodriguez played 13 of his 21 years with the Texas Rangers, including his MVP 1999 season. He did have some notable years elsewhere, particularly in Detroit where he remains a fan favorite, but it was always going to be the Rangers for him, one would think. Maybe a slight, slight chance that he’d do the blank cap thing, Greg Maddux-style, but smart money was on the Rangers.
With Bagwell, the only question is which Astros cap he’ll wear. There are a couple of applicable ones: the brick red star, which he wore to the World Series in 2005. There’s also the shooting star cap he wore during his best seasons and which Craig Biggio’s plaque displays. He was around for the classic “H” over the star look, but he was just a kid then, so I doubt he’d wear it.
Anyway, sorry to the Marlins fans who wished that Raines and Pudge would wear the fishy-F.