Carlos Beltran

Mets hold firm, get best available prospect for Carlos Beltran

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UPDATE, 11:13 PM: Beltran has accepted the trade, which will be made official on Thursday morning.

3:30 PM: It’s not official yet — because Carlos Beltran has no-trade protection, he can’t be officially moved until 24 hours after the deal is agreed to — but all indications are that the Mets are sending their All-Star right fielder and cash to the Giants for top pitching prospect Zack Wheeler.

And that’s a very good pickup for the Mets.  Wheeler isn’t one of the game’s top five pitching prospects, but he may be in the top 10 and he’s almost certainly in the top 15.  Pitching for Single-A San Jose in the high-offense California League, the sixth overall pick from the 2009 draft is 7-5 with a 3.99 ERA and a 98/47 K/BB ratio in 88 innings this season.  He’s struck out 168 batters and walked 85 in 146 2/3 innings as a pro.

Wheeler has an excellent delivery and does a better job of generating velocity with his legs than most.  His curveball rates as one of the best strikeout pitches in the minors.  ProjectProspect.com had a great scouting report on him from a couple of months ago, including some GIFs of his windup.

Considering that the Mets weren’t even going to get a draft pick or two if Beltran left as a free agent this winter, it’s a great return for them.  Wheeler probably won’t contribute until 2013, but he could be a top-of-the-rotation guy if things break right.

As for the Giants, they get the middle-of-the-order bat they believed they needed to help their chances of repeating this October.  The only problem there is that they’ve actually gotten more production from left field and right field than any other positions this year.  Here’s how their team OPS by position breaks down:

LF: .733
RF: .730
3B: .712
CF: .691
C: .687
1B: .676
2B: .669
SS: .599

To make room for Beltran, either Nate Schierholtz or Cody Ross is going to take a seat.  Schierholtz has a .764 OPS that ranks second on the team to Pablo Sandoval’s .834 mark.  Ross isn’t far behind at .746.  Both are also above average defenders in the outfield corners.

Really, though, it’s not such a big problem.  Ross has an .834 OPS against lefties, compared to a .720 mark versus righties.  Schierholtz has an .802 OPS against righties, as opposed to a .584 OPS versus lefties.  A straight platoon makes all kinds of sense, if manager Bruce Bochy is willing to reduce Ross’ role that significantly.  If Ross plays over Schierholtz against righties, then the Giants are probably hurting themselves.

But the Giants did need Beltran.  As long as he can stay healthy, the team is now in much better position to take down the Phillies in the postseason again.  A look at the new lineup:

CF Andres Torres
SS Mike Fontenot/2B Jeff Keppinger
3B Pablo Sandoval
RF Carlos Beltran
1B Aubrey Huff
LF Nate Schierholtz/Cody Ross
2B Jeff Keppinger/SS Mike Fontenot, Miguel Tejada, Brandon Crawford
C Eli Whiteside

It’s still far from perfect.  Ideally, the Giants would still go get a catcher or a shortstop to replace Tejada on the roster.  It’s much improved, though.

Josh Johnson retires from baseball

PEORIA, AZ - FEBRUARY 21: Josh Johnson #55 of the San Diego Padres poses during Picture Day on February 21, 2014 at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
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Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.

Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.

Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.

Report: Angels close to a multi-year deal with Luis Valbuena

HOUSTON, TX - JULY 08:  Luis Valbuena #18 of the Houston Astros hits a three run walkoff home run in the ninth inning to defeat the Oakland Athletics 10-9 at Minute Maid Park on July 8, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
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The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.

Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.

Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.