Not only are the Mets losing their best player, but it looks like they’re losing him to the one team they beat in the NL East standings last season.
Jose Reyes appears to be leaving for Florida without the Mets having even made an official offer. Reports indicated that they might be willing to spend about $80 million for five years, but that was never going to get it done, not for the No. 3 free agent on the market. Reyes may struggle to stay healthy, but he’s an above average defender at a premium position and he just won the NL batting crown.
Without Reyes, the Mets are looking at Ruben Tejada at shortstop. He’s a nice fallback after posting a .360 OBP at the tender age of 21 in 328 at-bats for the Mets last season. Still, he’s never going to be a Reyes. Superstars in their prime are so tough to come by, and the Mets are letting one go without a fight. They may have another in David Wright, but Wright has hardly played like one these last two years.
Absent Reyes, the Mets lineup currently looks something like this:
2B Daniel Murphy
1B Ike Davis
LF Jason Bay
RF Lucas Duda
CF Angel Pagan
C Josh Thole
And that’s if they don’t non-tender Pagan to save an extra $5 million.
The rotation may be more of a strength if Johan Santana can string together 190 innings. R.A. Dickey, Jon Niese and Mike Pelfrey would make for a solid two, three and four. The bullpen, on the other hand, is in serious need of a couple of power arms, and the budget might not have room for more than the likes of Matt Capps.
It all points to the Mets falling into last place next year. The minor league system is in better shape than it’s been in years, but the turnaround isn’t likely to come quick.
The Royals honored former pitcher Yordano Ventura prior to their first Cactus League game against the Rangers on Saturday. Ventura was killed in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic in late January.
Rangers’ third baseman Adrian Beltre and center fielder Carlos Gomez paid their respects to the pitcher with a floral arrangement that was laid on the mound. Both teams stood along the foul lines during a pregame video tribute that highlighted Ventura’s tenure with Kansas City. Following the game, Gomez spoke to the media about his relationship with Ventura, describing their frequent conversations during the season and commending the pitcher for having “the same passion that I had early in my career” (via WFAA.com’s Levi Weaver).
A plaque dedicated to the 25-year-old was also presented to club manager Ned Yost as a more permanent commemoration of Ventura’s contributions to the sport. Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star reports that the plaque will be mounted in the club’s spring training facilities alongside tributes to members of the Royals’ 2014 and 2015 playoff teams.
The full text of the plaque is below, via MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan:
A brother and a teammate, Yordano Ventura, passed away on the morning of January 22 in his native Dominican Republic, at the age of 25. He signed with the Royals as a 17-year-old, eventually making the big league team in 2013 as a 22-year-old. On most days, he could be found laughing and joking with his baseball family in the clubhouse. However, on days when he pitched, that smile was replaced by a quiet confidence and an intense fire, which he brought to the mound for every start. He had many highlights in his abbreviated career, not the least of which was throwing eight shutout innings in Game #6 of the 2014 World Series to force a Game #7 vs. San Francisco.
Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.
The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.
Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.