7:15 p.m. EST update: The Yankees have also been in touch with the Mets regarding Niese, though they’d seem to be unlikely trading partners. The rivals haven’t done a deal together since swapping left-handed relievers Mike Stanton and Felix Heredia in 2004.
7:10 p.m. EST update: Sherman reports that the Blue Jays, Red Sox, Rockies and Padres are all making pushes for Niese, who would fit in as a nice No. 4 starter on a contender.
The Mets won’t part with David Wright, but everyone else on the roster is available, according to the New York Post’s Joel Sherman. That lists includes first baseman Ike Davis and left-hander Jon Niese.
While a Davis trade is considered a big long shot, the Mets have discussed Niese with a few teams, Sherman reports. As a legitimate middle-of-the-rotation option still four months away from free agency, Niese would be attractive to pretty much every team looking for pitching. The 25-year-old is 22-23 with a 4.39 ERA since debuting with the Mets in 2009. He missed the final five weeks of last season, but since it was an intercostal strain, not an arm problem, that’s not likely to scare teams off.
The Mets are also perfectly willing to move Jason Bay, but according to Sherman, they’re not getting any hits on him.
Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.
I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.
I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.
As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.
There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.
Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons fell off the map a bit last year due to a combination of the Angels’ mediocrity, Simmons’ lack of offense, and a month-plus of missed action due to a torn ligament in his left thumb.
Simmons is still as good and as smart as ever on defense. That was on full display Monday when the Angels hosted the Padres for an afternoon spring exhibition.
With a runner on first base and nobody out in the top of the second inning, Carlos Asuaje grounded a 2-0 J.C. Ramirez fastball to right field. The runner, Hunter Renfroe, advanced to third base. Meanwhile, Asuaje wandered a little too far off the first base bag. Simmons cut off the throw to first base, spun around and fired to Luis Valbuena at first base. Valbuena swiped the tag on Asuaje for the first out of the inning.