Mets option Daisuke Matsuzaka to Triple-A, intend to use Jenrry Mejia as fifth starter

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Daisuke Matsuzaka struck out eight batters and walked none over five scoreless innings this afternoon against the Blue Jays. His reward? A trip to the minors.

According to Adam Rubin of ESPN New York, Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said after today’s game that Matsuzaka has been optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas. This means that Jenrry Mejia has won the fifth spot in the starting rotation.

Of course, Mejia left last night’s start after he was hit on the right forearm with a comebacker, so he’ll have to prove his health in order to make his scheduled season debut next Friday against the Reds. Matsuzaka would likely get the nod if Mejia is unable to go.

Health situation aside, this was always the ideal scenario for the Mets, as Mejia simply offers more upside. Matsuzaka can’t opt out of his minor league contract until May 30, so it also makes sense from a team control standpoint. He’s nice insurance to have around at the Triple-A level at the very least.

Phillies, Red Sox interested in Carlos Santana

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The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.

Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.

As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.