It’s a busy afternoon in Queens, as the Mets have released reliever Jose Valverde and fired hitting coach Dave Hudgens.
Valverde never secured the closer gig in New York, but he was reasonably effective before an ugly outing today–or at least as effective as the Mets could have possibly expected him to be–with a 4.05 ERA and 23/9 K/BB ratio in 20 innings. He gave up four runs today to inflate that ERA to 5.66.
Hudgens, meanwhile, takes the fall for an offense that currently ranks 14th among NL teams in OPS but is actually tied for fifth in runs per game with 3.92, just slightly below the league average of 3.95. Hitting coaches are notoriously tough to evaluate or analyze, but the Mets’ lineup isn’t exactly filled with high-upside bats.
This was his fourth season as the Mets’ hitting coach and in the previous three years the lineup ranked 11th, 12th, and 6th in runs scored among NL teams, so considering the lack of results he certainly got a lengthy leash. Minor league hitting coordinator Lamar Johnson has been named as Hudgens’ replacement.
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.