The Mets had big expectations for Travis d’Arnaud when they acquired him from the Blue Jays as part of the R.A. Dickey trade in December of 2012, but he put up a disappointing .189/.277/.269 batting line over his first 257 plate appearances in the majors prior to being demoted to Triple-A Las Vegas on June 7. However, he has looked like a keeper since his return.
After hitting .436 six homers and eight doubles over 15 games in Triple-A, d’Arnaud has continued to produce against major league pitching. The 25-year-old backstop went 3-for-5 with two RBI last night against the Padres and delivered a go-ahead opposite field single in the top of the ninth inning. He’s now hitting .318 (21-for-66) with three home runs, five doubles, and 12 RBI in 17 games since returning from the minors. Just to put things in perspective, he had just six extra-base hits in 145 plate appearances this season prior to his demotion.
So, what changed? During his time in Triple-A, d’Arnaud moved closer to the plate, which has allowed him to reach outside pitches which were previously giving him trouble. However, as this excellent piece from Marc Carig of New York Newsday points out, a lot of his struggles were mental in nature as he focused too much on results rather than feel for the game. Either way, something has clicked for him and he’s suddenly looking like someone the Mets can count on for the next several years as they attempt to return to prominence.
In light of the Astros’ deal for veteran designated hitter Carlos Beltran on Saturday, the Yankees are thought to be intensifying their pursuit of free agent Edwin Encarnacion, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. The Yankees never made an official offer to Beltran, but remain in need of a DH/first baseman to give them a little more power outside of a Tyler Austin–Greg Bird combo in 2017.
The Red Sox, on the other hand, are reportedly withdrawing their interest when it comes to the Encarnacion sweepstakes. According to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, they will look for a hitter to beef up their lineup without taking a “big plunge” on the 34-year-old.
Encarnacion enjoyed another All-Star run with the Blue Jays in 2016, hitting at a .263/.357/.529 clip with 42 homers and a league-leading 127 RBI in 702 PA. He’s expected to command a significant contract in free agency, and agent Paul Kinzer said that a potential deal is unlikely to be finalized before the Winter Meetings as Encarnacion is not close to agreeing to any offer. Interested teams include the Blue Jays and the Astros, though Beltran’s signing appears to have effectively taken Houston out of the running for the slugger.
The Nationals are trying to go big this offseason, and FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal notes that they are still in trade talks for White Sox’ left-hander Chris Sale and Pirates’ center fielder Andrew McCutchen. Both players figure to command a big return, as Sale delivered another Cy Young-worthy performance in 2016 and, despite a downturn in his production rate, McCutchen is still one of the more coveted sluggers in the National League.
In 2016, Sale led the league in complete games, with six, and turned in a 3.34 ERA and 5.2 fWAR in 226 2/3 innings. While teams have been sniffing around the White Sox’ ace since the trade deadline, the club is expected to maintain a high asking price — so high, said FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, that it may keep the left-hander in Chicago for the foreseeable future.
According to Heyman, four other teams are reportedly in the mix for Sale, including the Red Sox, Astros, Rangers, and Braves, though parts of Rosenthal’s tweet hinted that the Red Sox were maintaining their interest in hopes of striking a more affordable deal. Should the Nationals pursue a deal for Sale, it’s likely that they’d have to move shortstop/center fielder Trea Turner, which they appear reluctant to do.
McCutchen, meanwhile, is also drawing interest around the league after batting .256/.336/.430 with 24 home runs in 675 PA during 2016. He didn’t appear to lose much power in his eighth season with the Pirates, but took considerably fewer walks and struck out at a career-high clip.
The Nationals were said to be in the lead for McCutchen on Thursday, and there was some expectation that the club would wrap up a trade for the center fielder by the non-tender deadline on Friday. FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi pointed out that the Rangers were also talking to the Pirates, however, and no deal has come to fruition as of yet.