The Mets officially announced the signing of reliever Antonio Bastardo to a two-year deal on Friday. In order to make room for the lefty on the 40-man roster, the club designated reliever Carlos Torres for assignment, ESPN’s Adam Rubin reports.
Torres and the Mets avoided arbitration last week, agreeing to a $1.05 million salary for the 2016 season in the right-hander’s first year of eligibility. This past season, Torres posted a 4.68 ERA with a 48/18 K/BB ratio over 57 2/3 innings. Those were the worst numbers in his three years as a Met.
The Mets should receive a few phone calls on Torres, as they have 10 days with which to trade him or release him.
Reliever Jared Burton, currently a free agent, has been suspended 50 games under the minor league drug program after testing positive for a drug of abuse, MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger reports. It’s the right-hander’s second such test. He will serve his suspension if and when he signs with a team.
Burton, 34, pitched only 16 innings in the minor leagues last season in the Yankees’ and Rangers’ systems, allowing four runs on nine hits and seven walks with 18 strikeouts. He’s a veteran of the bullpen, having pitched 361 innings from 2007-14 with a 3.44 ERA at the major league level between the Reds and the Twins. Burton could have made for a low-risk signing for a team looking for cheap bullpen help, but his impending suspension will dampen interest.
Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald is reporting that the Marlins made separate trade offers to the Rangers and Reds involving outfielder Marcell Ozuna. However, no deal was struck as the Marlins wanted starting pitching in return and refused to pull the trigger unless their exact asking price was met. It is not known exactly what the Marlins’ asking price was.
The Marlins have since signed Wei-Yin Chen to a five-year, $80 million contract, but the club believes it can never have too much starting pitching.
Ozuna, 25, hit .259/.308/.383 with 10 home runs and 44 RBI in 494 plate appearances in 2015. He was demoted to Triple-A New Orleans as he hit a meager .638 OPS after an 0-for-3 performance on July 5. Ozuna will be eligible for arbitration for the first time after this upcoming season and can hit free agency after the 2019 season.
The Dodgers made a $15.8 million qualifying offer to second baseman Howie Kendrick earlier this offseason, which the veteran rejected. That means that if Kendrick signs with a team with an unprotected first round draft pick, that team forfeits that pick. Additionally, the Dodgers gain a draft pick as compensation.
According to Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times, the Dodgers prefer the compensatory draft pick to Kendrick himself. Though the wealthy Dodgers don’t have the most luxurious options at second base — Chase Utley, Enrique Hernandez, Micah Johnson — it doesn’t come as much of a surprise.
Kendrick, 32, hit .295/.336/.409 with nine home runs and 54 RBI in 495 plate appearances for the Dodgers this past season. The club had acquired him from the Angels the offseason prior in exchange for pitching prospect Andrew Heaney. It sounds like Kendrick will have a new address by the time the 2016 season begins.
Peter Gammons reports on Twitter that he “thrice” heard baseball executives say, “Watch the Astros on Cespedes.” The free agent outfielder’s market is reportedly “intensifying” nearing the end of the month.
The Astros’ reported interest in Cespedes is a bit interesting because they have three starting-caliber outfielders already in Colby Rasmus, Carlos Gomez, and George Springer with Preston Tucker behind them. Evan Gattis currently lays claim to the DH role. The Astros would likely need to deal one of these players to facilitate bringing Cespedes aboard.
Cespedes reportedly had a five-year offer from the Orioles and has also drawn interest from the Mets and White Sox as well. The latter two teams, however, would only be interested in a short-term deal. There is a possibility that Cespedes takes a one-year deal with the intent of striking a more lucrative deal next offseason.
Cespedes, 30, hit .291/.328/.542 with 35 home runs and 105 RBI between the Tigers and Mets this past season. He was particularly helpful to the Mets, as his second-half surge helped them win the division. The slugger belted 17 home runs in 31 games between August 12 and September 14.