UPDATE: Or not. Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic asked Towers via text message about the Sponichi report. He replied: “News to me!”
9:06 PM: Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers is apparently doing a lot more than talking to teams about a potential match for Justin Upton.
Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker passes along a report from Sponichi that the D-Backs are prepared to offer Japanese reliever Hiroyuki Kobayashi a two-year, $3 million contract.
While Hisashi Iwakuma and Tsuyoshi Nishioka have had to go through the posting process, the 32-year-old right-hander is a free agent and is able to sign with any MLB team.
Formerly a starting pitcher, Kobayashi moved to the bullpen this past season and posted a 2.21 ERA to go along with 29 saves and a 53/13 K/BB ratio over 61 innings. He has a 3.54 ERA over 11 professional seasons in Japan, all with the Chiba Lotte Marines. On his website NPB Tracker, Newman writes that Kobayashi “doesn’t have a power arm, but attacks the strike zone.”
The Mets have signed catcher Wilson Ramos to a two-year deal, SNY’s Andy Martino reports. The total value of the contract is $19 million, per Fancred’s Jon Heyman.
Ramos, 31, split last season between the Rays and Phillies, putting up one of the best offensive seasons among catchers. In 416 total plate appearances, he hit .306/.358/.487 with 15 home runs and 70 RBI.
Ramos will presumably get the lion’s share of plate appearances behind the plate with Travis d'Arnaud backing him up. Grandal was made a qualifying offer, so the Mets would have had to forfeit a draft pick to sign him. And, of course, Realmuto would have cost prospects. Ramos simply costs money.
The Mets were aggressively pursuing a catching upgrade, having been involved in rumors surrounding J.T. Realmuto and Yasmani Grandal, but ultimately settled on Ramos. New GM Brodie Van Wagenen has made a significant impact on the team already, having also added second baseman Robinson Canó and closer Edwin Díaz from a trade with the Mariners.