There was an interesting report by Tracy Ringolsby of FOXSports.com yesterday that Mets’ left-hander Jon Niese was available in a trade centered around Rockies’ outfielder Seth Smith. It didn’t make a lot of sense on the Mets’ end, barring the inclusion of a third team, and it turns out there isn’t much to it.
According to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com, the Mets have “zero interest” in parting with Niese in a deal involving Smith. What’s more, he hears they would have to be “knocked out” to trade him. I assume that doesn’t mean literally. MLB probably wouldn’t be happy about that.
Anyway, this seems to jibe with what Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com is hearing, specifically that Niese, Ike Davis, Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Jenrry Mejia and Jeurys Familia are off-limits in trade talks for Athletics’ left-hander Gio Gonzalez. However, if that’s true, Gio Gonzalez probably won’t be a Met.
Niese has a 4.39 ERA over his first 370 2/3 innings in the majors, averaging 7.6 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9. The 25-year-old southpaw has traditionally underperformed relative to metrics like FIP and xFIP, mostly due to an usually high batting average on balls in play. He is arbitration-eligible for the first time next winter and under team control through 2015.
The Atlanta Braves selected high school pitcher Carter Stewart with the number eight overall pick in the 2018 draft. Then, after the draft, they gave Stewart a below-slot signing bonus offer, claiming that they found problems with his wrist in his post-draft physical. Stewart ended up rejecting the offer and the MLBPA filed a grievance against the Braves on Stewart’s behalf.
The grievance sought to make Stewart a free agent it was considered a long shot at the time of its filing and, in fact, the grievance was rejected. Stewart, unable to attain free agency, enrolled at Eastern Florida State College, a two-year school that would’ve made him eligible for the 2019 draft.
Now, Ken Rosenthal reports, Stewart has pulled a crazy Ivan and is heading to Japan, having signed with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks of the Japanese Pacific League. The terms of the deal aren’t known, but Rosenthal says Stewart was looking for a $7 million guarantee.
It’s a fascinating turn of events for Stewart who, this time last year, was considered perhaps the best amateur pitcher in baseball. Being lowballed and having his health questioned by the Braves may have been a wakeup call to Stewart, however, about his chances of finding a quick path the bigs in the U.S. If the shine did come off of his prospect status in the past year here, there’s every reason to believe that $7 million and a path to the bigs in Japan is a much better deal than several million less and a path to the bigs in America.
He’ll be worth watching over the next few years, that’s for sure. Both for his own sake and to see if, in this era of Major League Baseball’s capping of amateur bonuses and teams’ habit of manipulating service time, going overseas becomes more attractive to American high schoolers and college players.