UPDATE: Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com was told by multiple Mets’ sources that a deal with Rodriguez is unlikely. In fact, one source told him: “We are not bringing Ivan here.” The club appears content to go with Mike Nickeas or Rob Johnson as Josh Thole‘s backup.
6:48 PM: 40-year-old Ivan Rodriguez is still out there looking for work and though a signing doesn’t sound imminent, he does have one potential lead.
According to Mike Puma of the New York Post, a Mets official spoke with Ivan Rodriguez as recently as 10 days ago and the club “hasn’t ruled out the possibility” of signing him a backup to Josh Thole. As of now, Mike Nickeas is the favorite for the spot.
The Mets have roughly $2 million left in their budget, according to Puma, but they want to make sure that Johan Santana is healthy before making any more moves. If Santana has any setbacks with his surgically-repaired shoulder this spring, they will likely try to add a starting pitcher. In the meantime, the Mets have told Rodriguez to “stay in shape.”
Rodriguez batted .218/.281/.323 with two home runs, 19 RBI and a .604 OPS over 137 plate appearances last season with the Nationals while throwing out 52 percent (13-for-25) of attempted basestealers. He is 166 hits shy of 3,000 for his career.
Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area hints that the Giants may be done with outfielder Hunter Pence. It’s not clear just how seriously the club is contemplating such a decision, but there are six days remaining on Pence’s rehab assignment, at which point they’ll be able to recall him, reassign him to the minors or release him.
The 35-year-old outfielder has struggled to make a full recovery after spraining his right thumb during the first week of the season. Pence bounced back for a 17-game run with the Giants in April, during which he slashed a meager .172/.197/.190 with one double and one stolen base in 61 plate appearances, but was eventually placed on the disabled list with recurring soreness in his finger. He currently sports a promising .318/.359/.388 batting line with four extra-base hits (including a grand slam) over 92 PA in Triple-A Sacramento.
Despite his recent resurgence in Triple-A, the Giants may not need the additional outfield depth just yet. Mac Williamson, who was recalled in the wake of Pence’s DL assignment, has already cemented the starting role in left field and is off to a strong start at the plate as well. Of course, if the Giants decide to say a premature goodbye to their veteran outfielder (who, it should be said, helped them to two World Series championships over the last seven seasons), it’ll cost them the remaining balance on his $18.5 million salary for 2018.