Mets name Collin Cowgill their starting center fielder

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After being acquired from the Athletics during the offseason, Collin Cowgill will open 2013 as the Mets’ full-time center fielder.

According to Adam Rubin of ESPN New York, Mets manager Terry Collins made the announcement following this afternoon’s Grapefruit League finale against the Orioles. He’s planning to go with Cowgill in center field, flanked by Lucas Duda in left field and Marlon Byrd in right.

Cowgill earned the job by batting .303 (20-for-66) with five home runs, 10 RBI, four stolen bases and a .969 OPS in 26 games this spring. The 26-year-old didn’t get much of an opportunity during his limited time with the Diamondbacks and Athletics, but the Mets are hoping that he can emerge as a useful everyday player.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis began spring training as the as the favorite for the starting center fielder job, but he’ll open the year as a backup after seeing limited playing time in the Grapefruit League due to a knee injury. Jordany Valdespin was impressive this spring and could work his way into playing time if anyone struggles.

The Mets outfield batted just .237/.312/.393 with a collective 2.1 fWAR last season. With Duda, Cowgill, Byrd, Nieuwenhuis, Valdespin and Mike Baxter, this year’s group doesn’t instill much in the way of confidence, but it might not take much for them to be an improvement over 2012.

Madison Bumgarner is reportedly asking for a nine-figure deal

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Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that free agent pitcher Madison Bumgarner is asking for a nine-figure deal.

Your first impression of that may be “what? how?” A lot of that, however, is probably bound up in your understandable feeling that Bumgarner is too old to get that kind of scratch. But then you remember that, oh wait, he’s somehow still only 30 years-old. Indeed, he’s only ten months older than Zack Wheeler, who just nabbed a five-year, $118 million deal from Philly.

Bumgarner, obviously, has much more mileage on the odometer than Wheeler does, and he’s not the ace he was a few years ago, but he’s coming off a fine year, having put up a solid 3.90 ERA and 203/43 K/BB ratio over 207.2 innings in 2019. He would be a fine addition to the top — or at last near the top — of a contender’s rotation.

The White Sox, Twins, Cardinals, Reds, Braves, Padres, and Yankees have all been mentioned among possible landing spots. Figure his market to heat up a good bit once Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg sign and some of those contenders start looking for fallback options.