While this news is hardly unexpected given what we heard over the weekend, the Mets announced this afternoon that catcher Anthony Recker was optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas. This officially clears the way for top prospect Travis d’Arnaud to remain in the big leagues.
D’Arnaud made his major league debut on Saturday after John Buck was placed on the paternity leave list. There was some speculation that the 24-year-old backstop would head right back down to the minors once Buck was ready to return, but the Mets now appear committed to giving him as much playing time as possible down the stretch. In other words, common sense has prevailed.
D’Arnaud, who was acquired from the Blue Jays in the R.A. Dickey deal, is 0-for-7 with five walks and two strikeouts through his first three games in the majors. Injuries have been an issue for him in the minors, but he has the potential to be a long-term solution behind the plate.
Around this time last year, the ink was drying on Manny Machado‘s 10-year, $300 million contract with the Padres and Bryce Harper was about to put the finishing touches on his 13-year, $330 million deal with the Phillies. We had gotten used to premier free agents hanging out in limbo until late February and even into March. This past offseason, however, was a return to normal. The top three free agents — Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon, and Stephen Strasburg — all signed in December. Once the big names are off the board, the lesser free agents subsequently tend to find homes. There were a handful of noteworthy signings in January, but pretty much everyone was off the board when February began.
There are a handful of free agents remaining as I write this, with one name really sticking out: Yasiel Puig. Last season, between the Reds and Indians, Puig hit .267/.327/.458 with 24 home runs, 84 RBI, 76 runs scored, and 19 stolen bases in 611 plate appearances. He was one of only seven players in the league last year to hit at least 24 home runs and swipe at least 19 bases. While Puig has had some problems over the years, he still possesses a rare blend of power and speed that would seem useful.
The Marlins, White Sox, and Rockies have been linked to Puig this offseason. His market has been otherwise quiet since he became a free agent. The Athletic’s Jim Bowden suggests Puig will have to settle for a “pillow contract” — a one-year deal with which Puig reestablishes his market value, aiming to pursue a multi-year deal the following offseason. Along with the aforementioned three teams, Bowden suggests the Mariners, Indians, Pirates, Giants, Red Sox, and Cardinals as other teams that could potentially fit with Puig, which is not to be confused with teams having expressed interest in his services.