With Christian Vazquez potentially facing Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery, many have speculated that the situation will speed up the timeline of top prospect catcher Blake Swihart. That might still be the case, but the Red Sox acquired Sandy Leon from the Nationals earlier today and manager John Farrell indicated to Ian Browne of MLB.com that Swihart will likely begin the season with Triple-A Pawtucket.
“The view is that, with a young player like Blake, we’d prefer to get them on a little bit of a roll at the Minor League level before they come to us,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell. “There’s also a need to continue to refine the receiving side of things. He’s had quite a bit of opportunity here in camp. He’s shown well.
“Just in the big picture, I think we can probably all benefit by playing every day and continuing to work on the areas, the developmental areas that are there.”
Swihart is widely regarded as the top catching prospect in the game, but he’s just turning 23 this week and has only played 18 games above Double-A. This isn’t a service time situation like with Kris Bryant and the Cubs. It just makes sense to give him some more time in the minors.
Ryan Hanigan and Leon figure to handle catching duties in the early part of the season, but Swihart could force a call-up if gets off to a good start.
Charles Gasparino reports that billionaire hedge fund manager Steve Cohen has submitted an offer to buy the Mets for $2 billion as well as an additional $2 billion for SportsNet New York (SNY). The Mets own a 65% controlling interest in SNY. (Full disclosure: Comcast, through NBC Sports Group, owns an 8% share of SNY.)
As Jon Heyman reported yesterday, the Mets were expected to accept the first round of bids by Thursday. Cohen was one of a handful of bidders that also included Josh Harris and David Blitzer, Álex Rodríguez and Jennifer Lopez, and the Reuben brothers.
Cohen and the Wilpons were believed to be in agreement on a deal back in December that would have increased Cohen’s ownership share from 8% to 80% in exchange for $2.6 billion. However, the deal fell through as Cohen grew upset the Wilpons attempted to change the terms of the agreement at the last minute. The two sides have, obviously, patched up their differences.
As Sportico’s Scott Soshnick notes, the offers in the first round of bidding are non-binding. At any rate, given Cohen’s preliminary offer, the Wilpons are likely to collect quite the windfall. Fred Wilpon bought a 50% stake in the Mets for $81 million in 1980 and bought the other half in 2002 for $391 million.
Perhaps with different owners, the Mets could get back to being consistently competitive. Since 2012, the club has sat in the middle-third of the league (rank 11-20) or lower in terms of total payroll.