It was reported over the weekend that the Dodgers and Cubs were among the teams with interest in a trade for Mets left-hander Jon Niese. While the southpaw is a logical target for both teams, a match with the Dodgers isn’t considered imminent:
Nothing too surprising here, as teams are likely still in the early stages of evaluating the starting pitcher market. Cole Hamels, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija and Scott Kazmir are among the big names that could be dealt, so Niese falls into the secondary category with the likes of Mike Leake, Matt Garza, Kyle Lohse, Mat Latos, and Dan Haren. With questions in the back-end of their rotation, the Dodgers will be active.
Niese has posted a 4.12 ERA and 58/27 K/BB ratio in 83 innings across 14 starts this season. The Mets have gone back to a six-man rotation to make room for prospect Steven Matz, but a trade involving Niese could change that dynamic. The 28-year-old is making a $7 million salary this season and $9 million in 2016. His contract includes a $10 million club option (or $500,000 buyout) for 2017 and an $11 million club option (or $500,000 buyout) for 2018.
Tied at a league-leading 10 home runs apiece with Cody Bellinger and Khris Davis, it wasn’t long before Brewers slugger Christian Yelich set himself apart from the competition yet again. During the bottom of the first inning on Friday, the 2018 NL MVP singled out the first pitch he saw from the Dodgers’ Ross Stripling — an 86.5-m.p.h. slider just wide of the strike zone — and returned it to the second deck seats in right field for his 11th home run of 2019.
While Bellinger and Davis will undoubtedly continue to make it difficult for Yelich to claim sole honors at the top of the leaderboard, the 27-year-old outfielder has had a banner year so far. Through the first three weeks of the season, he’s batting a strong .354/.447/.823 with 15 extra-base hits, 29 RBI, and three stolen bases across 94 plate appearances. The 29 RBI (27 entering Friday’s game) he collected between March and April eclipsed Prince Fielder’s previous franchise record of 26 RBI — and there’s no telling how much higher that total will rise by the end of the month, too.
Even with the benefit of Yelich’s immense talents, however, the Brewers are just clinging to a first-place tie with the Pirates atop the NL Central. They dropped their last two games to the Cardinals and Dodgers, respectively, and will need to overturn the remainder of their series against LA to build up their division lead again. They’re currently tied 2-2 with the Dodgers in the seventh.