Reunion! The Mets acquire Jon Niese


Who says you can’t go home again? Jonathan Niese can. He’s rejoining the Mets. The Pirates just traded him back to New York in exchange for reliever Antonio Bastardo.

Niese, of course, spent his entire career in Queens before this season, going 61-61 in eight seasons for the Mets. For the Pirates this year he’s 8-6 with a 4.91 ERA, which would be his highest since his three-games-long rookie year. His walk rate and hits are up, as are his strikeouts, but he’s been durable so I guess that’s something. Mets fans seem to harbor some . . . not great feelings for the guy, though maybe that’s just a case of me hearing the loudest voices, not the most voices, with respect to that particular sentiment.

Bastardo has pitched in 41 games this year. It’s probably his worst season as a big leaguer, so it’s not like the Mets are giving up much for him.

This whole deal smells like two teams who have underachieved this year sort of running in place. It’s not like anyone woke up this morning thinking that this deal had to happen. I suppose they’ll tell us why at the press conference.

Madison Bumgarner has been competing in rodeos under a fake name

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The Athletic’s Andrew Baggarly and Zach Buchanan report that Diamondbacks starter Madison Bumgarner has been competing in rodeos under a fake name as recently as December. The fake name is Mason Saunders. Bumgarner explains that “Mason” is shortened from “Madison,” while “Saunders” is his wife’s maiden name.

Bumgarner — err, Saunders — and one of his rodeo partners, Jaxson Tucker, won $26,560 in a team-roping rodeo competition in December. The Rancho Rio Arena posted a picture of the pair on Facebook, highlighting that they roped four steers in 31.36 seconds.

As Baggarly and Buchanan point out, Bumgarner also pointed out in a rodeo competition last March, just a couple days before pitching in a Cactus League game versus the Athletics, back when he was still with the Giants.

Bumgarner suffered bruised ribs and a left shoulder AC sprain in 2017 when he got into a dirt bike accident. Given that, Bumgarner’s latest extracurricular activity does raise a concern for the Diamondbacks, who inked him to a five-year, $85 million contract two months ago. Baggarly and Buchanan asked Bumgarner about such a concern. Bumgarner referred them to the club’s managing partner Ken Kendrick. Kendrick directed them to GM Mike Hazen. Hazen declined speaking about “specific contract language.” For what it’s worth, Bumgarner says he primarily uses his right hand to rope.

The jig is up on Bumgarner’s hobby. He jokingly said to The Athletic’s pair, “I’m nervous about this interview right now.” He added, “I’m upset with both you two.”