Yesterday, I put up a link to Baseball America, who had ranking Mets SS Gavin Cecchini #12 the #12 prospect in the Appalachian League.  The comment section was largely, but not exclusively, negative about Cecchini. Maybe it's because the Mets are 71-84, and headed for their fourth straight losing season and sixth straight out of the playoffs and therefore, everything the Mets do is wrong.  Apparently, there is no escaping that climate of complaining.

CecchiniCecchini is a gifted defensive shortstop, who, as an 18-year old, hit .246/.311/.330 in 53 games in the Appalachian League which as a whole averaged .254/.329/.382.  He showed some strike zone control, with a 2.4 K/BB ratio (43 K/18 BB) and a strikeout rate of 19% and a walk rate of 8%. Oh, and he played August while recovering from a broken finger. He was young for his league.

I liked Cecchini's swing more than I was expecting too, but he will need to add strength to his wiry frame. Defensively, his hands were fine for short. However, I left concerned about his range. The game I saw, he did not produce an average running time to first. It's hard to play an average shortstop without average to plus speed. In my opinion, it is nearly impossible to be a plus shortstop without plus speed. In Cecchini's defense, he was running on a wet track, and I saw him for one game and one BP/infield session only.

If he can play an average Major League shortstop, he will have value, as I discussed in June:

Using data from the last three complete seasons (2009-2011), there are exactly 14 players who have a positive UZR/150, that is, by the metric, are average or better shortstops. Of those, only nine are better than five runs above average per 150 games. That’s it. There are literally, fewer than 10 guys in baseball who are five runs above average annually at shortstop.

Of this group, of average or better defensive SS, exactly three are average or better offensively as measured by wRC+ (where 100 is league average).

Emphasis added this time.

Multiple scouts from other teams, for whom Cecchini was not an option, either because they picked too high in the first round, or too low, told me they like Cecchini as a player and he represented fine value for the Mets at #12.

 

Draft StrategyMajor League teams should not draft for need in the first round. Read it, repeat it and then process it. Major League teams should not draft for need in the first round. Major League teams should not draft for need in the first round.

Why not?

1. The failure rate on prospects outside the top few picks is too high. There is no guarantee that selecting a player in the 2012 draft for an organizational need in 2012 will ever be able to fill that organizational need.

2. Draft picks need time to develop.

3. Organization needs change. Organizational needs in 2016/2017, when a high school player from the 2012 draft could reasonably be expected to be fitting into the big leagues will be different from 2012. Four years is a long time in baseball. 

Teams, including the Mets should draft the best player available in the first round. Now, to some degree, this strategy has been altered by the new collective bargaining agreement with its move towards a draft spending cap for each team. A team must balance taking and paying for the best player at any given point, versus maximizing the number of good prospects to be acquired later against the cap.

 

The Fan Complaint

Yesterday's arguments in the comments section produced three main types of complaints about Cecchini.

There were: he arguments included:

  • He was a bad pick because the 2012 Mets needed power.
  • He was a bad pick because he has no upside and the Mets have a shortstop now - Ruben Tejada
  • The Mets should have drafted OF Courtney Hawkins
The first two are simply wrong. Say it with me again: Major League teams should not draft for need in the first round.

Again, Cecchini will not be a big leaguer for four more years. By that time, Tejada will be arbitration eligible. He might be a star, he might be a solid contributor, he might be injured. The advantage of drafting up the middle players is that they can move down the defensive spectrum to "easier" positions.

Hawkins is a big, strong outfielder destined for a corner spot, who the White Sox picked at #13, right behind the Mets.  The White Sox were aggressive with Hawkins this year, starting him off in the Appalachian League before promoting him to Kannapolis in the South Atlantic League for two weeks and then up to Winston-Salem for the playoffs. Overall, as an 18-year old, he hit .284/.324/.480 with eight homers, and 56 K/11 BB for a K/BB of 5.1. In his 249 PA, he walked in 4.4% of his plate appearances, and fanned in 22%.

The most recent scouting report on Hawkins comes from Baseball Prospectus' Jason Parks who saw him recently at instructional league in Arizona:

Thicker body than I expected; Kevin Mitchell thighs; obvious athlete; multiple 4.25 times to first; strength is just as obvious as athleticism; ball screams off bat when contact is made; top-heavy swing; bat speed generated by tremendous raw strength; lacks impressive bat control; fooled by off-speed stuff; front foot contact; left field profile for me; ...  power is only loud tool, but it has the potential to be very loud; doesn’t have star-level projection; if power translates, has first-division potential, but role 5 player more realistic; how long does present athleticism keep profile from being worse?; how big does the body get?; major league strength, but does he have a major league swing?; I need to see a lot more, but I was expecting to see a more electric profile and a little less body.
Parks' current projection on Courtney Hawkins, the apple of some commenter's eye, is as an average left-fielder. Which do you think has more value, an average shortstop or average corner outfielder?

I was on record before the draft suggesting that the Mets should take the risk on Harvard-Westlake RHP Lucas Giolito. He was a risky pick, because he was looking at likely Tommy John surgery, and was asking for a big bonus. Sure enough, in August, the Nationals, who paid him nearly $3 million and built their entire draft around meeting his bonus demands as eight of the team's next nine picks signed below allocation so the team could afford Giolito's bonus. I understand the Mets' hesitation here.

 

FinallyOpinions are good. I am glad that fans have read enough about the minors here and elsewhere that they have developed strong opinions about players they have never seen (although a little humility would seem sensible). However, the only thing I am certain about when it comes to writing about baseball is uncertainty, especially when writing about prospects.

If Hawkins or Cecchini or Giolito become All-Stars, well great for them and their team. The fact that one does and one does not, would not make any an awful or a terrible pick three months after the draft.*

(*Note, I added the final six words in an afternoon revision for clarity.)

Tags: Gavin Cecchini, Toby Hyde

 (Andy Marlin)
(Andy Marlin)

Mets INF Asdrubal Cabrera will play for Venezuela during the World Baseball Classic, reports Anthony DiComo of MLB.com.

The WBC begins on March 6 and ends with the championship on March 22.

Cabrera, 31, played through a left knee injury for the majority of the second half of last season.

Tags: Asdrubal Cabrera, Noah Syndergaard
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 (Jeff Curry)
(Jeff Curry)

The Mets have avoided arbitration with C Rene Rivera, agreeing with him on a one-year deal worth $1.75 million, the team announced Friday.


Today is the deadline to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players. Head here to see the other Mets who are eligible >> Read more!


Rivera, 33, hit .222 with a .291 OBP and .341 SLG with six HR and 26 RBI in 65 games last season.

He threw out 30 percent of would-be base-stealers.

Tags: Rene Rivera
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Owners, players, MLB officials and the Major League Baseball Players Association reached an agreement Wednesday night on new a five-year collective bargaining agreement, the league announced Friday afternoon.

The deal includes revised rules for free-agent and qualifying offer compensation, the international amateur market and luxury tax threshold.

In the previous labor deal, teams were fined for payrolls exceeding $189 million. In the new agreement, the luxury tax threshold will rise annually from $195 million to $210 million. Teams that repeatedly exceed the payroll threshold by a certain rate will be subject to increasing tax rates, which could reach as high as 90 percent. 

Teams will still lose their first-round pick for signing a free agent that turned down a one-year qualifying offer. However, this rule changes after next season, at which time compensation will include a variety of picks and be based on whether the signing team is under the luxury-tax threshold.

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Is deGrom ace of Mets staff? 00:03:36
Daily News Live discusses Jacob deGrom's recovery and debate who the ace of the Mets starting rotation will be.

Mets RHP Jacob deGrom expects to begin throwing soon, he told reporters Friday at Citi Field.

DeGrom also said the Mets have not yet approached him about a contract extension. He is arbitration-eligible for the first time this offseason and is under team control through the 2020 season.

He earned $607,000 last season and is projected to make $4.5 million in 2017.

DeGrom had a 3.04 ERA and 1.20 WHIP with 143 strikeouts in 148 innings (24 starts) last season before a pinched ulnar nerve in his right elbow resulted in season-ending surgery on Sept. 20.

Tags: Jacob deGrom

Sandy Alderson is surrounded by reporters during the 2013 MLB Winter Meetings (Credit: Manning-USA TODAY Sports)
Sandy Alderson is surrounded by reporters during the 2013 MLB Winter Meetings (Credit: Manning-USA TODAY Sports)

MLB's 2016 Winter Meetings will begin Monday, Dec. 5, from the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center outside Washington, D.C.

The Meetings conclude Thursday morning after the Rule 5 Draft.

In short, the MLB Winter Meetings is a three-and-a-half day conference at a large hotel, where MLB executives, their staffs and managers meet with agents, players and other team's executives, staffs and managers in hopes of working on or completing ways to improve their team. There is also a trade expo and job fair for people looking to work in baseball.

The buzz around the game points to more trades next week than free-agent signings...

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Mets C Rene Rivera and 1B Lucas Duda (Credit: USA Today Images)
Mets C Rene Rivera and 1B Lucas Duda (Credit: USA Today Images)

The Mets and MLB teams have until midnight tonight to decide whether to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players.

If they decide to tender (offer, guarantee) a contract, the Mets retain team control over that player, after which the two sides are free to begin negotiating his 2016 salary. If the Mets decide to non-tender the player, he immediately becomes a free agent and can sign with any team.

This year's arbitration eligible players for the Mets include...

Tags: Lucas Duda, Rene Rivera
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Steven Matz joins Mets Hot Stove 00:04:08
Steven Matz joins Steve Gelbs on Mets Hot Stove to examine his injury history and moving forward with his career.

Mets LHP Steven Matz has been cleared by the Mets and team doctors to proceed with his normal offseason routine, he told WOR radio Thursday.

"The doctors said, 'You're good to go,'" he told WOR's Pete McCarthy.

Matz had surgery in late September to remove a large bone spur from his pitching elbow. He ended his season early due to a rotator cuff impingement, which Sandy Alderson said in November did not require surgery. Instead, Matz received a platelet-rich plasma injection in his left shoulder.

Tags: Steven Matz
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Apr 20, 2016; Duda (21), Cabrera (13), Wright (5) and Walker (20) during a pitching change (Credit: USA TODAY Sports)
Apr 20, 2016; Duda (21), Cabrera (13), Wright (5) and Walker (20) during a pitching change (Credit: USA TODAY Sports)

After years of injuries and ineffectiveness leading to a middle-infield-merry-go-round, the Mets find themselves entering the 2017 season with a stable tandem of shortstop and second base. Asdrubal Cabrera and Neil Walker are both coming off strong performances in 2016 and - ideally - they will provide a stable presence to an infield with question marks in the corners.

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Mets Hot Stove: Matt Harvey 00:04:12
The Mets Hot Stove panel discusses Matt Harvey's injury rehab and their expectations from the right-handed hurler in 2017.

In July, 2016, Mets RHP Matt Harvey had season-ending surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome, which was done to restore feeling in his pitching arm and fingers.

According to former Mets GM and SNY analyst Jim Duquette, Harvey is not yet throwing off a mound, but he's feeling strong, on schedule with his post-surgery, off-season throwing program and will be 100% ready for spring training.

"He's had a great deal of time to work out and focus on his body and strength. We expect him to come back and be the Matt Harvey of old," his agent, Scott Boras, told reporters in early November at MLB's GM Meetings. "He's throwing free and easy and he's strong."

Tags: Matt Harvey, Matthew Cerrone
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 (Steve Mitchell)
(Steve Mitchell)

Mets pitchers and catchers will report to Spring Training in Port St. Lucie, FL on Feb. 12, the team announced Thursday.

Position players are required to report by Feb. 17.

Earlier this month, the Mets today their official 2017 Spring Training Grapefruit League schedule, which begins Friday, February 24 against the Boston Red Sox in Fort Myers, FL

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McCutchen (22) at bat at PNC Park (Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)
McCutchen (22) at bat at PNC Park (Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)

The Pirates are shopping OF Andrew McCutchen, with the Nationals in pursuit and hoping to acquire him before Friday, reports Jayson Stark of ESPN.

"Of all the big names available in trade, McCutchen might be the most likely to go," FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal added last night.

In addition to the Nationals, the Giants, Rangers, Mariners, Blue Jays, Orioles and Dodgers, among others, have all reportedly expressed interest in acquiring an outfielder this winter.

The Blue Jays, Giants and Orioles have been linked in rumor to Mets outfielders Jay Bruce and Curtis Granderson, who the team would like to deal for at least a relief pitcher.

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Mets relievers Jeurys Familia and Addison Reed (Credit: USA Today Sports Images)
Mets relievers Jeurys Familia and Addison Reed (Credit: USA Today Sports Images)

Sandy Alderson has repeatedly said this offseason that he'd like to add at least one reliever to his bullpen before the start of spring training.

"There are some questions in the bullpen that we are going to have to answer, either internally or from external sources," he reiterated during Wednesday's press conference to announce the signing of Yoenis Cespedes.

Alderson said in early November that he has no interest in signing free-agent closers Aroldis Chapman, Mark Melancon or Kenley Jansen, who similarly have little interest in the Mets because Jeurys Familia is already the team's closer.

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New York Mets starting pitcher Zack Wheeler (45) during spring training at Tradition Field. (Brad Barr)
New York Mets starting pitcher Zack Wheeler (45) during spring training at Tradition Field. (Brad Barr)

The Mets have discussed using RHP Zack Wheeler in the bullpen to start the season, according to MLB.com's Anthony DiComo.

Wheeler, who had Tommy John surgery during March, 2015, was shut down in early September after being examined by Dr. James Andrew and diagnosed with a mild flexor strain in his pitching arm.

Wheeler went 11-11 with a 3.54 ERA for the Mets in 2014. In addition to the flexor strain, his return to action was also delayed in 2016 after having an undissolved stitch surgically removed. He also had an anti-inflammatory injection to treat nerve pain...

Tags: Zack Wheeler
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Steve Gelbs interviews Cespedes 00:03:25
SNY's Steve Gelbs caught up with Yoenis Cespedes after the press conference announcing his deal with the Mets on Wednesday.

The Mets reintroduced OF Yoenis Cespedes during a press conference at Citi Field on Wednesday afternoon.

"The last two years in Mets history have been about winning," GM Sandy Alderson said. "It has been clear that when Yoenis Cespedes plays for the Mets, the Mets win."

After COO Jeff Wilpon presented him with a Mets jersey, Cespedes weighed in on his return, saying he was "very proud to once again be back with the New York Mets."

Cespedes said Mets fans have "made New York feel like home," adding that his "goal will be to bring back another World Series championship to this team, to the fans, and the organization"

Tags: Yoenis Cespedes
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BNNY on Cespedes deal 00:06:48
The BNNY panel discusses the ramifications of the Mets' deal with Yoenis Cespedes, who agreed to a four-year, $110-million deal.

The Mets have announced their four-year deal with OF Yoenis Cespedes and will hold a press conference on Wednesday at 5 p.m. at Citi Field, which will air live on SNY.

The deal will be worth $110 million, according to FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal.

"Yoenis is a dynamic player who can beat you in many ways," Mets manager Terry Collins said in a press release. "It's a great holiday present for the Mets to know he'll be in the middle of our lineup. He makes everyone around him better."

Tags: Yoenis Cespedes
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 (Rick Osentoski)
(Rick Osentoski)

The Mets have trade RHP Logan Verrett to the Orioles for cash considerations, the team announced.

The trade frees up a 40-man roster spot for recently re-signed OF Yoenis Cespedes.

Verrett, 26, had a 5.20 ERA and 1.56 WHIP while striking out 66 batters in 91 2/3 innings (12 starts, 23 relief appearances) for the Mets last season.

He had a 3.03 ERA and 0.87 WHIP in 38 2/3 innings for the Mets in 2015.

Tags: Logan Verrett

Aug 1, 2016; Alderson speaks to reporters after the trade deadline (Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)
Aug 1, 2016; Alderson speaks to reporters after the trade deadline (Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

The Mets are expected to turn their attention to "reconfiguring the outfield," and, "adding to the bullpen," as a source recently told me, now that Yoenis Cespedes is back in the fold.

Also, though it's far from a top priority, I expect the Mets to explore finding a new every-day catcher, "specifically a veteran to handle their pitching staff," as a rival team described it.

How do the Mets reconfigure the outfield?

According to multiple reports since early November, the Mets are open to dealing Jay Bruce or Curtis Granderson to eliminate a left-handed bat, open a spot in the outfield and save money on payroll. Alderson has been asked a lot about Michael Conforto, but the Mets are unlikely to deal him because he's got a ton of potential as a hitter, plus he's athletic enough to center field and first base.

The Mets will use next week's MLB Winter Meetings to pin down a deal for Bruce or Granderson. However, because there are several teams in the market for a corner outfielder, I think Alderson could find himself in a situation where he may be able to trade both of these guys, add speed and a reliever and either upgrade at catcher or save money.

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Sandy Alderson (left) talks with Wilpon at Citi Field (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)
Sandy Alderson (left) talks with Wilpon at Citi Field (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

According to multiple sources and reports, the Mets want to keep their Opening Day payroll around $140 million, which would leave money in reserve for mid-season acquisitions.

However, their current projected payroll already sits around $145 million when including upcoming raises, players under contract and after bringing back Yoenis Cespedes and Neil Walker.

At the same time, the Mets will likely save on part of Jeurys Familia's estimated $8.5 million salary, because they don't have to pay him during a potential suspension. Also, trading away Jay Bruce's $13 million would free up additional money.

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New York Mets left fielder Michael Cuddyer warms up before a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. (Bill Streicher/USATSI)
New York Mets left fielder Michael Cuddyer warms up before a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. (Bill Streicher/USATSI)

The Twins announced on Monday that they've hired Michael Cuddyer, Torii Hunter and LaTroy Hawkins as special assistants in the team's baseball operations department.

The trio will work with Twins executives and coaches to ensure development in player understanding of culture, talent evaluation and organizational vision, as well as be available as a resource for players and coaches in the mental and fundamental aspects of the game, the team said in a press release.

Cuddyer played for the Mets in 2015, after which he officially retired from baseball with one year left on his contract.

Tags: Michael Cuddyer, Matthew Cerrone
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Tim Teufel will stay with the Mets as a roving infield instructor and club ambassador, the team announced Friday.

Teufel was replaced as third base coach by Glenn Sherlock on Nov. 15.

He was also offered the position of Triple-A Las Vegas manager, Anthony DiComo of MLB.com reported.

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The Rays would like to bring back free-agent 1B-OF Steve Pearce, who they traded to the Orioles last summer, according to their local beat reporter Marc Topkin.

Last week, Mets GM Sandy Alderson mentioned Pearce and free-agent OF Jose Bautista as the type of players he might pursue if the Mets are unable to re-sign Yoenis Cespedes.

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New York Mets starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard throws during the first inning of an exhibition spring training baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals Thursday, March 10, 2016, in Port St. Lucie, Fla. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)  (Jeff Roberson/AP)
New York Mets starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard throws during the first inning of an exhibition spring training baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals Thursday, March 10, 2016, in Port St. Lucie, Fla. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson) (Jeff Roberson/AP)

Mets starter Noah Syndergaard will not participate in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, his agent, Ryan Hamill, said in a statement Tuesday.

"Noah feels his performance the past two years is, in large part, due to his offseason and spring workout routines," Hamill explained. "After consulting with the Mets, and given the injuries that plagued their rotation last year, and his role on the team moving forward, both Noah and the Mets feel it is important to stay in his established routine."

Syndergaard, 24, was diagnosed with a bone spur in his elbow earlier in the season, which did not impact his performance and does not require surgery, Sandy Alderson said in early November.

Tags: Noah Syndergaard
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April 1990: Mets LHP Frank Viola starts at Shea Stadium (Associated Press via MLB.com)
April 1990: Mets LHP Frank Viola starts at Shea Stadium (Associated Press via MLB.com)

The Orioles, who had interest in Frank Viola for their pitching coach vacancy, have hired Roger McDowell for the position, reports Adam Rubin of ESPN.

Viola has been the pitching coach for Triple-A Las Vegas since 2014. He interviewed for, but did not get, the Twins' pitching coach job after the 2014 season.

McDowell, who pitched for the Mets from 1985 to 1989, had spent the last 11 seasons as the pitching coach for the Braves.

Tags: Baltimore Orioles, Matthew Cerrone
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It's a weak market for free-agent relievers. So, free-agent LH reliever Jerry Blevins must have smiled earlier this week when the Cardinals gave LH reliever Brett Cecil a four-year, $30.5 million deal. Because, if that's the high mark for a left-handed reliever, Blevins will be justified asking for at least two years... maybe even three years guarenteed...

Tags: Jerry Blevins, Josh Edgin, Josh Smoker, Matthew Cerrone
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The Mets have talked to multiple teams about trading for an established reliever, under team control, with experience pitching late in games, according to MLB insiders.

The same people say the Rays, White Sox and Padres have been the most aggressive teams offering up relievers that fit this mold, specifically Dave Robertson and Alex Colome.

Why do the Mets want a late-game reliever?

The Mets anticipate their closer, Jeurys Familia, will eventually miss time next season serving a suspension by MLB for domestic violence, despite it looking like those charges may be dropped. If you recall, similar charges against Jose Reyes were dropped a year ago, yet MLB still found enough evidence to suspend him 51 games. The Mets must believe the same could happen to Familia...

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 (Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE)
(Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE)

Former-Mets LHP Johan Santana, who turns 38 years old in March, will attempt a comeback this coming season, reports Chris Cotillo of SB Nation.

Santana has not pitched in the majors since 2012. He had anterior capsule shoulder surgery in 2013 and tore his Achilles tendon in 2014.

He attempted comebacks with the Blue Jays in 2014 and Orioles in 2015 but suffered setbacks that prevented him from returning.

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Jeurys Familia's wife has asked for the simple assault charge against the closer to be dropped, the prosecutor told Jim Baumbach of Newsday.


Familia (27) reacts during the ninth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Citi Field (USA TODAY Sports)


Most Recent Updates...

Nov. 19 | 8:55 PM

Familia's wife, now identified as the victim, asked for the charges to be dropped and does not have any concerns about her safety. 

Tags: Jeurys Familia
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Amed Rosario plays in the Futures Game in San Diego July 10 (Gary A. Vasquez)
Amed Rosario plays in the Futures Game in San Diego July 10 (Gary A. Vasquez)

The Mets have added SS Amed Rosario, RHP Marcos Molina, OF Wuilmer Becerra, RHP Chris Flexen, and C Tomas Nido to the 40-man roster, which will protect them from December's Rule 5 Draft.

The deadline for teams to file their list of minor-league players that will be protected was today.

"Generally speaking, college players drafted in 2013 and high school players drafted in 2012 are Rule 5 Draft eligible this offseason," Joe Rodgers of the Sports News recently explained.

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