Champ Stuart is fast. Very fast. Thursday night in Savannah, Stuart scored from second on a sacrifice fly to center field, turning the routine into the extraordinary.

The 21-year-old Stuart -- hitting .295 with a .411 OBP this season -- who had missed the previous four games with a strained hip flexor, walked to lead off the fourth inning, later stealing second. With Stuart on second, Savannah's first baseman Dominic Smith lifted a flyball to the front of the warning track in nearly straight-away center.

At the catch, Stuart took off toward third. The Charleston RiverDogs' centerfielder, Dustin Fowler, did not make a strong throw back to the infield. In shallow centerfield, 'Dogs second baseman Gosuke Katoh tried to play Fowler's throw on the shorthop. He did not pick it cleanly. Stuart made the turn at third and headed home. By the time Katoh retrieved the ball off the grass, he had no chance to make a throw on Stuart, who scored standing up.

Stuart and Savannah manager Luis Rojas, who also coaches third base, had talked about how Stuart could use his speed as a weapon, but they had never discussed this play, because it happens so rarely. Instead, they got in sync as the play unfolded.

At ContactStuart and Rojas both realized they might have something when they saw Smith's drive.

Champ Stuart: "I stole second earlier in the at-bat and Dominic was hitting and he have a lot of power, so I saw him hit a deep fly ball to centerfield, and I knew the centerfielder had to go back on the play..... I wanted to go, but I didn't know if Luis was going to give me the opportunity. In my head, when the ball went back, in my head, I'm going, 'I'm going home on this play, regardless,' because I never did it, and I wanted to do it."

Rojas: "As soon as the ball left the bat, I was looking at Champ's positioning just to see how he was going to read it. It's tough to coach the tag [up] and [going] halfway, it's usually the player's decision, how far he's going to be off the bag to read it. That's something that we work on early, in BP or extra work baserunning, but in the game, it's something that's his decision. He kept his distance, saw that the centerfielder had a shot (to catch the ball), so he was close to the bag."

The Catch

Dustin Fowler, the Yankees' 18th-round pick in the 2013 amateur draft out of West Laurens HS, was playing centerfield on Thursday night for the just thirty-third time as a professional. The Yankees have also given him 21 starts in right and 18 in left in his professional career that is just over a year old.

Fowler explained what he remembered: "The ball just carried a lot and took me all the way to the track. ... I was moving backward. The ball was carrying me [toward] the fence. I caught it, and had to reset my feet and get my momentum going back to the infield."

Fowler did not get behind the baseball before he caught it. This meant, 1. he needed time to get set before he could make a throw back towards the infield, and 2. when he made a throw, he did not get much on it.

Both Rojas and Stuart noticed.

Stuart, on what he saw: "So as I was tagging, I saw him catch the ball on the warning track, but his momentum was still taking him back, so my first three... four steps, I ran as hard as I could. ... I knew he wouldn't have as much on the throw because he was still going back. ... In my mind, I had started rounding third base real hard as I was tagging up, but I never expected to go [home] exactly. I was going to make it a point to go, but I didn't know if Luis was going to allow me to go or not."

As soon as Stuart started running, Rojas became Stuart's eyes in the outfield. "When [Fowler] made the catch and [Stuart] went to tag, I was ready," Rojas said. "I was ready the whole time, as soon as he left the bag."

The ThrowRojas was watching Stuart and Fowler's toss back towards the infield.

"The throw from the center fielder was going to dictate a lot for the send [to home]," Rojas said. "I was reading the throw. If it was going to be chest high, I was not going to send him because we had the cleanup hitter hitting behind Smith, and that was only the first out in the inning. But I saw the ball short-hopping the shortstop, and I just kept him going."

The Gnats' cleanup hitter, Matt Oberste, was on an 11-game hit streak entering the game, one he would extend to 14-straight with hits in all three games of the series.

"Now, it comes to the equation where you have to look ahead to see what's going to happen on the relay and the timing of Stuart hitting third base and the view from the second baseman," the manager said. "[The second baseman has] a pretty good view, throwing from the middle of the field there. He's just got to throw it over the mound there, it'll be a one-hopper. ... If it's a good throw from the centerfielder, with good tempo, I would have held [Stuart] and let Oberste drive him in on the next play."

Fowler: "I sent it in to the cutoff man, and when he turned around and got it, [Stuart] was scoring."

Approaching ThirdStuart left second with the intention of rounding third base hard and forcing Rojas to put up a stop sign. Rojas too, was trying to draw a throw home from the RiverDogs in the hope that a poorly executed relay would lead to an error, allowing Stuart to score. Stuart did not know it, but before he reached third, Rojas, watching the outfield and Stuart, had done the quick math and decided to send him.

"I would have held him if the Dogs had gotten a good relay throw, but since there was no relay throw, there was never a thought other than sending him," Rojas said.

Stuart first saw Rojas sending him home right before he arrived at third, "about one step before I hit third base," he said.

"I had to look at him, and look at the base. I looked at him, and he didn't give me the stop sign," Stuart said. "I didn't break stride. They tell us don't stop until they tell you. I was going to keep going until his hand go up."

Rojas, again, praised Stuart for his aggressiveness, his line around third, and maintaining his speed.

"There's a lot of things involved in that play to keep him going toward home plate," he said. "He was ready to go. You could tell from the speed that he kept, and the angle that he got. I mean, he had the turn. He didn't go straight from second to third. His turn made everything. He did the biggest part - 95 percent, me being the eyes was five percent."

Even after he made the turn towards home, Stuart was still not sure he was getting the green light from Rojas.

"And rounding third, I was looking Luis dead in his eyes, to say 'Send me!' regardless of the play, because I'd never had it happen to me before," Stuart said. "He looked at me, and I looked at him back, and it felt like that awkward moment for like three or four steps and then he just kept waving me. And I was like 'Oh, it's going to actually happen.'"

ScoringAfter rounding third, Stuart sprinted home.

"I'm running as hard as I could, getting ready to slide, looking for the next batter batter at the plate, [Oberste], to see if he's going to tell me to slide -- away, or inside -- but he just told me to stay up," Stuart said. "I'm just like, 'Wow, I couldn't believe I did it relatively easy.'"

Stuart also trusted Rojas, which allowed him to keep running hard.

"He didn't stop at all. He was reading me. He did a good job reading me the whole time, not looking back. That allowed him to stay at one speed and score from second base," Rojas said.

So, Just How Fast is Stuart?Fowler: "He's probably one of the fastest kids I've ever seen ... Anything is possible when he's on the bases."

Rojas: "The game-changing speed that he has, he carries it pretty well, especially on the bases, moreso than in the outfield. On the bases, he's really cocky. He challenges. ... [We've talked about] how valuable [his speed can be] in his career; to a team right now and when he moves up a level and even the big league team when he gets there. He's a guy who can get walked and, it's a double."

Tags: Analysis, Interview, Toby Hyde

Dec 6, 2016; National Harbor, MD, USA; A sign on day two of the 2016 Baseball Winter Meetings at Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 6, 2016; National Harbor, MD, USA; A sign on day two of the 2016 Baseball Winter Meetings at Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

This afternoon on SNY's Facebook page, Matthew Cerrone answered questions about the hot stove during a Live Q&A, which you can watch here!

Later, SNY's Steve Gelbs and Andy Martino hosted a mid-day Winter Meetings Live from Washington, DC, which you can watch below...

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Sandy Alderson speaks to reporters (Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)
Sandy Alderson speaks to reporters (Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

Sandy Alderson talked with reporters late Wednesday and said, while he doesn't know that he'll make any deals before the end of the Winter Meetings, he's made progress in talks with teams and agents that he hopes will benefit the Mets before the end of the offseason.

Alderson also had the following to say about...

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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 Nationals, who had reportedly shown interest in Pirates OF Andrew McCutchen, will acquire White Sox OF Adam Eaton for prospects Lucas Giolito, Dane Dunning and Reynaldo Lopezaccording to multiple reports.

In this case, I really, really hope the Mets use this opportunity to get in on McCutchen.

The Rangers, Dodgers, Mariners and a "mystery team" have all recently asked about McCutchen, according to reports on MLB Trade Rumors. The Nationals had been reportedly pursuing him since last summer.

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Aug 4, 2016; Bruce (19) celebrates a three run home run with Granderson (3) (Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)
Aug 4, 2016; Bruce (19) celebrates a three run home run with Granderson (3) (Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

Dec 7 | 3:20 PM

The Mets met with the Rangers on Wednesday, according to MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan.


Matthew Cerrone: In addition to starting pitching, the Rangers have reportedly been looking to acquire a corner outfielder or Designated Hitter, such as Jay Bruce. At the same, I've heard from MLB insiders that they've been offering up RH reliever Jeremy Jeffress, who the Mets had interest in acquiring last summer before he was dealt from the Brewers to Rangers with Jonathan Lucroy. It's worth also noting that Texas still has Lucroy, who the Mets were trying to trade for last summer, as well, despite saying they were committed to Travis d'Arnaud. I see no evidence that the Rangers are looking to deal Lucroy. But, if they are, I assume the Mets would be intrigued, despite again saying they're commited to d'Arnaud.

Tags: Curtis Granderson, Jay Bruce
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Aug 4, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Chicago White Sox relief pitcher David Robertson (30) pitches against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports (Rick Osentoski)
Aug 4, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Chicago White Sox relief pitcher David Robertson (30) pitches against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports (Rick Osentoski)

In the wake of trading Chris Sale to the Red Sox, multiple reports indicate the White Sox have started shopping several of their high-priced players.

So far, I have yet to read or hear of any rumors connecting the Mets to the White Sox. However, Chicago clearly has players that should be of interest to Sandy Alderson, specifically closer David Robertson and 1B Jose Abreu. 

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Wheels in motion 00:02:52
Jon Hein and Marc Malusis discuss the Mets' plan of action for Zack Wheeler, including his possible use out of the bullpen.

Zack Wheeler spoke about his health and a potential move to the bullpen during an appearance at the Mets' annual coat drive at Citi Field on Wednesday.

The 26-year-old said he threw about three weeks ago and will do so again around Christmas in what he called a "normal offseason," according to Joe Trezza of MLB.com. Wheeler added that he has not felt pain since April and that "this is the best he's felt."

He was also open to the idea of moving to the bullpen to start 2017, something Mets GM Sandy Alderson mentioned prior to the start of the Winter Meetings this past Sunday.

 

Tags: Zack Wheeler
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Free-agent OF Dexter Fowler, Royals OF Lorenzo Cain and Pirates OF Andrew McCutchen (USA Today Images)
Free-agent OF Dexter Fowler, Royals OF Lorenzo Cain and Pirates OF Andrew McCutchen (USA Today Images)

The price on position players -- especially outfielders -- is going down by the minute, according to multiple MLB market markers.

The top-tier, free-agent market includes outfielders Dexter Fowler, Jose Bautista and Ian Desmond, while the trade market reportedly includes Andrew McCutchen (Pirates), Charlie Blackmon (Rockies), Adam Eaton (White Sox), Lorenzo Cain and Jarrod Dyson (Royals), Odubel Herrera (Phillies) and Jay Bruce (Mets), among others.

"If I'm Fowler, I give up making $18-20 million a season and quickly grab one of those four-year, $60 million offers, because it might not be there if he waits," a team executive told me.

In regards to the Mets, this doesn't bode well for wanting to trade Bruce. And, it probably explains why reports now indicate Curtis Granderson and Michael Conforto are off the table. Because, if prices are dropping, it's not worth moving them.

Tags: Jay Bruce, Matthew Cerrone
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Jay Bruce (19) has dominated the Mets news cycle during the Winter Meetings (USA TODAY Sports)
Jay Bruce (19) has dominated the Mets news cycle during the Winter Meetings (USA TODAY Sports)

Mets GM Sandy Alderson should have at least one or two reasonable trades on the table for OF Jay Bruce, according to teams that have talked with the Mets.

However, because he's comfortable with slow-playing the free-agent market for relief pitchers, Alderson appears totally fine holding off on dealing Bruce for an arm, while letting the outfield market play out and revisiting his options during December.

"Things are generally slow," Alderson explained Tuesday, talking to reporters. "Hopefully things start to loosen up a little bit. ...Clubs are still trying to figure out exactly what they think is exactly the best way to go. The contours of the market are still a little bit vague, so you don't see a lot of movement."

Tags: Jay Bruce, Matthew Cerrone
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 (Geoff Burke)
(Geoff Burke)

Tuesday's News and Rumors...

The Mets contacted the Royals about closer Wade Davis >> Read more!

The Mets also may have interest in free-agent relievers Matt Belisle, Joe Blanton, Junichi Tazawa, Drew Storen and Boone Logan, as Jerry Blevins is seeking a three-year deal >> Read more!

Mets GM Sandy Alderson said he and his staff are planning to change the workload and routine of their starting pitchers >> Read more!

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Oct 17, 2015; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals relief pitcher Wade Davis (17) and center fielder Lorenzo Cain (6) celebrates after beating the Toronto Blue Jays in game two of the ALCS at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports (Denny Medley)
Oct 17, 2015; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals relief pitcher Wade Davis (17) and center fielder Lorenzo Cain (6) celebrates after beating the Toronto Blue Jays in game two of the ALCS at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports (Denny Medley)

Dec 7 | 6:15 AM

The Mets asked the Royals about closer Wade Davisbut were asked to part with elite SS prospect Amed Rosario, who the team considers untouchable, according to Daily News reporter Kristie Ackert.

Instead, the Cubs are close to acquiring Davis for 24-year-old OF Jorge Soleraccording to multiple reports on MLB Trade Rumors.

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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)

The Mets are not yet willing to pay some of Curtis Granderson's $15 million salary or Jay Bruce's $13 million salary to help trade them during this week's Winter Meetings.

"Not at this point," Alderson said Monday, when specifically asked about the scenario.

Alderson is not usually this vague, though, which makes me think he'll eventually give in. However, right now, it's early enough in the off season that he isn't feeling desperate. Instead, I'm hearing they're more likely to give up a prospect or two in the deal, so the acquiring team is incentivized to absorb Bruce's $13 million.

Remember, the goal here is to a acquire as many relief pitchers as possible before the start of spring training, and I see Alderson eventually getting his men one of the following ways...

Tags: Curtis Granderson, Jay Bruce, Matthew Cerrone
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Nov 4, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs center fielder Dexter Fowler (24) talks during the World Series victory rally in Grant Park. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports (Dennis Wierzbicki)
Nov 4, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Cubs center fielder Dexter Fowler (24) talks during the World Series victory rally in Grant Park. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports (Dennis Wierzbicki)

The Mets are not trading both Curtis Granderson and Jay Bruce so they can sign free-agent OF Dexter Fowlera high-ranking team official told SNY's Steve Gelbs.

This is disappointing, if true. I'm sure it is, but I also know Mets GM Sandy Alderson and his front office tend to make statements based on what's happening at that specific moment, and it does not necessarily recognize where things are headed.

Remember, Alderson and his staff repeatedly told reporters that the Mets wouldn't release Jason Bay, Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez, nor would they be trading Carlos Beltran and RA Dickey, and they eventually did all of the above. I'm not saying the Mets will sign Fowler, or trade both Bruce or Granderson, I'm simply suggesting that we all take what they say with a grain of salt... because things have a way of changing as the environment changes around them...

That said, this is exactly the move I want to see the Mets make.

Tags: Curtis Granderson, Jay Bruce, Matthew Cerrone
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MNoah Syndergaard (34), Jacob deGrom (48) and Matt Harvey (33) walk in from the bullpen at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
MNoah Syndergaard (34), Jacob deGrom (48) and Matt Harvey (33) walk in from the bullpen at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

For the second time this offseason, Mets GM Sandy Alderson said he and his staff are planning to change the workload and routine of their starting pitchers, he told reporters Tuesday at the Winter Meetings.

Last month, Alderson said he is open to occasionally using a six-man rotation and mixing in spot starters so guys can get extended rest between appearances.

Tags: Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, Zack Wheeler
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Robert Gsellman pitches against the Braves last Tuesday in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens) (Kathy Willens/AP)
Robert Gsellman pitches against the Braves last Tuesday in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens) (Kathy Willens/AP)

Teams have asked about RHP Robert Gsellman, but Sandy Alderson has told them he's not available, sources told ESPN.com's Adam Rubin.

Gsellman, 23, had a 2.42 ERA (2.63 FIP) and 1.27 WHIP, while striking out 42 batters in 44 2/3 innings, during seven starts and one relief appearance for the Mets in 2016.

Tags: Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo, Zack Wheeler
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Free-agent relievers Fernando Salas, Brad Ziegler, Joaquin Benoit and Joe Smith (Credit: USA Today Images)
Free-agent relievers Fernando Salas, Brad Ziegler, Joaquin Benoit and Joe Smith (Credit: USA Today Images)

Dec 6 | 4:00PM

Free-agent LH reliever Jerry Blevins is seeking a three-year deal worth $5-6 million a season, MLB.com's Anthony DiComo reported on Twitter.

"If Blevins is willing to do a two-year deal, maybe Sandy Alderson can reel him back," MetsBlog's Matthew Cerrone wrote Nov. 22. "But, if Blevins finds himself eventually weighing three-year offers, I bet Alderson passes and, instead, signs a veteran or two on minor-league deals."

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Tebow during an Arizona Fall League game at Camelback Ranch (Credit: Mark J. Rebilas via USA Today)
Tebow during an Arizona Fall League game at Camelback Ranch (Credit: Mark J. Rebilas via USA Today)

The Mets haven't decided whether OF Tim Tebow will be invited to play in big league games during Spring Training, GM Sandy Alderson said Tuesday.

"That's a decision we'll make some time in the near future," Alderson said, adding that there's "no benefit" to having him in big league camp.

Mets manager Terry Collins said earlier Tuesday that Tebow would play for the Mets during Grapefruit League games this spring, even if he's in minor-league camp

However, late last month, Tebow would not say if he plans to attend Spring Training.

Tags: Tim Tebow
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Sale of Two Cities 00:02:22
The DNL panel discusses the ramifications of the Chris Sale trade to the Boston Red Sox in a blockbuster move at the Winter Meetings.

The Nationals will not be adding Chris Sale, who is about to be traded to the Red Sox for Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech and two other prospects, according to FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal.

Earlier Tuesday, Rosenthal said the Nationals would have included RHP prospects Lucas Giolito and Victor Robles in a deal with Chicago. However, they've been reluctant to put them in a deal for Pirates OF Andrew McCutchen, who they've reportedly been pursuing since last summer.

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In honor of Mets media relation executive Shannon Forde, who lost her long, difficult battle with breast cancer last March, MLB announced Monday it will renovate a youth field in Forde's honor in her hometown of Little Ferry, N.J.

"I think a picture says a thousand words," Mets COO Jeff Wilpon said at a press conference at the Winter Meetings. "This is the group that loves and misses Shannon every day."

To raise money for the project, which is part of their annual Play Ball program, MLB is auctioning off a number of unique opportunities, including a pitching lesson from Johnny Cueto, player and manager meet-and-greets, a dinner with Gary Cohen, Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez.

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David Wright waits during batting practice before facing the San Diego Padres. (AP)
David Wright waits during batting practice before facing the San Diego Padres. (AP)

David Wright will be the team's primary third baseman entering spring training, Mets GM Sandy Alderson told reporters Monday during the Winter Meetings.

According to Alderson, Wright is on track to start baseball activities during December.

Last month, Alderson told WOR 710 AM radio that, while he's hopeful that Wright will return, the Mets need to be realistic about what to expect from him in 2017.

"I think that we're very hopeful he's gonna be able to come back and be productive," Alderson said. However, "I think we have to be realistic about how many games we can expect him to perform."

Tags: David Wright
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New York Mets' Jose Reyes (7) reacts after hitting a game-tying, two-run home run in the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens) (Kathy Willens/AP)
New York Mets' Jose Reyes (7) reacts after hitting a game-tying, two-run home run in the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2016, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens) (Kathy Willens/AP)

The Mets will work out Jose Reyes in the outfield during Spring Training, Mets GM Sandy Alderson told reporters Monday at the MLB Winter Meetings.

"We didn't want to do it last year, because we didn't want him working out at multiple new positions," Alderson explained about when the Mets acquired Reyes last summer.

Tags: Jose Reyes
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