Donn Clendenon (Wikimedia Commons)
Donn Clendenon (Wikimedia Commons)

Anthony McCarron, SNY.tv | Twitter |

Yoenis Cespedes is no Donn Clendenon.

Sure, Cespedes' second-half power show in 2015 helped propel the Mets all the way to the World Series after a deadline deal brought the slugger from Detroit.

But Clendenon pushed an even more improbable Mets club -- some have called it miraculous -- to the Fall Classic 50 years ago after an in-season trade. Then he finished the job, winning the World Series MVP Award as the 1969 Mets topped the powerful Baltimore Orioles in five games.

The 50th anniversary of one of the most significant deals in Mets history falls on June 15, the day a pitching-rich team was boosted by the addition of a power-hitting needler who maybe helped the clubhouse culture as much as he did the lineup.

What follows is an oral history of the trade that sent backup infielder Kevin Collins and four minor leaguers to the expansion Montreal Expos in exchange for Clendenon. The four prospects were Jay Carden, David Colon, Terry Dailey (the player to be named later) and Steve Renko. Renko, who pitched in the majors for 15 years and won 134 games, was the only player the Mets dealt who made a big-league splash.

The Mets were 30-26 and nine games out of first place on after losing June 15 to Don Drysdale and the Dodgers. But the Mets had won 11 straight games from May 28-June 10. Maybe there was hope.

WAYNE GARRETT, Mets third baseman: We really had to ham-and-egg it to win as many games as we had up to that time. We had to manufacture a lot of runs. Our pitching was always good. These guys would have three or four good outings before they'd have a bad one. It was, 'If we could just score and hang in there,' and that's what we did until Clendenon came along.

RON SWOBODA, Mets outfielder: We were sort of relevant in the race, and that's when they made the Clendenon deal. In the spring, the Braves were trying to trade Joe Torre and they talked to the Mets. The Braves wanted several of our good young arms, but (Mets GM) Johnny Murphy didn't want to surrender them. The Braves traded Torre to the Cardinals for Orlando Cepeda (on March 17) and I consider that significant. We got to the playoffs and we outscored the Braves there. They did not get the pitching they were after and I think that made a difference. The Mets took some heat from Dick Young and other writers; he suggested Torre would've made us a contender. It's not outrageous. But the Braves didn't come up with that pitching they needed.

JOE McDONALD, Mets director of minor-league operations in 1969: Johnny Murphy deserves all the credit for a wonderful acquisition. It was pretty darn important. We lacked a lot of power. When you run the minors, it hurts when you give up prospects, as you sometimes have to do to get an established player. You have to do it when you are going for all the marbles, which we were, to everyone's surprise. I was a little partial in the case of Steve Renko. I was proud of Steve. He had done a little pitching in college, but we needed a first baseman in the system and he was a first baseman then. That didn't pan out and we converted him. When we put him on the mound, we knew that's where he belonged. … If I helped contribute Collins and Renko in order to get Clendenon, that's OK.

JERRY KOOSMAN, Mets pitcher: Us pitchers were certainly elated about getting him. It was really a big morale booster.

Donn Clendenon Jr. was only 3 at the time of the trade, but his dad, who died at 70 in 2005, talked about it for years. His dad had been taken by the Expos in the 1968 expansion draft and swapped to Houston in January 1969. But Clendenon was unhappy with the deal and refused to report to the Astros, so Montreal completed the trade with different players. Clendenon, already 33, mulled leaving baseball to become an executive with the Scripto pen company but ultimately reconsidered. A few months later, he was a Met.

CLENDENON Jr.: My dad was ready to retire before the Mets. But when the talks started, he took a look at the team and recognized the raw talent and felt he could have an impact. He knew right away they had something -- I don't want to call it magical, he wasn't that type of descriptive person -- but he knew they had talent.

Clendenon batted .252 with a .455 slugging percentage in 72 games for the Mets, and the club was 45-27 in those games. The right-handed hitter had 12 homers and 37 RBIs. Clendenon, like several Mets, lost some playing time initially to Gil Hodges' famous platoon system, though he played more frequently against righties later on. But Clendenon had a previous relationship with Hodges -- Jackie Robinson had once urged Clendenon to ask Hodges for tips about playing first base -- and, like the rest of the Mets, respected the manager.

ART SHAMSKY, Mets outfielder: He was part of the platooning at first with Ed (Kranepool). Gil platooned at four positions. Nobody liked it. It wasn't good for your career. But it was working and all of us accepted it, because of what we thought about Gil. He (Clendenon) was frustrated at times, because he didn't play as much as he wanted to.

GARRETT: He gave you that added dimension of some power. When he walked to the plate, there was potential there, whether he hit one or not. The only potential that we had before that was (Tommie) Agee. He was our only other home-run hitter. Cleon would hit them every now and then, but Cleon hit from foul pole to foul pole. He didn't have that home-run swing, though. He wasn't trying to hit home runs. Clendenon had the swing of the players of today, that uppercut swing. When he'd hit it, he'd get the ball in the air consistently. It made a difference. That's why they got him. It's nice to have that guy who has that potential. Shea wasn't an easy park to hit home runs in.

Clendenon was a force in the clubhouse, too. He'd already had success in the majors, so he brought a certain gravitas to what was mostly a young Mets team.

KOOSMAN: He had a kind of a towering, thundering voice. When he said stuff, you heard him across the clubhouse. He could instigate, pick on people, do jokes -- in a good way. If he thought somebody could've done better, he'd say it, no matter who he was on the club. He'd come up with something that would get a laugh, but there was meaning behind it. He took over and became one of the leaders of the club. He was a guy that people listened to. Sometimes he might've seemed like he was a little bit of windbag, but he always backed it up.

SHAMSKY: I had hit four home runs in a row when I was with the Reds and he was on the Pirates. (Shamsky slugged homers in four consecutive at-bats against Pittsburgh in 1966, three on Aug. 12 and one on Aug. 14.) When Donn came to the Mets, every day he would get on me, telling me how they should've hit me, knocked me down. That's how he was. He was good to have in the locker room. He'd really get on guys, your uniform, how it fit. Your clothes. The next day, after an error, he'd be on you. He was that kind of voice.

CLENDENON Jr.: He was the older guy on that team, the veteran. He was big, too, stature-wise. (Clendenon was 6-foot-5, 225 pounds.) Out of all the guys, the only one who did give it back to him when I was around later was (Tom) Seaver. Seaver had a stellar career after my dad retired, so my dad felt it necessary to put Tom in his place. He was one of the guys, when the banter would start, Tom would give it back to him. Dad would say, 'Why can't you be like Nolan (Ryan)? You know he's stronger than you.' They had a quiet, rivalry love, Tom and my dad.

GARRETT: When we'd do appearances after we retired, he'd come up to my wife and say, 'Have you been to the eye doctor lately? I just want to know if you can really see who you married.' That was Donn. He always had something to say. That's what my wife always remembers of him.

On Sept. 24, the Mets clinched the National League East, quite a feat considering that they never had a winning season before and had been 10 games back at one point in mid-August. In the 6-0 victory over Steve Carlton and Cardinals, Clendenon homered twice, including a three-run shot that gave them a 3-0 lead. They swept the Braves in the first-ever NL Championship Series.

Clendenon did not get an at-bat because Atlanta used three righty starters, and Hodges hewed to his platoon system, starting Kranepool. But Clendenon blew open the World Series, batting .357 with three homers, four RBIs and a double. He had an absurd 1.509 OPS before anyone thought about OPS. He scored the first run in Mets World Series history in Game 1, homered in Games 2 and 4 to give the Mets early leads and then helped the Mets rally from a 3-0 deficit in Game 5. After Cleon Jones got to first base in the sixth inning thanks to a smudge of shoe polish pointed out by Hodges, Clendenon smacked a two-run homer to pull the Mets within a run in a game they'd eventually win 5-3.

There were other good candidates for MVP, though. Koosman was 2-0 with a 2.04 ERA in two starts and threw a complete game in the clincher. Al Weis batted .455 and knotted the score at 3 in Game 5 with a homer. Swoboda made his crucial full-extension diving catch and batted .400. Agee batted just .167, but made two sensational catches of his own.

KOOSMAN: He beat me out of the MVP award and beat me out of the car (a Dodge Challenger that came with the trophy). I told him I should at least get to drive the car one out every three days. We always had fun.

SWOBODA: Stood tall, didn't he? He was never better than in that World Series -- the home runs, the MVP. It all came to him, as it should have. I had some friends of mine who said, 'Why not you (for MVP)?' C'mon, man, look at what he did, when he did it. They gave the MVP to the right guy. I don't think there's a second's worth of second-guessing at all. Not by me. I never heard any. I think it was obvious.

CLENDENON Jr.: It was, obviously, the pinnacle of his career. He considered it meaningful to that team and New York. He didn't get choked up very often, but when you hear him talk about the MVP, you could tell he was humbled by it.

It was a remarkable achievement in a remarkable life. Clendenon, who had been friendly with Martin Luther King Jr. while attending Morehouse College and had been such a star athlete that pro football and basketball were options, became a successful businessman after his baseball career. He earned a law degree from Duquense. He tumbled into drug addiction, sought treatment and emerged to become a drug counselor. And he'll always have a place in the Mets pantheon.

SHAMSKY: When you talk about that team over these 50 years, the legacy is about all the guys who contributed and it became contagious. Donn coming over gave us an impetus. Once we started playing well, we were unbeatable. We were lovable losers a few years earlier, but we were as good as anybody then. When you're known as a bad team, to win it all against a terrific Baltimore Oriole team, that resonated over the years. Donn was right at the top of the list of the reasons why.

And here's the reason why Cespedes is no Clendenon:

SHAMSKY: The big difference is, they (the 2015 Mets) didn't win and we did.


MCCARRON: Oral history between Alonso and Smith's bromance >> Read more

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Tags: Yoenis Cespedes, Anthony McCarron
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Jun 4, 2019; Kansas City, MO, USA; Boston Red Sox second baseman Eduardo Nunez (36) hits a pinch hit home run against the Kansas City Royals in the eighth inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports (Jay Biggerstaff)
Jun 4, 2019; Kansas City, MO, USA; Boston Red Sox second baseman Eduardo Nunez (36) hits a pinch hit home run against the Kansas City Royals in the eighth inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports (Jay Biggerstaff)

While much of the attention on the Mets recently has been centered around the team looking into outfield help, they ended up adding some infield depth on Saturday.

According to Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com, Eduardo Nunez is joining the Mets as a non-roster invite to spring training. 

Nunez, 32, is a 10-year major-league veteran. Debuting with the Yankees in 2010, Nunez played his first four seasons in pinstripes. As a utility player for the Yankees, Nunez played in 270 games, slashing .267/.313/.379 with 10 home runs and 76 RBI.

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Mets prospects Ronny Mauricio, Andres Gimenez and Brett Baty.
Mets prospects Ronny Mauricio, Andres Gimenez and Brett Baty.

MLB Pipeline released its first Top 100 prospect list for the 2020 season, and four players in the Mets organization made the cut.

Shortstop Ronny Mauricio leads the way as the 62nd ranked prospect in baseball, with catcher Francisco Alvarez just behind him at number 63. Shortstop Andres Gimenez also made the list at number 84, while last year's first-round draft pick third baseman Brett Baty rounded out the Mets' group at number 93. 

The Mets have as many prospects on this year's list as they've had in the last three seasons combined.

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Jul 26, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso (20) goes to the dugout between innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)
Jul 26, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso (20) goes to the dugout between innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

After putting together one of the most impressive rookie seasons in MLB history, Pete Alonso is ready for more.

Speaking at Mets Fan Fest on Saturday, Alonso discussed what areas of his game he can still improve on heading into his second big-league season, how anxious he is to get back on the field with his teammates, and more.

Additionally, Alonso gave his strong endorsement of Luis Rojas as the Mets new manager.

Here are three takeaways from Alonso's media session on Saturday:

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Pete Alonso is one of a number of Mets players that new manager Luis Rojas has previously managed in the minor leagues.

Alonso explained that he vouched for Rojas to become Mets manager, and was more than excited when the 38-year-old got the job.

Speaking about what Rojas brings to the table as a manager, Alonso recalled one of his favorite Rojas stories from their time together with the Double-A Binghamton Rumble Ponies.

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Edwin Diaz's struggles in 2019 are well-documented.

During his first season as a Met, the 25-year-old pitched to a 5.59 ERA and a 1.379 WHIP. He converted just 26 saves in 33 opportunities and was often plagued by the long ball.

Still, Carlos Beltran was ready to enter 2020 with Diaz set as the team's closer.

Tags: Carlos Beltran, Dellin Betances, Edwin Diaz, Jeurys Familia
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Steven Matz made a career-high 30 starts in 2019, but sandwiched in between those starts was a pair of relief appearances in early July. 

With the additions of Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha, there appears to be a logjam in the rotation with six pitchers vying for five spots, but Matz is clear he'd prefer to have the ball every fifth day.

"I enjoyed being in the bullpen down there, but at the end of the day, I really love starting. I want to be a starter."

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For the last six years, Brandon Nimmo's name has been floated on and off in various potential trade scenarios. This offseason, his name has popped up as the Mets and Pirates have discussed a potential deal for Starling Marte.

According to SNY's Andy Martino, Pittsburgh's ask remains big as they seek big league and minor league talent in exchange.

Nimmo was asked Saturday about how he deals with the rumors.

Tags: Brandon Nimmo, Jay Bruce, Yoenis Cespedes, Danny Abriano
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Brodie Van Wagenen, Dellin Betances, and Jeff Wilpon
Brodie Van Wagenen, Dellin Betances, and Jeff Wilpon

Suffering through shoulder and Achilles injuries, Dellin Betances threw just two-thirds of an inning as a member of the Yankees last season.

But the hard-throwing right-hander is confident he can hit the ground running as a member of the Mets in 2020.

"This offseason, I've spent a lot of time working on my body," Betances said Saturday at Mets Fan Fest. "I've thrown three bullpens already, so I feel good throwing off the mound. I'm doing more running now than I was earlier in the offseason. I'll be ready to go for this year and I'm definitely excited."

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Edwin Diaz
Edwin Diaz

There is a secret weapon for Mets reliever Edwin Diaz when it comes to him potentially rebounding in 2020.

"Once I started throwing this offseason and putting in the work, I was kind of able to pick up on a few different things," Diaz explained Saturday through Mets translator Alan Suriel about how he has worked on correcting his mechanics. "I had a few friends who were able to kind of pinpoint what exactly was going on."

One of those friends? Former Met and Hall-of-Famer Pedro Martinez.

Tags: Carlos Beltran, Dellin Betances, Edwin Diaz, Jeff McNeil, Robinson Cano, Danny Abriano
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With Spring Training around the corner, the 2020 season is coming soon. Near the end of what has been a busy offseason for the Mets, general manager Brodie Van Wagenen set the stage before the team heads to Port St. Lucie, Fla.

During the Town Hall portion of Saturday's Mets Fan Fest at Citi Field, Van Wagenen and new manager Luis Rojas -- introduced on Friday -- took the stage with SNY's Gary Cohen to recap the offseason and preview the spring.

Here are five takeaways from Van Wagenen's comments...

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Brodie Van Wagenen said Friday while introducing Luis Rojas as the 23rd manager in Mets history that a number of players had reached out on Rojas' behalf.

"The players knew him, the players trusted him, and he understands exactly what we're trying to accomplish in spring training this year -- because he's helped build our program," Van Wagenen said. "That was a big part of it."

We found out Saturday that Pete Alonso was one of the players that reached out.

"I talked to him," Alonso said Saturday at the Mets Fan Fest about his communication with Van Wagenen. "I just -- I asked him, 'Well if we're gonna get someone externally, are there gonna be any changes?'"

Tags: Jacob deGrom, Danny Abriano
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Sep 23, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Steven Matz (32) pitches against the Miami Marlins during the first inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 23, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Steven Matz (32) pitches against the Miami Marlins during the first inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off a season in which he threw a career-high 160 1/3 innings, Steven Matz is already excited to get back to work. He spent last week at the University of Michigan, throwing a bullpen and working with Wolverines pitching coach (and former candidate for Mets pitching coach) Chris Fetter

Using high resolution cameras and working with Michigan's kinesiology department, Matz and the man who eventually landed the Mets pitching coach job, Jeremy Hefner, were able to break down the left-hander's work in great detail.

"That was something that [Mets vice president] Allard Baird reached out to me about back in October. We thought it would be beneficial. Jeremy Hefner met me out there. That's the way the game's going. You have all this technology now and it's another thing you can use to improve."

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Jacob deGrom won his second straight Cy Young award in 2019, becoming the first Mets pitcher to accomplish that feat. But he doesn't seem content to stop there.

"I always set personal goals going into a season," deGrom said Saturday at the SNY Mets Town Hall at Mets Fan Fest. "I guess the goal is to be the best pitcher I can be. I'd like to win another Cy Young. But like I said, personal goals are great. And any time you can achieve 'em you feel like you're helping the team be the best it can be. ... The main goal is a World Series for me."

DeGrom mentioned the desire for a third straight Cy Young in his typical, wry fashion. He did the same thing before the 2019 season when mentioning his desire for a second straight Cy Young. He then went out and won it.

Tags: Jacob deGrom, Danny Abriano
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Jul 9, 2019; Cleveland, OH, USA; National League pitcher Jacob deGrom (48) of the New York Mets throws against the American League during the third inning in the 2019 MLB All Star Game at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports (Ken Blaze)
Jul 9, 2019; Cleveland, OH, USA; National League pitcher Jacob deGrom (48) of the New York Mets throws against the American League during the third inning in the 2019 MLB All Star Game at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports (Ken Blaze)

Luis Rojas saw something in Jacob deGrom before he rose through Major League Baseball as arguably the game's best pitcher.

While deGrom was still in the minors, his earlier days with the Mets' lower-level affiliates included two stints under Rojas, who served as the manager of the Single-A Savannah Sand Gnats from 2012-14.

With deGrom coming off Tommy John surgery in 2012, he started his climb up the Mets' farm system with Rojas in Savannah, and the season there soon put him on the path to the big leagues.

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Mets 1B Pete Alonso (Ron Chenoy)
Mets 1B Pete Alonso (Ron Chenoy)

From the minors to the big leagues, Luis Rojas has seen Pete Alonso's meteoric rise with a firsthand perspective.

Before he was introduced Friday as the Mets' new manager, Rojas got his start through the organization's minor-league affiliates, which included the Double-A Binghamton Rumble Ponies from 2017-18.

Rojas crossed paths with Alonso, who played for the team during both seasons before heading to the Triple-A level midway through 2018, and Rojas saw the early signs of what Alonso eventually became.

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Amed Rosario has known Luis Rojas since the Mets shortstop debuted as a professional in 2013, but their relationship grew even stronger in 2015, when Rojas served as manager in Port St. Lucie as Rosario began his rise through the team's farm system.

With the two reunited in Queens five years later, Rosario is thrilled to have Rojas as his skipper once again.

"I'm really excited to have him as my manager because I think about the memories I had with him in the minors," Rosario said through a translator at Mets Fan Fest on Saturday.

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The Mets got some good news within the division earlier this offseason when Josh Donaldson elected to leave the Braves (and spurn the Nationals) to sign a multi-year deal with the Minnesota Twins.

No such luck this time around with Ryan Zimmerman, though.

According to a report from Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post, Zimmerman is returning the Nationals on a one-year deal. The deal is has a base value of $2 million, but can be pushed up to $5 million with incentives.

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Mookie Betts
Mookie Betts

In his latest mailbag, Matthew Cerrone answers questions about a potential Mookie Betts trade, Luis Rojas, and more...


Are we getting Mookie Betts or not? The Padres seem to want him more. ~ Anthony Rosato

Boston's goal in trading Betts has been to significantly reduce payroll and get below the luxury tax threshold. The rumored deal between the Padres and Sox would send Wil Myers to Boston, which wouldn't cut enough money. Therefore, the sticking point between the two sides is likely David Price, who Boston has been trying to package with Betts because it's the biggest cost saving possible.

For the Mets, though, sending just Jed Lowrie to Boston could work for both sides.

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After his introductory press conference on Friday afternoon, Luis Rojas spoke to SNY's Steve Gelbs about his emotions on becoming the manager of the Mets.

"It's a birth of emotions," Rojas said. "I'm going crazy with the situation right now. The New York Mets manager, it's something that I've dreamed.

"When things unfolded for me to be a coach, and I landed with this organization in 2006, I saw how everything was so detailed," Rojas said. "My dream was to manage the New York Mets at one point. I knew it was going to take a lot. I was always proud to be a coach in the organization, I was always proud to be a manager in the minor leagues. And I was even more proud when I was on the coaching staff last year, but this is still a dream come true for me. And I'm willing to look forward and compete with the rest of the guys on the staff in this season."

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Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen stood alongside new manager Luis Rojas after introducing him to the media on Friday, going into detail about why he was chosen for the job to replace Carlos Beltran.

"His communication not only to the players, but you'll learn his communication with you will be genuine," Van Wagenen said. "And certainly from a management standpoint, the ability to know that when we speak to Luis, it's gonna be the truth."

After Rojas' press conference was over, Van Wagenen went 1-on-1 with SNY's Steve Gelbs and provided further explanation on the choice of Rojas.

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Starling Marte (Charles LeClaire)
Starling Marte (Charles LeClaire)

In recent days, the Mets have once again been linked in trade talks with the Pittsburgh Pirates centered around outfielder Starling Marte.

Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen spent most of his availability on Friday answering question about the team's new manager Luis Rojas, but he was also asked about the team still looking to trade for an outfielder.

"At this point we feel very confident in the group we have," said Van Wagenen. "We're excited about the guys that we have invited to camp. We're excited about the returning players that we'll have back on the roster, and we think we've added some key pieces from the outside that will help us this year. 

"We don't want to disrupt what we have. We do have the chemistry I spoke of. We have a culture where people buy into one another and they believe they can pick each other up. I don't see a deal that's going to disrupt that environment, and if there's an opportunity to continually improve our roster we'll explore it, but our aggressiveness is focused on getting ready for spring training with the players that we have."

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The Mets introduced Luis Rojas on Friday as the 23rd manager in franchise history, with Rojas replacing Carlos Beltran less than three months after Beltran took over.

Amidst the strangeness of a second new manager press conference in the same offseason, Rojas spoke at the podium -- answering questions in both English and Spanish -- before taking part in multiple scrums with local reporters.

Throughout it all, Rojas was both direct and reflective, mentioning on numerous occasions how getting this job was his "dream."

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Pirates OF Starling Marte
Pirates OF Starling Marte

The Mets have interest in trading for Pirates CF Starling Marte. Here's the latest...


Jan. 24, 2:59 PM:

The Mets and Pirates remain "engaged" in trade talks for Starling Marte, but there is still "plenty of work" to be done, Jon Heyman reported, adding that the Padres, Diamondbacks, and Rangers could also be in play.

Tags: Brandon Nimmo, Carlos Beltran, Michael Conforto, Danny Abriano
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Mookie Betts
Mookie Betts

With the Red Sox in a state of flux this offseason, there's long been a thought that the team might look to deal superstar right fielder Mookie Betts.

The Mets, meanwhile, would seem like a strong fit for Betts, as the team looks to solidify their outfield and add another big bat to go along with Pete Alonso in the lineup.

Could Betts end up in the National League this season after all?

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Mets quality control coach Luis Rojas (Jasen Vinlove)
Mets quality control coach Luis Rojas (Jasen Vinlove)

The Mets announced Luis Rojas as the team's 23rd manager in Thursday evening.

The team had been working to finalize a multi-year deal with Rojas, and the deal is now official.

The 38-year-old Rojas has been a member of the Mets organization since 2007, managing on different minor-league levels before joining the big-league staff as quality control coach in 2019.

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Luis Rojas (Treated Image by SNY)
Luis Rojas (Treated Image by SNY)

Luis Rojas will meet the media on Friday at Citi Field when he is officially introduced as the new Mets manager.

When news came out Wednesday that the Mets had chosen Rojas to replace Carlos Beltran, the reaction was mostly positive -- Rojas has been with the Mets since 2007, has terrific credentials, and is viewed by many as a rising star.

But one of the main concerns some had revolved around how Rojas would handle the media on a daily basis. He'll get his first test on Friday. Here are five (of many) questions Rojas should be asked...

Do you still need to earn the respect of the players?

Despite having already managed a vast majority of the players on the roster while in the minors -- including Pete Alonso, Jeff McNeil, Dominic Smith, and many others -- there is a thought that Rojas may need to work to earn additional respect now that he's in the big league manager's chair.

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Mets manager Carlos Beltran and Brodie Van Wagenen (SNY)
Mets manager Carlos Beltran and Brodie Van Wagenen (SNY)

Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |

Here's a weird question. Was Carlos Beltran ever the Mets manager?

What we mean is, when the franchise lists its all-time skippers, will Beltran be included despite the fact that the team hired and parted ways with him before he ever saw game action?

The question has implications both trivial and meaningful for Luis Rojas. Is he about to become the 22nd or 23rd manager in franchise history?

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Amed Rosario
Amed Rosario

During the past two weeks, I reached out to current and former players, coaches, scouts and league executives to learn who on the Mets is most likely to take a big step forward in 2020 compared to 2019.

The following three players were mentioned most...

1) Amed Rosario

Rosario hit .287 with a .323 OBP, 15 home runs, 30 doubles and 19 stolen bases, while producing 2.7 WAR in 2019, according to FanGraphs.

As soon as he started to get himself stable and performing well in the field, he also began swinging at fewer pitches out of the strike zone, while swinging at more pitches in it. Not surprisingly, he also started making more and better contact overall, while also reducing how often he struck out.

Tags: Amed Rosario, Brandon Nimmo, Edwin Diaz, JD Davis, Jeff McNeil, Noah Syndergaard, Rene Rivera, Matthew Cerrone
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Sep 24, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets right fielder Michael Conforto (30) rounds third base in front of Miami Marlins third baseman Starlin Castro (13) after hitting a two run home run against the Miami Marlins during the seventh inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Sep 24, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets right fielder Michael Conforto (30) rounds third base in front of Miami Marlins third baseman Starlin Castro (13) after hitting a two run home run against the Miami Marlins during the seventh inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

Mets outfielder Michael Conforto, who has been one of the most valuable outfielders in baseball since making his Major League debut in 2015, has been ranked among the Top 10 right fielders in baseball by MLB Network's The Shredder

The 26-year-old Conforto, who hit .257/.363/.494 with 33 homers, 29 doubles, and 92 RBI in 151 games in 2019, came in at No. 9 on the list.

Conforto was one spot behind Joey Gallo and one spot ahead of Nicholas Castellanos.

Tags: Brandon Nimmo, JD Davis, Michael Conforto, Yoenis Cespedes, Danny Abriano
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Luis Rojas (Lizzy Barrett/Getty Images)
Luis Rojas (Lizzy Barrett/Getty Images)

The Mets announced Wednesday that they're finalizing a deal that will have Luis Rojas will take over as manager for the 2020 season.

The praise amongst Mets players such as Marcus Stroman, Pete Alonso and Dominic Smith, among others, has been great to see. As many have said, the hiring of Rojas seems incredibly popular amongst players. Thus, this level of response is not surprising.

I understand there are some questions about Rojas being a first-time big-league manager, and there was buzz that there was some doubt organizationally if he was ready to be a big-league manager when he interviewed in October for the job. Do not be mistaken though, Rojas is an incredibly qualified person for this job. He is a baseball lifer with the bloodlines from the Alou family, which is one of the most respected families in baseball history. While he may not have big-league managing experience, you are talking about a guy who has managed in the Mets organization since 2007 with the Mets Dominican Summer League team. 

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John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

The more you hear about Luis Rojas, the more reason there is to believe he could be a good major-league manager. But is he ready in 2020? Will his inexperience cost the Mets in a win-now season? How will he react to being grilled daily about every significant decision he makes?

So many questions that nobody can answer until the games begin, and it's the great unknown that makes this such a huge gamble for Brodie Van Wagenen, especially with the expectation of a change in ownership that could raise the stakes even higher for the GM this season.

To me, it's the reason it made more sense to go get a proven commodity like a Buck Showalter or a Dusty Baker, especially after the Carlos Beltran hire backfired on the Mets and added a level of chaos that begged for credibility in the manager's office. 

Tags: Carlos Beltran, Pete Alonso, John Harper
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Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |

With the wildly different takes on Luis Rojas that have surfaced during a week of reporting rolling around in my head, it was hard to form an opinion on the Mets' managerial choice. 

Then, during SNY's breaking news coverage, Keith Hernandez summed it up in a way that finally made sense: "I'm going to need at least 24 hours to digest this."

Keith was on the right track there. Our only amendment to his take is that we might need even more time -- 24 weeks maybe? -- to formulate an informed take on the news.

Tags: Dominic Smith, Jacob deGrom, Pete Alonso, Robinson Cano, Andy Martino
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Sep 7, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets pinch hitter Jed Lowrie (4) reacts after striking out with two men on base against the Philadelphia Phillies during the fourth
		inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports (Andy Marlin)
Sep 7, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets pinch hitter Jed Lowrie (4) reacts after striking out with two men on base against the Philadelphia Phillies during the fourth inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports (Andy Marlin)

While the Mets have reportedly discussed Jed Lowrie in potential trades throughout the offseason, New York and general manager Brodie Van Wagenen are pleased with the infielder's progress entering 2020.

After a 2019 season in which he only played nine games due to injuries, Lowrie is making strides ahead of his second season with the Mets.

"We were pleased with his progress on where he's at physically," Van Wagenen said, according to Deesha Thosar of the New York Daily News. "We did some testing to measure his strengths (and) he's progressing to the point where we're optimistic of having him participate in a meaningful way in (Spring Training) games."

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Aug 1, 2019; Chicago, IL, USA; New York Mets relief pitcher Luis Avilan (43) delivers the ball in the eight inning against the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field. Mandatory Credit: Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports (Quinn Harris)
Aug 1, 2019; Chicago, IL, USA; New York Mets relief pitcher Luis Avilan (43) delivers the ball in the eight inning against the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field. Mandatory Credit: Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports (Quinn Harris)

The Yankees signed former Mets LHP Luis Avilan to a minor-league contract with a major-league Spring Training invite, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network.

Avilan, 30, went 4-0 on the 2019 season with a 5.06 ERA and 30 strikeouts to 14 walks in 45 games.

He logged his first seven MLB seasons with four different teams, joining the Mets after spending 2018 on the Chicago White Sox and Philadelphia Phillies, pitching to a 2-1 record and 3.77 ERA.

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Mets manager Luis Rojas
Mets manager Luis Rojas

New Mets manager Luis Rojas is a relative unknown to most. However, among his attributes, he is already well-respected inside the Mets' clubhouse, has been around the team for over a decade, has tons of managerial experience, and has famous MLB bloodlines.

Here are five things to know about Rojas...

Was viewed as a rising star when he managed in minors

While coaching for the Mets in the minors, Rojas was voted by his peers as the best managerial prospect in the Florida State League (with the High-A St. Lucie Mets) in 2015 and 2016 after being voted as the best managerial prospect in the South Atlantic League (with Low-A) in 2014, according to JJ Cooper of Baseball America

Tags: Dominic Smith, Jeff McNeil, Pete Alonso, Danny Abriano
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Yoenis Cespedes (52) Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Yoenis Cespedes (52) Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes has been crossing thresholds this offseason as he continues to work his way back from multiple ankle fractures that ended his 2019 season before it began. And he's getting closer to being a realistic option for the 26-man roster to start the 2020 season.

Cespedes' hitting progression has "reached the point where he's ready to go for spring training on the offensive side," Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen said on Wednesday.

Of course, being ready to go on the offensive side is only one half of what Cespedes needs to do in order to be a player who can start games for the Mets this coming season.

Tags: Michael Conforto, Pete Alonso, Yoenis Cespedes, Danny Abriano
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The Mets have named Luis Rojas their next manager, and SNY's Mets game analyst Keith Hernandez was very straight-forward with his reaction. 

"This is kind of just my initial reaction: I must admit I'm absolutely stunned at the choice -- not for any negative reason," he said. "I'm not so concerned about how he handles the press. He's a very bright guy, I think he'll be fine with the media.

"My concern is, and I believe that a manager has to be the leader of the team, you're getting a very young manager with virtually no major league experience taking over the team."

Hernandez, who admitted that Joe Girardi was the guy he wanted from the onset, continued to discuss the hiring by talking about today's trend in hiring new managers, and how Rojas' experience with the Mets should help him down the road with his roster...

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The Mets have found their replacement for Carlos Beltran as manager in Luis Rojas, who is finalizing a multi-year deal with the team

And the players are very excited about the new hire. 

Some of the current Mets -- and even some of Rojas' old pupils from the minors -- have commented on the news. Here are a few reactions, starting with Pete Alonso, who was quick to share his happiness on Twitter...

Tags: Dominic Smith, Pete Alonso, Scott Thompson
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Luis Rojas (Treated Image by SNY)
Luis Rojas (Treated Image by SNY)

The Mets are working to finalize a multi-year deal to make Luis Rojas their next manager.

Rojas, 38, had been one of the Mets' three finalists for manager, along with Hensley Meulens and Tony DeFrancesco, SNY's Andy Martino reported Tuesday.

The Mets' coaching staff around Rojas will remain intact, according to Martino. That staff includes Meulens (the bench coach, who had also been linked to the managerial opening in Boston) and DeFrancesco (the first base coach who managed Triple-A Syracuse in 2019).

 

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Mets quality control coach Luis Rojas (Jasen Vinlove)
Mets quality control coach Luis Rojas (Jasen Vinlove)

The Mets are finalizing a multi-year deal to make Luis Rojas their next manager, replacing Carlos Beltran who mutually parted ways with the team last Thursday. 

Rojas was getting plenty of buzz as the Mets conducted their second managerial search of the offseason, with team brass focused on an in-house option to take over. The 38-year-old has managerial experience in the minors and was the team's quality control coach before this promotion. 

However, there were some doubts on Rojas, as it was said the team didn't believe he was ready to take over as manager back in November when he was initially considered for the job. That has clearly changed now, and some current Mets always believed Rojas had what it took to be a big league manager after playing under him. 

Tags: Dominic Smith, Jeff McNeil, Pete Alonso, Tomas Nido, Danny Abriano
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Sep 30, 2018; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado (28) celebrates his second home run of the game a solo home run in the seventh inning against the Washington Nationals at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports (Ron Chenoy)
Sep 30, 2018; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado (28) celebrates his second home run of the game a solo home run in the seventh inning against the Washington Nationals at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports (Ron Chenoy)

Danny Abriano, SNY.tv | Twitter |

The relationship between Nolan Arenado and the Rockies could be irretrievably broken, with the star third baseman recently going public over his frustration with GM Jeff Bridich.

After Bridich said earlier this week that the team had listened to Arenado trade offers and planned to move forward with him on the team in 2020, Arenado shot back. And if Colorado again opens trade talks, the Cardinals and Rangers could be two of the strongest suitors for Arenado, Jon Morosi of MLB.com reported on Wednesday.

According to Morosi, the Rockies have informed interested teams that they would have to improve their 2020 big league team and acquire prospects in any deal for Arenado.

Tags: Dominic Smith, Pete Alonso, Danny Abriano
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Danny Abriano, SNY.tv | Twitter |

With the Mets' second managerial search of the offseason starting to wind down, three names have emerged, according to SNY's Andy Martino.

Barring a late entrant or unknown candidate, the race is down to internal options Luis Rojas, Hensley Meulens, and Tony DeFrancesco

Tags: Carlos Beltran, Danny Abriano
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Ronny Mauricio (Tom Priddy, Four Seam Images)
Ronny Mauricio (Tom Priddy, Four Seam Images)

As they do every year, Baseball America has released its new Top 100 prospects in the game list heading into the 2020 season. And two Mets have made the cut. 

Shortstop Ronny Mauricio and catcher Francisco Alvarez have come in at No. 66 and 67, respectively, on the list. 

The outlet already had Mauricio as its top prospect in the Mets organization, as the 18-year-old has shown tremendous progress in just two seasons of pro ball. He slashed .268/.307/.357 with four homers and 37 RBI over 116 games with Low-A Columbia last season. If he continues that growth, Mauricio has a chance to find himself in Double-A at some point this year. 

Tags: Robinson Cano, Ronny Mauricio, Scott Thompson
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Hensley Meulens (Treated Image by SNY)
Hensley Meulens (Treated Image by SNY)

The Mets' search for a new manager could be reaching its final stages.

According to SNY's Andy Martino, the Mets have narrowed the search down to three internal candidates: Luis Rojas, Hensley Meulens, and Tony DeFrancesco.

Martino notes that while there's a chance another candidate could still enter the mix, the Mets "see benefits of going internal."

Tags: Dominic Smith, Jeff McNeil, Pete Alonso
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Jun 15, 2016; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets catcher Rene Rivera (44) talks with New York Mets starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard (34) during ninth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Citi Field. The Mets defeated the Pirates 11-2. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Jun 15, 2016; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets catcher Rene Rivera (44) talks with New York Mets starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard (34) during ninth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Citi Field. The Mets defeated the Pirates 11-2. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

The Mets made a move to address their catching depth on Tuesday evening. 

According to USA Today's Bob Nightengale, the Mets are bringing back veteran Rene Rivera on a minor-league deal. Per Nightengale, the contract is worth $1 million, though there are $300,000 worth of incentives if he makes the big-league team.

Rivera, 36, has played parts of three seasons with the Mets. After beginning his Major League career with stops in Seattle, Minnesota, San Diego and Tampa Bay, Rivera joined the Mets in 2016, when he appeared in 65 games and hit .222 with six home runs and 26 RBI. He had previously had a stop with the Mets organization in 2009, but never played higher than Triple-A that season.

Tags: Rene Rivera
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May 28, 2016; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets former infielder Wally Backman is introduced to the crowd during a pregame ceremony honoring the 1986 World Series Championship team prior to the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports (Andy Marlin)
May 28, 2016; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets former infielder Wally Backman is introduced to the crowd during a pregame ceremony honoring the 1986 World Series Championship team prior to the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports (Andy Marlin)

Wally Backman, former Mets second baseman and currently the manager of the Long Island Ducks, was in court on Long Island on Tuesday for alleged criminal mischief and harassment.

Backman, 60, allegedly shoved his ex-girlfriend Amanda Byrnes into a wall and stopped her from calling police when the incident occurred in August.

According to the New York Post, Backman faces up to a year in prison if convicted.

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Mets OF Yoenis Cespedes
Mets OF Yoenis Cespedes

When the offseason began, the thought of Yoenis Cespedes contributing to the 2020 Mets was a pipe dream. Then he started hitting bombs. Then his contract was restructured to incentivize him making it back on the field. Then he started running.

Now, the idea that the 34-year-old Cespedes will trot out to left field in in the top of the first inning on March 26 against the Nationals at Citi Field before toting his lumber to the batter's box in the bottom of the first seems downright plausible.

Yes, Cespedes still needs to prove he can handle a full nine innings in left field. And yes, he still needs to get through the rest of the offseason without suffering any setbacks. But after roughly two seasons on the shelf, Yo is close. And his healthy return could have serious ripple effects on the 2020 Mets...

A very crowded situation in left field

In a world without a healthy Cespedes, the Mets would likely enter the 2020 season with J.D. Davis, Brandon Nimmo, and Michael Conforto as their starting outfielders from left to right.

Tags: Amed Rosario, Brandon Nimmo, JD Davis, Jeff McNeil, Michael Conforto, Robinson Cano, Wilson Ramos, Yoenis Cespedes, Danny Abriano
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Feb 15, 2019; Port St. Lucie, FL, USA; New York Mets quality control coach Luis Rojas (60) during spring training at First Data Field. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports (Steve Mitchell)
Feb 15, 2019; Port St. Lucie, FL, USA; New York Mets quality control coach Luis Rojas (60) during spring training at First Data Field. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports (Steve Mitchell)

The Mets remain "hopeful of choosing a manager within the next few days," SNY's Andy Martino reported on Tuesday, adding that he has still not heard of any external candidates being in the mix.

Still, while the names of serious external candidates haven't come out, Martino cautioned that it doesn't definitely mean there aren't any.

As the Mets continue their search for Carlos Beltran's replacement, with most of the buzz surrounding internal candidates such as Luis Rojas, the Astros have seemingly cast a much wider net.

Tags: Carlos Beltran, Danny Abriano
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Rockies 3B Nolan Arenado
Rockies 3B Nolan Arenado

The following are insights, ideas and notes gathered from recent conversations with team sources, rival executives, reporters, front office assistants and talent evaluators...


Nolan Arenado isn't happy

Arenado was set to become a free agent after 2019, but signed a long-term contract that he can opt out of after 2021. During negotiations, he was assured the Rockies would make additions and increase payroll to push for a deeper postseason run. So far, that hasn't happened. In fact, they took a step back -- finishing 71-91 in 2019 -- and are on pace to reduce payroll from last season to this season.

The buzz from Colorado is that Arenado is frustrated because the Rockies are not following through on their promise. At this point, it seems likely he'll opt out unless dealt to another team. The thing is, the acquiring team almost certainly has questions about how the opt out will be handled.

Tags: Amed Rosario, Brandon Nimmo, Curtis Granderson, Edwin Diaz, Giancarlo Stanton, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, Matthew Cerrone
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