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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Pirates OF Starling Marte
Pirates OF Starling Marte

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


Jan 18, 7:44 PM: 

The Mets and Pirates have recently reopened trade talks, sources have told Robert Murray. However, no deal between the two sides appears to be imminent.

The Mets showed some interest in Marte back in December, but talks died down before New Year's Day.

Tags: Brandon Nimmo, Carlos Beltran, Michael Conforto, Danny Abriano
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Sep 17, 2019; Denver, CO, USA; New York Mets second baseman Joe Panik (2) hits a single in the eighth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports (Isaiah J. Downing)
Sep 17, 2019; Denver, CO, USA; New York Mets second baseman Joe Panik (2) hits a single in the eighth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports (Isaiah J. Downing)

After returning home to New York towards the end of last season, Joe Panik is now headed north of the border. The Hopewell Junction, N.Y., native and St. John's product has agreed to a deal with the Blue Jays, according to MLB.com's Jon Heyman.

Panik, 29, was released by the Giants in August after spending the first six seasons of his Major League career in San Francisco. He finished sixth in Rookie of the Year voting in 2014, was named an NL All-Star in 2015, but never fully developed into the player the Giants were hoping for when they drafted him in the first round in 2011. 

Panik slashed just .235/.310/.317 in 108 games with Giants last year, but was quickly signed by the Mets just two days after his release. He rebounded slightly with the change of scenery, finishing his 39-game stint in Queens with a .277/.333/.404 slash line.

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Oct 9, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker (12) in the dugout during the sixth inning in game three of the 2017 NLDS playoff baseball series against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports (Jerry Lai)
Oct 9, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker (12) in the dugout during the sixth inning in game three of the 2017 NLDS playoff baseball series against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports (Jerry Lai)

After mutually parting ways with Carlos Beltran, the Mets are searching for a new manager. Here's the latest...


Jan. 18, 11:00 AM:

In addition to being mentioned as a candidate for the Mets managerial job, Baker is also reportedly set to interview with the Astros on Monday, according to MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi. The Astros have pegged Feb. 3 as their target to hire a new manager, at which point they will focus on hiring a new general manager.

Tags: Carlos Beltran
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On Friday's Baseball Night in New York, SNY's John Harper and Anthony McCarron, along with Newsday's David Lennon, revealed their 2020 ballots for the Baseball Hall of Fame.

While Derek Jeter appears on all three ballots -- as he awaits to find out if he will join teammate Mariano Rivera as the only unanimous Hall of Famers - there were some notable differences between the three ballots, mainly due to baseball's steroid era.

The Hall of Fame class of 2020 will be announced on Tuesday, January 21. Here is a look at the complete ballot.

 

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Luis Rojas
Luis Rojas

After mutually parting ways with Carlos Beltran, the Mets are searching for a new manager. Here's the latest on candidate Luis Rojas ...


Jan. 17, 2020:

With the Mets now holding their second managerial search of the offseason, a couple of internal options have come up as possible replacements for Carlos Beltran.

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The Mets are in upheaval roughly three weeks before spring training starts as they search for a new manager to replace Carlos Beltran.

In his latest mailbag, Matthew Cerrone answers questions about the Beltran situation and more...


The elephant in the room -- and the overwhelming question asked of me -- has been about who I want the Mets to hire to replace Carlos Beltran.

In the wake of the Phillies hiring Joe Girardi, who was my top choice at the start of the offseason, I advocated for Eduardo Perez -- not Beltran. I still like Perez, who I think has a unique mix of relatable player experience, knowledge of stats and feel for the game, media savvy, professionalism, in-game management skills and a commanding presence on and off the field. He signed a new deal with ESPN that can be broken if he is offered a gig to run a team or dugout.

Tags: Carlos Beltran, Dellin Betances, Edwin Diaz, Seth Lugo, Matthew Cerrone
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Credit: Las Vegas Review-Journal YouTube
Credit: Las Vegas Review-Journal YouTube

Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |

No baseball team wants to find itself searching for a manager in late January, but that's where the Mets find themselves, after baseball's massive electronic cheating scandal swallowed Carlos Beltran.

The team did at least conduct an exhaustive search last October. The Mets will now lean on that work -- which began as two sets of lists on a white board in their offices, and continued on to include many in-person interviews -- as they try to make a quick but thoughtful decision on who should lead the club this year.

GM Brodie Van Wagenen declined comment on the process. Other indications are that the Mets would like to have a new manager by the end of next week.

Tags: Carlos Beltran, Andy Martino
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Eduardo Perez. Credit: ESPN on YouTube
Eduardo Perez. Credit: ESPN on YouTube

Speaking Thursday night during an appearance on ESPN, where he works as an analyst, Eduardo Perez spoke about the Carlos Beltran situation and said he had not yet heard from the Mets as they embark on their second manager search of the offseason.

"I have not heard from the New York Mets," Perez said. "I think they're gonna do their due diligence and move forward from this. And I can tell you this: from the interview process that I did go through in October through November, they did their due diligence. This just popped up and it looks like it did not work their way. But at least with me, they did do their due diligence."

The 50-year-old Perez, who was one of three finalists for the Mets manager job before it went to Beltran and could be a candidate again this time around, agreed with Beltran and the Mets parting ways.

Tags: Carlos Beltran, Danny Abriano
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Hensley Meulens (Treated Image by SNY)
Hensley Meulens (Treated Image by SNY)

As the dust settles after the Mets and manager Carlos Beltran mutually parted ways on Thursday, the team has started their second managerial search of the offseason, with GM Brodie Van Wagenen saying the team is considering internal and external candidates. 

Here are the odds for who the Mets will choose to replace Beltran, per betonline.ag.

Eduardo Perez: +300
Hensley Meulens: +350
Luis Rojas: +400
Tim Bogar: +400
Terry Collins: +700
Tony DeFrancesco: +700
Bruce Bochy: +900
Buck Showalter: +900
Dusty Baker: +900
John Gibbons: +1000
Kevin Long: +1200

Tags: Carlos Beltran, Danny Abriano
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May 12, 2018; Denver, CO, USA; Milwaukee Brewers bench coach Pat Murphy (59) looks on in the first inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports (Isaiah J. Downing)
May 12, 2018; Denver, CO, USA; Milwaukee Brewers bench coach Pat Murphy (59) looks on in the first inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports (Isaiah J. Downing)

The "sense among Brewers people" is that their current bench coach, Pat Murphy, would be an "ideal fit" for Mets manager, reports Robert Murray.

The 61-year-old Murphy's name first emerged when the Mets were beginning their third round of interviews that eventually led to the hiring of Carlos Beltran, with Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reporting at the time that Murphy had already had two interviews with the Mets for the job.

Since parting ways with Beltran on Thursday amidst the Astros sign-stealing scandal, Luis Rojas has come up as a potential candidate and Joe McEwing has thrown his hat in the ring. Other potential candidates could include bench coach Hensley Meulens.

Terry Collins is not expected to be in the mix, SNY's Andy Martino reported Thursday.

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Chicago White Sox third base coach Joe McEwing looks on against the Kansas City Royals at Surprise Stadium. (Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports)
Chicago White Sox third base coach Joe McEwing looks on against the Kansas City Royals at Surprise Stadium. (Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports)

The Mets announced on Thursday afternoon that team and Carlos Beltran have mutually parted ways, following Beltran's including in Major League Baseball's report on the Astros sign-stealing scandal.

So now the question becomes where to the Mets turn to find their next manager?

According to SNY's Andy Martino, Mets quality control coach Luis Rojas has come up as an internal candidate while early indications are that former manager Terry Collins will not be a candidate for the job.

Other candidates could include Eduardo Perez, a finalist for the job this past November, while SNY's John Harper believes the Mets should hire Buck Showalter

Tags: Carlos Beltran
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Jul 14, 2019; Miami, FL, USA; New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso (20) walks through the dugout after striking out in the sixth inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports (Jasen Vinlove)
Jul 14, 2019; Miami, FL, USA; New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso (20) walks through the dugout after striking out in the sixth inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports (Jasen Vinlove)

On Thursday, the Mets and Carlos Beltran mutually agreed to part ways, just a few days after the recently named Mets manager was named in MLB's report on the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal.

After the news broke, some of the Mets players took to social media to weigh in.

One of those players was first baseman Pete Alonso, who at just 25 years old has already begun to establish himself as a leader within the team clubhouse.

Tags: Carlos Beltran, Pete Alonso
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Carlos Beltran, a superb hitter and gifted outfielder, becomes eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2023. Time may dim the current furor over his prominent role in the Astros' sign-stealing scandal, but it's hard to imagine his candidacy won't be impacted by it. 

Is it enough to keep him out of Cooperstown? That's unknowable now. 

Maybe it sinks what some believe is a borderline case, or at least gives undecided voters pause. Some longtime voting members of the Baseball Writers Association of America I spoke to Thursday say they now consider the scheme part of the data that they must evaluate in Beltran's case.

But perhaps Beltran, a nine-time All-Star, was so good that all will be overlooked. One voter said Thursday said he won't view the star's candidacy any differently in light of the sign-stealing.  

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Buck Showalter
Buck Showalter

John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

So the Josh Donaldson domino finally fell on Tuesday night, and by landing in Minnesota it didn't tilt the balance of power in the NL East, after all. Or my offseason grades, for that matter.

Either the Nationals or the Braves could have separated themselves by signing -- or re-signing -- the power-hitting third baseman. Instead, there's not much to separate the work the four contenders did this offseason, and even the Marlins at least warrant a grade this time for spending a little dough to upgrade their roster.

Last season, the division was the toughest in the majors, producing the 97-win Braves, the World Series-winning Nationals, a Mets team that went 46-26 in the second half (falling just short of a wild-card berth), and the dangerous-but-flawed Phillies who faded down the stretch but at least finished at .500.

Tags: Carlos Beltran, John Harper
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Speaking Thursday after the Mets and manager Carlos Beltran mutually agreed to part ways, COO Jeff Wilpon and GM Brodie Van Wagenen went over the timeline of events and went into detail about the decision-making process that led to Beltran being out as manager.

Van Wagenen said the Mets were unaware of the sign-stealing situation with the Astros when Beltran was hired on Nov. 1 and that the organization first found out about the involvement of Beltran on Nov. 12 when the initial story in The Athletic was published.

At that time, the Mets deferred to MLB for them to lead the investigation.

Tags: Carlos Beltran, Danny Abriano
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Carlos Beltran (Treated Image by SNY)
Carlos Beltran (Treated Image by SNY)

Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |

As he did his work on the field in Port St. Lucie on Wednesday, charming fantasy campers and huddling with staff, Carlos Beltran carried around a sadness perceptible to others. His friends in the organization felt it, too -- bummed, perhaps angry, and in disbelief that a promising career was about to end before it started.

There was a path forward for the Mets and Beltran. He could have held a news conference to apologize for his role in the historic Houston Astros cheating scandal. The team could have noted that Beltran was a player in 2017 -- not a team official like GM Jeff Luhnow, manager A.J. Hinch, and bench coach Alex Cora.

The only development that would have made it truly necessary to fire Beltran would have been if he lied to the team. But, according to the Mets' statement, " We believe that Carlos was honest and forthcoming with us. "

Tags: Dellin Betances, Andy Martino
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Hensley Meulens (Treated Image by SNY)
Hensley Meulens (Treated Image by SNY)

With the Mets and Carlos Beltran mutually parting ways amidst the fallout from the sign-stealing scandal that also claimed Astros manager A.J. Hinch and Red Sox manager Alex Cora, the question now becomes who his replacement will be.

Here are four potential candidates...

 

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With the Mets and Carlos Beltran mutually agreeing to part ways on Thursday, they will immediately begin their search for his replacement. 

One candidate could be quality control coach Luis Rojas, who has come up internally, SNY's Andy Martino reported.

The 38-year-old Rojas is well-liked in the organization and was a candidate for the job that ultimately went to Beltran. He began his tenure with the Mets in 2006 and has worked his way through the ranks, managing at multiple levels of the minors and eventually becoming the Mets' quality control coach. 

Aside from Rojas, former manager Terry Collins (currently working as an advisor to GM Brodie Van Wagenen) and bench coach Hensley Meulens could also be among the candidates.

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Carlos Beltran (Treated Image by SNY)
Carlos Beltran (Treated Image by SNY)

Carlos Beltran and the Mets have agreed to mutually part ways, sources tell SNY's Andy Martino. The Mets later confirmed the news.

The 42-year-old Beltran, who was hired in November, had been in Port St. Lucie preparing for the 2020 season as the Astros sign-stealing scandal investigation was wrapped up by MLB.

Beltran was the only player mentioned in MLB commissioner Rob Manfred's report that was released on Monday and focused on the Astros and Red Sox.

Tags: Carlos Beltran, Danny Abriano
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Speaking Thursday outside the Mets' spring training complex in Port St. Lucie after having a street named after him, Mets legend Mike Piazza spoke about the electronic sign-stealing scandal that has led to the firing of Astros manager A.J. Hinch and Red Sox manager Alex Cora.

The Mets have not yet officially determined the fate of manager Carlos Beltran, who was the only player named in MLB commissioner Rob Manfred's report on sign-stealing that was released Monday.

"We won't be using any cameras to steal signs," Mike Piazza said with a laugh about Team Italy, who he is manager of. "But we will have a lot of pasta and coffee in the dugout. No cameras, just pasta."

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Mets legend and baseball Hall-of-Famer Mike Piazza was honored Thursday when the street outside the Mets' spring training home in Port St. Lucie, FL. was named "31 Piazza Drive."

While accepting the honor, Piazza became emotional when talking about his father, Vince, who Piazza said is not doing well health-wise.

Click below to watch...

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The Mets are honoring Hall of Fame C Mike Piazza by renaming the address of the Mets Spring Training facility in Port St. Lucie to 31 Piazza Dr. on Thursday. 

"I am extremely excited that the Mets Spring Training home address and street name will be renamed in my honor," Piazza said in an official statement. "Port St. Lucie will always hold a special place in my career as the place where I prepared for some of my most memorable seasons, with teammates, staff and of course fans. Florida has been my home for the past thirty years so it's great tribute for my family and for future generations. I am truly touched and blessed."

While accepting the honor, Piazza was emotional as he explained how he would love for his father to see the ceremony, but he couldn't make it. He also learned that St. Lucie was from Sicily, which is where Piazza's family is from as well, so it was a full circle moment for him. 

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Oct 23, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Houston Astros designated hitter Carlos Beltran (15) talks to players during batting practice one day prior to game one of the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports)
Oct 23, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Houston Astros designated hitter Carlos Beltran (15) talks to players during batting practice one day prior to game one of the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. (Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports)

With the Mets not having yet publicly disclosed how they plan to proceed with manager Carlos Beltran in the wake of the Astros sign-stealing scandal that has swallowed up two other managers, Houston has started its search to replace A.J. Hinch.

The Astros, who fired Hinch and GM Jeff Luhnow on Monday shortly after Rob Manfred suspended both of them for the 2020 season, have interviewed John Gibbons and Buck Showalter (per The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal) as they look for a replacement. 

The Red Sox, who fired manager Alex Cora -- who was the Astros' bench coach in 2017 and helped devise the electronic sign-stealing operation) are also at the beginning of their managerial search, chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said on Tuesday.

Tags: Carlos Beltran, Danny Abriano
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Feb 23, 2019; Port St. Lucie, FL, USA; A general view at First Data Field prior to the game between the New York Mets and the Atlanta Braves. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports (Jasen Vinlove)
Feb 23, 2019; Port St. Lucie, FL, USA; A general view at First Data Field prior to the game between the New York Mets and the Atlanta Braves. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports (Jasen Vinlove)

Eighteen-year-old Mets prospect Francisco Alvarez has been named the No. 5 catching prospect in Major League Baseball by MLB Pipeline.

Alvarez, who had an explosive professional debut in 2019 as a 17-year-old after signing with the Mets in July of 2018 for $2.9 million as an international free agent, could be a consensus top 100 prospect in baseball by the middle of this season.

He made Baseball America's Top 100 prospects list in September.

On MLB Pipeline's new top 10 catching prospects list, Alvarez is behind only Adley Rutschman of the Orioles, Joey Bart of the Giants, Sean Murphy of the Athletics, and Luis Campusano of the Padres.

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A day after the Red Sox parted ways with Alex Cora as their manager, Mets fans are still waiting to see how all of this fallout from the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal will affect Carlos Beltran.

As of Wednesday evening, the Mets have yet to address the situation. Beltran was the only Astros player named in the MLB report, though it was "a group of players, including Carlos Beltran" who discussed that the team could "improve on decoding opposing teams' signs," per the MLB report.

SNY's Andy Martino has reported that no decision on Beltran's future will come on Wednesday.

Tags: Carlos Beltran
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John Harper, SNY.tv | Twitter |

So the Josh Donaldson domino finally fell on Tuesday night, and by landing in Minnesota it didn't tilt the balance of power in the NL East, after all. Or my offseason grades, for that matter.

Either the Nationals or the Braves could have separated themselves by signing -- or re-signing -- the power-hitting third baseman. Instead, there's not much to separate the work the four contenders did this offseason, and even the Marlins at least warrant a grade this time for spending a little dough to upgrade their roster.

Last season, the division was the toughest in the majors, producing the 97-win Braves, the World Series-winning Nationals, a Mets team that went 46-26 in the second half (falling just short of a wild-card berth), and the dangerous-but-flawed Phillies who faded down the stretch but at least finished at .500.

Tags: Dellin Betances, Didi Gregorius, Edwin Diaz, Jeurys Familia, Seth Lugo, Starlin Castro, Travis d'Arnaud, Wilson Ramos, Zack Wheeler, John Harper
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On Wednesday, Steve Gelbs made his debut as a panelist on The Thread.

Gelbs, who joins Gary Cohen, Ron Darling, and Keith Hernandez for each Mets broadcast on SNY, was in the studio to relive some of his best moments from covering the team. 

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 (Brett Davis)
(Brett Davis)

The biggest name left on baseball's free agent market appears to have found a new home, and it's nowhere in the NL East.

Josh Donaldson, who had a resurgent 2019 season with the Braves, is heading to the Minnesota Twins on a four-year deal worth $92 million, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Mark Feinsand of MLB.com broke the news that Donaldson had agreed with Minnesota.

Donaldson, 34, slashed .259/.379/.521 with 37 home runs and 94 RBI, finishing 11th in NL MVP voting. After an injury-riddled 2018 season with the Blue Jays and Indians, Donaldson signed a one-year "prove it" deal with the Braves, and it certainly paid off. 

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On Monday, news of Major League Baseball's report on the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal sent shock waves throughout the game, as Astros manager AJ Hinch and GM Jeff Luhnow were suspended for a year, and then subsequently fired by team owner Jim Crane. The team also had to forfeit future first and second round picks, and $5 million.

On Tuesday night, the Boston Red Sox announced that they have parted ways with manager Alex Cora, due to his involvement with the situation.

All of this may have Met fans wondering if anything further will happen to Carlos Beltran, who was also named in the report, but as a player and not a coach.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said on Monday that no players had been suspended based on the league's findings, saying that while a "group of players, including Carlos Beltran, discussed that the team could improve on decoding opposing teams' signs and communicating the signs to the batter," the league would not "assess discipline on individual Astros players."

Tags: Carlos Beltran
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 (Adam Hunger)
(Adam Hunger)

As the offseason winds down and spring training is just weeks away, Jeff McNeil has his sights set on the Mets making a big jump into the postseason in 2020.

McNeil, who had an extremely efficient season in 2019 with slashes of .318/.384/.531 that came with 23 home runs and 75 RBI, believes the team has the right personnel to make a run.

"I think we have really high expectations," McNeil said on SiriusXM's PGA Tour Radio with Michael Breed. "I expect to make the playoffs, you now, we came up a little short last year but I expect to make the playoffs. We got the pitching staff to do it. We got the best pitcher in baseball in [Jacob] deGrom. We got Pete [Alonso]. We've got a bunch of young guys, we've got a good mix of young guys and veterans, so I think we're just going to build off what we did last year. We had a good second half, I think we had one of the best records in baseball in the second half, so just kind of build on that and hopefully, you know, once we get in the playoffs anything can happen, especially with our pitching staff with deGrom, [Noah] Syndergaard, it's a pretty good top of the rotation. Basically we just have to get to the playoffs and go from there."

Tags: Jacob deGrom, Jeff McNeil, Noah Syndergaard, Pete Alonso
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Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen
Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen

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

Adding a reliever...

There seems to be a decent market for less-exciting, affordable relievers Pedro Strop and Collin McHugh. Other than that, no one I know seems to think there's much urgency in the market to sign relievers at any level until later in the month.

I still think the Mets need one more arm, even if just for depth.

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Sep 30, 2018; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado (28) takes a bases on balls walk in the eighth 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) takes a bases on balls walk in the eighth inning against the Washington Nationals at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports (Ron Chenoy)

Talks between the Rockies and Cardinals revolving around Nolan Arenado have "advanced beyond a preliminary stage," reports Jon Morosi of MLB.com.

According to Morosi, the Rockies are "insisting" on a package that includes both big league and minor league talent.

Specifically, Morosi says Colorado has interest in Cardinals starting pitcher Dakota Hudson and are expected to ask for at least one of the Cardinals' top four prospects.

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Sep 20, 2019; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora (20) at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)
Sep 20, 2019; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Boston Red Sox manager Alex Cora (20) at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports (Kim Klement)

With Red Sox manager Alex Cora embroiled in the Astros' sign-stealing scandal and facing potentially harsh discipline from commissioner Rob Manfred for his role helping Houston and Boston electronically steal signs, Mets right-hander Marcus Stroman is calling him out for his seeming hypocrisy. 

In May of this past season, Cora had harsh words for Stroman (then with the Blue Jays) for the methods he employed while he pitched and how he acted on the mound against the Red Sox.

"I was telling (the home plate umpire), if he's going to get on our guys, get on him," Cora said. "It's the same thing with him every day. He competes a certain way and people don't like it. It seems like whenever a team comes in, somebody screams at him. I don't know, that's the way he acts."

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MLB came down hard on the now-fired duo of Astros manager A.J. Hinch and GM Jeff Luhnow on Monday, suspending both of them for one season as part of their involvement in Houston's sign-stealing scandal.

Despite being named in MLB's report, Mets manager Carlos Beltran -- who was a player with the Astros in 2017 when their scheme was ongoing -- will not be suspended.

SNY's Andy Martino reported on Jan. 7 that as Major League Baseball entered the final stages of its investigation, "all indications" were that Beltran would not be suspended.

Tags: Carlos Beltran, Danny Abriano
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Sep 15, 2018; Boston, MA, USA; New York Mets right fielder Brandon Nimmo (9) rounds the bases after hitting a three run home run during the fourth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports (Bob DeChiara)
Sep 15, 2018; Boston, MA, USA; New York Mets right fielder Brandon Nimmo (9) rounds the bases after hitting a three run home run during the fourth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports (Bob DeChiara)

Brandon Nimmo missed a large chunk of the 2019 season due to a neck injury, but that didn't stop him from being recognized as one of the best center fielders in baseball, according to MLB Network's rankings.

Nimmo, who checked in at No. 9 on the list, struggled early last season due in part to attempting to play through his neck injury. After returning in September, he hit .261/.430/.565 in 26 games.

The above numbers improved upon what Nimmo did in 2018, when he slashed 263/.404/.483 and was worth 4.5 fWAR during what was his first full season in the majors.

Tags: Brandon Nimmo, Danny Abriano
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Syracuse Mets left fielder Tim Tebow reacts after striking out during the fourth inning against the Buffalo Bisons at NBT Bank Stadium. (Gregory Fisher/USA TODAY Sports)
Syracuse Mets left fielder Tim Tebow reacts after striking out during the fourth inning against the Buffalo Bisons at NBT Bank Stadium. (Gregory Fisher/USA TODAY Sports)

Tim Tebow's big league dream was already a wild long-shot before he stalled out in Triple-A in 2019, when he hit just .163/.240/.255 in 77 games.

Still, as has been the case since joining the Mets, Tebow will be at big league spring training.

Asked what kind of advice he would give Tebow as he continues to play baseball, Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun had the following to say to TMZ Sports.

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Jun 9, 2018; New York City, NY, USA; Former New York Mets catcher Mike Piazza gestures after throwing out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the game against the New York Yankees at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports (Gregory Fisher)
Jun 9, 2018; New York City, NY, USA; Former New York Mets catcher Mike Piazza gestures after throwing out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the game against the New York Yankees at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports (Gregory Fisher)

The Mets, the City of Port St. Lucie, St. Lucie County, and Mike Piazza will be on hand for a "major announcement regarding an address change and street naming" on Thursday, it was announced by the team on Monday.

Specifically, the address of their spring training home in Port St. Lucie will be changed to honor Piazza.

Mets COO Jeff Wilpon will be attending along with Piazza and local elected officials.

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Sep 26, 2019; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants center fielder Kevin Pillar (1) comes home to score from third base in the eighth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Oracle Park. Mandatory Credit: Cody Glenn-USA TODAY Sports (Cody Glenn)
Sep 26, 2019; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants center fielder Kevin Pillar (1) comes home to score from third base in the eighth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Oracle Park. Mandatory Credit: Cody Glenn-USA TODAY Sports (Cody Glenn)

Center fielder Kevin Pillar is still a free agent, and Mets right-hander Marcus Stroman made it clear over the weekend that he misses his former teammate and the prowess he possessed behind him in center field.

In exchanges Sunday on Twitter (that started with Pillar kind of recreating a workout Stroman carried out with a glass of wine on his back), the two went back and forth, including the below from Stroman:

"Haha my brother! Love that! Tell the family I said whatup. You've always been a beast in the weight room KP. Your better years are still ahead of you. Miss having you behind me catching everything!"

Tags: Brandon Nimmo, JD Davis, Michael Conforto, Danny Abriano
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Sep 24, 2019; San Francisco, CA, USA; Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado (28) reacts after striking out against the San Francisco Giants in the third inning at Oracle Park. Mandatory Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports (John Hefti)
Sep 24, 2019; San Francisco, CA, USA; Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado (28) reacts after striking out against the San Francisco Giants in the third inning at Oracle Park. Mandatory Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports (John Hefti)

If the Mets want to make a trade for Nolan Arenado, they better act fast.

The St. Louis Cardinals have emerged as a suitor for the Colorado Rockies third baseman, according to a Sunday evening report from Jon Morosi of MLB Network and MLB.com.

Arenado has drawn interest from the Cardinals over recent days, and the Rockies have conducted "preliminary" negotiations on a trade with St. Louis for Colorado's five-time All-Star, according to Morosi.

Tags: Amed Rosario, Jeff McNeil, Pete Alonso
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Aug 30, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Mets third baseman Todd Frazier (21) watches the flight of his three run home run in the eighth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports (James Lang)
Aug 30, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Mets third baseman Todd Frazier (21) watches the flight of his three run home run in the eighth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports (James Lang)

Former Mets INF Todd Frazier will be heading to Texas, as Dallas News' Evan Grant reports he has agreed to terms with the Rangers. The deal, which is still pending a physical, is worth $5 million over one year, per The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal

Frazier was a free agent this summer after completing his two-year, $17 million contract with the Mets. Due to J.D. Davis' emergence last season and Jeff McNeil remaining consistent, bringing back Frazier in 2020 wasn't a necessity. And there's the obvious Pete Alonso presence at first base that wouldn't have Frazier shift across the offense anyway. 

The Rangers, on the other hand, were in desperate need of a third baseman -- and they still may be looking elsewhere for a more permanent option at the position given Frazier's age. Nolan Arenado has been someone they've been linked with, and there were rumors of a trade for Miguel Andujar with the Yankees as well.  

Tags: Todd Frazier
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 (Wendell Cruz)
(Wendell Cruz)

How do you top winning Rookie of the Year, setting the rookie record for home runs, winning the Home Run Derby, and becoming one of the most popular players in the league and doing it all in New York?

This is the question facing Pete Alonso as he prepares for his second big-league season.

In what was a historic season for him in 2019, Alonso hit .260 with a .358 OBP, 53 home runs and 120 RBI. He also exceeded expectations in the field, which was the main concern hanging over him in the minor leagues.

Tags: Pete Alonso, Matthew Cerrone
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Aug 4, 2019; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Yefry Ramirez (70) pitches against the New York Mets during the fourth inning at PNC Park. The Mets won 13-2. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports (Charles LeClaire)
Aug 4, 2019; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Yefry Ramirez (70) pitches against the New York Mets during the fourth inning at PNC Park. The Mets won 13-2. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports (Charles LeClaire)

Former Yankees pitching prospect Yefry Ramirez has signed with the Mets, according to a report from MLB.com's Matt Kardos

Ramirez made his debut in 2018 for the Orioles and stayed in Baltimore until May of the 2019 season, when he was traded to the Pirates. The 26-year-old has a 1-10 record with a 6.32 ERA and 89 strikeouts.

It took quite some time for the RHP to make his way up the ranks after being signed by the Diamondbacks as an international free agent in 2011. 

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Mets shortstop Amed Rosario
Mets shortstop Amed Rosario

Following his second full season as the Mets primary shortstop, Amed Rosario knows he still has some work to do on defense. Which is why, according to The Daily News, he's enlisted the help of defensive guru Perry Hill.

Rosario said he's spent the offseason with Hill -- currently serving as the Mariners' first base and infield coach -- in Tampa to see what he can do to become a more dependable infielder.

"I started working on different defensive points where I can improve my game," Rosario said. "I feel pretty comfortable with it."

Tags: Amed Rosario
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On Friday, the Mets agreed to deals with all of their arbitration-eligible players, including starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard, who agreed to a $9.7 million deal.

At times, Syndergaard's long-term future with the Mets has seemingly been in question, but SNY's Andy Martino said on The Thread Friday, that the Mets have a lot of moving pieces right now, making it hard to predict what the future will hold for the right-hander.

Tags: Noah Syndergaard
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Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen
Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen

Spring Training is just around the corner, but there are still lots of questions when it comes to the 2020 Mets...


The Mets bullpen is still riddled with 'what ifs.' Any chance they sign another major league reliever to fortify it a bit? ~ Vas Drimalitis on Twitter)

It's difficult to answer this not knowing their available budget. That said, if looking to spend as little money possible for the most experience, I can see them targeting someone like Alex Wood, Pedro Strop or Brandon Kintzler, all of whom can be had for one year and less than $8 million. Strop is the definition of the up-and-down reliever.

However, through it all, he's always had a good strikeout- and ground-ball rate. He'll be 34 and there's no reason based on his numbers and history to think he can't rebound in 2020 and become one helluva bargain. The same can essentially be said about Kintzler.

Tags: Pete Alonso, Matthew Cerrone
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Sep 27, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Marcus Stroman (7) goes to the dugout after giving up two runs to the Atlanta Braves in the first inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
		
		 (Noah K. Murray)
Sep 27, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Marcus Stroman (7) goes to the dugout after giving up two runs to the Atlanta Braves in the first inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

Friday is the deadline for teams and arbitration-eligible players to come to terms on a contract for the 2020 season.

For the Mets, Marcus StromanNoah SyndergaardMichael ConfortoEdwin DiazSteven MatzSeth LugoBrandon Nimmo, Robert Gsellman, and Jake Marisnick are the players eligible for arbitration. All were tendered contracts earlier this offseason.

If a player and team are unable to come to terms, their salary will be set during an arbitration hearing later this offseason.

Tags: Brandon Nimmo, Michael Conforto, Noah Syndergaard, Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo, Steven Matz, Danny Abriano
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Feb 21, 2019; Port St. Lucie, FL, USA; New York Mets pitcher David Peterson (77) poses for a photo on photo day at First Data Field. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports (Jasen Vinlove)
Feb 21, 2019; Port St. Lucie, FL, USA; New York Mets pitcher David Peterson (77) poses for a photo on photo day at First Data Field. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports (Jasen Vinlove)

The Mets announced Thursday that 15 non 40-man roster players will be invited to participate in big league spring training. Some of the players are new to the organization, such as 2011 Rays first round pick Jake Hager, and a few others with some big-league experience in RHP Pedro Payano and OF Ryan Cordell, who I believe will provide some necessary depth in Triple-A Syracuse.

The Mets also invited some prospects to spring training that I think you should keep an eye on since they have a good shot of contributing in the majors in 2020.

Five of the prospects to watch are highlighted below...

Tags: David Peterson, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz
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Feb 26, 2019; Port St. Lucie, FL, USA; A general view as New York Mets designated hitter Brandon Nimmo (9) bats against the Detroit Tigers in the second inning of the spring training game at First Data Field. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports (Jasen Vinlove)
Feb 26, 2019; Port St. Lucie, FL, USA; A general view as New York Mets designated hitter Brandon Nimmo (9) bats against the Detroit Tigers in the second inning of the spring training game at First Data Field. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports (Jasen Vinlove)

Robert Dominguez, the 18-year-old right-handed pitcher whose fastball already tops out at 99 mph, is ranked No. 17 on the Mets' Top 31 prospects list that was released by FanGraphs on Friday.

Dominguez, who was signed out of Venezuela this past July, also already has a plus curveball to go along with a developing changeup.

"He's only thrown a handful of times since the velo spike and not even all of the Mets upper level decision makers have seen him yet, but the talent level is on par with a compensation or second round pick," FanGraphs wrote in their scouting report. "There's just significantly more uncertainty and less track record than even later-developing players taken in that range, like Josh Wolf."

Tags: Andres Gimenez, Franklyn Kilome, Mark Vientos, Ronny Mauricio, Thomas Szapucki, Danny Abriano
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Feb 23, 2019; Port St. Lucie, FL, USA; A general view at First Data Field prior to the game between the New York Mets and the Atlanta Braves. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports (Jasen Vinlove)
Feb 23, 2019; Port St. Lucie, FL, USA; A general view at First Data Field prior to the game between the New York Mets and the Atlanta Braves. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports (Jasen Vinlove)

The St. Lucie Mets announced their field staff for the upcoming 2020 season, most notably adding Endy Chavez as their bench coach.

Chavez, who played 13 years in the MLB and three with the Mets, will become the first bench coach for St. Lucie. He most recently served as a coach with the Class A-short season Brooklyn Cyclones last season.

St. Lucie also added another newcomer to its staff in Royce Ring, who will be the team's new pitching coach.

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