The Kingsport Mets begin their season Thursday night in the Appalachian League. Kingsport, and the Appalachian League, occupies a funny spot spot in the baseball hierarchy as a short -season league with some guys straight out of college and some high school and international players in their second or third year as professionals. The play is ragged, more so than the New York-Penn League, but the players are a little stronger, and less raw then the complex leagues.

Catchers

15BROSHER, Brandon1R/R6'3"2252/17/95Spring Hill, FLGCL13/Mets/36th Round
4GARCIA, JoseS/R6'0"18511/3/94Estado Yaracuy, VenezuelaGCL11/Mets/NDFA
55LEAL, MiguelR/R6'0"1847/4/90Cabudare, VenzuelaDSL10/Mets/NDFA
The Mets went overslot to sign Brosher for $167,500 in the 36th round in 2013 (the slot for all picks below the 11th is $100,000). He didn't hit for average in his pro debut last summer, but he saw pitches and showed a little pop as part of a .180/.324/.344 line with 3 homers, 12 walks and 23 strikeouts in 22 games in the GCL. It's an interesting beginning to a profile, as he's listed at 6'3", which is about the maximum size to stay a viable defensive catcher.

Infielders

NO.INFIELDERS (9)YRSB/THTWTDOBRESIDENCE2013 CLUBDRAFT HISTORY
3CANELON, LeonR/R5'11"1509/10/91Baruisimeto, VenezuelaGCL10/Mets/NDFA
13GUILLORME, Luis1L/R5'10"1709/27/94Davie, FLGCL13/Mets/10th Round
5KAUPE, Branden2S/R5'7"1754/10/94Wailuka, HIGCL12/Mets/4th Round
34MATHIEU, Zach1R/R6'7"26511/25/91Derry, NHKingsport13/Mets/16th Round
21PEREZ, Pedro2R/R6'1"1908/31/94Cartagea, ColombiaKingsport10/Mets/NDFA
1RODRIGUEZ, Jean CarlosS/R6'0"1579/3/92Santo Domingo, DRGCL10/Mets/NDFA
24ORTEGA, LuisR/R5'10"1708/19/90Villa Gonzalez, Dominican RepublicDSL09/Mets/NDFA
44GARCIA, Eudor0R/R6'1"2155/17/94El Paso, TXEl Paso CC14/Mets/4th Round
- Luis Guillorme, selected las year is a slick defender and should play everyday at shortstop. He had a 1:1 strikeout to walk ration in the GCL last year 17 K/17 K as part of a .258/.330/.283 line in 41 games.

- Eudor Garcia is this year's 4th rounder out of El Paso CC. Baseball America's John Manuel called him "one of the best hitters in the draft," who "rakes."- I saw the best game of Pedro Perez's career when he homered twice on July 3, 2013. I stuck him at #40 on my preseason list, but repeating the Appalachian league where he .264/.314/./365 in 45 games last year is a poor sign.

- Branden Kaupe was a surprise as a fourth rounder two years ago, he began in Kingsport two years ago, and then went down the GCL last year where he hit just .214/.354/.214 in 41 games. Still just 20, it's about time for him for the little guy (5'7", 175 lbs) to show something in game action in his third year as a professional.

Outfielders

NO.OUTFIELDERS (5)B/THTWTDOBRESIDENCE2013 CLUBDRAFT HISTORY
2BECERRA, WuilmerR/R6'4"19010/1/94Caracas, VenezuelaGCL12/Toronto/NDFA
47CARABALLO, OswaldR/R6'2"1801/5/93Cuidad Bilivar, VenezuelaGCL10/Mets/NDFA
27LUPO, VicenteR/R6'0"18011/26/93Caracas, VenezuelaGCL10/Mets/NDFA
22WILSON, IvanR/R6'3"2205/26/95Ruston, LAGCL13/Mets/3rd Rd
This is the most fun unit.

- Wilson was last year's third round pick out of high school in Louisiana. He was a big, raw athlete who will play centerfield everyday. He walked a lot (12%), and struck out a ton (35%) in the GCL last year, with a .219/.321/.300 line with 8 extrabase hits in 47 games.

- Becerra came to the Mets with Travis d'Arnaud, Noah Syndergaard and John Buck for R.A. Dickey after signing with the Blue Jays for $1.3 million as an amateur. The Mets chose to take it slow with him after he played in just 11 games in 2012, when a pitch fractured his jaw, and sent him back to the GCL in 2013 where he hit .243/.351/.295 in 52 games.

Pitchers

ALMONTE, Gaby3R/R6'0"1858/15/92
ARIAS, Martires2R/R6'7"20711/10/90
CHURCH, Andrew1R/R6'2"19010/7/94
ESTEVEZ, Ramon2R/R6'0"16510/27/90
GONZALEZ, Yoan2L/L6'0"1858/12/95
MASSIE, Andrew2R/R6'1"170  1/27/94
MISSIGMAN, Craig3R/R6'4"1758/5/93
MONTGOMERY, Christian3R/R6'1"23011/20/92
NUEZ, Yoryi1R/R6'1"1532/13/93
RENGEL, Luis2R/R6'2"1832/7/95
REYES, Ruben1R/R6'4"1789/22/90
BUCHMANN, Connor0R/R6'1"1907/11/93
TIJERINA, Ismael3R/R6'0"1658/19/89
WILLIAMS, Ty1R/R6'2"1952/21/94
ROSEBOOM, David0L/L6'3"2155/17/92
BEELER, Bryce0R/R6'2"1803/9/93
DUFF, James0R/R6'6"20011/15/93
BLANK, Nicco0R/R5'9"16510/29/92
BLACKHAM, Matt0R/R5'11"1501/1/93
 

- This group is a little thin, but the name to watch is Andrew Church, who was the Mets' second-round pick in June 2013 out of high school in Nevada. He signed under slot for $850,000. At the time he was drafted, the Mets hoped that with a solid three-pitch mix and a fastball at 90-93, he could turn into a mid-rotation starter. I had Church ranked #28 on my preseason Mets Top 41.

- Connor Buchmann, this year's 11th round pick out of Oklahoma, is quite a project. He appeared in only five games for the Sooners this year, and in 12 innings, he allowed six hits, and 12 (!) walks to go with 11 strikeouts. He's not a big guy - listed at 6'1", 190 lbs - but he's a recent convert to pitching and throws 95 mph and even 98 mph in his back pocket according to his junior college coach at Howard College.

- There seems to be a discrepancy on multiple pitchers' ages: Yoan Gonzalez and Luis Rengel. The Mets media guide, and this roster list him with an August 1995 birthday, which would make him 18 years old at the moment. MiLB.com and all of the official MLB sources list Gonzalez with January 1991 birthday, which would make him 23 years old now. Rengel is listed on the roster as having a February 1995 birthday which would make him 18, but MiLB.com has him with a March 1990 birthday, making him 24. Given that he's already been pitching in the Mets' system for five years, there is no way he is 18.

- The Mets paid Montgomery $250,000 in the 11th round in 2011 when they went on a run of HS hurlers that included Robert Gsellm an in the 13th round. Montgomery missed almost all of last season when he was suspended 50 games (timed to start at the beginning of the Appalachian League season) for a second violation of the MiLB drug policy for a drug of abuse. He's thrown in just five games since he was drafted three years. It's time to get going, or move aside.

- Ismael Tijerina is making the conversion from infielder to pitcher full-time this year. He was a career .235/.317/.281 hitter between the VSL, Kingsport, Brooklyn, Savannah and Brooklyn. But hey, the 6'0" has a good arm, so even though he'll be 25 in August, maybe this will extend his life in professional baseball.

- There are five guys from late in the 2014 draft: David Roseboom (17th), Bryce Beeler (19th), James Duff (20th), Nicco Blank (25th), and Matt Blackham (29th).

Tags: Analysis, Toby Hyde

Call to the Majors: d'Arnaud 00:01:41
In the latest installment of Call to the Majors presented by Citi, Travis d'Arnaud recalls the day he was promoted to the Major Leagues.

The Mets and C Travis d'Arnaud avoided salary arbitration last week, agreeing to terms on a one-year, $1.8 million contract for this coming season. He is eligible for arbitration in 2018 and 2019, after which he can be a free agent.

D'Arnaud played in just 75 games during 2016, while hitting .247 with four home runs and 15 RBI. He missed time early in the season with a strained rotator cufff and was idle for almost a month.

Tags: Travis d'Arnaud
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New York Mets pitcher Jeurys Familia (Anthony Gruppuso/USA Today Sports Images)
New York Mets pitcher Jeurys Familia (Anthony Gruppuso/USA Today Sports Images)

Mets closer Jeurys Familia has not allowed a run during his last seven Dominican Winter League appearances, according to stats compiled by Michael Mayer.

Over seven innings, Familia has allowed four hits, walked one batter and struck out seven.

The Mets and Familia avoided salary arbitration last week by agreeing to terms on a one-year deal worth $7.425 million, reports James Wagner of the NY Times.

Tags: Jeurys Familia
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May 09, 2006; Mets closer (13) Billy Wagner talks with the media at Citizens Bank Park. Credit: Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE
May 09, 2006; Mets closer (13) Billy Wagner talks with the media at Citizens Bank Park. Credit: Howard Smith-US PRESSWIRE

Former Mets closer Billy Wagner is expected to fall short of getting in to the Hall of Fame when results of this year's voting are revealed tonight at 6 p.m. ET live on the MLB Network.

Wagner is in his second year on the ballot. He earned 46 votes (10.5 percent) last year, well short of the needed 75 percent, but double what was needed to remain on the ballot.

In 16 seasons, during which he pitched for the Astros, Mets, Phillies, Red Sox, and Braves, Wagner collected 422 saves with a 2.31 ERA and 1,196 strikeouts in 903 innings.

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Mar 9, 2016; DeGrom (48) delivers a pitch at Tradition Field. Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 9, 2016; DeGrom (48) delivers a pitch at Tradition Field. Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Mets RHP Jacob deGrom has been throwing for several weeks and expects to be on track for the start of Spring Training, he recently told Newsday's Steve Marcus.

"The plan is to be off the mound a couple of times before spring, then I think just a nice and easy introduction to a slope and then be ready to go when Spring Training is here," he added.

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

Tags: Jacob deGrom
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Mar 27, 2016; Wright (5) throws over to first base at Tradition Field. Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 27, 2016; Wright (5) throws over to first base at Tradition Field. Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Mets third baseman David Wright has started baseball activity in Virginia and the team hopes to see him ready for spring training, GM Sandy Alderson told reporters in early-January.

"We won't know until we get down [to Florida] and he shows up and tells us where he's at," manager Terry Collins recently said of Wright, according to MLB.com's Anthony DiComo. "David knows himself better than anybody, so if he feels he's ready to play games or, you know, when he's ready to get in the lineup, we're going to get him in there."

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

The Mets have the third-best starting rotation in baseball, an anonymous group of talent evaluators told ESPN.com's Buster Olney.

The Red Sox and Cubs rank higher than the Mets mostly because of the New York staff's inability to remain healthy and be on the field at the same time.

"They need to actually get out there and do it," one executive told Olney of the Mets. "It's one thing to have a great arm, but you have to show that you can give 180-200 innings."

Tags: Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz
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Collins (left) with Jose Reyes in the dugout at Chase Field. Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Collins (left) with Jose Reyes in the dugout at Chase Field. Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

In an effort to keep his team healthy and strong in 2017, Terry Collins told WLIE 540 AM that he plans to take a book out of Joe Maddon's 2016 playbook with the World Champion Cubs...

"The one thing we learned last year is that we've got to keep our guys healthy and one way to keep them healthy is to get them rest," Collins explained. "So, we're going to mix and match as best we can and give guys one, maybe two days a week off to keep them healthy."

Tags: Jose Reyes, Wilmer Flores
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Front-office officials and scouting personnel consider Mets prospect Amed Rosario to be among the best defensive shortstops in the minor leagues, according to a survey conducted by MLB.com's MLBPipeline.

"He has the potential to be an all-star shortstop with Gold Glove potential," Baseball America's Matt Eddy wrote in December. "The best athlete in the Mets system, Rosario stands out most for his glove work. ... He has the easy plus range and arm strength to profile as a true impact defender."

"The Mets have Asdrubal Cabrera under contract through 2017, meaning Rosario could be the organization's full-time shortstop at some point in 2018," Eddy concludes.

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Who will trade for Bruce? 00:04:19
Baseball Night in New York breaks down which teams are still in the running for Mets outfielder Jay Bruce.

In case you missed it, this past weekend...

The Blue Jays are reportedly close to re-signing free-agent OF Jose Bautista. Also, the Phillies and free-agent OF Michael Saunders have reportedly agreed to a one-year, $9 million.

CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury said the Phillies had shown interest in trading for Mets OF Jay Brucebut were reluctant to deal multiple prospects to get him.

Lastly, while the Cardinals are looking for a left-handed hitting outfielder, they want him to play all three outfield positions and upgrade their defense, according to Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com.

Tags: Jay Bruce
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May 6, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Marlins relief pitcher Craig Breslow (17) throws against the Philadelphia Phillies during the sixth inning at Marlins Park. The Marlins won 6-4. (Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports)
May 6, 2016; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Marlins relief pitcher Craig Breslow (17) throws against the Philadelphia Phillies during the sixth inning at Marlins Park. The Marlins won 6-4. (Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports)

The Mets and Yankees are among 12-20 teams that will watch lefty reliever Craig Breslow throw a showcase on Jan. 23, reports Peter Gammons. 

According to Gammons, Breslow, who was released by the Marlins last July, has worked on lowering his arm angle and improving his breaking pitch. 

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New York Mets first baseman Wilmer Flores takes a curtain call after hitting a three-run home run against the Washington Nationals during the fifth inning at Citi Field. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)
New York Mets first baseman Wilmer Flores takes a curtain call after hitting a three-run home run against the Washington Nationals during the fifth inning at Citi Field. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports Images)

The bullpen and starting pitching will be the key to success in 2017 for the Mets, infielder Wilmer Flores told SiriusXM's MLB Network Radio early Friday.

"When we got to the World Series in 2015, it's no secret that our pitching took us to the World Series," he told the hosts at 7:30 AM on route to his morning workout. "We're built on pitching and it's going to be healthy. ... So, it's going to be an interesting year."

Flores said he's proud of how the team fought through injuries to get to the Wild Card game in 2016. However, this season, he expects them to get back to the Fall Classic.

Tags: Wilmer Flores, Matthew Cerrone
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Jul 7, 2016; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets first baseman Wilmer Flores (4) watches his three run home run against the Washington Nationals during the fifth inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Jul 7, 2016; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets first baseman Wilmer Flores (4) watches his three run home run against the Washington Nationals during the fifth inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

Wilmer Flores and the Mets did not agree to a deal before Friday's arbitration deadline and the two sides will go to a hearing to determine his 2017 salary, the team announced.

Flores has filed at $2.2 million, while the Mets have offered $1.8 million, reports Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports.

The Mets changed their stance this offseason in regard to arbitration-eligilble players, and GM Sandy Alderson said Thursday that he had no issue going to a hearing to determine a new contract if an agreement could not be reached by the Jan. 13 deadline.

Tags: Wilmer Flores
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 (Kathy Willen/AP)
(Kathy Willen/AP)

The Mets will avoid arbitration with RHP Matt Harvey, agreeing to a deal worth $5.125 million that contains $100,000 in performance bonuses, reports James Wagner of the NY Times.

Harvey made $4.325 million last season.

He had a 4.86 ERA (3.47 FIP) and 1.46 WHIP with 76 strikeouts in 92 2/3 innings (17 starts) in 2016 before Thoracic outlet syndrome that resulted in surgery ended his season after his start on July 4.

Tags: Matt Harvey
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 (Frank Franklin II/AP)
(Frank Franklin II/AP)

The Mets will avoid arbitration with RHP Jacob deGrom, agreeing to terms on a one-year deal worth $4.05 million that includes performance bonuses, reports Adam Rubin of ESPN.

DeGrom, who made $607,000 last season, received a base salary that's the largest ever for a first-time abirtration-eligible starting pitcher who didn't qualify for the ERA title. 

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

DeGrom told reporters in early December that he planned to soon begin his offseason throwing program and be 100 percent healthy for spring training.

Tags: Jacob deGrom
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 (Bill Streicher)
(Bill Streicher)

The Mets will avoid arbitration with closer Jeurys Familia, agreeing to terms on a one-year deal worth $7.425 million, reports James Wagner of the NY Times.

Familia, 27, made $4.1 million last season.

He had a 2.55 ERA (2.39 FIP) and 1.21 WHIP with 84 strikeouts in 77 2/3 innings (78 appearances) while saving a team-record 51 games.

Tags: Jeurys Familia
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 (Anthony Gruppuso/USA Today Sports Images)
(Anthony Gruppuso/USA Today Sports Images)

The Mets will avoid arbitration with RH reliever Addison Reed, agreeing to terms on a one-year deal worth $7.75 million, according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports.

Reed, 28, made $5.3 million last season.

He had a 1.97 ERA and identical 1.97 FIP with a 0.94 WHIP while striking out 91 in 77 2/3 innings (80 games) in 2016. 

Tags: Addison Reed, Jeurys Familia
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 (Brad Barr/USA Today Sports Images)
(Brad Barr/USA Today Sports Images)

The Mets will avoid arbitration with LH reliever Josh Edgin, agreeing to terms on a one-year deal, according to Adam Rubin of ESPN.

The terms of the deal are not yet known.

Edgin, 30, made $625,000 last season, which was his first year back from Tommy John surgery.

Tags: Josh Edgin
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Mets pitchers Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom. (Jeff Curry/USATSI)
Mets pitchers Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom. (Jeff Curry/USATSI)

The Mets have not yet talked with their young starting pitchers about about multiyear-contract-extensions beyond their current deals, Mets GM Sandy Alderson told reporters during a lunch Thursday at Citi Field.

"I don't see it as a pressing issue," Alderson said, according to ESPN's Adam Rubin.

In late-December, Alderson made a similar statement, saying he had no plans to talk contract extensions prior to spring training.

Tags: Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz
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Sep 18, 2016; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets catcher Travis d'Arnaud (18) steps up to single to left during the sixth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports 
		 (Anthony Gruppuso)
Sep 18, 2016; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets catcher Travis d'Arnaud (18) steps up to single to left during the sixth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports (Anthony Gruppuso)

The Mets will avoid arbitration with C Travis d'Arnaud, agreeing to terms on a one-year deal, according to FanRag's MLB reporter Jon Heyman.

D'Arnaud, who earned the $524,000 league minimum in 2016, will earn $1.8 million next season.

He is eligible for arbitration in 2018 and 2019, after which he can be a free agent

Tags: Travis d'Arnaud
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 (Anthony Gruppuso)
(Anthony Gruppuso)

The Mets have avoided arbitration with 1B Lucas Duda, agreeing to terms on a one-year deal, the team announced Thursday.

The deal is worth $7.25 million, reports Jon Heyman of FanRag.

Duda, 30, hit .229 with a .302 OBP and .412 SLG with seven HR last season while being limited to just 47 games due to a back injury.

He hit .244 with a .352 OBP and .486 SLG with 27 HR in 135 games in 2015.

Tags: Lucas Duda, Zack Wheeler
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Aug 28, 2016; Flores (4) singles against the Phillies at Citi Field. Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports (Andy Marlin)
Aug 28, 2016; Flores (4) singles against the Phillies at Citi Field. Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports (Andy Marlin)

Mets infielder Wilmer Flores's favorite position to play is second base, he told SiriusXM's MLB Network Radio early Friday morning.

"I enjoyed playing first base too last season, it was a lot of fun," he added. "But, I'll do the job wherever they put me."

In 2016, Flores played 51 games at third base, 27 games at first base, 18 games at second base, and eight games at first base, while hitting .267 with 30 extra base hits and 49 RBI in just 307 at-bats.

Tags: Wilmer Flores
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Jul 27, 2016; NFamilia (27) reacts as he heads to the dugout at Citi Field. Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 27, 2016; NFamilia (27) reacts as he heads to the dugout at Citi Field. Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Latest Update...

Jan. 13 | 8:20AM

Sandy Alderson told reporters Thursday that he does not know when MLB will make a decision about whether to suspend Jeurys Familia, who he assumed will miss at least some period of time during the 2017 season (Rubin, Jan. 12).

Tags: Jeurys Familia, Matthew Cerrone
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Latest on Jay Bruce 00:05:04
Mets Hot Stove analyzes the Mets decision to either trade Jay Bruce or keep him on the roster.

During his lunch with reporters at Citi Field on Thursday, Mets GM Sandy Alderson said it's possible he begins spring training with all of his current outfielders, including Jay Bruce.

"Obviously the market for certain players, certain free agents and therefore trade candidates has been slow at best, nonexistent at worst," Alderson said, according to NJ.com. "What we continue to do is reassess where we are and what our options are going forward, and those options range from doing something soon, which is possible or was possible, is possible, or doing nothing."

Tags: Jay Bruce
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Mets 1B Lucas Duda, RHP Matt Harvey, C Travis d'Arnaud and RHP Jacob deGrom (Credit: USA Today Images)
Mets 1B Lucas Duda, RHP Matt Harvey, C Travis d'Arnaud and RHP Jacob deGrom (Credit: USA Today Images)

The deadline for teams and unsigned arbitration-eligible players to file salary figures is January 13, after which the final salary will be determined during an arbitration hearing.

The Mets intend to take a more strict position on their potential arbitration cases than they have in past, Newsday's Marc Carig reported Thursday.

According to Carig, if the two sides cannot agree by Friday's deadline, the Mets have no issue letting the situation play out in arbitration.

This year's remaining, unsigned arbitration-eligible players for the Mets are...

Tags: Jacob deGrom, Lucas Duda, Matt Harvey, Travis d'Arnaud
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 (Kim Klement)
(Kim Klement)

The Mets have signed LH reliever Adam Wilk to a minor league deal that includes an invite to major league Spring Training, reports Adam Rubin of ESPN.

Wilk, 29, last pitched in the majors in 2015, allowing one run in 2.0 innings for the Angels.

He has also pitched for the Tigers, appearing in five games in 2011 and three games in 2012.

Tags: Jerry Blevins
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Wally Backman speaks out 00:06:32
Baseball Night in New York looks into Wally Backman's recent negative comments about Mets general manager Sandy Alderson.

Mets GM Sandy Alderson said he hasn't been contacted by other teams about former Mets minor league manager Wally Backman, who recently told the Bergen Record's Bob Klapisch that he's being blackballed across Major League Baseball by Alderson.

Alderson, who said Backman is a "good baseball man," added that "Wally did a good job for us at Las Vegas. ...Nobody has called about Wally," according to Adam Rubin of ESPN.

Backman, 57, had been coaching within the Mets minor league system since 2009, most recently serving as manager for their Triple-A affiliate in Las Vegas from 2013-16. However, resigned from his role after last season in order to pursue other opportunities.

"It's not Sandy's nature" to be this vindictive, a non-Mets baseball executive told Klapisch...

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Yanks and Mets share Series odds 00:03:31
Baseball Night in New York wonders whether Las Vegas made the right call by giving the Yankees and Mets the exact same World Series odds.

The Mets currently sit at 13-to-1 odds to win the World Series in 2017, the same odds as the Yankees, according to information provided by the Venetian Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas...

The Yankees finished 84-78 during 2016, but missed the playoffs by five games. The Mets, on the other hand, went 87-75 last season to win the top Wild Card spot.

Tags: Michael Conforto, Travis d'Arnaud
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 (Steve Mitchell)
(Steve Mitchell)

The Mets will conclude their Spring Training game schedule on March 31 against Army at West Point, reports Adam Rubin of ESPN.

Mets pitchers and catchers will report to Spring Training in Port St. Lucie, FL on Feb. 12, with position players required to report by Feb. 17.

Their Grapefruit League schedule begins Friday, February 24 against the Red Sox in Fort Myers, FL.

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Sep 24, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants relief pitcher Sergio Romo (54) pitches during the tenth inning against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports (Jake Roth)
Sep 24, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants relief pitcher Sergio Romo (54) pitches during the tenth inning against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports (Jake Roth)

The Oakland A's and free-agent reliever Santiago Casilla have agreed on a two-year, $11 million deal that contains $3 million in incentives, according to multiple reports.

This is a lot of money for a 36-year-old right-handed reliever. So, if reports are accurate and the Mets are pinching pennies, then it makes sense to pass on him. That said, Casilla is the type of experienced pitcher the Mets say they have been looking for, and given their window to win and the need for bullpen help, it's disappointing to see them hold back.

Mets GM Sandy Alderson told reporters in December he would prefer to acquire a pitcher that can handle "high-leverage situations" and has experience closing games, even though the pitcher might not be considered a closer.

Tags: Oakland Athletics, Matthew Cerrone
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New York Mets starting pitcher Zack Wheeler (45) throws in the spring training baseball game against the Miami Marlins at Tradition Field. (Brad Barr)
New York Mets starting pitcher Zack Wheeler (45) throws in the spring training baseball game against the Miami Marlins at Tradition Field. (Brad Barr)

Zack Wheeler and the Mets avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $800,000 deal on Wednesday, the team announced. 

Wheeler underwent Tommy John surgery in March of 2015 and missed each of the past two years. The 26-year-old last pitched in 2014 when he had a 3.54 ERA and 1.32 WHIP while striking out 187 batters in 185 1/3 innings.

Tags: Zack Wheeler
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 (Reinhold Matay/USA Today Sports Images)
(Reinhold Matay/USA Today Sports Images)

The Mets have invited 13 minor leaguers to big league Spring Training, the team announced Wednesday.

Top 1B prospect Dominic Smith highlights the list.

The other invites are RHPs Chase BradfordKevin McGowanPaul SewaldCorey Taylor, and Logan Taylor, LHPs P.J. Conlon and David Roseboom, C Xorge Carrilllo, infielders Phillip Evans and Luis Guillorme, and outfielders Champ Stuart and Travis Taijeron.

Absent from the list is OF Tim Tebow, who signed with the Mets over the summer and played in the Arizona Fall League.

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Nov 3, 2016; Tebow with the Mets against the Glendale Desert Dogs during an Arizona Fall League game. Credit: USA TODAY Sports
Nov 3, 2016; Tebow with the Mets against the Glendale Desert Dogs during an Arizona Fall League game. Credit: USA TODAY Sports

Mets minor leaguer Tim Tebow considered sticking with football, but instead chose baseball to take on a new challenge, he told ESPN's 'First Take" on Tuesday.

"I wanted to do something I wanted to do, that would be fun for me, a challenge for me," Tebow told host Max Kellerman. "That's why I chose to pick up a baseball bat."

Tebow, who signed a $100,000 contract to join the Mets this past summer, hit .194 with a .296 OBP, no home runs, three doubles and 20 strikeouts in 19 games during October's Arizona Fall League.

"At a certain point, it's not about what other people want you to do it's about what you want to do," he reitterated to Kellerman, parroting a line he frequently used during his book tour last November. "It's your life, not everybody else's life. I could go play football at another position, but why settle. Life isn't about settling, life is about striving."

Tags: Tim Tebow
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New York Mets relief pitcher Jenrry Mejia (58) throws against the Miami Marlins during the spring training baseball game at Tradition Field in 2015. (Brad Barr)
New York Mets relief pitcher Jenrry Mejia (58) throws against the Miami Marlins during the spring training baseball game at Tradition Field in 2015. (Brad Barr)

Suspended relief pitcher Jenrry Mejia and the Mets went through the formality Tuesday of agreeing to a one-year contract worth $1,976,000, money he will not ever receive. 

Mejia was given a lifetime ban from baseball last Feb. 12 after his third positive test under the major league drug program. He remains on the Mets roster on the restricted list, and because he has four years of major league service he was eligible for salary arbitration. However, players serving drug suspensions do not get paid. 

Mejia's salary was cut the maximum 20 percent from his $2.47 million salary last year - money he also did not receive. 

Tags: Jenrry Mejia
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Will Jay Bruce ever be traded? 00:05:17
The Baseball Night in New York panel discusses the trade market for Jay Bruce and which teams he would fit the best with.

Mets GM Sandy Alderson is operating under a mandate not to spend on new players until he removes money currently on the payroll, according to the New York Post's Joel Sherman.

While Alderson is notorious for wanting to begin the season with budget space to make in-season deals, which he has done the past two years, I hope this is not accurate considering the organization is coming off back-to-back postseason appearances.

In either case, Alderson obviously wants to trade Jay Bruce and his $13 million salary for an established, high-leverage, right-handed relief pitcher, then use his remaining money to sign a left-handed reliever and any pitcher willing to accept a minor-league deal.

Tags: Jay Bruce, Baltimore Orioles, Matthew Cerrone
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