Ben asks:

Does the Vegas deal change Alderson's and DePodesto's strategy in regards to Wheeler?

 

Peter writes:

In theory I agree with you that it doesn't matter that Vegas is a hitters park, but doesn't it say something that both the Dodgers and Blue Jays kept their top pitching prospects out of there.
Even though I might actually go to a game in Vegas, I think it stinks for the Mets.  In fact in some ways it's worse than New Orleans.  I don't understand why the Mets don't get an East Coast AAA team.  The Wilpons need to find a way to make this happen.  I have read all your columns, but at the end of the day do you really believe that it's good for the Mets to be in Vegas (and by the way, I don't think it was that great for the Mets to be in Buffalo.)
Ben's question first.
No, the Mets' AAA team moving to Las Vegas should have no effect on the team's strategy in regards to Wheeler. Remember that the team has all but promised that Wheeler will start 2013 in AAA.
First of all, there does not appear to be a whole lot of room in the starting rotation to start 2013. The Mets should have the following pitchers penciled into the 2013 rotation: Jon Niese, Matt Harvey, Johan Santana, R.A. Dickey (as long as his option is picked up and of course it will be), and Dillon Gee (as long as he's healthy). Mike Pelfrey is arbitration eligible, Jenrry Mejia has another chance to impress the brass this year. Starting Wheeler in AAA for a month and a half would avoid potential super-two arbitration status after his second big league season, and potentially save the Mets $10 million or more over the course of his arbitration cases.
Second, there is Wheeler's big league readiness. Yes, he is the Mets' best prospect, and one of the best pitching prospects in baseball. His fastball is electric. Both his slider and his curveball have plus potential. However, his command is not major league ready yet. He is the precise kind of prospect who needs AAA. He succeeded in AA (3.26 ERA) despite a walk rate of 9.1% (NL average is 8.1%) because AA hitters could not lay off his stuff out of the zone, nor do damage against him when he was in the strike zone. In AAA, these command issues manifested themselves with a walk rate that climbed to 12% and two homers allowed in six starts, compared to two homers allowed in 19 AA starts. His command might never be great, but it is the primary thing standing between Wheeler and not just big league success, but big league excellence right now.
Peter's question second. No, I don't think it's good for the Mets to be in Vegas. It will be a logistical headache. Moving players from the mountain time zone or the west coast to the east coast where the Mets play the majority of their games will be a real pain in the ass. Moving players from AA to AAA will also be a pain. It will be difficult to move players from AA to AAA to make spot starts as the Mets were able to do with Buffalo and Binghamton a drive apart. It will be a lot of extra travel for the Mets' player development staff.
As far as moving their AAA back into the Eastern Time Zone, sure, the Mets would prefer to be in the International League, but they need a partner. That helps explain why the Mets only signed a two year PDC with the 51s. There will be more options after the 2014 season, when AAA teams in Charlotte (Chicago - AL), Durham (TB), Indianapolis (Pit), Louisville (Cin), Norfolk (Bal), Rochester (Min) and Syracuse (Was) all have expiring PDCs. Now, to be clear, there are some very strong relationships in that list, including Durham and Indianapolis and teams that presumably would not be interested in the Mets like Norfolk.
Buying a AAA franchise outright costs in the range of $22-25 million dollars, a number the Mets seem unlikely to spend to secure an International League affiliate. The Mets could take a minority stake in one of the International League teams, but none, to my knowledge, are itching to sell at the moment.
Tags: Mailbag, Zack Wheeler, Toby Hyde

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

Dec 6 | 8:00 AM

While FoxSports.com's Ken Rosenthal reported on Dec. 5 that the Orioles have expressed interest in Mets outfielders Jay Bruce and Curtis Granderson, "there doesn't appear to be much traction, according to MASN's Roch Kubatko.

The Mets, according to Kubatko, are unwilling to pay any portion of Granderson's $15 million salary, and the O's are not looking to take on payroll this winter. Last week, MetsBlog's Matthew Cerrone said the Orioles have more than one low-cost reliever to deal, and while they like Bruce, they prefer Granderson.

Tags: Curtis Granderson, Jay Bruce
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In this week's second episode, Robert Brender does his best to convince MetsBlog's Matthew Cerrone that the Mets should trade Michael Conforto for Pirates OF Andrew McCutchen.

Later in the show, Cerrone and Brender discuss Monday's news and rumors from D.C., including more on Jay Bruce and Curtis Granderson, O's reliever Brad Brach, and if the Mets should trade with the Royals.

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Alderson answers fans' questions 00:05:56
Mets general manager Sandy Alderson answers fan-submitted questions on Mets Hot Stove.

New York Mets GM Sandy Alderson talks David Wright's health, Jose Reyes' position in the lineup and what he thinks of Travis d'Arnaud when he answers fan-submitted questions on Mets Hot Stove.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tags: David Wright
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Free-agent relievers Fernando Salas, Brad Ziegler, Joaquin Benoit and Joe Smith (Credit: USA Today Images)
Free-agent relievers Fernando Salas, Brad Ziegler, Joaquin Benoit and Joe Smith (Credit: USA Today Images)

Dec 5 | 3:50PM

The Mets are also in contact with the Orioles about a potential trade of Curtis Granderson or Jay Bruce, reports Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, who says the Mets have interest in O's reliever Brad Brach. Adam Rubin of ESPN recently reported that the Orioles rejected the Mets' initial asking price of a high-end reliever.

Brach, 30, had two saves and a 2.05 ERA (2.92 FIP), while striking out 92 batters during 74 innings with the Orioles last season. He has thrown 288 innings during his six-year career, including five straight seasons with an ERA under 4.00.

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

The Rangers, Dodgers, Nationals, Mariners and a 'mystery team' have all recently asked about trading for Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen, according to reports on MLB Trade Rumors.

The Nationals have pursuing him since July, Jayson Stark of ESPN recently said to Twitter. However, in addition to the above teams, the Mets, Orioles, Blue Jays, Giants, Phillies and Cardinals have all reportedly expressed interest in acquiring a center fielder this off season.

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SNY at MLB Winter Meetings 00:19:03
Andy Martino and Steve Gelbs discuss all the up-to-date topics with the Mets and everything else in the league at the Winter Meetings.

Earlier today, also on Facebook, MetsBlog's Matthew Cerrone answered questions during a Live Q&A about the overall hot stove, and what's next for the Mets >> To watch Cerrone's Q&A, click here!

Cerrone will be doing another Facebook Live Q&A for SNY tomorrow around 11 AM ET, after which Gelbs and Martino will return at 1:30 PM ET with another Winter Meetings Live from Washington, DC.

SNY will be live streaming Sandy Alderson's mid-day talk with reporters on their Facebook page each day at 3:30 PM during the Winter Meetings, which you can follow here.

Lastly, later tonight, Cerrone and co-host Robert Brender will be recording their second Winter Meetings Podcast, recapping the day and looking forward to what's on tap for Tuesday. 

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Photo: Chris McShane
Photo: Chris McShane

The Mets' top prospect for 2017 is 21-year-old SS Amed Rosario, according an organizational Top 10 list by Baseball America..

The team recently added Rosario, RHP Marcos Molina, OF Wuilmer Becerra, RHP Chris Flexen, and Nido to their 40-man roster, which will protect them from December's Rule 5 Draft.

According to TPG Mets, no other players on BA's top 10 list are eligible.

Tags: Gabriel Ynoa, Gavin Cecchini, Robert Gsellman
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Travis d'Arnaud catches at Chase Field (Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)
Travis d'Arnaud catches at Chase Field (Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

"The Mets are fully planning to go with Travis d'Arnaud as the primary catcher in 2017 and don't foresee going the external route," ESPN.com's Adam Rubin wrote late Sunday.

According to Rubin, the Mets do not intend on pursuing free-agent C Welington Castillo, who was non-tendered by the Diamondbacks this past weekend.

Tags: Kevin Plawecki, Rene Rivera, Travis d'Arnaud
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While the Mets have reportedly been trying to shop one of their outfielders for a relief pitcher, here's what the rest of the NL East has been doing at MLB's Winter Meetings...

Washington Nationals

The Nationals could be looking to make two blockbuster trades -- targeting White Sox ace Chris Sale and Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchenfor whom they might be willing to part with several top prospects, according to USA Today's Bob Nightengale.

However, Washington could end up passing on a trade and, instead, go after free-agent outfielders Dexter FowlerIan DesmondCarlos Gomez and closer Mark Melancon...

Tags: Atlanta Braves, Miami Marlins, Philadelphia Phillies, Washington Nationals, Matthew Cerrone
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MLB's 2016 Winter Meetings will begin today at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center outside Washington, D.C. The Meetings conclude Thursday morning after the Rule 5 Draft.

The buzz around the game points to more trade talk than free-agent rumors. The Mets will be among them, since multiple reports indicate they're trying to swap Jay Bruce or Curtis Granderson for an upgrade in their bullpen >> To read more about their plans, click here!

Later today on SNY's Facebook page, I will be doing a Live Q&A around 11 am, followed by a Hot Stove check-in from our guys in D.C.. We'll also be Live streaming Sandy Alderson's talk with reporters at 3:30 pm, after which Rob Brender and I will post a podcast here recapping the day's events >> To follow SNY on Facebook, click here!

In the meantime, to keep you warm until rumors, updates and news begin flowing later this morning, check out the following audio and video... Happy Hot Stove!

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 (Andy Marlin)
(Andy Marlin)

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Position players are required to report by Feb. 17.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tags: Zack Wheeler
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