Matt Reynolds could very well be major leaguer.

Coming off a week in which he hit .533/.588/.767, the 23-year-old Reynolds was named the Pacific Coast League's Player of the Week for the period ending August 3. In 43 games in Triple-A, in the thin air of Las Vegas, he's hitting .329/.390/.470 with 15 walks and 41 strikeouts while playing eight games at second base and 33 at short.

The Mets drafted Reynolds in the second round of the 2012 draft out of Arkansas, where he was primarily a third baseman. They shifted him back to his natural shortstop position for his professional career. Reynolds isn't going to dazzle anyone with his range or his arm, but can he hit enough?

Reynolds hit a disappointing .226/.302/.337 in 117 games with St. Lucie in 2013. He did not show much power - just three home runs. He didn't walk much - just a 7.4 percent walk rate. And his overall line was torpedoed by a .263 batting average on balls in play.

Fast-forward to 2014, where he has put up big numbers at both Double-A (.355/.430/.422 in 58 games) and in Triple-A.

Reynolds, who still lives in Arkansas in the winter, credits offseason work, especially with Rick Strickland, a Mets scout based in St. Louis, for his improvement this season.

"I’d work out in Fayetteville for a week, then drive to St. Louis and stay up there for a week,” he said. “I’d hit twice a day and probably take 500 swings a day. It’s paying off. I’m glad I did it," he told the Las Vegas Review Journal last week.

Reynolds told Newsday that he just had to iron out a few "kinks" in his swing.

"[O]ne big thing we saw, right when he was ready to make contact, he wasn't releasing the bat in the proper order," Strickland said."He was pulling the bat across the ball, which was producing a lot of soft ground balls."

Now, Strickland and Reynolds believe the young shortstop is staying through the ball better, which has obviously impacted his stats at the plate.

Looking at his numbers and projecting his stats shows nothing to suggest that Reynolds is an above-average everyday shortstop.

That Reynolds might be an improvement as the Mets everyday shortstop says a lot about the Mets, and a little about Reynolds, who would most likely be a below-average everyday guy at the position. However, with his defensive versatility and on base ability, he’d look just fine on the bench as a very cheap, MLB minimum guy, who can handle short, second or third.


For the full analysis of Reynolds' numbers so far and where he projects to be, read on...


Reynolds' groundball rate in 2013 and 2014 is nearly identical. The real change in his batted ball profile is the change in composition between "line drives and fly balls." His line drive rate has skyrocketed, at the expense of fly balls and infield pop ups.

Ground BallFly BallLine DrivePop UpFB+LDAll Air
201349.732.09.78.641.750.3
201448.321.025.55.246.651.7
Consider these observations with a degree of caution. From a batter's perspective, more line drives are better. However, the line drive statistic, especially at the minor league level, is not very reliable. Chris Moran at Beyond the Box Score argued recently that since line drive rate at the big league level did not correlate well with any other important offensive statistic, or even itself on a year over year basis, it was just not useful. Colin Wyers, who now works for the Astros, wrote extensively about the bias in measuring line drive rate at Baseball Prospectus and Hardball Times.


The BABIP Monster

What accounts for the change in Reynolds' offensive production? Let's look at Reynolds' important secondary indicators: his strikeout, walk, and extra-base hit rates for his early professional career. All percentages are expressed in total plate appearances.

Year/LeagueXBH%SO%BB%HR%BABIPISO1B%
2012 SAL6.314.96.91.7.292.10817.2
2013 FSL6.616.47.41.0.263.11113.5
2014 EL3.716.912.00.4.433.06627.3
2014 PCL8.222.48.21.6.421.14021.3
2014 Total5.619.310.40.9.428.09924.7
There are four important changes in the data above:

  1. His batting average on balls on play at both Double-A and Triple-A in 2014 has soared compared to his rates in 2012 and 2013.
  2. His BABIP is higher because he's hit more singles, not more extra-base hits. His extra-base hit rate combined between AA and AAA is below that of a-ball.
  3. His walk rate increased in Double-A and, at 10% for the year, is up significantly over his 2012 and 2013 sub-7.5% rates.
  4. His strikeout rate is up a bit, combining Double-A and Triple-A. At 22.4% in Triple-A, it would be his highest at any minor league stop yet.


DirectionIs he pulling the ball less?

Heat maps from MLBFarm.com

Sort of. The angry red mark around shortstop has gotten a little smaller, while Reynolds is using more of centerfield.

This is clearer in chart form. Here's the location of his batted balls in 2013 and 2014, again using data from MLBFarm.com.

Left fieldCenter fieldRight fieldSS+3B2B+1B
201314.4%15.2%17.4%32.3%15.7%
201413.8%21.7%19.7%27.9%12.1%
As it happens, shortstops fielded 17.7 percent of Reynolds' batted balls in 2013 and 17.6 percent in 2014. What's happening mostly is that balls that were fielded by the corner infielders and the second baseman are going into centerfield.


Line Drive Rate, Singles and BABIP

So, again, we know that much of Reynolds' offensive improvement is driven by more singles and a higher BABIP. But how much of Reynolds' BABIP improvement this year is real - the result of better contact and more line drives - and how much is stuff beyond his control, like randomness and playing in better run environments?

To answer this question, here's Reynolds' batted ball profile again - his ground balls, fly balls, infield popups. Combine that with his line drive rate, use stolen bases as a proxy for the players' speed and plug all of into wonderful, "simple" expected BABIP calculator at the Hardball Times.

Year/LeagueBABIPxBABIP
2012 SAL.292.303
2013 FSL.263.297
2014 EL.433.317
2014 PCL.421.340
A few notes:

- This calculator was created for MLB, but here it's applied to minor league performance. Among other things, MLB fielders are far superior to their minor league counterparts.

- All batted ball data in this section comes from Reynolds' page at Minorleaguecentral.com.

- BABIP and xBABIP are a function the run environment. Per Baseball America, games in Savannah feature, on average, 7 runs per game, while those in Las Vegas feature 12.81 runs per game. To correct for this, I used the stadium with the closest run environment to the given minor league facility: Coors Field for Las Vegas, Busch for Binghamton and St. Lucie and Safeco for Savannah.

Now, the expected BABIP can be plugged back into Reynolds' performances for all of his minor league stops to get his expected performance based on his actual batted ball profile. Basically, this means adding a single to his line in Savannah, adding 13 in St. Lucie, subtracting 20 from his line in Binghamton, and 10 from his performance in Las Vegas.

His on base percentage plus isolated slugging (OBP+ISO) can be used to track Reynolds' production by level. This is OPS minus batting average. One of the problems with OPS is that it counts batting average (and singles) twice: in the on-base term and slugging. OBP + ISO, avoids this issue, and measures the two important things for hitters: how often they get on base, and how much power they provide.

Looking only at the blue bars and blue trend line, Reynolds' raw statistics, there's a player who has improved wildly between this year and the last two.

Looking at the red, which is normalized for his expected BABIP, he's a player who has improved, but much less so.


So, What?

BABIP is a funny beast. The players who hit more balls hard will have a higher BABIP. I'd expect potential Major League hitters to run a higher BABIP in the minors than their peers who are destined to top out in AA and move on.

Basically, I think Reynolds' massive uptick in BABIP in 2014 is the result of: 1. a hitter who was unlucky in 2013, 2. a hitter who has been a lucky in 2014 and 3. a hitter who has improved between seasons.

Plugging in Reynolds' expected BABIP in Double-A (a league that plays more like the MLB than the offense-friendly PCL) and his a strikeout rate of 20 percent(which is less than his Triple-A rate of 22 percent) yields a .251/.339/.318 hitter in the big leagues. That feels about right on the optimistic end for Reynolds, who makes contact, and can work a walk. It's suggesting that he will get on base at an above average rate and hit for below average power. This is Ruben Tejada's game. This is Cliff Pennington's game.

If we plug a .350 BABIP and a 20 percent strikeout rate into Reynolds' power production in Double-A, we get something like .275/.350/.341 that's playable at short, but nothing more.

Tags: Analysis, Toby Hyde

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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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.

Latest Update...

Jan. 15 | 4:15 PM

The Mets are looking to acquire two prospects in exchange for Jay Bruce, reports CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury. 

According to Salisbury, the Phillies are interested in Bruce but are wary of dealing their prospects as they rebuild.

Tags: Jay Bruce
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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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A general view of Tradition Field during the game between the New York Mets and the New York Yankees. (Scott Rovak)
A general view of Tradition Field during the game between the New York Mets and the New York Yankees. (Scott Rovak)

Mets minor league pitcher Gary Cornish, who last pitched for the Single-A Brooklyn Cyclones, has been suspended 50 games for a positive test of an amphetamine, MLB announced Friday. 

Cornish, 22, was selected by the Mets in 19th round of the 2016 draft out of the University of San Diego. 

In 14 relief appearances with the Cyclones, Cornish had a 2.16 ERA and 1.08 WHIP in 25 innings. 

 


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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Mets infielder Jose Reyes received advice on hitting today from his friend, former Mets OF and current Astros DH Carlos Beltran.

"You're never too old to take advice," Reyes wrote on Instagram after working out with Beltran at the Bomberville Indoor Baseball Facility in the Bronx...

Tags: Jose Reyes
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Jay Bruce (19) has dominated the Mets news cycle during the Winter Meetings (USA TODAY Sports)
Jay Bruce (19) has dominated the Mets news cycle during the Winter Meetings (USA TODAY Sports)

The Mets have reportedly been trying to trade Jay Bruce for a relief pitcher or prospects, while freeing up salary to sign additional help for their bullpen.

In the last four months, the Orioles, Rangers, Blue Jays, Giants and other teams have all reportedly shown some level interest in trading for Bruce.

Here's how I would characterize each team as a possible trade partner...

Tags: Jay Bruce, Matthew Cerrone
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Sep 9, 2016; Kelly Johnson (55) hits a RBI double at Turner Field. Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 9, 2016; Kelly Johnson (55) hits a RBI double at Turner Field. Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

The Braves are interested in signing free-agent infielder Kelly Johnsonaccording to David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Johnson signed with the Braves as a free agent prior to each of the past two seasons and was traded to the Mets both years.

In 2015, the Mets acquired Johnson and Juan Uribe for minor leaguers John Gant and Robert Whalen. Last season, they acquired Johnson in return for RHP prospect Akeel Morris.

In 131 games with the Mets during that time, Johnson, 34, hit .260 with a .319 OBP, 14 home runs, 14 doubles, 25 stolen bases and 37 RBIs, while playing all four infield positions and left field.

Tags: Atlanta Braves, Kelly Johnson
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Jan. 7, 2017: Citi Field covered in snow (Credit: @Mets on Instagram)
Jan. 7, 2017: Citi Field covered in snow (Credit: @Mets on Instagram)

It's after Jan. 1 and freezing in New York. Thankfully, Spring Training is roughly a month away...

Mets pitchers and catchers are required to report to Tradition Field by Feb. 12, with their first full workout coming two days later. The team's position players are not required to report until Feb. 17, with the first full-squad workout scheduled for Feb. 19.

That said, just like in previous seasons, I'm sure dozens of players will begin descending on St. Lucie in the next couple of weeks. Thanks to having their strength and conditioning consultant, Mike Barwis, in St. Lucie running his facility at Tradition Field, the pre-spring meet up essentially turns in to an official-unofficial mini camp. In other words, the reporting dates are nothing but a formality...

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