The Mets have received inquiries from teams interested in acquiring LHP Jon Niese, sources told Mike Puma of the New York Post (Dec. 9, 9:30 am).
Niese is due $9 million next season, then has a $10 million option in 2017 and an $11 million in 2018, both of which can be bought out for just $500,000.
"We haven't been actively shopping him, but we're going to be looking for ways to improve the team," Mets assistant GM John Ricco said Sunday, when asked about Niese's availability. "If there's a deal that involves him and it makes us better, I think we would definitely consider it."
Niese went 9-10 with a 4.13 ERA in 33 appearances for the Mets this past season. He allowed three runs in six relief appearances during the postseason.
"We do feel good about Rafael Montero," Ricco added, when asked how the team could adjust without Niese. "Sean Gilmartin has started in the past, so, he'd be another consideration. And then we have some other young pitchers who would be in the mix there, too."
Based on what teams are paying free-agent pitchers this month, it's no surprise that Niese is drawing interest from other teams. In the end, though, I bet the Mets keep him in the mix, unless they need to move him to free up money to spend on other needs. Niese proved that he can pitch in relief, which means he can fill a variety of roles for them next season. Frankly, his situation is very reminiscent of what the Mets put Dillon Gee through last year >> Click here to read more
The odds are good that someone in Sandy Alderson's rotation will get hurt next season. It usually takes 8-10 starting pitchers to get through a full season. In Niese, the Mets have a pitcher that would likely get a three- or four-year deal worth around $10 million a season on the open market. Instead, they have him making $9 million this season, followed by consecutive $10 million options (or $500,000 buyouts) the following two years. I don't know how it happened, but he's actually become a bargain.
Ricco is right. The Mets should trade Niese if the deal brings back help at a position they would otherwise be forced to overspend. But, I don't see that deal happening. The Dodgers supposedly had interest in Niese last spring. But, at this point, I think as a best case scenario the Mets could get, say, OF Scott Van Slyke. Otherwise, they could be offered one, high-end Double-A prospect. And in that situation, I bet the Mets keep Niese as insurance for the rotation...