There are exactly two weeks until Mets pitchers and catchers are required to report to Port St. Lucie, Fla., for the official start of Spring Training.
Meanwhile, there are dozens of impact free agents available on the open market and trades that can still be made as the Mets continue their search for a second baseman or third baseman and at least two pitchers willing to accept minor-league deals...
What's on second?
Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic reaffirmed Sunday that the Mets are debating whether to sign Eduardo Nunez, Todd Frazier or Neil Walker, while keeping tabs on the asking price for Pirates 2B-3B Josh Harrison, who the team is still speaking to the Pirates about, according to the NY Post's Mike Puma.
According to previous reports, Harrison will cost Brandon Nimmo in trade.
By the way, I've heard the Indians are again checking back with teams that had interest in Jason Kipnis, such as the Mets.
According to SNY contributor Andy Martino, the Mets rejected a deal that could have sent Kipnis to Queens because Cleveland did not want to cover part of of his remaining $38 million contract. The Yankees and other interested teams have held the same position in talks for Kipnis this winter, one rival executive told Rosenthal.
In the end, I still expect Alderson to reunite with Walker, though I wonder if the Mets are at all apprehensive since it will be another bullet for people accusing of them of simply reassembling his old team. So far this winter, the Mets have committed $28 million to their 2018 payroll by picking up options on Jerry Blevins and Asdrubal Cabrera, signing Jay Bruce, and re-signing Jose Reyes.
Personally, I'm fine with Walker again being the team's starting second baseman. However, for $5-7 million more, I still prefer the Mets use Luis Guillorme at second base, put Asdrubal Cabrera on the bench, and sign Mike Moustakas with an opt-out after 2018. Or, live with the lineup the way it is, sign Lance Lynn or Alex Cobb to stabilize the team's greatest strength, and trade for a bat or two this summer.
Do I want the Mets to trade Nimmo?
No, though I would consider trading any player if it made the Mets a better team. That said, while I don't think Nimmo will ever be a star or household name, I think he's ready and able to be a very effective leadoff hitter that can play all three outfield positions. Also, he is clearly on his way to being an enormous fan favorite (if he isn't there already). He's the perfect guy that ends up having more value to the team he's on than the teams with interest in trading for him.
Nevertheless, according to Alderson, four-to-five teams have asked about trading for Nimmo.
I believe this. The Reds asked for Nimmo in 2016 during talks for Bruce. The Braves expressed interest in him last winter during talks for Arodys Vizcaíno. And the Indians were interested in Nimmo (or Juan Lagares) as part of a potential deal for Kipnis. Why? Well, for the same reasons Alderson doesn't want to trade him, because he has a special combination of plate discipline and terrific baseball instincts that are difficult to teach in today's game.
"I appreciate the confidence they have in me," Nimmo said last week, according to the Bergen Record. "Last year, I played more on an everyday basis and showed what I'm capable of at the major league level. It was a great opportunity, and they liked what they saw."
Random notes and rumors
Based on conversations with MLB insiders, agents and reporters, I've heard...
- The MLBPA is testing how viable it would be to push for a minimum team payroll in the next Collective Bargaining Agreement.
- The Yankees have interest in Walker, who could also play some third base for them.
- The Nationals are more likely to sign a backup catcher, such as Alex Avila, than trade Victor Robles for J.T. Realmuto or sign Jonathan Lucroy.
- "Jacob DeGrom and Noah Syndergaard are wonderful pitchers, but there are five or six other rotations I would rather have because I know what to expect from pitchers three, four and five," a special assistant to a rival GM told me.
In case you missed it...
In retirement, Lagares will look back on this coming season as the turning point in his career. He probably thought it would end up being 2014, when he won a Gold Glove and inked a four-year, $23 million contract at age 25. He was wrong. This is it >> Read more.
The Mets are going to benefit in the standings from Miami's firesale and the rest of the division's lack of major action. However, I fear they may be missing an enormous opportunity to take a big step forward by adding new talent in a weak market >> Read more
Matthew Cerrone (Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Contact) is lead writer of MetsBlog.com, which he created in 2003. He also hosts the MetsBlog Podcast, which you can subscribe to here. He recently left his position as Executive Editor and Dir. of Digital Content for SNY.TV to help sports brands build their own digital content businesses...