Tagged in: Mets

New York Mets hire Elizabeth Benn as director of major league operations

The Mets have hired Elizabeth Benn as director of major league operations, making her the franchise’s highest-ranking female baseball operations employee ever.

Benn has worked for Major League Baseball since concluding a master’s degree in philosophy at Columbia in 2017.

She has had roles in youth programs, labor relations and baseball operations with the league. Several women hold prominent roles in front offices across the male-dominated sport, including Marlins general manager Kim Ng.

The crosstown Yankees have had two women serve as assistant general managers in Ng and Jean Afterman.

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The Mets are shaking up their front office for the second consecutive offseason, a series of moves that included the brief tenure of Jared Porter as general manager following the 2020 season.

Porter was fired over sexually explicit text messages he had sent to a female reporter in 2016 while working for the Cubs.

Billy Eppler was hired as general manager in November. His front office now has women working in analytics, player performance and minor league operations, but none has held the director title given to Benn.

The Mets also hired Gretchen Aucoin as a minor league coach this offseason, making her the team’s first on-field female coach.

Benn has been an adjunct lecturer at Lehman College and is also a right-handed pitcher who was the first woman to play in the New York City Metro Baseball League, a weekend rec league that incorporates many former college players.

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Buck Showalter, Joe Espada, Matt Quatraro to get second interview for New York Mets’ managerial vacancy

Buck Showalter will be among the candidates to get a second round of interviews with the New York Mets regarding their vacant managerial position, sources told ESPN, confirming multiple reports.

Matt Quatraro started the second round of interviews with the Mets on Tuesday, while Joe Espada is scheduled for Thursday and Showalter for Friday, sources confirmed to ESPN.

New general manager Billy Eppler, who spent 2015 through 2020 in the Angels’ organization, stated last month that he would talk to the baseball operations department about the best approach on hiring a skipper, balancing the factors between in-game management, analytical approach and clubhouse culture creation

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The Mets fired Luis Rojas after a season in which the team held onto first place for 103 days but ultimately finished 77-85 and missing the playoffs.

Showalter, 65, has been a major league manager for four teams between 1992 and 2018.

He won American League Manager of the Year honors during stints with the New York Yankees, Texas Rangers and Baltimore Orioles. He also managed the Arizona Diamondbacks. He has a career record of 1,551-1,517.

Espada, 46, has previously interviewed for multiple major league managerial vacancies but has yet to be hired. He has served as bench coach of the Houston Astros since 2018 after also spending time with the Yankees and Miami Marlins as a third-base coach.

Quatraro, 48, has served on coaching staffs with Cleveland and Tampa Bay, where he is the current bench coach.

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New York Mets announce Billy Eppler as new GM on 4-year contract

The New York Mets finally found a general manager, hiring Billy Eppler in a move revealed Thursday night following their long and ridiculed search.

Eppler was fired as GM of the Los Angeles Angels a little more than a year ago after five unsuccessful seasons. But he landed the same position with the Mets after a recruiting process that became the butt of jokes while dragging on for more than six weeks since the 2021 season ended.

Eppler gets a four-year contract to become the 16th general manager in Mets history and their fifth head of baseball operations in 13 tumultuous months. He will be introduced by the team Friday via Zoom.

With an uncertain offseason already underway, his return to New York marks a major step toward restoring stability in the front-office structure under owner Steve Cohen and team president Sandy Alderson.

“I’m so thankful to Steve and Sandy for what I consider an opportunity of a lifetime,” Eppler said in a statement. “We have a lot of work to do and will systematically begin to work towards our goal of building a perennial winner.”

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The 46-year-old Eppler was GM of the Angels from 2015 to 2020, overseeing five consecutive losing seasons.

The team went 332-376 (.469) under three managers, with a rotating cast of supporting players around Mike Trout and Albert Pujols.

Unable to provide enough pitching, an aggressive Eppler did land some big fish for Los Angeles with the help of owner Arte Moreno’s checkbook. He lured two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani to the Angels and signed free agent third baseman Anthony Rendon to a $245 million, seven-year contract. Trout got a $426.5 million, 12-year deal.

“Billy has the experience, character and respect of the baseball community that will allow him to attract the players and front office talent to lead the Mets forward,” Cohen stated. “He is a leader who has worked in two of baseball’s biggest markets and his talents and personality will move us closer to my goal of sustained success.”

Although the Angels didn’t win much under Eppler, he boosted a previously barren farm system with several prospects now making an impact on the big league level, including All-Star slugger Jared Walsh, Brandon Marsh, Jo Adell and Reid Detmers.

“One of the most honest people I’ve met in this industry. Great talent evaluator,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said of Eppler at the end of the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. “I’m certain he’s going to land firmly on his feet.”

Two months ago, Eppler joined WME Sports as part of their baseball representation.

“Over the past two decades, Billy has been a scout and an assistant GM,” Alderon said. “He’s also more than familiar with the New York market. This uniquely qualifies him to lead our efforts going forward. He’s smart, he hustles and has a keen eye for identifying talent. He’s going to make us better. I am really pleased that we have someone of his caliber leading the Mets.”

Eppler graduated from the University of Connecticut in 1998 with a finance degree and worked in scouting and player development for the Colorado Rockies from 2000 to 2004. After that he joined the New York Yankees and became a rising star in their front office.

He was director of professional scouting from 2006 to 2011 and an assistant GM under Brian Cashman from 2012 to 2014.

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Trevor Bauer, Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon decline opt-outs; Michael Conforto, Noah Syndergaard get qualifying offers from New York Mets

Right-hander Trevor Bauer, third baseman Nolan Arenado, outfielder Charlie Blackmon and infielder-outfielder Jurickson Profar declined to opt out of their contracts to become free agents.

Bauer agreed to a three-year, $102 million deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers in February and stated 8-5 with a 2.59 ERA in 17 starts. He has been on paid leave since July 2 while he is investigated under Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy. He is keeping salaries of $32 million in each of the next two seasons.

Elsewhere, the New York Mets revealed Saturday that they have extended $18.4 million qualifying offers to outfielder Michael Conforto and pitcher Noah Syndergaard — a day ahead of Sunday’s deadline. Players have 10 days to decide whether to accept the one-year offer.

Arenado was owed $214 million over seven seasons as part of the contract that was amended when he was traded Feb. 1 to the St. Louis Cardinals by the Colorado Rockies.

He had the right to opt out after this season and also has the right to opt out after the 2022 season.

Arenado hit .255 with 34 homers and 105 RBIs in his first season with the Cardinals.

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Blackmon struck a six-year, $108 million deal with the Rockies in April 2018 that included a $21 million player option for 2022 and a $10 million option for 2023. He kept his contract for 2022 after hitting .270 with 13 homers and 78 RBIs.

Profar agreed in January to a three-year, $21 million contract with the San Diego Padres and had the right to opt out of a deal that involved $6.5 million for 2022, $7.5 million for 2023 and a $10 million mutual option for 2024. He hit .227 with four homers and 33 RBIs for the disappointing Padres.

Gold Glove catcher Tucker Barnhart’s $7.75 million option was exercised Saturday by the Detroit Tigers, who acquired him Wednesday from the Cincinnati Reds for infield prospect Nick Quintana. Barnhart’s option price included a $250,000 escalator for winning a 2020 Gold Glove and would go up again by the same amount if he wins for 2021.

The Chicago White Sox declined a $6 million option on 31-year-old infielder Cesar Hernandez. He hit .232 with 21 homers and 62 RBIs for Cleveland and Chicago, which got him on July 29.

Reds left-hander Justin Wilson exercised a $2.3 million player option, part of a two-year, $5.15 million deal he signed with the New York Yankees. By exercising the player option, Wilson gave the Reds a club option for 2023 at $500,000 above that year’s minimum salary. He had a 2.81 ERA in 21 games after the Reds obtained him on July 28.

Josh Tomlin’s $1.25 million option was declined by the World Series champion Atlanta Braves, who must pay a $250,000 buyout. The 37-year-old right-hander was 4-0 with a 6.57 ERA but did not pitch in the postseason.

St. Louis declined a $17 million option on right-hander Carlos Martinez, who gets a $500,000 buyout, and a $12 million option on infielder Matt Carpenter, who receives a $2 million buyout. Martinez was 4-9 with a 6.23 ERA, completing a five-year, $51 million contract. Carpenter hit .169 with three homers and 21 RBIs, finishing a two-year, $39 million contract.

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New York Mets put ace Jacob deGrom on injured list with forearm injury

The New York Mets have placed ace Jacob deGrom on the 10-day injured list retroactive to July 15 with tightness in his right forearm.

DeGrom felt discomfort Friday while throwing a bullpen session at Pittsburgh, manager Luis Rojas stated Saturday. An MRI hours later showed there was forearm tightness but no structural damage.

Rojas said Sunday that deGrom will not throw again until the discomfort goes away.

“I’m frustrated,” deGrom said Sunday. “I don’t know what else to say.” DeGrom is 7-2 with a major-league-leading 1.08 ERA in 15 starts this campaign despite being hampered by multiple ailments. He last pitched July 7 versus Milwaukee.

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Rojas added that deGrom said Saturday that he felt similar forearm tightness during a bullpen session right before the All-Star break as well.

DeGrom did not attend Tuesday night’s All-Star Game at Coors Field in Denver, electing instead to spend time with his family and rest for the second half.

The two-time National League Cy Young Award winner skipped an outing between April 28 and May 9 because of discomfort in his right lat muscle, then did not pitch again until May 25 while spending time on the injured list with what the Mets said was tightness in his right side.

DeGrom left his June 11 outing against San Diego after six innings because of flexor tendinitis in his right arm. Rojas said Saturday that those ailments, including the right forearm tightness, are all unrelated.

DeGrom on Sunday said all of his previous ailments this season were due to him swinging, while the new forearm tightness is not. DeGrom is batting .364 in 33 at-bats this season.

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New York Mets lose Marcus Stroman to hip injury, Joey Lucchesi to Tommy John; Michael Conforto’s IL return delayed

Marcus Stroman has a sore hip, Michael Conforto’s return was delayed due to coronavirus concerns and Joey Lucchesi is out for the campaign.

The hits just keep on coming for the injury-riddled New York Mets.

Stroman, the team’s most durable starting pitcher this season, exited Tuesday night’s outing versus Atlanta in the second inning due to an aching left hip.

Conforto is on deck to come off the injured list, but the right fielder wasn’t activated Tuesday after Triple-A Syracuse’s scheduled match was postponed to allow for more COVID-19 testing and contact tracing within the organization.

Conforto spent last weekend on a rehab assignment with Syracuse, so the Mets said they decided not to reinstate him Tuesday “out of an abundance of caution.” The team said Conforto tested negative Tuesday night and it plans to activate him before Wednesday’s game against the Braves. He has been sidelined since straining his right hamstring on May 16.

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Lucchesi, however, is headed for Tommy John surgery, the Mets confirmed Tuesday.

The left-hander had solidified a spot at the back of the rotation by posting a 1.19 ERA over his previous five starts.

Stroman threw 18 pitches in a hitless first inning and fell behind Austin Riley 2-1 leading off the second before manager Luis Rojas and an athletic trainer visited the mound.

With the entire infield and plate umpire Pat Hoberg gathered around Stroman, the right-hander consulted with Rojas and the trainer while making throwing motions. Stroman threw one warmup pitch to catcher James McCann before another extended consultation.

Stroman then threw two more warmup pitches and kept talking with everyone at the mound — this time in a group that included first base umpire Ron Kulpa — before walking off .

Prior to Tuesday, Stroman had lasted at least six innings in eight consecutive starts. He and left-hander David Peterson are the only Mets pitchers to take every scheduled turn this year.

Two-time Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom spent two weeks on the injured list with tightness in his side — and exited two starts this month with arm ailments — while Carlos Carrasco and Noah Syndergaard have yet to pitch this season because of injuries.

Rojas stated before the game he didn’t know who would start in Lucchesi’s place Wednesday night.

“We have guys that can go long in our bullpen if they get another day of rest tonight,” Rojas said.

Yennsy Diaz relieved Stroman and completed a walk to Riley — which was charged to Stroman — and then loaded the bases with none out before striking out three straight batters. Rojas said on June 8 that Conforto was still a couple of weeks from starting a rehab assignment. But he was able to resume baseball activities at Citi Field during the previous homestand and hit .182 in three rehab games for Syracuse last weekend.

“He’s actually exceeded our expectations,” acting general manager Zack Scott said Tuesday. “Hit all the kind of objective markers on his strength of his hamstring. He’s ready to go.”

Conforto is hitting .230 with two homers and 13 RBIs in 33 games.

Lucchesi’s injury was another blow to a rotation that was already thin behind deGrom, Taijuan Walker and Stroman. Still, the unit has been splendid all season, a big reason the depleted Mets lead the NL East. Lucchesi was placed on the injured list Saturday, one day after he threw 5 1/3 scoreless innings against Washington. An MRI revealed a significant tear of his left UCL and a second opinion Tuesday confirmed the diagnosis. He is arranged  to undergo surgery Thursday.

“Tough break for Joey and for the club,” Scott said. “He’s got a full tear, so it’s pretty cut-and-dry.”

Lucchesi’s injury leaves just Peterson behind deGrom, Walker and Stroman. With Carrasco (right hamstring) and Syndergaard (elbow) still several weeks from returning, Scott said he would “explore all options” for rotation reinforcements.

Before the game, the Mets recalled reserve catcher Patrick Mazeika from Syracuse and optioned infielder-outfielder Brandon Drury to their top farm club. Right-hander Robert Stock was claimed from the Chicago Cubs and optioned to Triple-A.

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New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom headed to IL with tightness in right side

Jacob deGrom will be placed on the injured list by the New York Mets with tightness in his right side, a move that will keep the ace from taking the mound until May 20 at the earliest.

The Mets stated an MRI on Sunday night was “clean of any issues.” The team said it will place deGrom on the injured list before Tuesday’s series opener versus Baltimore, a move that will be retroactive to Monday.

A 32-year-old right-hander, deGrom is 3-2 with a major-league-best 0.68 ERA and 65 strikeouts, two K’s behind Trevor Bauer of the Los Angeles Dodgers for the NL lead. DeGrom has seven walks in 40 innings over six starts.

He pulled himself from Sunday’s outing versus Arizona, his first appearance after skipping a start due to discomfort in his right latissimus dorsi, a back muscle that connects the upper arm to the spine and the hip.

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The two-time NL Cy Young Award winner threw 68 pitches over five innings against Arizona, premitting one run, but he called for trainer Brian Chicklo when he felt tightness trying to get loose before the sixth. He left with Chicklo and went straight to the clubhouse.

DeGrom struck out six and allowed one hit.

He was perfect through four innings before struggling in the fifth, when he allowed a run and walked three in an inning for just the second time in his big league career, the first having been May 13, 2018, at Philadelphia. He left after one inning in that game, his return from the injured list.

DeGrom is baseball’s hardest-throwing starting pitcher, with 79 pitches of 100 mph or higher since the start of the 2020 season, according to MLB Statcast data. Miami’s Sixto Sanchez is second with 13.

Of those, deGrom reached 100 mph 42 times in the first inning alone. Sanchez is second with eight. New York said it will reveal a corresponding roster move Tuesday.

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New York Mets outfielder Tim Tebow retiring from pro baseball

Tim Tebow is retiring from baseball after five years as a minor leaguer with the New York Mets.

The 2007 Heisman Trophy winner returned to baseball in 2016 for the first time since his junior year of high school and reached Triple-A, encouraged by then-general manager and current team president Sandy Alderson.

Tebow, who works for ESPN’s SEC Network as a football analyst during the offseason, played 77 matches at baseball’s highest minor league level in 2019, batting .163 with four home runs.

He concluded his career with a .223 average over 287 games.

“I want to thank the Mets, Alderson, the fans and all my teammates for the chance to be a part of such a great organization,” Tebow said in a statement released by the Mets on Wednesday. “I loved every minute of the journey, but at this time I feel called in other directions.

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“I never want to be partially in on anything. I always want to be 100% in on whatever I choose. Thank you again for everyone’s support of this awesome journey in baseball, I’ll always cherish my time.”

A lefty-hitting outfielder, the 33-year-old was invited to major league spring training this season, taking one of New York’s 75 spots after Major League Baseball limited spring roster sizes as a coronavirus precaution. Position players aren’t slated to report to the Mets’ spring complex in Port St. Lucie, Florida, until next week.

Over four big league spring trainings, Tebow batted .151 in 34 games, connecting for his first and only homer last spring before camps were closed because of the pandemic.

“It has been a pleasure to have Tim in our organization, as he’s been a consummate professional during his four years with the Mets,” Alderson said.

“By reaching the Triple-A level in 2019, he far exceeded expectations when he first entered the system in 2016 and he should be very proud of his accomplishments.”

Tebow’s baseball career started with a bang — he homered in his first professional at-bat during an instructional league game versus the St. Louis Cardinals in the fall of 2016. Later that fall, he made headlines by comforting a fan who had a seizure in the front row during Tebow’s Arizona Fall League debut.

The former NFL quarterback — a first-round draft pick of the Denver Broncos in 2010 — was an All-Star at Double-A in 2018, when he batted .273 with six homers in 84 games. He struggled the next year at Triple-A and had his season cut short by a laceration on his left hand.

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New York Yankees agree to deal with LHP Justin Wilson

Left-hander Justin Wilson returned to the New York Yankees after two seasons with the Mets, agreeing Monday to a deal, a source confirmed to ESPN.

Wilson joins a bullpen headed by closer Aroldis Chapman and Zack Britton, both left-handers. Hard-throwing right-hander Chad Green is joined by side-arming right-hander Darren O’Day, who was signed after the Yankees dealt Adam Ottavino to Boston in a cost-cutting move.

The 33-year-old Wilson was 5-0 with a 3.10 ERA in 74 appearances for the Yankees in 2015, then moved on to Detroit and the Chicago Cubs before spending 2019 and 2020 with the Mets.

He was 2-1 with a 3.66 ERA in 19 2/3 innings over 23 appearances last season. He struck out 23 and walked nine

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Wilson averaged 95 mph with his fastball, throwing it slightly more often than on half his pitches. He also throws cutters, mixing in an occasional slider and curveball.

Wilson is a nine-year major league veteran who spent his first three campaigns with Pittsburgh.

His deal with the Yankees was first reported by WFAN in New York.

New York also is also finalizing a minor league contract with catcher Robinson Chirinos, who would report to big league spring training, according to multiple reports.

The 36-year-old split last season with Texas and the Mets, who attained him on Aug. 31. He hit .162 with one homer and seven RBIs in 74 at-bats over 26 matches.

Chirinos also is a nine-year big league veteran who had two homers and three RBIs for Houston in its 2019 World Series loss to Washington. His best campaigns were with Texas in 2018, when he batted .222 with 18 homers and 65 RBIs, and with Houston in 2019, when he hit .238 with 17 homers and 58 RBIs.

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DeGrom exits with hamstring spasm, Mets really past Phils

Jacob deGrom’s balky hamstring forced an untimely exit Wednesday night. Now, the New York Mets ace hopes it won’t mean an early end to his campaign.

DeGrom left a rare rough outing because of a right hamstring spasm, then watched his teammates erase a four-run deficit in rallying for a 5-4 triumph over the Philadelphia Phillies.

The 32-year-old deGrom first had issues with his hamstring in his previous start and it went away, so he didn’t tell the team. He couldn’t shake the feeling early versus the Phillies and this time didn’t take any chances.

“I think it’s just day by day,” he said. “What’s weird is running around, playing catch, it seems fine. Then once I get to full intensity in a game is when I feel it. Hopefully it’s something we can treat and get back out there as quick as possible.”

Phillies reliever Hector Neris (2-2) dropped the ball on the mound for a balk that moved the go-ahead run to second base in the ninth inning. Mets rookie Andres Gimenez hit an RBI single to put New York ahead.

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DeGrom had a surprisingly difficult two innings that pointed toward an apparent injury and could derail his bid for a third straight NL Cy Young Award.

He permitted three earned runs in a start for the first time this season, pushing his ERA back over 2.00 at 2.09.

The right-hander, who struck out 12 Phillies on Sept. 6, was pulled after only 40 pitches and one strikeout.

He appeared to spike a water bottle in frustration in the dugout after a brief chat with pitching coach Jeremy Hefner and trainer Brian Chicklo.

Hefner visited deGrom on the mound in the second inning when he permitted all his runs, but there was no immediate indication he was hurt. Michael Wacha replaced deGrom in the third with New York trailing 3-0.

“They said, ‘Hey, there’s no reason to try and push through this and hurt something,’” deGrom said.

After he was gone, the Mets became the latest team to strike against the beleaguered Phillies bullpen.

J.D. Davis tied it 4-all in the eighth against Adam Morgan on an RBI double off the wall on a misplayed ball by Adam Haseley in right field that took deGrom off the hook. The Phillies blew a save for the 11th time this season.

“Eventually you believe that it’s got to turn,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said.

Miguel Castro (2-1) struck out the final two batters of the eighth and stranded two runners to earn the triumph. Edwin Diaz worked the ninth for his fourth save. DeGrom had been 8-1 with a 2.16 ERA in 16 career starts vs. Philadelphia.

He failed to record a strikeout on his first time through a team’s batting order for the first time in 103 starts.

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