Should the Mets pursue Japanese star pitcher?

The Mets have a desperate need for starting pitching help and one way to address it, is going outside the US. The Mets haven’t signed a lot of players from the Asian Baseball leagues, but with a new regime, it might be the time.

The newest star pitcher that’s about to be posted is Tomoyoki Sugano. The 31 year old righty is coming off a terrific year for the Yomiuri Giants in the NPB. Over 137.1 innings, he posted a minuscule 1.97 ERA/2.76 FIP and a 0.89 WHIP in 2020. His HR rate was a low 0.5 per nine and his K/9 was 8.6 (fairly high considering the NPB features a lot less strikeouts).

Also read: International Free Agency Preview: A Tale of two Cubans- Part I

Over his lengthy 8 year career, he has posted a 2.34 ERA and 1.03 WHIP, showing it’s time for him to seek more of a difficult competition that’s found in the US with MLB. The 6″1 righty features a low to mid 90’s fastball, as he uses both a 4 and 2 seamer. He also features a low 80’s 12/6 curve, a mid 80s slider and an occasional cutter. Like many Asian pitchers, he likes to move the ball around a lot.

So what would it cost to take a change on a guy like Sugano? Well, you need to negotiate with the player and organization for a 30 day window. In that time any MLB team could negotiate for his services. If a team signs the player, they have to pay the organization the player comes from as well. The player gets his contract and the team gets 20% of the first $25M on the deal, 17.5% on the next and 15% on the additional cost. For example a $65M deal would require 20% for the first, 17.5% for the second and 15% on the remaining $15M.

Also read: Free Agent Target: Garrett Richards

Sugano had back issues in 2019 but returned to form in 2020, showing he can only work through the problems. He is a talent that a team like the Mets could take a chance on, that wouldn’t cost as much as other options. Also the cost wouldn’t all come on the payroll (just the salary of the player). A team led by a new owner who has money to spend, could be interested in going this way. Pitchers from the Asian leagues have had mixed success, however the top pitchers (Darvish and Tanaka) have been well worth the payment they got. Sugano could be an option for the Mets to bolster their rotation.

Also read: Hello, is it me (NL CY Young finalist) you’re looking for?

Photo from Kyodo News

#ThrowbackThursday Mets Edition: Jeremy Hefner

Newly named pitching coach Jeremy Hefner was drafted by the New York Mets on two separate occasions during the 2004 and 2005 MLB June Amateur Drafts (46th & 48th rounds), the right hander would not sign till he was drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 5th round of the 2006 draft.

The Perkins, Oklahoma native would eventually make his way to the Mets organization after the Pittsburgh Pirates placed Hefner on waivers prior to the 2012 season (December 12, 2011). He would make his Major League debut early on during that 2012 campaign on April 23rd against the San Francisco Giants with 3 scoreless innings.

The righty would finish 2012 going 4-7 with an ERA of 5.09 while striking out 62 batters in 93.2 innings pitched. He pitched in 26 games, exactly half of which were starts. In 2013, Hefner required his first Tommy John surgery after posting a 4.34 and a 4-8 win/loss record after pitching in 24 games and tossing 130.2 innings while striking out 99.

He managed to injure himself again and require his second Tommy John surgery in 2014 subsequently Hefner was released after that same season in early November. While he would eventually sign with the St. Louis Cardinals, he would never see Major League action again after pitching for the Mets.

Hefner finished his career going 8-15 with an ERA of 4.65 with 161 strikeouts in 224.1 innings pitched throughout 50 games, 36 of which were starts.

After hanging up the cleats and calling it quits in 2016, Hefner joined the Minnesota Twins the following season as an advance scout. Hefner held that position within the organization for two years, assisting to establish game strategies for pitchers, while also using his experience as a recently retired player to best boil down the statistical data from the team’s analytics department for the players and coaching staff. The Twins eventually made Hefner their assistant pitching coach for the 2019 campaign, and that marks his sole year of experience on a Major League coaching staff.

With the drama surrounding current New York Mets manager Carlos Beltrán, I suspect that Jeremy Hefner’s job as Pitching Coach is likely safe for at least the start of the 2020 campaign. However, it’ll be interesting to see how long of a leash he’ll get if the pitching staff gets off to a rough start.

Also Read: #ThrowbackThursday Mets Edition: Daniel Murphy

Update: A Starling flies to Flushing

Jon Heyman is reporting via Twitter that the Mets and Pirates held conversations in pertains to a Starling Marte trade and while Nimmo’s name definitely came up, Pittsburgh might prefer to go in the direction of a package deal for younger prospects.

“No evidence anything is close but at some point Mets and Pirates exchanged names on proposed Starling Marte trade. Brandon Nimmo’s name came up but Pirates may prefer prospects. Other teams known to have checked on Marte: Padres, D-Backs, Rangers, others.” ~ Jon Heyman

If true, this gives the Mets the opportunity to trade for Marte while keeping the on-base machine Brandon Nimmo on board.

Also read: Mets’ McNeil is the start for Cleveland deal

Reggie Jackson on Steve Cohen

Former New York Yankees great Reggie Jackson told The Post on Friday that he’s spoken to Steve Cohen several times in the past 10-15 about forming an ownership group together in order to purchase a Major League Baseball franchise. Every time such a conversation would take place, Cohen would always tell Jackson that the only Major League Baseball team he wanted to buy was the New York Mets.

“He was just dead stuck on the Mets,” the Hall of Fame outfielder said. “I have tried to talk to him about the Dodgers and the A’s and a couple of other teams and he said, ‘Reggie, I might be interested in the Dodgers, my daughter goes to college in that area, but I live [in Connecticut] and I’m a Mets fan and that is kind of where my focus is. If there is ever an opportunity, that is where it would be.’ ”

Jackson also said that if Steve Cohen were to gain control of the team, that the Mets would be “entering another universe” under the potential new ownership.

“The Mets got involved with [Bernie] Madoff and had some financial troubles and if you are going to compete in New York, you’ve got to be able to write a big check,” Jackson said. “Steve loves baseball. I take a look at the New York sports teams and there’s really only one that is successful [the Yankees], so it takes more money.”

“Certainly the technology and the ‘Harvard guys’ have gotten in, for the lack of a better term,” Jackson said. “You know the analytics and the analysis of different things. I am sure there are so many analytics in his world that he will be very comfortable with the understanding of it. I really think it’s a good thing.”

“He’s always interesting to be around because his world is so big and the things he says, the things he talks about, they are interesting,” Jackson said. “It’s what is going on globally, so I certainly think he understands what the Mets need and he will have the people around him.”

Source: Mike Puma of The Post

Also read: Mets’ McNeil is the start for Cleveland deal

Mets’ McNeil is the start for Cleveland deal

According to beat writer Tim Healey, the New York Mets engaged in talks with the Cleveland Indians on Francisco Lindor and the Indians brass asked repeatedly about Mets super-utility man Jeff McNeil.

It’s unclear if other names were asked about or were in the mix however the notion is that the Mets are not willing to part with McNeil on such a deal.

Healey is also reporting that the Mets front office is being aggressive on the trade front and is asking about many top names.

Also read: Trading Block: Jeff McNeil and the Rays