Matz all, folks.
The Mets traded Long Island native Steven Matz to the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday night for three pitching prospects.
In addition to ending the hometown tenure of Matz, the Ward Melville product, the Mets also took a step toward clearing payroll for what appears to be a rapidly advancing pursuit of free-agent righthander Trevor Bauer.
With Matz’s $5.2 million salary passed on to the Blue Jays, the Mets can complete a big-money signing of Bauer if they wish. The market for the best pitcher on the free-agent market seems to have collapsed in the last few days, and Bauer may have to "settle" for a high-dollar, short-term deal with the Mets that would approach the $36 million average value of Gerrit Cole’s nine-year, $324 million deal with the Yankees.
New owner Steve Cohen wants to make a splash, and signing Bauer in addition to the trade for Francisco Lindor and Carlos Corrasco and the Mets’ other moves this offseason would certainly accomplish that.
There are questions about whether the social-media savvy Bauer would be a good fit in New York. But there are no questions about his stuff, not since Bauer won the NL Cy Young award for Cincinnati in 2020.
The Mets once envisioned Matz as a Cy Young-caliber pitcher. But injuries and poor performance left the now 29-year-old on the outside of the Mets’ rotation going into 2021, which is why it is a bit of a surprise that the Mets were able to get three prospects from Toronto for a player they considered non-tendering earlier in the offseason.
In the deal, the Mets received righthanders Sean Reid-Foley, Josh Winckowski and Yennsy Díaz. Reid-Foley, 25, was 1-0 with a 1.35 ERA in five games for the Blue Jays in 2020. Díaz, 24, made his major-league debut in 2019, appearing in one game with Toronto. Winckowski, 22, went a combined 10-8 with a 2.69 ERA for two Blue Jays Class A teams in 2019.
Matz ended his Mets career with a 31-41 record and 4.35 ERA. So much more seemed possible when Matz debuted with the club at Citi Field on June 28, 2015, and threw 7 2/3 innings and went 3-for-3 with four RBIs in a Mets victory.
Mets promote Scott
Nine days after firing Jared Porter, the Mets went in-house for his replacement, promoting Zack Scott to be the club’s acting general manager on Wednesday.
Scott was hired Dec. 23 to be an assistant GM under Porter, who was terminated Jan. 18 after the Mets learned that he had sent unsolicited and graphic texts to a female reporter in 2016.
"Zack has plenty of championship experience to draw upon," Mets president Sandy Alderson said in a statement. "He has been an integral part of our decision-making processes since his arrival. The entire baseball operations staff, including myself, will continue to work collaboratively."
Scott, 43, also was a finalist for the GM position before Porter was picked and the two had worked together in the Red Sox’s front office. Alderson originally had planned to be less involved in the day-to-day baseball operations — just another seat at the table is the way he first described it. But the abrupt firing of Porter after only 37 days on the job has altered that blueprint to some degree, with Alderson now being more hands-on than he had anticipated.
"Zack is very analytical," Alderson said at the time of Porter’s firing. "Our pro scouting department is very good. We're very capable. We just have to shift."
The Mets have signaled they still have plenty of work to do before spring training is scheduled to begin in less than three weeks. They remain in pursuit of Trevor Bauer, the biggest free agent left on the market, but it's unclear what the Mets’ parameters are for a deal.
Brodie joins Roc Nation
Former Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen, a casualty of new owner Steve Cohen’s front-office purge in November, returned to working on the other side of the industry with the announcement that he is now chief operating officer of Roc Nation Sports.
Van Wagenen left his position as the co-head of CAA’s baseball division in 2018 when he was hired to be GM of the Mets, an unconventional career move based largely on his friendly relationship with then-COO Jeff Wilpon. Van Wagenen’s tenure lasted two years, a stay that began with the infamous trade for Robinson Cano followed by the $137.5-million contract extension for Jacob deGrom — two of his former clients. He also was haunted by the bad behavior of Yoenis Cespedes, another player Van Wagenen twice got signed by the Mets during his agent days.
Van Wagenen was always a players-first GM and he described taking the position with Roc Nation Sports, where he’ll be working directly with Jay-Z, as a "natural homecoming."
"Brodie's knowledge of the business is indisputable and unparalleled," Shawn Carter [Jay-Z] said in a statement. "Since we first worked with Brodie, we realized the shared commitment to athletes both on and off the field. He's always been extended family and now it's official."
Mets agree with Loup
After failing to land Brad Hand, who signed with the Nationals earlier this week, the Mets pivoted to Aaron Loup for lefthanded relief help and the two sides agreed to a deal, according to a source.
The Mets lost lefty Justin Wilson to free agency this offseason, so Loup, 33, helps to balance the bullpen. Loup had a 2.52 ERA in 24 appearances for the AL champion Rays last season, with a 0.840 WHIP.
With David Lennon
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