Mets sign Cheslor Cuthbert

The New York Mets have signed Cheslor Cuthbert to a Minor League deal.

The former Kansas City Royals prospect will be assigned to the AAA Syracuse Mets. In 1076 at-bats, Cuthbert is hitting .250/.300/.378/.678 with 27 home runs and 119 RBI’s.

How The Mets Landed Khalil Lee

TC Zencka from MLBtraderumors.com wrote an article describing how the three team trade developed last week that sent Benitendi to the Royals, Cordero to Red Sox, and the Mets newly aquired prospect Khalil Lee.

Apparently the Royals had no idea of the Mets involvement until 90 minutes before the trade was executed. They knew there was another team involved but it was actually the Red Sox (Zack Scott’s former organization) who did all the foot work to send Lee over to the Mets. Scott has been with the Red Sox for over 16 years so they knew just how high Scott was on Lee and so they reached out to him to have the Mets involved.

“We didn’t have direct conversations with Kansas City on that,” he said. “With my connections to Boston, quite frankly, they know that I liked Khalil Lee. They reached out and asked if there would be interest here. We were excited. Our pro scouts here really liked the player. A lot of tools and athleticism. We liked a lot of things about his performance as well.” -Zack Scott (NYPost.com Mets GM Zack Scott says team ‘not done’ with offseason moves)

I thought it was interesting to see how the Mets were involved on landing their now number 7 top prospect. Also this deal reminds me of why it’s important to not burn your bridges, I suspect that despite leaving the Red Sox organization that Scott still maintains a friendly relationship with his former organization. Do we see more Mets-Redsox trades in the future? I think so.

Photo by Milb.com

Meet the Mets Prospect: OF Khalil Lee

The Tools (20-80 grading scale)

MLB.com: 45 Hit, 50 Power, 55 Run, 60 Arm, 55 Field
Baseball America: 40 Hit, 55 Power, 60 Run, 70 Arm, 55 Field

The Mets surprised everyone last night (February 10, 2020) when they were able to acquire OF Khalil Lee from the Royals organization in a three way traded that also involved the Red Sox. More so, the surprise came with how they acquired him. Khalil Lee slipped into the Mets farm system at # 7. In case you have been living under a rock I will describe the trade that sent Lee over to the Mets.

The Trade

  • Mets receive:
    OF Khalil Lee from the Royals (ranked 8 on Royals farm system).
  • Royals receive:
    OF Andrew Benintendi and cash from the Red Sox.
  • Boston receive:
    OF Franchy Cordero and two players to be named later from the Royals.

    RHP Josh Winchowski (ranked 26 in Mets farm) and one player to be named later from the Mets.

Who is Khalil Lee?

Lee is listed at 5’10 and 192 lbs. on Baseball America. He was drafted by the Royals in the 3rd round with the 103 overall pick in the 2016 draft as an OF. The two-way player finished his senior year at Flint Hill School Virginia and earned Virginia’s Gatorade Player of the Year award as a senior after hitting .471 with 6 home runs and pitching 7-0 with a 0.33 ERA. Despite making great strides as a LHP where he is able to touch 94 mph on his fastball with good feel to add some spin, the Royals decided to pick him up because of his bat and how his athleticism and arm would play out in the OF.

In 2016, Lee put up exceptional numbers in the Rookie league. He slashed a .269/.396/.484 in 182 AB where he hit 6 home runs and stole 8 bases. He also generated 33 walks (14.9 BB%) while striking out 57 times (25.7 K%). Most impressive was his .214 ISO for someone who was a two-way player in High School.

In 2017, while playing in A league, Lee took a drop in batting average, but was able to provide power and speed. He also took a major step back as his K% jumped up to a 32.1% (171 K) but was able to maintain a BB% at 12.2% (65 BB). Scouts did not have concerns about the high K rate because they believed he has an advanced knowledge of the zone. His overall slash line was .237/.344/.430 in 532 PA while hitting 17 HR and swiping 20 bags.

In 2018, Lee started the season in A+ league where in 244 AB, he slashed .270/.402/.406. Although he was not providing power as seen before, he was able to decrease that K% down to 24.9%. The Royals promoted him to AA that same year where he slashed .245/.330/.353 in 102 AB. He finish the year hitting only 6 HR and 16 SB.

2019 was the season that Khalil Lee hit the ground running. I mean that literally as he swiped a whopping 53 bags in 546 PA at AA. He finished the year with a .264/.363/.372 with 8 HR.

The Future

There are rumors fluttering around that the Mets picked up Lee to trade him over to the Cubs in a Bryant package. I do not believe that is true, but I do think that the Mets may be up to something that might involve JD Davis being traded to free up LF for Nimmo. The reality is that before adding Lee, the Mets only had 3 OF prospects on their top 30 list and they are all a few years out. Also, I think that the Mets are intrigued by Lee’s power/speed/OBP upside to trade him.

I think that Lee will eventually end up at RF due to his amazing arm. To me it seems like the Mets wanted to create a safely net just in case they are not able to extended Conforto, who is a free agent after the 2021 season. I view Lee as another depth piece move by the Mets with a high upside and depending on who the PTBNL is, it is a total steal! I am very excited to see what Lee can do. I believe that if Sandy and Scott wanted to find a way into this deal to grab Lee, it is because they see the potential. Besides, if Lee does not work out, I do not think the Mets gave up anything to worry about.

Lee has also has the ability to use all the field as evident in his statcast spray chart below.

Baseballsavant.com

Look for Lee to start the season in AA baseball for a few games and move over to AAA at some point to finish the season. I do not anticipate him making an MLB debut next season with the Mets. While he can play all three positions, I think they will focus on him mostly playing CF and some RF. I’ve heard people say that he is projects only to be a future 4th outfielder, but to me his OBP/SB skill set is such a rate combo and he does have the ability to provide some power. Looking at his stats and upside, I am giving him a young Detroit Tigers Curtis Granderson comparison. I think Lee will have the tools to potentially join Granderson in the 20-20-20-20 club (HR-SB-2B-3B).

If your still not sold on Lee, here’s a clip of him going oppo boppo.

(Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Mets Involved in Benintendi Trade

The Kansas City Royals, Boston Red Sox, and New York Mets have worked out a deal that would send Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi to the Royals.

Kansas City will send prospect Franchy Cordero to the Red Sox in return for Benintendi.

Kansas City Royals Outfield Prospect Khalil Lee is expected to go to the New York Mets as part of this trade.

Lee is ranked as the Royals eighth best prospect and has a ton of speed to go along with some pop. The outfielder was actually also scouted as a pitcher, as well. So his outfield arm should be on point. This is a great acquisition, considering all the details haven’t been revealed yet.

With a lot of the Mets prospects being pitchers and players that are slotted elsewhere, this give the Mets the opportunity to strengthen their outfield prospects.

The Mets will send Josh Winchowski to the Red Sox and the Mets will also send out a PTBNL.

#MetsCrushMonday: Sam McWilliams

The first thing that jumps out at you when you look at Sam McWilliams is that the right-hander is a big guy, standing tall at 6’7”. The Orlando, Florida native would make his way up to Nashville, Tennessee to play high-school baseball before being drafted by the Phillies in the 8th round of the 2014 draft.

While he’s already played for three organizations during his MiLB career, the Mets signed McWilliams to a Major League deal. This may have come as a surprise to some fans, however when you hear that the right-hander had offers from half of the league, not so much of a surprise.

The first thing that jumps out at you after you have a conversation with Sam McWilliams is “Damn, this dude is smart AF!” In a small interview I had with McWilliams on The Mets Junkies Podcast, he gets into how he improved with the Rays organization due to information and analytics.

McWilliams has started in 94 games throughout his MiLB career and in 2019 in 19 starts, the tall righty pitched to a 4.46 ERA as he owned a 2.83 ERA as a reliever that same campaign. Him being able to start games comes of great value to him and the Mets but I think his bread and butter might end up being him working from the bullpen.

He’ll likely start off in Syracuse as he has three of his options remaining, but I’d imagine that we’ll be seeing a lot of McWilliams in the Majors. He very well could be one of the unsung heroes of 2021, if all work outs accordingly.

Sean Connor Flannery:

In 2019, I had the great pleasure of working with the Montgomery Biscuits the AA affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays in a data collection role. During that season McWilliams was named to the Southern League All Star game.

McWilliams is nothing flashy but anytime you can poach an arm from the TBR system and player development is usually a good thing. He doesn’t have an “electric” fastball but uses his 6’7/6’8 height to get pretty good extension and it allows the FB to play up. The slider is his best pitch and he’s got a passable change and fringey curve.

I see him being like the 8th SP on the 40 behind guys like Szapucki/Oswalt/Kilome. While he doesn’t have the upside of the first and last guy on that list he’s got the command and full repertoire like Oswalt. He should be solid depth in Syracuse in ‘21.

Photo from ESPN.com

Mike Minor is off the board

Left handed pitcher Mike Minor and the Kansas City Royals have agreed to a mult-year deal. The transaction is still pending due to the completion of the physical, however this will be Minor’s second go-around with Kansas City.

The deal is throughout the 2022 season while the finances are still undisclosed. Minor is coming off of two straight seasons in which he posted an ERA over the five mark. While those numbers aren’t sexy, Minor could’ve served well for the Mets as a potential fifth starter in the rotation, as well as a bullpen swing-man.

If the Mets decide to tender Steven Matz, he could very well serve that same role. So Sandy Alderson and the Mets must not have been too impressed with the likes of Minor.

Minor hasn’t been in the NL since 2017, however when he was, it was with the NL East Atlanta Braves. In his five seasons with Atlanta, Minor put up a 4.10 ERA in 110 starts. He only made one appearance out of the bullpen with the team, however acclimated well to the role in his first stint with the Royals.

In his career, Minor owns a 71-66 win/loss record with an ERA of 3.98 over the span of 9 years and 1152.1 innings pitched. While he averages 8.2 strikeouts in nine innings in his career, in 2020 he averaged an outstanding 11.4 per every nine frames.

Photo from Joe Camporeale/USA Today

Source: Ken Rosenthal

Also read: Hello, is it me (Blake Snell) you’re looking for?

#FlashbackFriday: The Time a Met was traded for himself

So I never knew of this story but once I randomly stumbled upon it, I decided to do some more looking into it. In 1962, Cleveland and the Mets struck up a deal that would send the right handed catcher Harry Chiti over to New York.

At the time of the trade, the Mets sent over cash to cover Chiti’s contract. The catcher would appear in 15 games for the Metropolitans and in 41 at-bats, he would own a .195/.233/.220/.452 slash line. He hit just one double with 0 home runs or RBI’s that year, which would also end up being his final year of Baseball.

While I’m not sure if this was literally just a rental for 15 games or the Mets just said “we’re not doing this anymore”, the Mets would end up sending Chiti back to Cleveland however would never make a Major League appearance with the club.

Try to keep in mind that 1962 was the inaugural season for the New York Mets, so I’m sure the team was trying their hand at a ton of players just to keep their head afloat. Of course they lost like a million games, but you know what I mean.

Chiti never had any kind of claim to fame on the diamond but he will forever be known as the first Major League Baseball player to be traded for himself.

Photo: Historic Images Outlet

Is Yadier Molina a fit in Flushing?

The BNNY crew over at SNY came together and spoke about if the Mets should sign catcher Yadier Molina. And while we know that many fans want a player like JT Realmuto, James McCann, or even Salvador Perez, Molina is a clear option for the most obvious of reasons.

Molina is a 9x All-Star as well as a 9x Gold Glove winner and 4x Platinum Glove winner that handles a pitching staff incredibly well. The scrappy Puerto Rican catcher has always been a grinder and is a determined winner, sounds like something the Mets could use as new ownership takes over.

Also read: Just how important is McNeil

It’s not like Molina had a terrible 2020 campaign (.262/.303/.359/.662) but he’s definitely on a steady decline at 38 years old. So if the Mets do decide to make an acquisition, it may be on a platoon basis, or even a mentor role as a back-up catcher.

I’d imagine he’d take a mentor/back-up catcher role with the St. Louis Cardinals before anyone else, however Steve Cohen’s fat wallet may have the veteran reconsidering all of his options.

If he does come to the Mets, the future Hall of Famer would be a perfect mentor for the likes of Ali Sanchez, young phenom Francisco Alvarez, and even Tomas Nido.

Also read: Giving Stroman a qualifying offer, is a no brainer

Photo from the St. Louis Post