Quick Hits: Stearns, Rosenthal, Mets, Vazquez, Cruz

In his latest piece, Jon Heyman of the New York Post suggests Brewers president of baseball operations David Stearns is interested in filling a similar position for the Mets in the future. That Stearns might be interested in one day taking over the Mets front office isn’t new, but the timing of such a transition had long been obscured due to Stearns’ questionable contract status. Heyman now clarifies that it is “believed” the Brewers’ top executive can opt out of his contract if the Brewers reach the NLCS this season, after which the Mets would likely pursue him.

New York’s personnel decisions were a hot topic this past winter, as the team hired veteran manager Buck Showalter to lead a new on-field staff and were snubbed by a series of high-profile front office candidates. The Brewers were among the rejectors as well, with Brewers owner Mark Attanasio denying the Mets an opportunity to interview David Stearns on multiple occasions. Ultimately the Mets pivoted and signed Billy Eppler to a four-year contract to serve as their GM, with the industry expectation being that the Mets could install a president of baseball operations down the line. Both the Mets and Brewers are certainly pleased with their front office configurations at the moment, however, as the Eppler and Stearns-led clubs sport records of 19-9 and 18-8, respectively, atop their divisions.

Some other news of note on this Thursday evening…

  • Sticking with the Mets, Heyman suggests that the team is likely to seek relief help at the trade deadline. Right-handed reliever and free agent Trevor Rosenthal could be an early target according to Heyman, as the former closer is expected to hold a pitching showcase in the coming weeks. Reported interest in Rosenthal has been widespread since April, but has yet to manifest into a deal. The 31-year-old Rosenthal is coming off an ill-fated, one-year deal with the A’s in which he failed to throw a regular season pitch for the team due to injury. Before he underwent multiple season-ending surgeries in 2021, Rosenthal was fresh off a triumphant comeback season in which he posted a 1.90 ERA with a 41.8% strikeout percentage as the Royals’ and Padres’ closer.
  • Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez is keeping his options open as he nears free agency at the end of the season, per Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe. The longtime Boston catcher figures to have his fair share of suitors should he reach free agency like expected, as he routinely draws plaudits for his defensive work and leadership even as his bat has waxed and waned throughout his career. To that end, the Red Sox picked up a $7MM club option on the veteran receiver this offseason even though his 2021 slash line of .258/.308/.352 paled in comparison to the stout .278/.327/.472 line he posted in the preceding two years. Vazquez is off to a tepid start this season with an OPS of just .524, though slow starts are nothing new for the catcher as he looks to lead his club up and away from a last-place tie with the Orioles.
  • Top Pirates prospect Oneil Cruz lit up the minor leagues last season and regularly draws comparisons to Aaron Judge, but Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette outlines a few reasons to temper expectations for the young slugger. The towering shortstop received a two-game game cameo in the majors last season but was ticketed for more work at Triple-A to begin the 2022 season. Thanks to a .159/.266/.256 start to the season and service time repercussions for Pittsburgh, Mackey figures a return to the big leagues is unlikely to happen in the near future. Another wrinkle to keep an eye out for is Cruz’s adoption of a new position this season: left field. Though the 6 foot 7 inch Cruz has primarily played shortstop since his pro debut, including this season, much has been made of his (in)ability to stick there long-term due to his size. The 23-year-old has plainly stated that he “[doesn’t] want to move to the outfield” however, which may complicate his permanent rise to the big league level. Incumbent Pirate shortstops Cole Tucker and Diego Castillo shouldn’t prove to be large roadblocks for the eventual promotion of a player the industry still holds in incredibly high regard. For now though, Pirates fans will have to wait a while longer for their best prospect to join Ke’Bryan Hayes in the lineup and, potentially, the left side of the infield for years to come.

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