01/27 23:53 CST Mets trade LHP Steven Matz to Blue Jays for 3 young arms
Mets trade LHP Steven Matz to Blue Jays for 3 young arms
By MIKE FITZPATRICK
AP Baseball Writer
NEW YORK (AP) --- In a deal between two of baseball's busiest teams this
winter, the New York Mets traded left-hander Steven Matz to the Toronto Blue
Jays for three young pitchers Wednesday night.
New York received reliever Sean Reid-Foley and minor league right-handers Josh
Winckowski and Yennsy Daz in a move that could signal the Mets are pursuing a
pricey free agent.
Matz, a New York product, is set to earn $5.2 million this year and can become
a free agent after the season. He is coming off a miserable 2020, when he went
0-5 with a 9.68 ERA and lost his rotation spot during the pandemic-shortened
season. He spent the final month on the injured list with shoulder discomfort
after making six starts and three relief appearances.
Beset by injuries throughout his career, the 29-year-old Matz is 31-41 with a
4.35 ERA and 552 strikeouts over 579 2/3 innings in six major league seasons,
all with the Mets.
Toronto is hoping Matz can rediscover his early form and strengthen a suspect
pitching staff as the Blue Jays look to complement a talented group of hitters
that includes free-agent newcomer George Springer.
Toronto recently signed Springer to a team-record $150 million, six-year
contract. Looking to challenge the AL champion Rays and big-budget Yankees in
the AL East, the Blue Jays also brought back lefty Robbie Ray and signed
right-handers Kirby Yates and Tyler Chatwood this offseason. They have a
pending $18 million, one-year deal with infielder Marcus Semien, subject to a
"The bulk of our heavy lifting is done," team president Mark Shapiro said
Wednesday before the deal for Matz was announced.
Toronto went 32-28 last year, finishing third in the AL East behind Tampa Bay
and New York. The young Blue Jays qualified for the expanded playoffs but were
swept in two games by the Rays during their first-round series.
Under new owner Steve Cohen, the Mets also were said to be interested in
Springer. They've been very active elsewhere as well, acquiring star shortstop
Francisco Lindor and starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco in a blockbuster trade
New York also signed free-agent catcher James McCann to a $40.6 million,
four-year contract, and reliever Trevor May to a $15.5 million, two-year deal.
Left-hander Joey Lucchesi was obtained in a three-team trade involving San
Diego and Pittsburgh.
Now that Springer is off the board, the Mets could be turning their attention
on the free-agent market to NL Cy Young Award winner Trevor Bauer or center
fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. --- perhaps a motivation for shedding Matz's salary.
New York added a left-hander to its bullpen earlier in the day, agreeing to a
one-year contract with free agent Aaron Loup, a person familiar with the
negotiations told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of
anonymity because the deal was subject to a successful physical.
Loup's pending arrival made Matz more expendable, and the trade with Toronto
capped an eventful day that began with the Mets promoting recently hired
assistant general manager Zack Scott to acting GM --- eight days after Jared
Porter was fired from that job.
Reid-Foley was 1-0 with a 1.35 ERA in five relief outings covering 6 2/3
innings for the Blue Jays last season. The 25-year-old right-hander, a
second-round draft pick in 2014, is 5-8 with a 4.40 ERA in 21 major league
games --- including 13 starts --- over three seasons with Toronto. He has 76
strikeouts in 71 2/3 innings and is not eligible for arbitration until after
the 2022 season at the earliest.
Winckowski, 22, was a combined 10-8 with a 2.69 ERA at Class A Dunedin and
Class A Lansing in 2019. The 15th-round draft pick was rated Toronto's
27th-best prospect in 2020, according to MLB.com. He is 18-17 with a 3.35 ERA
in 54 games, 50 starts, across four minor league seasons.
The 24-year-old Daz appeared in one big league game for the Blue Jays in 2019.
He was 11-9 with a 3.74 ERA in 26 games, 24 starts, for Double-A New Hampshire
that year and was rated the Blue Jays' 26th-best prospect in 2020 by MLB.com.
Daz is 34-26 with a 3.84 ERA over five minor league seasons.
Matz grew up on Long Island about 50 miles from Citi Field and was a touted
prospect when he made his big league debut with a flourish in June 2015. He
went 4-0 with a 2.27 ERA in six starts that season and helped pitch the Mets to
the NL pennant. He was 0-1 with a 3.68 ERA in three postseason starts,
including one in the World Series against Kansas City.
Following another promising season in 2016 that was cut short by injury, Matz
struggled during an abbreviated 2017 campaign. He went 5-11 with a 3.97 ERA
over 154 innings in 2018, and 11-10 with a 4.21 ERA over 160 1/3 innings in
Matz became the third pitcher from Long Island involved in a Blue Jays-Mets
swap since July 2019, when Toronto sent Marcus Stroman to New York in a deal
that netted left-hander Anthony Kay --- who went to the same high school as
AP Baseball Writer Ronald Blum in New York and AP freelancer Ian Harrison in
Toronto contributed to this report.
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