SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (CBSNewYork/AP) — In his first public comments since a domestic violence complaint was filed against New York Mets closer Jeurys Familia, general manager Sandy Alderson said the team already was likely to seek bullpen help before the legal problem surfaced last week.
A complaint in municipal court in Fort Lee, New Jersey, dated Oct. 31 alleged the All-Star pitcher caused “bodily injury to another.” A hearing is scheduled for Nov. 14.
“Obviously, we were extremely disappointed and frankly shocked at the allegations,” Alderson said Monday at the major league general managers meeting. “Of course, he hasn’t had a hearing yet and so the facts are to be determined.”
Alderson termed it “not just an unfortunate situation, but a sad one for him and his family.”
The 27-year-old Familia led the majors with a franchise-record 51 saves this year and has 94 over the past two seasons for the Mets.
“I don’t think that it’s fully sunk in yet as to what impact it will have simply because it’s not clear what exactly happened and how that will impact his availability,” Alderson said. “I think we were inclined to look at some additional late-inning help before this incident occurred.”
Under baseball’s new domestic violence policy, Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman was suspended for the first 29 games of the 2016 season and Colorado shortstop Jose Reyes for 59 days. Reyes was released by the Rockies and signed with the Mets, his original big league team.
As the meeting began, the Mets made $17.2 million qualifying offers to a pair of free agents, outfielder Yoenis Cespedes and second baseman Neil Walker. They have until next Monday to accept.
Acquired from Detroit at the July 31 trade deadline in 2015, Cespedes had 17 home runs and 44 RBIs in 57 games with the Mets down the stretch that year, helping them reach the World Series for the first time since 2000.
After finding a slow market for his services in a free-agent class that also included outfielders Jason Heyward, Alex Gordon and Justin Upton, Cespedes made a surprise return to the Mets when New York agreed in January to a $75 million, three-year contract that allowed him to opt out after one season and $27.5 million.
Cespedes had 31 homers and 86 RBIs in 132 games this year, slowed after injuring his right quadriceps on July 8. He terminated the deal Saturday.
“We expected him to opt out. We did have one meeting with his agent, about a week, 10 days ago,” Alderson said, adding he will meet with the agent again this week. “I would say there was some interest on their part in perhaps doing something sooner rather than later. But I think this particular situation is going to have to work itself out. That doesn’t mean that we’re looking for the same sort of late offseason resolution that we had last year.”
Walker, who had season-ending back surgery on Sept. 8, wants to remain with the Mets, and New York would like to keep him. While Alderson said a long-term contract is possible, he also said Walker might accept the qualifying offer.
In a 30-minute assessment of his team’s status, Alderson said he expects a return to health for the Mets’ starting rotation.
Matt Harvey had surgery July 18 for thoracic outlet syndrome, Jacob deGrom had a September operation on the ulnar nerve in his right elbow and left-hander Steven Matz had bone spurs removed from his left elbow and a platelet-rich plasma injection in his left shoulder.
Right-hander Noah Syndergaard also was slowed by bone spurs but did not have surgery, and right-hander Zack Wheeler hasn’t returned to the major leagues from Tommy John surgery in March 2015.
“In spite of the bumps and bruises and things, people have expressed interest,” Alderson said. “Because of all these little — these nicks and other things, I think it’s unlikely we’d trade any of that pitching, in part because it is our strength and in part because right now it might be discounted a little bit in value.”
With the emergence of Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman, Alderson said the Mets could employ a six-man rotation at times or skip starts to “keep guys fresh.” He hopes to re-sign Bartolo Colon, who turns 44 in May.
“We’re eight or nine deep, depending,” the GM said. “Am I confident they’re all going to be 100 percent? Well that would be probably unrealistic to believe, but I do think we’re going to be in a much better position with our starting pitching coming out of spring training next year than we have been.”
Alderson said the Mets will offer a 2017 contract to first baseman Lucas Duda, limited to 47 games because of a stress fracture in his lower back. He expects improved offense at catcher; starter Travis d’Arnaud had 15 RBIs in 75 games, limited by a strained rotator cuff.
“You can’t go into National League season with your eight hitter hitting essentially what your nine hitter is hitting,” Alderson said. “But we think we have the potential for improvement there.”
Captain David Wright, who lost weight after surgery June 16 to repair a herniated disk in his neck, is back to 215-218 pounds, according to Alderson. The GM also said he hopes to finalize the coaching staff in the next week but wouldn’t say whether there would be changes.
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