SAN DIEGO (AP)The New York Mets and right-hander Michael Wacha are nearing an agreement on a one-year deal, a person with knowledge of the contract told The Associated Press.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity Wednesday because the deal was not yet complete.
The Mets have been in the market for a fifth starter to slot behind Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Marcus Stroman and Steven Matz. Wacha comes with upside, but also a checkered health history.
The 28-year-old Wacha starred as a rookie for the pennant-winning St. Louis Cardinals in 2013, winning NL Championship Series MVP, but he’s been hampered by injuries since.
He had a 4.76 ERA over 126 2/3 innings this year, making 24 of his 29 appearances as a starter. He was diagnosed with a right shoulder strain in September and did not pitch for St. Louis in the postseason.
The Mets have asked Seth Lugo and Robert Gsellman to train this offseason as if they will be starting pitchers, and general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said Wednesday that plan hasn’t changed. Lugo and Gsellman pitched out of the bullpen last year but have starting experience. The hope is to have them stretched out as rotation depth for spring training, then move them to relief if there are five healthy starters ahead of them on the depth chart.
Wacha is represented by CAA, the same agency where Van Wagenen was an agent before being hired as the Mets general manager last offseason.
”He’s got championship makeup,” Van Wagenen said of Wacha.
Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said at the winter meetings Wednesday that he has been monitoring negotiations for hedge fund manager Steve Cohen to increase his ownership stake in the New York Mets, possibly becoming controlling owner.
The team has said a deal between Sterling Partners and Cohen would allow 83-year-old Fred Wilpon to remain as controlling owner and chief executive officer for five years. Jeff Wilpon, the 57-year-old son of the owner, would remain as chief operating officer. Sterling Partners is controlled by the Wilpons.
Manfred said he did not anticipate issues with the proposed ownership situation, in which Fred Wilpon would be controlling owner despite Cohen having a majority share.
”We have had situations where particularly in path-to-control cases like this, where someone who owns more is not actually the control person for a period of time,” Manfred said. ”Steve Cohen and Fred Wilpon have known each other for a long time. Steve has been an element in the club for a long time. ”I do not expect that there will be any governance issues associated with the plan that they have in place for the transition of the Mets. It’s a pretty standard-looking transaction in terms of path-to-control and transition.”
Cohen bought an 8% limited partnership stake in 2012 for $40 million. The new deal, expected to be finalized early next year, would see him acquire an 80% controlling share in a transaction that values the team at $2.6 billion. Because the deal is a path for Cohen to replace Fred Wilpon as the Mets’ control person for MLB, the sale likely will need 75% approval from clubs.
AP Baseball Writer Ronald Blum contributed to this story.
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