NEW YORK -- All-Star closer Jeurys Familia got a sizable raise from the New York Mets on Friday while still waiting to find out whether he'll be suspended by Major League Baseball under the sport's domestic violence policy.

Familia will make $7,425,000, according to multiple reports, up from $4.1 million last season.

Starters Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom, who both had season-ending surgery, also settled on one-year contracts and avoided arbitration. Harvey got a raise to $5,125,000 from $4,325,000 and deGrom's salary increased to $4.05 million from $607,000, according to reports.

In addition, catcher Travis d'Arnaud (reportedly $1,875,000) and relievers Addison Reed ($7.75 million) and Josh Edgin ($675,000) reached settlements.

Familia, 27, led the majors with a franchise-record 51 saves last season.

Last month, a judge dismissed a charge stemming from a domestic violence complaint against Familia after the reliever's wife told a prosecutor that her husband did not hurt her. MLB has said its investigation is ongoing.

Familia had been charged with simple assault and had pleaded not guilty after his wife, Bianca Rivas, made several frantic 911 calls to Fort Lee, New Jersey, police on the morning of Oct. 31 in which she described her husband as "drunk" and "going crazy," according to excerpts of a transcript published by Rivas was left with scratches on her chest and a bruise on her right cheek.

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NEW YORK -- Pitchers Carlos Gonzalez of Cincinnati, Gary Cornish of the New York Mets and Makay Nelson of Houston and Boston outfielder Tyler Spoon have been suspended 50 games following positive tests for banned stimulants under baseball's minor league drug program.

The commissioner's office also said Friday that Detroit pitcher Tommy Collier and free agent infielder Kal Simmons have been suspended 50 games apiece following their second positive tests for drugs of abuse.

The office said Gonzalez tested positive for methamphetamine, while Cornish, Nelson and Spoon tested positive for amphetamine.

Gonzalez is at Triple-A Louisville and Collier at Double-A Erie. Cornish (Brooklyn), Nelson (Tri-City) and Spoon (Greenville) are at Class A.

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Mets, Lucas Duda avoid arbitration at $7.25 million

January, 12, 2017
Jan 12

NEW YORK -- First baseman Lucas Duda and the New York Mets avoided arbitration when they agreed to a $7.25 million, one-year contract, a small raise after an injury-plagued season.

Duda, who hit 57 home runs from 2014-15, missed four months last year and was limited to 47 games because of a stress fracture in his lower back. He returned Sept. 18 as a part-time player and finished with a .229 batting average, seven homers and 23 RBI in 153 at-bats.

The soft-spoken first baseman, who turns 31 next month, had a $6,725,000 salary last year and can become a free agent after the upcoming season.

Also Thursday, left-hander Adam Wilk agreed to a minor league contract and was invited to big league spring training.

The 29-year-old is 0-3 with a 6.49 ERA in three starts and six relief appearances overall with Detroit and the Los Angeles Angels, appearing in games in 2011, `12 and `15.

Wilk went 2-8 with a 3.61 ERA in 15 starts last year for Triple-A Durham of the International League. He didn't pitch after June 24 because of an injured labrum in his right hip that needed surgery.

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Tim TebowMike Ehrmann/Getty ImagesTim Tebow, who signed a minor-league deal with the Mets in September but didn't get an invitation to the big-league camp, hit .194 in the Arizona Fall League.

NEW YORK -- Although Tim Tebow did not receive an invitation to big-league camp, New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson indicated Thursday that the former NFL quarterback will participate in some of the team's Grapefruit League games on loan from minor-league camp.

"Too frequently for some and not frequently enough for others," Alderson deadpanned when asked about how often Tebow would be present. "He'll be around."

Tebow, a former Heisman Trophy winner, likely will break camp in April with a full-season minor-league team. He signed a minor-league deal with the Mets in September and proceeded to hit .194 with three doubles, two RBIs and eight walks while striking out 20 times in 62 at-bats in the Arizona Fall League.

"He was in the Arizona Fall League, but that's the only organized league he's ever participated in beyond high school," Alderson recently noted.

"And we understand he's a little bit older so that the process needs to accelerate at some point. But we still need to be prudent about it and put him in situations where he can succeed and not be viewed as, I was going to say, a circus animal. But that's probably not appropriate."

Alderson indicated there's no compelling reason to have Tebow assigned to major-league camp "except for advertising purposes."

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NEW YORK -- A New Jersey man who admitted to forging the signature of a Major League Baseball executive as part of an office-equipment-leasing scam will serve four years in federal prison for the crime.

A federal court judge in Brooklyn sentenced 41-year-old Michael Conway on Wednesday after the Verona man pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud last February.

Conway forged the signature of New York Mets chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon on phony lease agreements and bilked more than $4.5 million from an individual investor and a financial company.

Officials say Conway pocketed most of the money, which he used to party in luxury suites at Citi Field.

Conway blamed his behavior on drug and alcohol abuse. He now must pay $4.7 million in restitution to his victims.

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Zack Wheeler agrees with Mets on one-year contract

January, 11, 2017
Jan 11

NEW YORK -- Right-hander Zack Wheeler agreed to an $800,000, one-year contract with the New York Mets after missing two seasons because of a torn elbow ligament.

Now 26, Wheeler was 7-5 as a rookie for the Mets in 2013 and 11-11 the following year. He had Tommy John surgery on March 25, 2015.

He returned last summer and threw 17 pitches over one inning in a rain-shortened start on Aug. 6 for Class A St. Lucie, then complained of elbow discomfort and didn't pitch again. The Mets expect him to be healthy for the start of spring training next month.

Wheeler, whose deal was announced Wednesday, was eligible for arbitration for the first time after making $546,250 last year.

Eight Mets remain eligible for arbitration and are set to exchange proposed salaries with the team Friday: pitchers Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey, Jeurys Familia, Addison Reed and Josh Edgin; first baseman Lucas Duda; catcher Travis d'Arnaud; and infielder Wilmer Flores.

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Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports Three-time All-Star Jay Bruce hit a combined 33 homers for the Reds and Mets last season.

Could the New York Mets finally find a new home for Jay Bruce?

It is no secret that the Mets have been shopping the veteran outfielder, who became expendable once the club re-signed Yoenis Cespedes to a four-year, $110 million contract prior to the winter meetings.

The interest in Bruce had been tepid at best, especially since a glut of outfielders remain available on the free-agent market. But spring training is fast approaching and’s Anthony DiComo predicts “it's a good bet the Mets will succeed in trading Bruce soon.”

General manager Sandy Alderson has been looking for some value in return for Bruce, who will make $13 million in 2017 before reaching free agency. The Mets need to free up some cash in order to acquire bullpen help, giving them incentive to deal Bruce sooner than later.

Bruce slashed .250/.309/.506 with 33 home runs last season for the Cincinnati Reds and Mets. He struggled in New York, hitting .219 with eight homers in 50 games. The 29-year-old has hit at least 20 home runs in eight of his nine big league seasons.

The Toronto Blue Jays were among the teams linked to the Texas native earlier in the offseason. The Mets can’t afford to wait for a perfect fit in order to deal Bruce, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

-- Doug Mittler

Defense up the middle and power at the corners -- it's the classic method of sorting players into various positions based on their physical abilities that has held true for most of baseball's history. The four up-the-middle positions on the field have long been defense-over-offense positions, with teams focusing more on run prevention than run creation in those spots. Naturally, that put more pressure on the corner positions to produce the bulk of the offense, so with athletes and defenders up the middle, baseball has generally filled out those four spots -- first base, third base, left and right field -- with guys who hit first and figure out how to play defense later.

That's how it used to work. But like so many other things in baseball these days, the type of players teams are sorting into the various positions are also changing, and nowhere is this more obvious than in the dramatically changing profile of the modern left fielder.

Before we get to the data, let's just try a fun little quiz: Name three current major league left fielders who you would describe as offensively gifted but defensively challenged, the kind of guy who would have fit in with Manny Ramirez or Albert Belle, or Jim Rice even further back. With 30 starting left fielders, it shouldn't be that hard to find three bat-first sluggers, right?

Bartolo ColonJake Roth/USA Today SportsBartolo Colon homered on May 7 in pitcher-friendly Petco Park, because he didn't want to hit his first and only homer -- so far -- just anywhere.

So here it is, the last week of December. And you know what I can't get out of my head? Bartolo Colon's home run. Yeah, really. What the heck is wrong with me, anyway?

And then I realize. Nothing is wrong with me. I'm thinking about Bartolo's magical home run because it makes me laugh -- but also because it reminds me of something I never want to forget.

That baseball is awesome. And this totally goofy, totally exhilarating, totally out-of-the-blue home run was one of those OMG moments that sums up the strange but true beauty of this incredible sport.

Every single day, for six months a year, we find ourselves asking: How the hell did that happen? Or: When was the last time that happened? Or: Did you just see what I saw? Or something like that. Well, you know what? Even in December, when we find ourselves halfway through baseball's long, cold, box-score-free offseason, that's something to celebrate.

So what better time to savor those beautiful moments than the final week of 2016, when there is no baseball at all -- other than the awesome memories that get us through the winter? C'mon, raise your champagne glasses as we toast the 100 percent nonfictional wackiness that makes baseball so relentlessly cool.


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The Nationals made their move back to the top of the NL East in 2016, but how much of that will carry over into 2017, and how much can they count on Bryce Harper to bounce back from his tumble from greatness? One thing seems certain: Between the Mets' depth, the Marlins' mass acquisition of pitching help, and a Braves team looking to build on a strong stretch run, the division is about to get much tighter.

There are still a huge number of free agents available, but let's look at the NL East and where each team stands right now in its hunt for the 2017 postseason (teams are listed in the order they finished in the 2016 NL East standings).

Washington Nationals

2016: 95-67, +151 run differential, lost to Dodgers in NLDS

2017 projected record from FanGraphs: 90-72

Key moves so far: Acquired OF Adam Eaton from White Sox for Ps Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning; acquired C Derek Norris; traded SS Danny Espinosa; lost P Mark Melancon, C Wilson Ramos as free agents.

Are the Nationals better than they were last year? There's reason to believe they'll at least be as good after the Eaton trade and with a full season from Trea Turner. Harper's decline was a bit staggering -- 87-point dip in batting average and OBP, 208 points in slugging -- and Baseball-Reference's metrics say he was worth eight fewer wins than in 2015. Even if 2015 proves to be peak Harper, he should be better than he was in 2016.

At the same time, there are reasons for concern. The starting pitching depth is thin, and Stephen Strasburg and Joe Ross both landed on the DL in 2016. They're looking for a closer or bullpen depth if Blake Treinen or Shawn Kelley take over the ninth. Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth are aging former stars, as the Nationals had the worst first-base production in the majors, and Werth hit just .220/.312/.356 against righties. Then you have to account for some likely regression from Daniel Murphy and the loss of Ramos, who posted an .850 OPS in a huge year at the plate.

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Mr. & Mrs. MetJohn Palmer/MediaPunch/IPX/AP PhotosAccording to a new forecast we're calling MiPS (Metropolitans Projection System), the team from Queens will be healthy -- and hard to beat -- next season. You only have to take their word for it.

It's that time of the year, baseball fans. The time of year when statheads and soothsayers start firing up the old projection machine to see which MLB teams are the ones to beat. In case you haven't heard, MiPS is forecasting the New York Mets to do big things in the upcoming 2017 season.

Never heard of MiPS? You're not alone. It's kind of like ZiPS, which stands for sZymborski Projection System and has become one of baseball's go-to predictors in recent years. Only instead of renowned sabermetrician -- and contributor -- Dan Szymborski running the numbers, MiPS relies on the prognosticative powers of ... the Mets. And no, we're not referring to New York's analytics department either. We're talking about the actual Mets. Like, the ones who actually take the field and play the game. To be more specific, their pitchers. Behold, the Metropolitans Projection System.

While ZiPS has Terry Collins' squad pegged for a middling 84 wins (six fewer than the defending NL East champion Nationals), MiPS is decidedly more bullish on the Mets. Although MiPS has yet to release an exact numerical prediction, the general consensus is that the Mets will go as far as their starting rotation takes them, and right now MiPS is higher than Snoop Dogg in a hot air balloon -- unrealistically high, some might say -- on New York's starters.

During the recent winter meetings, when Washington was on the verge of acquiring ace Chris Sale

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Jemele Hill and Michael Smith react to the Twitter video of Atlanta Braves pitcher Bartolo Colon displaying his offseason workout regimen.

Adam RubinA misdemeanor assault charge stemming from a domestic violence allegation was dropped against Mets closer Jeurys Familia after his wife was "steadfast that the matter be dismissed."

FORT LEE, N.J. -- A New Jersey judge agreed Thursday to drop the simple-assault charge against New York Mets closer Jeurys Familia, ending the legal proceeding stemming from a domestic-violence allegation.

Municipal court judge John DeSheplo accepted Fort Lee prosecutor Arthur Balsamo's recommendation that the misdemeanor charge be dismissed. The judge also ordered the record of the case to be expunged.

"I'm happy the case is resolved," said Familia's defense attorney, Paul Brickfield.

Balsamo had met with Familia's wife, Bianca Rivas, before the hearing Thursday in Fort Lee Municipal Court. Rivas, represented by her own attorney, did not wish for the domestic-violence case to be pursued.

The couple arrived at court together, and Rivas met with the prosecutor for five minutes before the court session began.

"She's been steadfast that the matter be dismissed," Balsamo told the judge.

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Asdrubal Cabrera
.280 23 62 65
HRY. Cespedes 31
RBIY. Cespedes 86
RC. Granderson 88
OPSY. Cespedes .884
WB. Colon 15
ERAN. Syndergaard 2.60
SON. Syndergaard 218