I think I can probably, by now, say for certain that this will become a regular feature around here for the early winter, as again today, with any number of rumblings out there on the trade and free agent markets, and all kinds of decisions being made on players throughout the league who may wind up having some bearing on the Jays’ plans for the off-season, I think it will be a valuable exercise to comb through the latest from the astonishingly fantastic and comprehensive MLB Trade Rumors and add some Jays-related context to whatever is going on out there…
In Buster Olney’s latest for ESPN.com, he wonders if a club might “move aggressively” on Jeremy Guthrie, and whether the Jays might be such a club, given their need and Guthrie’s track record in the AL East. Frankly, I wouldn’t hate such a move, assuming that it pushes Henderson Alvarez to Buffalo and leaves room for one, or perhaps even two more additions to the rotation. I wouldn’t put it past Anthopoulos to flip JA Happ in a deal for a starter, and Guthrie– with his ability to be solidly above replacement level, though slightly below average (except when in Colorado), and eat a bunch of innings– would slot in nicely as a fifth starter, should that happen. Or even if not. Thing is, I worry that “move aggressively” might be code for “offer more years than otherwise necessary,” which probably only means two… but still. On the other hand, his 91 innings with Kansas City in the second half was perhaps the best stretch of his career– 3.16 ERA, 3.84 FIP, though his ability to keep balls in the ballpark makes his rate-adjusted numbers like xFIP or SIERA look a little worse. But still solidly mediocre!
Shortstop Jed Lowrie of the Astros is drawing interest, which actually might present an interesting opportunity for the Jays. Sure, they have middle infielders aplenty for the moment, and the price might be exorbitant, and Lowrie has had some injury troubles in his career. But the Astros are one club who won’t necessarily be looking for MLB talent in return, and adding yet another middle infielder would make it more comfortable to move Yunel Escobar elsewhere. Basically, something like that would make the Jays’ lives easier: turning minor league assets into an open MLB asset that the vast majority of teams are more likely to covet. Plus, Lowrie is looking at making around $1.9-million in 2013, and is only under team control for two years, which would open the position up for Adeiny Hechavarria sooner than Escobar’s deal allows– assuming his options are exercised.
Torii Hunter is visiting Detroit today, and people seem to think it’s a foregone conclusion he’ll sign with the Tigers. I can’t say it wouldn’t be a tremendously solid move for them– and for those of us who had to watch Delmon Young attempt to play the outfield during the World Series. Hunter only has so many good years left to give, and the Tigers’ Championship window isn’t going to be open forever– though I suppose we kinda thought that while watching Magglio Ordonez decline, too, isn’t it? Seems like a good match, and while I like the pipe dream of Hunter joining the Jays instead– especially after looking deeper at his splits– for a club with finite resources, at least 2/5ths of their rotation currently vacant, and really only needing a left fielder to platoon with Rajai Davis, I can see why it was probably not even worth the time to try and convince him to bring his 37-year-old knees to our turf.
As mentioned earlier, the Cubs signed Scott Baker to a one-year deal worth $5.5-million, with $1.5-million in incentives. This provoked some conversation on Twitter about the Jays’ disinclination to make those kinds of deals– stemming back to the Frank Thomas debacle. Now, I’ll be the first one to laugh in the face of the Toronto Maple Leafs when their ridiculous GM boxes himself in with policies restrictive beyond what’s allowable by the CBA, but in this case with the Jays, I get it. For one, there aren’t really performance incentives in MLB anyway– contracts have “escalators” based on playing time– which means that you can run into a Thomas-like situation, where the front office may want to manipulate playing time in order to save money, which is not exactly ideal. More importantly, AA has said that he’d prefer to guarantee more money to a player, rather than go that route, so theoretically he isn’t missing out on getting anybody signed because of the policy– at least, not because of that any more than the fact that his cheap ownership group hasn’t yet provided many dollars for him to guarantee.
Ben Nicholson-Smith– Benny Fresh!– takes a look at the Jays’ small list of arbitration-eligibles: Corey Wade, Bobby Wilson, Colby Rasmus and JA Happ. Because a quaint little anachronism, Rasmus is probably not in line to do so badly, thanks to his 23 home runs and 75 RBIs. Because, you know, those numbers are all you need to know to tell you he was great, right? Shove your advanced numbers, stat boy, amright?
The Cardinals have released reliever Kyle McLellan, which normally wouldn’t warrant mention, if not for AA’s infatuation with the relief market– not to mention the fact that McLellan started 17 times for the Cardinals in 2011, and was only a shade below replacement! (Well, over half a win, per FanGraphs). He was looking at about $2.4-million in arbitration, though.
Apparently the Braves nixed a Mike Olt for Andrelton Simmons deal with Texas– who were angling to turn Olt into a commodity that the Diamondbacks would flip for Justin Upton, without having to move either Jurickson Profar or Elvis Andrus. I’d make some kind of comment about Adeiny Hechavarria here, but Simmons’ ability to make contact, take a walk, and the 55 point gulf in OBP between the two in their first MLB forays kinda preclude me.