We seem to have reached the portion of the evening where reports from today’s activity in Orlando will being filtering out. Or maybe we’ve just got this one, but either way, it’s a hum dinger, as Shi Davidi of Sportsnet tells us about all kinds of things Alex Anthopoulos has been up to so far today, which sounds as though it’s mostly centred around finding a new catcher and a high-end starting pitcher.
Obvious, I know, but given AA’s reluctance over the course of the season to acknowledge just how poorly J.P. Arencibia was playing, there have genuinely been concerns among fans that the club may have been willing to ride out 2014 while banking on a rebound from Gregg Zaun and Dirk Hayhurst’s favourite Blue Jay.
The catching market this off-season is a robust one, and as the general managers’ meetings opened Monday at the swanky JW Marriott Grande Lakes in sunny Orlando, Alex Anthopoulos has been in the thick of it, according to multiple sources.
Inquiries have been made on A.J. Pierzynski, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Carlos Ruiz and given the way Anthopoulos operates, you can bet he’s at least checked in on Brian McCann, as well.
Davidi goes on to tell us that the market may be slow in developing, and that his sources say that some unexpected teams had been looking into the free agent catchers as well, which could slow things down even more. But the important takeaway is, of course: holy fuck, we’re not going to have to watch J.P. Arencibia again next year.
Well… not up close, at least. With out luck I’m sure that, from afar, we’ll see him turn the corner both defensively and at the plate. But, honestly, who cares??? It’s entirely like the Aaron Hill thing: even if his departure works out as absolutely fucking abysmally as possible for the Jays– and Hill’s time in Arizona pretty much has (even though it’s a moot point, considering that the Jays were not going to pick up his option after 2011 anyway)– Arencibia simply isn’t ever going to work out here. Or… if it is, we just can’t be willing to wait for it any longer.
And there’s more: Davidi notes that the Jays have been kicking the tires on some starters as well…
Top-end starting pitching will cost a fortune on the free agent market, as Ervin Santana has set his price at $100 million over five years and Ricky Nolasco at $80 million over five. In the current environment, they may get close to those numbers. Matt Garza would be in that neighbourhood too – all probably too rich for the Blue Jays – but one intriguing name is Ubaldo Jimenez, whom Anthopoulos pursued in the past.
. . .
Still, the Blue Jays have been casting a wide net as is their modus operandi, calling on everyone from Santana to Tim Hudson and Hiroki Kuroda (both not likely interested in the Blue Jays).
That all makes total sense, I think– both the “likely” lack of interest from Hudson and Kuroda, and the Jays’ potential interest in a guy like Ubaldo.
In a report at Fox Sports, Ken Rosenthal reiterates the stuff about Santana trying to get a $100-million deal, and gives us a taste of what the player’s agent, the awesomely-named agent for Jose Bautista, Bean Stringfellow, is trying to use to convince teams he’s worth it. Interestingly, it’s not Santana, nor Matt Garza, nor even Ricky Nolasco or A.J. Burnett, who is the second-ranked starter (and fourth-ranked player overall) behind Masahiro Tanaka on Keith Law’s top 50 free agents list at ESPN.com (Insider Only). It’s Jimenez, who– based on his second half in Cleveland this year– Law says “looks like a new guy out there.”
Establishing the fastball earlier in counts, throwing it for more strikes and getting more swings and misses on it. That allows him to set up his plus slider, short and hard at 85-87 mph, as well as a low- to mid-80s splitter with good bottom that helps him against left-handed hitters.
The lack of track record is terrifying, but a 30-year-old with this kind of stuff and his newfound control has to get four years, if not more, in this kind of market, likely for $14 million to $15 million a year.
There’s risk with everybody, and that’s still a tonne of money, but if the track record and the pick are suppressing his value, the Jays– as I apparently keep saying– could do a whole, whole lot worse. Josh Johnson-like upside in a body that, despite the funky delivery, has been remarkably durable, averaging 32.5 starts per season in his six years as a full-time big league starter.
Maybe I’m focusing too much on this one guy here, but I definitely do smell a fit– and one that, while I know isn’t universally loved, I definitely find palatable. 22.5 fWAR in six years as a starter will kinda do that, I think.
Among much more, which you should totally go and check out via the link to Sportsnet above, Davidi also notes that Munenori Kawasaki could still be in play for the Jays, and that the club’s new first base coach should be named soon, and may be Trey Hillman. Just released as the Dodgers bench coach, the former Royals manager (and two-time winner of the Japan Series as manager) had John Gibbons as his bench coach during his rocky tenure in Kansas City.
So… there’s that.