I can’t say for certain that, once again, this will become a regular feature around here throughout the winter, but today, and for the duration of both this week’s GM Meetings, and next month’s Winter Meetings, with all kinds of movement happening 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…
First, though, a few non-MLBTR items:
Over at Sportsnet we have a nifty roundtable piece featuring Shi Davidi, Ben Nicholson-Smith, Mike Wilner and Arden Zwelling, as they get us setup for the GM Meetings and the off-season as a whole.
Apparently back on Friday, while we were all marvelling at Brett Lawrie’s vertical, Yahoo’s Jeff Passan tweeted that the Jays are considering turning Jeremy Jeffress into a starter. Hoookay. A little late for that, seeing as he’s out of options and certainly not going to go into the season as one of the club five, or even six or seven, best starters. So… I don’t entirely get it from their perspective, though I guess it always pays to be looking to develop assets, and if you look at his FanGraphs page, the Baseball Info Solutions data shows that he started mixing in a changeup this year, making him a three pitch pitcher with his fastball and curve (the unadjusted Pitch F/X data says otherwise), which maybe makes it feasible, as does the fact that he could lose a couple of ticks off his fastball and still be a hard thrower– and might even find a little more command, to boot. So… OK, maybe he challenges for the swingman role. Sure.
Blue Jays Plus tells us that, according to a source– *COUGH* Matt Sosnick *COUGH*– the market for Josh Johnson is “heavy” and in the $10-million area, and that the Jays haven’t contacted their free agent pitcher since declining to make a qualifying offer last week. Hard to see Johnson seeing the value in returning to pitch for a better contract in this environment, or the Jays having any interest at those reported prices– I mean, if they were willing to make a competitive bid at $10-million, wouldn’t they have just got him for sure at $14? OK, maybe not, but I’m pretty sure this experiment is over. Too bad it didn’t work out.
Here’s something that should be over: speculating about the Jays trading a big bat for Jon Niese. That’s what John Harper of the New York Daily News did over the weekend, though he went spitballin’ with Edwin Encarnacion’s name, rather than the more often-used Jose Bautista. That’s not to say that Niese isn’t a pretty good pitcher with a good contract, it’s just… yeah, no. And Edwin, I’m very, very confident isn’t going anywhere– which is just a gut feeling, of course, but right now I’d say a Bautista trade, while I don’t expect one, wouldn’t be entirely stunning, but an Edwin would absolutely would to me.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post notes that the Jays are prioritizing starting pitching, which… we know. But what’s interesting here is that he seems to suggest that the club is really just aiming for one high end starter, which I’d have to believe is true, and is smart. They believe they have the depth, so this talk about needing two– or the people irritatingly pretending that Brandon Morrow is for sure not going to be anything (which Morrow himself scoffs at)– is maybe a bit rich. Of course, I say that knowing full well that it’s probably just because I don’t want anything– except maybe Drew Hutchison, or I guess Kyle Drabek, if he looks anything like the guy we once dreamed on– getting in the way of Marcus Stroman joining the rotation. Because this.
And now, for reals this time, Today In MLBTR…
I don’t know if the first two of these are rumours or just statements of fact, but in the recap of Nick Cafardo’s latest at the Boston Globe, we’re told that the Jays may look to the outfield market if they think Melky Cabrera won’t be healthy (beacuse… well, yeah), and that Adam Lind may still be shopped, despite the club picking up his option for 2014. Cafardo’s other Jays-related item, however, is somewhat intriguing as– speaking of lefty platoon guys– he suggests the Jays may have interest in Andre Ethier of the Dodgers, who could be available, as well as Matt Kemp. Obviously Kemp is the bigger name of the two, and the bigger talent when healthy and right, but holy shit, that’s a hell of a fucking bloated contract for a guy who has been hurt and/or terrible for a couple of years now, including being below replacement level over 73 games in 2013. He earns a shade over $21-million each year from now until the end of the 2019 season. But shit, if Rogers could make that sort of commitment and not allow it to, y’know, strangle future payrolls to fucking death, then… I don’t know… he could probably be had for not a whole lot. It’s just, that would probably be really, really dumb, unfortunately. Probably.
One of the bigger news items from around the league this morning is, of course… um… have you heard Jays fans pipe dreaming about getting one of the Cardinals good young pitchers somehow? With Jose Bautista possibly? Or… actually, I don’t know how anybody thinks that might work, and besides, it sounds like the Cardinals are pushing hard to land Troy Tulowitzki from the Rockies. Scary thought. It’s almost like that organization knows what the hell it’s doing.
Speaking of smart organizations, the Red Sox may be looking at Carlos Beltran, though we’re pointed to a piece noting that it would be hard to fit him in, as he’ll probably have to DH a bit due to his wonky knees, and Boston’s kind of already got a guy for that. Our shitty concrete-and-carpet will probably, once again, preclude the Jays from getting a second though, though I think it’d be a great landing spot for him– and there’s at least a better chance now that the club is geared to winning than maybe there was the last time Alex Anthopoulos tried to land him. Plus, a piece from Joel Sherman of the New York Post- where the DH stuff comes from– suggests he’s looking for a three- or four-year deal. I still think the idea of dealing Jose Bautista for pitching is probably stupidity, but if the Jays could land a Beltran, that sure would mitigate the loss. Not that I don’t fully acknowledge it’s a pipe dream.
What, I wonder, does the Red Sox being smart, and also being interested in A.J. Pierzynski say about the catching market? Probably that it pretty much fucking sucks, that’s what. Among other Sox notes in the piece linked here is the fact that the club may not re-sign Jacoby Ellsbury– which was totally the sense I’d had all along– but also that they’d not just hand the reins in centre to Jackie Bradley Jr. I figured that would be where they’re angling, but he sure didn’t look great in 100-odd big league plate appearances this year before he was sent down, though he was excellent again in Triple-A. Not terribly Jays-related is this one, is it?
In a Quick Hits piece, we’re told of the possible coming of another Ohka crisis, as Tomo Ohka is apparently looking to return to the big leagues. As a knuckleballer! More pertinently, though, and speaking of the catching market, we’re also given a link to Keith Law’s catcher and DH buyer’s guide, where he points to Dionner Navarro as the market’s best piece. “Navarro, Law writes, should get paid ‘backup money,’ but he might put up a starter-caliber performance.” Might, he says. KLaw also suggests that the Angels will likely dangle Chris Iannetta, rather than Hank Conger– who “costs the Angels the minimum salary, is a switch-hitter with more pop than Iannetta offers, and is among the best pitch-framers in the game”– and says he gets the sense that the Jays are “sick of Arencibia’s act on and off the field.” Uh-huh.
In the same post we’re directed to a piece from Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times, who says that the Cubs may not be interested in playing with the big boys when it comes to moves like a Brian McCann signing or a David Price trade. Yeah, but will they move Samardzija? Because the Jays could certainly have some interest there.
A look at the off-season plans for the Chicago teams from that city’s Tribune affirms the Jays’ interest in Gordon Beckham, which “began as early as the winter of 2011-12,” says Colleen Kane. Ugh.