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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.

Comments (40)

  1. So when will New York stop overrating the shit out of mediocre ass Jon Niese? Oh, never? Ok.

    • He’s pretty good, and his contract is terrific. But… yeah, that’s silly– though he did also have Ike Davis and a prospect coming this way, with Cecil going the other.

      • It’s extra silly considering EE is a great player who also has a terrific contract. It would certainly have to be one hell of a prospect coming back.

        • It’s really not as bad as I think you think.

          • Isn’t it? Edwin putting up back to back near-MVP campaigns, mashing 80 homers, and walking more than striking out with an absolute motherfucker of a team-friendly contract should be able to land more than a solid starter, no?

      • I’d say ‘mediocre’ is pretty fair for a guy who was basically league average across the board in his age 27 season.

        • Not to be that guy, but Niese’s 3.71 ERA and 3.58 FIP were both better than what any Jays starter provided this year. Obviously there would need to be league and park adjustments made there, but if you go by WAR (which is adjusted for both), his total of 1.6 in 24 starts was only outproduced by Mark Buehrle (2.5) and R.A. Dickey (2.0), who pitched 60 and 80 innings more respectively. I’m not saying it would be smart to trade a 4 win slugger for him, but it’s not hard to see where that trade would help improve the team.

          • That is all true, but you are giving up one very valuable piece. Surely the jays could do better than Niese if they are willing to move EE.

            • I agree 100%. If the Jays were doing their due diligence and hearing out other teams on Encarnacion, you’d have to think that the Jays would have some leverage, as I assume teams like Texas, Pittsburgh, as well as Seattle or maybe Cleveland would be interested as well, and they could get a better package than Niese and Davis, with Cecil going the other way as well.

              • I would think that EE has equal value to a guy like Tulo, thanks to his awesome contract.

                I don’t know how accurate the speculation is, but apparently the talk for Tulo is one of Wacha/Miller and then another one of Adams/Rosenthal/Martinez and then some throw-in prospects. Essentially that is two young good major leaguers with 5-6 years of control.

                I think the Jays could do better than Niese+ for EE.

            • Unvblieeable how well-written and informative this was.

  2. I’d give Ohka a minor league deal because why the hell not.

    And if the Jays have been keeping tabs on Beckham since ’11, that means their opinion of him HAS to have waned pretty significantly…right? RIGHT?

  3. I like the idea of moving Lind. He’s streaky and only adds value to the team vs RHP. I’d like to see them bring in someone who can hit from both sides of the plate and wouldn’t require a platoon partner who would take up space on the bench i.e. VMart

    • I kind of feel like Cafardo’s mention of Lind had the logic of: “This is a guy who criticized THE John Farrell? He must be the reason the team went in the crapper this year!”

      But yeah, if they need to trade an established player, I think Lind makes more sense than any other offensive player they have. It could definitely turn out that this is the peak of his value, and he shouldn’t be terribly difficult to replace.

  4. Would Jeffress be someone you use for a few months and then if it isn’t going great, you can bring in Stroman without having used him for the full year? (So you retain control longer and so he doesn’t hit an innings limit in September.)

    And if Jeffress does well, you can stick with him or get something of value in a trade.

    • I’m hoping the Jays bring in at least one starter, and can go into the season with Dickey, Morrow, Buehrle, whatever acquisition they make, and Happ, and when someone needs replacing they can make a decision on whether it’s Stroman, Hutchison, Drabek, Rogers or Redmond(?) that replaces him. If they want to throw Jeffress into that pile, then sure. I don’t like the idea of throwing him into the rotation and hoping that he sticks in another year where the goal is to contend. If that means someone else claims him because the Jays don’t have a spot for him, I can live with that.

      • Ugh. Happ. I don’t know about that guy. I’d rather see him as bait.

        • I know you’ve said that a couple of times, and while I’m not in love with the idea of him coming back, is trading Happ to free up a space for someone Jason Vargas really an upgrade?

      • Not sure why we want Happ in the 5 spot. With all our “back of the rotation” depth this year wouldn’t we start with a high cieling no options guy in the 5 spot?

        If it looks like Jeffress can hack it give him a shot. Hell of a lot higher cieling than Happ and tonnes of depth behind him if he stumbles. Just make sure the leash is a short one.

  5. Thanks for keeping hard core fans in the loop again…I agree that the Jays don’t need 2 starters unless they’re going to trade Happ and/or Rogers for a durable 4th or 5th starter that would be an upgrade…one quality starter with Morrow, Dickey and Buerhle should be enough, with a bunch of internal candidates vying for the fifth spot. You never knew which Happ or Rogers would show up on any given day…I wouldn’t be upset to see both dealt for a good quality 4th starter. I still think a bona fide catcher that can call a good game is a key to success…anything would be better than JP!

  6. So the million dollar question becomes, would you trade Stroman in a package for Shark? Have to figure it’d need to be Sanchez or Stroman as the centerpiece in any potential deal. I think I’d do it, but I’m guessing the majority wouldn’t.

    • Goes plus Norris?

      • That’s what Cubs guys were saying the other week. Don’t see it being enough, myself.

        I’d really try to do everything I could to not trade Stroman and Sanchez, but I don’t know how the club sees them, or some of the other prospects in behind them, so maybe that’s a silly view of it.

        • I agree. With all the pitching prospects that were traded away, and the upside of these two pitchers, I hope to fuck they hold on to Stroman, who could force his way into the rotation, and Sanchez, who could work his way into the rotation in 2015. If any starters get traded, I’m hoping that Happ is at the top of that list. Thou, his value is pretty minimal at the moment.

  7. God what’s with the beckham rumors he’s never lived up to the hype I would take a pass we basically got that player in Goins but cheaper. I agree with the others one healthy mid rotation or better guy a good catcher and at minimum a league average 2Bman and the jays will be off to the races. With a trade deadline tweak if we are in the hunt

  8. I have this pipe dream that AA is working on some crazy deal to land Price. It would surely involve other teams, but really is there any other piece out there that would improve the Jays as much as David Price? If that was the only thing they did this winter I would be satisfied.

  9. Is there anything us Drunks can do to ensure the Jays don’t waste any capital to acquire Beckham?

  10. What would it take to get doug fister? 2 RP, (jansen and loup) 1 decent prospect…and end of rotation starter…?

    http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20131111/SPORTS0104/311110072/It-makes-more-sense-trade-high-value-Doug-Fister-than-Max-Scherzer?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

  11. Tanaka. Jays must see he will bring in large corporate dollars and offset the large posting fee. Then sign Ruiz.

    • I love Randy Ruiz as much as the next fellow, but I believe that train has sailed.

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