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Today In MLBTR: Thursday, June 26th


I can’t yet say that this will be a daily occurrence (weekdays, that is — I don’t do weekends) from here until July 31st, but with the Jays still doing swimmingly, trade season about to heat up, and the club still with plenty of use for many parts, big and small, it probably will serve us well to have a look at what the invaluable, fantastic, and comprehensive MLB Trade Rumors is telling us about today (and maybe yesterday, too)…

Trade candidate Daniel Murphy could also possibly an extension with the Mets, apparently. Last week, in a piece that I meant to write about but… didn’t, Andy Martino of the Daily News wrote that the Jays, along with the Giants, have some interest in the hot-hitting (117 wRC+), lefty-batting, not-great-defending second baseman. Depending on the cost, do it! Defense would definitely be a worry — and the advanced metrics make a pretty clear case he’s below average — but you don’t even have to platoon him! I’m cool with that. Although…

Not via MLBTR (at least not yet), but Ken Rosenthal tweets that the Jays are exploring the market for infielders, and that while the team wants a starter, they’re willing to upgrade anywhere. As they damn well should be! What this means, though, is that Murphy is hardly their only potential target. Some interesting talk on Twitter — at least on my Twitter about the possibility of flipping a lower-level lottery ticket or two for an Owings or a Gregorius or a Nick Ahmed — a real shortstop! (Now someone just has to convince Jose to move off the position and we’re golden!)

Kyle Farnsworth was D’d FA by the Astros, and has now elected free agency. The Rays got some use out of him in 2012, but… yeah… pass.

An intriguing option to help the bullpen, though, could be our old friend Scott Downs. He hasn’t been great — he’s walking way to many batters — and he has a $4.5-million contract option that will vest if he makes just 17 more appearances this year, but the peripherals (3.69 FIP, 4.07 xFIP) look alright. The contract thing would seem to be the sticking point. I liked the Downs that we all remember, but I can’t claim that I’d have nearly enough belief in him to take on the risk of that option vesting and that portion of the budget turding to shit. If he ends up getting releasedby the White Sox — I’m not going to even bother looking into the CBA permutations to see how any of that would work in his case — he could be a helpful piece, though. Don’t hold your breath.

Here’s something crazy: in a piece rounding up some morning chatter (more on the rest of it in a moment), we’re told about the Phillies potentially moving some of their veterans, and another looking at some relief arms that the Angels could be looking at. Enter Jonathan Papelbon. No, really. Or… probably not really — his ERA is great, he’s Jonathan effing Papelbon and has an excellent track record, but… he doesn’t induce ground balls, and he has yet to allow a home run this year, which has led to an xFIP of 4.39 despite an ERA of 1.48. The Ks are down, the walks are up, the strand rate is ridiculous, the velocity is down three-and-a-half MPH since he left Boston, and he’s owed $13-million next year, with an option for that much in 2016 if he finishes 55 games next year, or 100 total over this and next. It’s literally crazy. If Ruben wants to throw in a bunch of money, though, or give him away for nothing, and… I dunno… would be funny, at least. And you can probably manipulate it to keep the option from vesting. I’d still probably have a hard time betting against him being kinda terrible, though.

Elsewhere in the roundup we’re told that the Mets aren’t inclined to deal Bartolo Colon, however, we’re pointed to a Sportsnet piece from our old friend Benny Fresh, who looks at the possibility of Brandon McCarthy being a fit, as Arizona is definitely in sell mode. “McCarthy has an NL-worst 1-10 record and a 5.38 ERA. But three scouts and executives on opposing teams told Sportsnet that McCarthy intrigues them nonetheless,” Nicholson-Smith explains. The peripherals have been good: strikeouts, walks, and ground ball rate have all been good, while his BABIP and HR/FB look unsustainably inflated, at least for a pitcher with his track record who doesn’t seem to have anything wrong with him at the moment. McCarthy is also a free agent after this year, making just $9-million on the season. DO IT, ALEX!

Another item noted in the roundup was Jim Bowden’s latest at ESPN.com, in which he lists a bunch of hitters who could be available, and what he thinks the likelihood they’ll be traded is. The middle infielders are the ones that should intrigue us the most, and in that group there are big names who might move (Zobrist), big ones he thinks won’t (Utley, Rollins), and some other intriguing possibilities (Murphy, Hill, Everth Cabrera, and Stephen Drew). Someone better than what we’ve got would be nice, eh?

Apparently the Rangers are “willing to listen” on everyone. Cue Jays fans getting ridiculously worked up about Beltre and Darvish, even though Jon Heyman tells us that those two are “on another level” and hard to envision being moved, because “the Rangers expect to be good next year when Prince Fielder, Derek Holland, Jurickson Profar, Martin Perez and others have returned to health.” Uh… yeah. And if you’re not giving the Rangers something that’s going to help them a lot in 2015, you’re not getting close to touching those two pieces. Move along.

And lastly, uh… am I really making Chris Capuano being D’d FA the last item here? Yeah, I guess I am. Meh. Pass.


The Winter Meetings begin on Monday, but that doesn’t mean that the hotstove isn’t already sizzling. Yesterday was a ridiculous day in terms of transactions, and the always-invaluable MLB Trade Rumors has got all of it covered. And… uh… since I barely covered any of it myself, let’s just pivot off of what they’re saying, shall we?

Of course, the big one is the Mariners’ poaching of Robinson Cano. It’s a stunning deal, and one that I’ve already written about from a business perspective, but which also has baseball-related consequences for the Jays. The Mariners would now seem to have a second baseman to offer, with interesting prospects Nick Franklin and Dustin Ackley as potential trade chips. We’ve already heard suggestions that the Mariners could use Franklin and Taijuan Walker to try to get David Price, so the notions might be fleeting, but there are certainly some things to like, and some to not like, about Franklin and Ackley. The former is a converted shortstop who isn’t a great defender at second and who was as good in the first half of 2013 as he was bad in the second. Did he get figured out? It’s too small a sample to say, and the consensus seems to be that his bat will play. Ackley, on the other hand, is better liked by the defensive metrics at second, had a terrific second half after being demoted at the end of May and coming back as a centre fielder. The latter fact had me wondering on Twitter last night if Anthony Gose might be of interest– cheaper, younger, years more control, and a better defender in the outfield– but the second-half turn around was maybe enough to make the Mariners think hard about whether Ackley is about to make good on the huge promise he showed as a prospect and as a rookie. And now, of course, the Yankees are going to be sniffing around all these same sorts of players as the Jays– Kelly Johnson is certainly not all that they’re going to do at second.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t include the Rangers’ signing of J.P. Arencibia. It’s a little frustrating that this is the team he ended up coming to terms with, given that the Jays and Rangers had a deal worked out before the non-tender deadline that would have seen the club get at least something for him, had they been able to agree on this contract by then. Of course, that would have undercut a tonne of Arencibia’s leverage, and it was entirely his right to not agree to do the Jays any favours, so… whatever. Good spot for him, and a one-year deal for $1.8-million with incentives is pretty reasonable. Plus, as I’ve mentioned before, it should be noted that Jon Daniels is no fool. Will be interesting to see how he does.

The Marlins signed Rafael Furcal to a 1-year, $3-million deal. I noticed immediately that a number of folks on Twitter were wondering where the Jays were on this one. A not entirely unfair question, I guess, given what the Jays claim they’re planning on running out a second this year. I kind of see it two ways: one, if a guy ends up on the Marlins on a deal like that it’s not like there was a tonne of interest elsewhere, and that’s probably because he kinda fucking sucks, that he didn’t play at all in 2012, hasn’t played second base since 2000, and wasn’t particularly well regarded at short when he last played in 2012. Or… actually maybe that’s the only way worth looking at it. The other is, if the Jays weren’t desperate to add this small, cheap, near-certain upgrade, uh… maybe they have bigger plans in mind. Such as…

While this isn’t from MLBTR, and isn’t anything that– as far as we know– anybody’s actually discussed, Dave Cameron writes a piece for ESPN.com (Insider only), in which he suggests four trades that he thinks out to happen. One of those suggestions involves the Jays sending Brett Cecil and salary relief to the Reds in exchange for Brandon Phillips. It sounds awfully fanciful to me, but the Cameron thinks the relationship in Cincinnati has soured, plus Reds definitely could use both of those things, the Jays certainly could use a guy like Phillips, and as Cameron explains, “taking on the remaining $50 million due to Phillips over the next four years doesn’t seem that crazy given what free agents are signing for this winter.” He’s a guy I’d like to think the Jays could explain to upper management is worth taking on a little extra money for, and with the cost of top relievers getting nutty (Brian Wilson and Joe Nathan, come on down!), maybe? It seems light, but then again, think of the standard aging curve– Phillips was worth 2.6 WAR this season, and would be expected to go down by half a win next year (his age-33 season), and 0.7 wins each in the years following. That’s pretty imperfect science, for sure, but it’s scary– as is the fact that his only full season with a wRC+ above 104 was driven by a BABIP 30 points higher than his career mark. Upgrade, though! And out of an area of surplus, if it’s to be believed.

Another second base item that isn’t on MLBTR comes from Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com, as he reveals that “the Angels have offered [Howie] Kendrick to the Blue Jays, Tigers and Royals, among others, to no avail. But they’ll keep trying.” Now, we have no idea what the Angels were trying to get in return, but the fact that they would love to get their hands on some young, cheap, controllable starting pitching, and that they’re built to compete now, gives us a pretty good idea. Marcus Stroman would do it, I bet. I’m glad the Jays balked, but for a lesser price, there’s appeal there: Kendrick isn’t the defender that Phillips is and he strikes out a bit more, but they’re pretty similar otherwise. Kendrick had a better year at the plate in 2013, but Phillips made up the difference in value with his defence, and looking at two- and three-year samples Phillips has been slightly better. Yes Kendrick is two years younger, and is owed just $18.85-million for two years, instead of the four-year $50-million commitment left for Phillips. Hmmmm…

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Yesterday was a crazy day in the big leagues, in terms of transactions, and the always-invaluable MLB Trade Rumors has got all of it covered. And… uh… since I haven’t covered any of it just yet, let’s just pivot off of what they’re saying, shall we?

Brad Lincoln is dealt to Philadelphia! The Jays shipped out one of their many out-of-options relievers, getting quad-A catcher Erik Kratz and Rob Rasmussen, a left-handed reliever with many options (Kratz has one too!) and some success this year at Double-A (though not so much in Triple-A), who was acquired from the Dodgers in the Michael Young trade at the end of August. It’s far too small a deal to call it great, but there’s a lot to like here– and not just because it undoes a disturbing trend where Anthopoulos goes the other way and moves catchers for relievers. Lincoln evidently wasn’t in the plans, and so the Jays turned him into some nice pieces. Kratz has started more big league games in the last two years than Dioner Navarro (!), projects by Steamer to 1.5 WAR this year, has a strong defensive reputation (he ranked 23rd by Matt Klaassen’s method this year, with much less playing time than some of the leaders), and has some power, too (18 HR in 417 MLB PA)– in other words, watch your back, Josh Thole. Rasmussen struggled in Triple-A, but a year ago was ranked 13th in the Dodgers system by Marc Hulet at FanGraphs, as he explained, “I was given a loose comp to lefty reliever J.P. Howell, formerly of the Royals and Rays. If Rasmussen can find a way to get on top of the ball and create downward action on his pitches, while also harnessing his breaking balls, he could be a valuable piece of the Dodgers bullpen as soon as mid-to-late 2013.” Yep. Definitely a win.

You may be surprised to learn, yesterday a team in the AL East made an even bigger splash than that, as the Yankees signed Johnny Damon Jacoby Ellsbury for seven years and $153-million. It doesn’t look like they’re done throwing money at their problems, so I won’t even bother to try to assess how this impacts the AL East. What it really impacts for the Jays, though, is Colby Rasmus,who is headed into his free agent year next year. Last season Ellsbury was a full win more valuable than Colby, but in about 180 more plate appearances. Colby doesn’t provide nearly the value on the basepaths, and his high BABIP makes the offensive numbers he put up this year (and in his other elite-calibre season, in 2010 in St. Louis) somewhat suspect– as Blake Murphy wrote excellently about this week at RotoGraphs– but if Ellsbury can shake the injury prone tag and get a deal like this, another season of strong production from Colby, who is three years younger, is going to send his market value to these sorts of astronomical heights. I’ve written about it before. And while I think it’s worth it to the Jays to potentially cost themselves a tonne of money on an extension by waiting and getting just a little bit more certainty, it’s definitely something to watch.

The Yankees have also signed Kelly Johnson, apparently. Whoopty fuck. Though, actually, that could be a pretty nifty pickup at $3- or $4-million. Hey, but don’t worry, Anthopoulos is still mind-blowingly claiming he’s comfortable with Goins and Izturis (though, granted, he still says he would like to upgrade, and obviously he’s not going to give anybody leverage by knowing he needs an upgrade, right? Right???).

The Pirates are targeting James Loney to fill the first base position formerly, temporarily, held by Justin Morneau. But another name they’ve apparently looked at is Adam Lind! Cue thoughts of maple cocks, sap welling hard inside them, ready to punt Lind over to Pittsburgh and go get the man with the right passport. Except… Morneau has signed with the Rockies. Awwww, sad flaccid maple trombone.

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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:

Rob Bradford of WEEI.com takes a look at the market for catchers– from a Red Sox perspective– and quotes a rival GM suggest that the pining over Brian McCann is essentially pointless. “He’s going to end up with the Yankees,” the GM said. Sure… sounds about right. I could deal with them having to pay him a shit-tonne of money five years from now, too.

Ken Davidoff of Newsday continues to report on the potential changes to the posting system by which NPB players are claimed by MLB teams, and… it’s pretty much still what he was saying yesterday. “The agreement is a tradeoff for both sides. MLB wanted to limit the amount of the bids, but the NPB players union wanted their players to have a choice of teams. So the bids can still be sky-high, albeit mitigated by the second-place bid, yet the winning team still will own considerable leverage with the player because his only other option will be to return to Japan.” He explains on Twitter that NPB is accepting this as a compromise, instead of having a capped bid, or– as many MLB teams apparently prefer– no bid at all.

Eno Sarris of FanGraphs looks at the potential posting system changes as well, and examines some alleged second-place bids, which under the new system would have changed the final price for the winning MLB club dramatically. For example, if it’s true that the runner-up in the Yu Darvish sweepstakes only bid $16-million, then the Rangers would have only paid $34-million for the right to speak with him, rather than the $51-million they actually did pay.

And now for reals, it’s Today In MLBTR…

Speaking of Masahiro Tanaka (weren’t we?), in a recap of Joel Sherman’s column this morning, we hear that that clubs are afraid of the way that Tanaka was used, especially in the just-concluded Japan Series, in which he threw 160 pitches one day, and got a 15-pitch save the next. He says that the physical the pitcher will undergo when completing his deal will be extremely thorough.

There is reported interest from the Cardinals in A’s shortstop Jed Lowrie, who would certainly look good at second base in Toronto, but ol’ Kenny Ken Ken shoots that one down, saying that Lowrie– who is headed into his last season before free agency– will be kept by the A’s, who always envisioned him as a stopgap while they wait for the arrival of prospect Addison Russell. Too bad.

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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.

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Today In MLBTR: Tuesday, July 30th


We’re less than a day away from the trade deadline, which means that there’s a serious #HugWatch on for tonight’s games, as players may find themselves pulled from games as their clubs finalize deals involving them over the course of the evening. There’s also a whole lot of posturing going on, as negotiations are heading down to the wire. And while not a whole lot of it involves the Jays, that doesn’t mean it’s not worth having a look at what’s going on out there. So– much as we did back during the Winter Meetings, and as I’ll probably do again tomorrow– here’s the latest from the astonishingly fantastic and comprehensive MLB Trade Rumors, with some added Jays-related context, just so I don’t feel too much like we’re just ripping them off…

The Angels are still today listening on infielders, and of particular note to us is Howie Kendrick, especially since they are said to be looking for quality starting pitching in return. I’ll say it again: Mark Buehrle and a little salary relief? Yeah, I do it.

The Royals were sniffing around Kendrick– or Aybar– as well, plus middle infielders Gordon Beckham and Rickie Weeks, all of whom might be reasonable targets for the Jays. But with what? Oh, and Kendrick can block trades to 12 clubs, which… the Jays are almost always on those lists, aren’t they? Damn.

As has been the case all over the place– like the Mets reportedly looking to get back a “Wheeler-type” for Bobby Parnell– the price on quality relievers is very high. Or, at least, that’s the word being used in reference to the asks for the Rockies’ Josh Outman, and the Giants’ Javier Lopez. It’s also the reason the Jays would be silly not to get involved in moving some bullpen pieces– and if they really do need to watch their payroll, the $4-million owed to Casey Janssen next year might make sense to say goodbye to.

Our old friend Marc Rzepczynski was dealt to Cleveland from the Cardinals today. One tweet I saw suggested that he was going to be a non-tender candidate, and he certainly came cheaper than a lot of options on the relief market, so good for both sides, I guess? Hey and maybe now the Cardinals would be interested in a package involving a reliever or three? And a spare outfielder? Or utility man? Or pitbull-loving son of Missouri? Hmmm?

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Today In MLBTR: Monday, July 29th


It’s all happening! The trade deadline is Wednesday at four, Zubes has apparently had a stroke (see below), Rosie DiManno hast tried valiantly to wrest back her title of most infuriatingly unreadable sportswriter in the city from Steve Simmons, and all sorts of fun things are already happening on the trade front. None of them directly involve the Jays just yet, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth having a look at what’s going on out there, so– much as we did back during the Winter Meetings, and as I’ll do each of the next three days– here’s the latest from the astonishingly fantastic and comprehensive MLB Trade Rumors, with some added Jays-related context, just so I don’t feel too much like we’re just ripping them off…

First, some non-MLBTR rumouring, as Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch notes that the Jays were among a number of teams who had scouts on hand to watch the Cardinals’ Triple-A club on Sunday– a game started by prospect Carlos Martinez and participated in by second base prospect Kolten Wong. The latter has been the focus of a number of Jays fans’ fantasies for a while now, though I’d figure it’s the former who’s most intriguing. But what are you going to attempt to do here? Buehrle and a boatload of money? Good luck with that. Besides, an MLBTR piece from yesterday notes Goold saying that Cards GM John Mozeliak doesn’t expect a splashy move. So… I wouldn’t get my hopes up here.

The Rangers inquired on Brian McCann says the headline, but what’s far more intriguing to us is the Ken Rosenthal piece at Fox Sports that it links to, in which Kenny Ken Ken notes that the Rangers “also recently scouted the Blue Jays’ Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, according to CBSSports.com.” Good luck with that, Texas. Reasonable contracts, best players, faces of the franchise. The Jays started really building around Bautista and Edwin last winter, and there’s no reason to expect they’ll stop. Dealing them would be a step backwards for the franchise, and with the way things turned out, Alex Anthopoulos doesn’t have a season to waste trying to find a way to replace the lost production of either of those guys. Nor does he have, I suspect, the cachet left to admit his project was as big a failure as the worst tendencies of fans would insist. It’s just absolutely not happening. Unless it does. Jose would be the one to leave in the remotest of remote possibilities, I think, just because he’s as valuable and already much deeper in decline.

A special dose of silliness by way of Nick Cafardo, who lists the Jays as one of the teams to have made “numerous calls” to the Twins on Justin Morneau. Uh… Morneau is on the last year of his current deal and is kinda terrible, so that makes all of zero sense. Hey, but Cafardo does speak to scouts and executives who are split on whether Buehrle and Johnson would have any value to a contender, and Cafardo himself figures that at least Buehrle does.

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