Archive for the ‘Talkin’ Trades’ Category

scrubs

As of the weekend before last, the 2014 season is now finally, mercifully, officially over. At least it is for the Toronto Blue Jays. And while there certainly was a whole lot of positive to be taken from it — the emergence of Marcus Stroman and Drew Hutchison, the minor league development of Dan Norris and Dalton Pompey, the ability to actually throw strikes being consistently exhibited by Aaron Sanchez — and while the club ultimately did better than a whole lot of people expected (no mass firings or mid-season fire sales!), to this frustrating tease of a wet fart of a campaign I say good riddance.

So now we look to the future.

For many that means aching for change among a group of players — even though it hasn’t really been the same group — that hasn’t been good enough each of the last two years. As we learned late in the season, Alex Anthopoulos doesn’t appear to be one of those people. He reportedly has said that there are no plans to move any of the club’s core players this winter.

It seems a little premature to say so — and, as I noted when originally writing about Bruce Arthur’s report, the word “planning” gives the GM something of an escape hatch in case an offer he can’t refuse comes along — but I can be OK with taking Buehrle, Reyes, Dickey, Bautista, and Encarnacion off the table, just as long as Anthopoulos is able to find other ways pull the various tricks he needs to in order to put a better team on the field in 2015.

To do that there are going to have to be some changes — a fact Anthopoulos admits himself. “There’s a good chance there’s going to be some turnover,” he’s quoted as telling Arthur in his Toronto Star piece, “and it could make for a really interesting off-season.”

So… OK. What kind of turnover should we expect? Who did we see in a Blue Jays uniform for the last time two weekends ago?

Let’s think about it, starting with the easy ones…

Locks To Be Gone

These ones are the easiest because they’re entirely about contract status and performance. We all know that Colby Rasmus has played himself out of town and out of a whole lot of money after the season he’s had. Casey Janssen won’t be back, which is a shame — and the end was a particular indignity given what he’s been for the club over the years — but he seems certain to get more money somewhere else than what they Jays will be willing to pay — and sadly, that’s probably a savvy move on their part. Brandon Morrow won’t be back either — his club option is for $10-million and the Jays won’t be picking that up, nor will they be giving him the opportunity to start that he desires, so it seems all but certain he’ll be gone.

Lastly, let’s be honest, as much as it was an interesting piece of asset management — to put it politely — to hang on to post-pumpkin Juan Francisco, and as terrific he was for this club out of the gate, there’s simply no way he can be in the club’s big league plans next season, and at $1.35-million this year, with his being out of options and a raise likely in his second year of arbitration, he’s a non-tender candidate if Anthopoulos can’t find anything to flip him for before that. Ugh.

Locks To Stay?

Obviously there is no such thing as a “lock” when we’re talking about this stuff, or anything ever, really — death and taxes and whatnot — but the thing about an exercise like this is that you’ve got to go out on a limb sometimes. Just maybe not that much of a limb.

There are some easy ones that fall into this category. I’m very comfortable saying that Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion will be on the Opening Day roster for the Blue Jays in 2015. Same goes for Drew Hutchison and Marcus Stroman based on the same principle: losing either one of them would seem to create as big a hole as they’d possibly be filling. Despite Zaun-ish rumblings about clubhouse nonsense, Brett Lawrie won’t likely go because they’d be selling much too low on him. That’s maybe not the reason why Jose Reyes will be here in April, too, but he almost certainly will — his deal is immovable and replacing the value he brings will be a whole lot more costly than a lot of people would like to believe. Adam Lind might be one-dimensional, but it’s a hell of a fucking dimension and picking up his option is a no-brainer, even if for some reason they were doing it just to trade him (though I’d guess they won’t — and they certainly shouldn’t). Dioner Navarro had a decent year, despite his inability to frame pitches, and Brett Cecil will surely be a solid play at what he’ll make on his second trip through arbitration.

Aaron Sanchez and Dalton Pompey may or may not be on the Opening Day roster, but I can’t envision any of them going anywhere either.

Free Agents With Some Chance Of Returning (Mostly)

We all know the story with Melky Cabrera. It would be terrific for the Jays to do something about that, and it’s not untrue that the club wowed us with big spending two winters ago. But they also wowed us last off-season with the tightness of the vice grip Rogers was using to keep shut the vault door. I don’t know what-the-fuck to think this time around, but with the Canadian dollar where it’s going, attendance slightly down, and the company pissing away money left and right on hockey (even though they already own the rights and could be as cheap and cynical as they wanted — kinda like how they typically run the Jays), I’m gonna err on the side of not expecting anything here. Ugh.

Following that pessimism means that one believes even a small deal, like the $4-million club option the team has on Dustin McGowan (with a $500K buyout, meaning it’s only a net $3.5-million add to payroll), is probably in play, too. He was quite a bit better as a reliever this year (3.35 ERA, 4.13 xFIP, 4.99 FIP, 1.16 WHIP) than he was as a starter (5.08 ERA, 5.42 xFIP, 5.06 FIP, 1.62 WHIP), but still… is that money better spent elsewhere? Aren’t there better, cheaper bullpen pieces you can find? Maybe not. But I don’t think it’s a slam dunk they pick that option up, either. And Alex Anthopoulos has rarely paid as much for a bullpen guy.

Dan Johnson has already been granted free agency, as has Munenori Kawasaki, but the same reasons the Jays brought them in last year — a lack of quality depth from within the organization at those positions — still apply, so I wouldn’t necessarily rule out that these guys end up back in Buffalo. Scoff if you must about Johnson coming back, given how he barely saw the light of day during his September call-up, but don’t think that he didn’t probably appreciate drawing a big league paycheque for as long as he did, either.

I wrote about how those two were granted free agency late last week, and at the same time I spoke of the backup catcher situation, which could theoretically produce some turnover. If R.A. Dickey does get dealt, for example, Josh Thole will likely go with him. But as I said at the time, it would be nice if George Kottaras, who once was Tim Wakefield’s personal catcher, could get a shot to be Dickey’s catcher regardless, given that he’d provide a little more offence from the position than Thole will. Kottaras, unfortunately, was granted free agency anyway, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a chance he could come back on a minor league deal — for a backup or Triple-A guy who can catch a knuckleball, the Jays’ thin pool of catching depth isn’t the worst spot in the world to land.

More Likely To Return Than Not

There are varying degrees of likelihood that any player will be moved, of course, but I’m having an increasingly hard time believing that Mark Buehrle and R.A. Dickey are going to go anywhere. If the talk about turnover and the clubhouse atmosphere is true, one wonders — probably unfairly — if it’s the “different” Dickey who could find himself elsewhere, rather than the expensive Buehrle, but Dickey’s contract is just so favourable that they’re probably not going to be too desperate to part with it.

Dan Norris is practically a lock to be back (especially now that he’s had minor elbow surgery), and I would have put him alongside Sanchez and Pompey above, but we’ve got to have some fun with this exercise, and as much as Alex Anthopoulos needs to horde his young, cheap pitching, he also needs to improve this club in the immediate. With Norris currently the seventh arm on the rotation depth chart, as much as it might hurt to part with him, you’ve got to give up something to get something. I wonder if Anthopoulos will actually see the value in that kind of bold move, though. I somehow doubt it.

Forgotten though he may be, Maicer Izturis is a switch-hitting utility infielder who is owed $3-million for next season and spent all but a couple weeks of this year hurt, so he probably isn’t going anywhere. John Mayberry Jr. is heading into his second arbitration year, making about $1.6-million, and a decent enough candidate to spell Adam Lind at DH against left-handers as the best of the club’s lefty-mashers. He’s a guy Alex Anthopoulos has said he had tried to acquire in the past, and that makes me think he’s really in the plans — at least, as long as Lind is.

Relievers Aaron Loup and Todd Redmond have been decent pieces the last two seasons, so unless they’re lubrication for a bigger deal, I’d expect them to be back. Chad Jenkins has options and finished the year hurt, so chances are he’s in Dunedin next spring too, even if another year spent mostly on the QEW is likely in the cards for him. And Steve Delabar will hit arbitration for the first time after having a rough season, but I suspect will still be cheap enough to bring back, and probably worth hoping on.

I sort of don’t love saying it, but part of me thinks that there’s a decent chance that Kevin Pillar is back, too — either as the uninspiring internal replacement for Melky Cabrera, as a straight-up fourth outfielder (with John Mayberry moving more to a 1B/DH spot), or in an ill-advised platoon in centre with Anthony Gose, waiting for Pompey to force the issue. And as much as I might want to list Ryan Goins among the guys more likely to be moved, too, he still has options, and sadly, where is their infield depth without him?

Who’s Left To Move?

It’s entirely possible that the Jays have much, much bigger plans up their sleeve than I’m accounting for here, but the names I’ve yet to highlight from September’s active roster represent — to me, at least — the ones most likely to be a part of the “turnover” Alex Anthopoulos has been talking about since the season began to wind down.

This exercise hasn’t left us with a lot to hypothetically work with on the trade market, so it’s very possible that someone listed in one of the above sections will have to get moved for the greater good. Nobody is going to confuse the remaining names for sexy ones — for the most part they’re guys that are far down the depth chart, redundant, stagnating, or too one-dimensional — but they still have some kind of value. And if Anthopoulos is looking to bolster his club with smaller deals — deals of the Brad Lincoln for Erik Kratz, or Kratz and Liam Hendriks for Danny Valencia variety — they are the guys he’s going to look to move first.

J.A. Happ could be the most interesting of the smaller chips Anthopoulos has got. He’s coming off a very strong season — in particular, a strong second half — with his velocity rising, and his ability to throw for strikes looking better and better. At $6.7-million for 2015 he’s cheap — which is why the Jays may look to keep him and deal one of their more expensive hurlers, or one of their younger ones — but that will make him attractive to other clubs who might have a redundancy where the Jays are looking to add.

Anthony Gose was optioned in 2012, but it was for less than 20 days, meaning that he still has one more option year left. If the Jays see Dalton Pompey as the future — and they should — this winter is probably the time for them to go and get something for Gose. How much they can get for him that will actually help, I have no idea, but he’s coming off a season with a decent on-base (especially against right-handers), his tools are still loud, and it maybe doesn’t hurt that offence is down league wide and teams may be more willing to try to hide a bat like his. Someone out there probably thinks they could fix a guy like Gose. At the very least he could provide depth for some club that doesn’t already have Pompey, Pillar, Mayberry, Bautista, and either Melky or whoever will replace him.

If you have to swallow hard and move Kevin Pillar instead of Gose, I’m entirely fine with that. In fact, Pillar may have been nearly moved this summer, as part of the package San Diego asked for in exchange for Chase Headley — a deal that made no sense for the Jays in the first place and was naturally declined. Juan Francisco was also asked for by the Padres, as well as Sean Nolin, who might just be another interesting piece for the Jays to dangle. That is, if they’re inclined to shop pitching depth in order to fill other needs — which they almost have to be, no matter how badly Anthopoulos wants to think otherwise. Problem is, Nolin didn’t have a great season. He made just 20 starts, about three weeks from mid-May through early-June, and another month between mid-June and mid-July. His ERA (3.50) and FIP (3.86) were alright, and his walks were down from his previous stint in Buffalo, but only to 3.61 per nine innings. And his strikeout rate was again down from the 10 per nine or better that he produced in Double-A.

Maybe the way the Jays were using Nolin in September suggests they’ve soured on him — or maybe that’s just what they’d like you to think! He did sit nearly four ticks higher in his one inning of relief work this September than in his lone big league start back in 2013 (though bullpen and days-of-rest caveats apply). Maybe the club likes what it sees still, and so is doing its best to talk up Kendall Graveman — another possibility to be moved this winter, provided anyone actual thinks he’s a real candidate for a big league rotation, which… actually probably not, eh?

That leaves the club’s two right-hitting infielders, Steve Tolleson and Danny Valencia. Neither of these guys has a tonne of value — though we’d do well to remember that the Jays themselves gave up a depth starter and a backup catcher for one of them, so I don’t think a bullpen piece of some order is entirely outlandish here. Valencia made about the league minimum in 2014 and will be going through arbitration for the first time, while Tolleson doesn’t even have that much service time. Both are out of options, meaning you’re probably going to get back someone of the same status, and with the Jays inexplicably running Valencia out against right-handed pitching down the stretch, and needing some sort of cover for Brett Lawrie, maybe I’m selling short his value to the club. But boy… even though neither of these two were particularly bad or didn’t do everything that was asked of them — their main failing being not being very good and getting exposed when pressed into duty too much — this is certainly an area where you’d like to think the Jays could see some turnover, and where you might see someone moved.

Yes, I’ve been very, very conservative when it comes to identifying the players I think the Jays are going to shop. Perhaps I’m making the mistake of remembering too much of the 2014 version of Alex Anthopoulos (the one in practice, at least, not the one that had a deal for Ervin Santana agreed to and a trade for Ian Kinsler nixed by the player’s no-trade clause), and not the one from two winters ago. But whether he’s willing to be much more bold than this or not, he’s got his work cut out for him when it comes to trying to make all the pieces fit.

Tomorrow, we’ll bring you Part II of this two-part series, taking a look at the money, the roster spots, and trying to answer the question of whether Anthopoulos can get away without doing something dramatic to change the nature of his ballclub…

07-BigAnthopoulos

The Blue Jays aren’t planning on moving their core players this winter.

Those aren’t exactly the words of Alex Anthopoulos, and I’d feel better seeing a direct quote — though I probably wouldn’t look any less crooked at the word “planning” if it were — but that’s what it says, clearly and unambiguously, in Bruce Arthur’s piece from Friday morning’s Toronto Star.

People can throw up trial balloons about trading Jose Bautista while he’s still dominant or trading Mark Buehrle or Jose Reyes to shed the salaries, but that’s not the plan. The Blue Jays aren’t planning to disassemble this group, failures and all. Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion are under contract for two more seasons, for a preposterous combined cost of $24 million. The consensus is Anthopoulos is safe for now, so he thinks the window stretches that long, at least.

It’s at that point in the piece that we pick up Anthopoulos, speaking — as we’ve heard before — about wanting to continue to build around his superstar, middle-of-the-order bats, and doing so beyond the end of their contracts.

That’s all well and good, but for me what doesn’t quite compute is what happens next: Arthur talks about the money, and how there essentially is nowhere to go.

We all know that story, of course, though the piece does introduce a couple interesting side notes — there’s the one about Bob Elliott’s mid-summer reporting of eight players who said Edward Rogers himself told the team money would be there if the club was in contention at the trade deadline, which of course didn’t happen, and the somewhat terrifying thought that “Rogers allowed the Marlins trade two years ago because team president Paul Beeston [noted math whiz, presumably wearing a green eyeshade] ran the numbers and told them the team wouldn’t lose money on it.” But what’s gets me is how Anthopoulos intends now to pull the magic trick he was unable to last winter or at this year’s deadline. Because he certainly is itching to do something.

“Do I think we’re close? Yes. Am I excited about this off-season, which is maybe the first time that I’ve said that? Yes I am. I’m excited,” he tells Bruce. “And maybe I’m excited about it because . . . there’s a good chance there’s going to be some turnover, and I’m excited about the core we have, and we have a blend of young and older players, and it could make for a really interesting off-season. Exciting.”

Yes, exciting. And it’s great to hear that at least the public intention is there to have some much-needed turnover at the back end of the roster. But can it be enough? Can several Kratz-and-Hendriks-for-Valencia-type deals end up consolidating a lot of this club’s dreck into the one or two (or three or four) quality pieces they’ll need?

It would be great if it could work, and I can completely envision a person like Anthopoulos champing at the bit to do his best impression of a kid baseball card collector trading doubles to try and complete his set. He might even have a couple of nice chips to be moved — J.A. Happ springs immediately to mind. But is that really a more effective strategy than, say, eating enough of Mark Buehrle’s salary to move him for a small piece and enough financial relief to ensure the team can pay Melky what they have to and still have enough to fill holes in other areas?

Maybe that’s where the word “planning” comes in. Well, we weren’t planning on doing this, but someone came along and blew our doors off, as they say.

But maybe not. Arthur points out the preposterously low amount being paid to Bautista and Encarnacion over the final two years of their contracts. By extension, their bargain basement salaries (relatively speaking) mean that, as a group, the Jays’ veteran core of Bautista, Encarnacion, Reyes, Buehrle, and Dickey will each average just $15.6-million in 2015 — not great, but hardly terrible for the 3.75 fWAR per player output the group averaged this season. And there’s also the fact that, with just $27-million committed for 2016, $22-million for 2017, and none beyond that, the Jays may be able to be players for Melky regardless of this year’s likely financial crunch by offering him a backloaded deal.

And, as should always be noted when discussing these matters, we also need to remember that Anthopoulos may have something of an agenda here, too — or at the very least a keen awareness of the power of his words. He’s certainly not going to tell the fans and tell his fellow general managers that he’s going to try to trade away his key guys. He’s not going to run down his players’ value by admitting certain guys aren’t worth being in the plans at their salaries.

But my sense is he really is just being honest — at least on the stuff that doesn’t reflect one way or the other on his bosses — and that’s Bruce’s too. “Maybe Anthopoulos has no choice but to be upbeat, but he’s never been a liar,” he writes.

If that means Bautista and Encarnacion are coming back, terrific. But beyond that… well… cling tight to your righteous indignation, children, because we may be in “for an interesting off-season. Exciting.”

Trade Deadline1

The non-waiver deadline hits at 4 PM ET today, but it doesn’t look a whole lot like the Jays are going to be a part of any of them — except as silent witnesses to the big changes in Boston. That’s not for certain, but… well… it’s hard to make these things work when you can’t take on money, eh? And if that’s where the Jays are at… um… y’know. Anyway, here’s a bunch of stuff that’s happening…

- Mike Wilner tweets pretty much exactly what I said in the preamble: that we shouldn’t expect the Jays to make any moves prior to the deadline — though he notes that more wheeling and dealing could still take place in August.

- Shi Davidi affirms what Wilner has heard, but also says that the club is still working on some things. So close to the deadline, things can change fast. But, y’know, they usually don’t.

- Could something change on the frontline starting pitching… er… front? Anything is possible, I suppose, and Jayson Stark offers an intriguing name: Mat Latos. Though he says the return would have to be big — obviously. Latos is owed $2.42-million for the rest of the season and is arbitration eligible for the final time this winter, so… maybe that works? The Reds are six games out. Shit, I don’t think you do it, but Colby Rasmus makes about the same amount ($7-million on the year), doesn’t he? Don’t hold your breath.

- The big fish, of course, is David Price, and according to a tweet from Joel Sherman of the New York Post, he’s definitely getting moved. According to me, he’s definitely not getting moved here. (Sure, there’s a nonzero chance, but let’s be serious here). But with the Jays having six games left with a Rays team that’s thinking long-term, that’s not a bad thing. That is, as long as he doesn’t end up in Baltimore. Or Seattle. Or Oakland. Or New York.

- Maybe the Yankees have made their big pitching add, though! According to a tweet from YES’s Jack Curry, the Evil Empire has claimed Esmil Rogers on waivers. I think he’s quite a bit better than all the recency-biased Jays fans out there want to believe — he even put up some decent numbers when in Buffalo too… y’know kinda like everyone. Well, except Deck McGuire, Kyle Drabek, and Ricky Romero. Ugh. Anyway, he still has a whole lot of potential in that arm, I think, and has been able to harness it in spurts. Writing him off seems akin, to me, to the way people were writing off J.A. Happ earlier in the year. Could be a nice reliever for the Yankees. Could be garbage, too, but don’t be surprised if your guffaws haunt your dreams.

- One place Price certainly doesn’t look like he’ll be needed is St. Louis, who added John Lackey from the Red Sox today, a day after adding Justin Masterson from Cleveland. Best rotation of three years ago ever! But who am I to judge the Cardinals? They seem to know what they’re doing. However, they did give up outfielder Allen Craig in the deal, along with pitcher Joe Kelly. Interesting move for Boston — Craig was a strong hitting/poor fielding mostly-outfielder until this year, when for some reason he turned into hot garbage. He did re-injure his foot in the World Series last year, but holy shit, his walk rate is down, his strikeout rate is up, and with the help a .281 BABIP (and not the .344, .334, and .368 ones he ran in the previous three seasons) he’s slumped to a wRC+ of 81 this year. Interesting gamble for Boston, though, for sure. And with Lackey being a really cheap innings-eater next season (due to a provision in his contract adding a club option in the event of elbow surgery over the life of the deal signed prior to 2010 (surgery that he had, missing all of 2012)), they must feel pretty good about it working out. The Sox’ outfield has the fewest home runs of any team in the majors (or something like that — I’m not looking it up), and they certainly just gave themselves a shot in the arm today, adding Cespedes and Craig, who in 2015 could really be something if they return to their forms of a couple years ago. If not, though, and if they don’t replace the pitching? Could work out well for the Jays, actually. I wouldn’t hold my breath on that, though, either. Kelly ain’t nothing neither.

- Also today: Chris Denorfia has moved to the Mariners, Gerardo Parra is a Brewer, the A’s are getting flooded with calls on Jason Hammel, the Red Sox may also move Andrew Miller, oh… and… uh… this happened:

- Most important of all, though: while I obviously wish it were for different reasons, GROF did actual GROF things at actual GROF! Swoon!

UPDATES! (3:10 PM ET)

- The Jays have made it official: Dan Johnson is on the DL, and Chad Jenkins has been recalled.

- The Orioles have made a move, adding reliever Andrew Miller from Boston, according to a tweet from Jerry Crasnick. Jeff Passan adds that it’s pitching prospect Eduardo Rodriguez going the other way — a guy who was in Keith Law’s preseason top 50 (ranked 43rd), but who dropped off Law’s midseason top 50 and who isn’t on the same level as Gausman, Bundy, or Hunter Harvey, by most accounts. Decent get for both teams, you’d figure.

- Asdrubal Cabrera is on the move, according to a tweet from Jordan Bastian, and though the Jays were reportedly interested, he’s not coming here: he’s headed to Washington. OK then.

- And Bob Nightengale tweets that the Rays are still talking about David Price with the Mariners, Tigers, Pirates, and Cardinals. Yikes.

UPDATES! (3:55 PM ET)

- Whoa! An actual deal between the Yankees and Red Sox, as Stephen Drew will now wear pinstripes, as per a tweet from Gordon Edes. Drew has been fucking awful this year, BTW. Kelly Johnson goes the other way, says Alex Speier. Meh.

- Aaaaaaand here’s the big one: after the real Ken Rosenthal said David Price is going to the Tigers, we learned from a Jon Heyman tweet that it is indeed the Mariners also involved, with Austin Jackson going to Seattle, Drew Smyly moving to Tampa (we were eventually told), while he adds that it’s Nick Franklin going from the Mariners to the Rays in the deal.

Yowza! Not a bad outcome for the 2014 Jays, though, I’d say. Beats him going to Baltimore, at least. But we’ll deal with all that in the next post…

UPDATES! (4:25 PM ET)

- So… about that next post. Looks like it’s getting pushed back slightly, as more deals are trickling in. For example: the Jays won’t be facing Houston’s Jarred Cosart tonight, because according to a tweet from Brian McTaggart, he’s been dealt to the Marlins. So, that’s good. (And apparently Jake Marisnick is going the other way.)

- Meanwhile, according to a Heyman tweet, the Yankees have acquired Martin Prado. Now that one hurts a bit. Steve Gilbert tweets that the Yankees give up big power prospect Peter O’Brien, who doesn’t really have a position, but has 23 home runs in Double-A this season (and a garbage on-base). Here’s a real trade that’s helped a rival where we can actually say “If only the Jays had the money…”. But let’s not pretend that Prado and his wRC+ of 89 — his second straight year of decline, and third of four that’s been either about league average or below — is too much of a prize, eh?

- Oh, and apparently Willy Adames — and 18-year-old shortstop who might have been the Tigers best prospect — is also going to Tampa in the Price deal. That makes a little more sense, eh?

asdrubalhits

Still getting mixed messages on the Jays’ ability to add payroll, it seems, as Jon Morosi of Fox Sports tweets that this week both the Jays and Giants were discussing Cleveland’s Asdrubal Cabrera. He adds, however, that it’s possible that the deals being talked about are no longer viable, perhaps because of the club’s acquisition of Danny Valencia, or the fact that, as we learned today (via tweets like this one from and this one from the man himself) Brett Lawrie seems to have leapfrogged Adam Lind and Edwin Encarnacion in terms of who’ll recover soonest.

Cabrera is owed $3.33-million for the final two months of the season, which in terms of a $137-million payroll isn’t huge, but is an amount we’ve certainly been led to believe would be pushing the limits of what Anthopoulos can do, at least without some cash heading back Cleveland’s way. That is, of course, a possibility, it’s just the Jays would have had to pay more in terms of prospects in order to get them to acquiesce, which… that sure kinda fucking sucks when you have Rogers as your owner, doesn’t it?

Whatever the case, I’m not sure how much of a fit Cabrera would have been anyway.

Also… uh… according to a tweet from Ken Rosenthal, the point may be moot, as we’re told that the Jays are “not expected to add any position players,” as they’re “focused on pitching.”

Makes sense — though it was Rosenthal himself who called Cabrera “an option” for the Jays, as I noted in a Today In MLBTR post on Monday. At that time I also gave a bit of background on the player:

He’s been worth nearly a win-and-a-half this year, but thanks mostly to the fact that he plays shortstop, which he’d be moved off of if he came over to the Jays, moving back to second base, where he played a bunch from 2007 to 2009. He doesn’t play great defence (according to the metrics) at short, and has a .303 on-base over his last 970 plate appearances. And his platoon splits aren’t terribly pronounced, either. Against right-handed pitching, where he’s hit best, over that span the switch hitter slashed .249/.315/.407. At this point I’d take Munenori Kawasaki and his .295/.351/.352 line against right-handers, thanks. And I’d certainly take Steve Tolleson and his 174 wRC+ against lefties. Second base hasn’t even really been that big a problem for this team, frankly.

Right?

This pitching thing sounds intriguing, though.

And if you want to get really optimistic about the payroll stuff, maybe Rogers is seeing the TV ratings and willing to have a late change of heart. A press release from Sportsnet this afternoon noted that last night’s game was the highest non-opener Blue Jays audience in the history of the network, with 1.09-million viewers tuning in. They add that it’s the third-highest rated game in the network’s history, that Sportsnet was the second most watched station in Canada in primetime, and that over 3.3-million people watched at least some part of the game.

So, there’s that…

lestertrop

Here’s one that I guess actually makes sense, but still seems like a total long shot and quite possibly bullshit: according to Sean McAdam of CSN New England, of the many teams calling the Red Sox on Jon Lester, the Jays might be the one that’s most aggressive.

To wit:

St. Louis, Seattle, Baltimore and the Los Angeles Dodgers are widely thought to be in on Lester, but industry sources say the Red Sox also have received interest from another handful of clubs, led by Milwaukee, Atlanta, Oakland and Toronto.

Of those, a source indicated, Toronto has been the most aggressive in its interest.

With Lester a short-term rental — he’s eligible for free agency after the season — the Red Sox won’t be dissuaded from trading him within the division, although that willingness doesn’t extend to the rival New York Yankees.

Sometimes these things… I don’t know. I mean, how do you even judge who is being the most aggressive, right? Especially when the piece says that no specific proposals have been made yet. We know that the Jays aren’t going to acknowledge anything, but I have a hard time believing that anybody would need so badly to bluff interest in Lester in order to drive up the price. Maybe, though. Maybe one could even dream up some backwards logic that the Jays themselves have reason to make someone think they’re heavily interested. I don’t know.

If they’re serious, though, it’s interesting. Even if there is no obvious candidate to remove from the rotation, there is no team that couldn’t use an upgrade like Lester, so I’m sure our hypothetical Jays could make this work from an on-field standpoint.

But then there’s the money — Lester is owed $4.3-million for the rest of this season, at which point he becomes a free agent (and because he’s been (hypothetically) traded, doesn’t bring back a pick for his new club — and also the cost in terms of other “resources.”

McAdam writes that the Red Sox are looking to add at least one “elite” prospect in the package they receive for the rental, suggesting that they’re dreaming big on a guy like Oscar Tavares of the Cardinals or either Joc Pederson or Corey Seager of the Dodgers. The Jays would have a hard time competing with packages from those clubs headlined by names like that, but I can’t honestly imagine the cost being quite so steep. It will be steep, though, and you really have to wonder if the Jays will have the stomach to deal another blow to their farm system for a rental. Maybe that’s exactly why they’re supposedly being aggressive now? Knowing that once other teams get in they’re going to fade into the background?

I mean, a guy like this represents a great opportunity for the club, but intra-division trades remain tough. Especially when the Jays would, hypothetically, be exchanging several years of service on prospects for mere months of Lester. And it’s not a Jeff Kent/David Cone situation either, where they can soften the psychic blow with the knowledge the youngster they’re dealing is blocked by a Hall Of Famer anyway.

I really don’t know here. Did I mention that? I’ll believe this when I see it.

dannyvalencia

The Jays have made exactly the kind of trade that you’d have expected the Jays to make — at least a couple weeks ago you would have — flipping a pair of Buffalo Bisons, catcher Erik Kratz and starter Liam Hendriks, to the Kansas City Royals for Danny Valencia.

Valencia is a third baseman, though not a particularly great one according to the metrics, but passable enough to get his bat into the lineup, which will certainly help the Jays, given that he’s a right-handed bat who hits lefties quite well.

In a very small sample (68 plate appearances) he has slashed .354/.386/.492 against left-handed pitching this season. He obviously doesn’t walk a tonne against them, and he’s benefitting from a pretty high BABIP, but those are still some terrific numbers, as are the ones he’s put up if you increase the sample to previous years, when he played for the Twins, Red Sox, and Orioles. Over his last 228 plate appearances against left-handers, spanning 2012 to 2014, he’s maintained that high BABIP (.358), and those sparkling numbers, posting a 138 wRC+, and a .330/.346/.530 slash line, with eight homers and 17 doubles.

Increase the sample to include his entire big league career against lefties and it’s more of the same.

In other words, this is a very nice piece the Jays have just acquired themselves, given that it cost them almost nothing. Kratz was useful enough, but clearly expendable as the third catcher on the depth chart. And Hendriks may have started the Triple-A All-Star Game, with Sean Nolin returning to health, Todd Redmond still available in the bullpen, and Brandon Morrow possibly making an eventual comeback, he could justifiably be considered the eighth or ninth starter on the depth chart, with little hope of moving up the pecking order next year, given that Aaron Sanchez and Dan Norris are expected to be knocking on the door by then.

Speaking of next year, Valencia, who makes just $532.5K this year, he’ll still be under team control then. And the year after. And the year after that, as well. Yes, this winter will be his first crack at arbitration, meaning that the Jays hold his rights for three years after this one — though, according to an MLBTR piece from the spring, he is out of options, so who knows if he ever actually manages to stick around that long.

He didn’t have much of a future in Kansas City, with former top pick Christian Colon getting moved up to add some depth to the Royals’ infield, and Mike Moustakas getting a vote of confidence, according to Andy Martino of the Kansas City Star. As for what the future holds here, Valencia fits very well with the current roster and its many platoon situations — and Alex Anthopoulos, via a tweet from Mike Wilner, suggests that he’s a guy that they’ve looked at for a while now.

The Jays will hold off on announcing a corresponding move until Valencia reports, and one wonders what it might be. With Esmil Rogers being D’d FA over the weekend to make room for Reimold, the club is down to seven relievers, and you’re not going to see them go down to six. Anthony Gose has been seeing a lot of time lately, and has been doing well, but he has options and is somewhat redundant with four other outfielders now on the roster — though Colby Rasmus would be the only one left over who is capable of playing centre for an extended stretch. If a Gose demotion ends up being the move, on the 3B/2B/1B/DH front the club has a spot for all of their current pieces, with Kawasaki, Goins, Francisco, and Johnson going against right-handers, with Valencia, Tolleson, and Reimold going against lefties, with a giant, Edwin Encarnacion-sized hole in that particular configuration (though Johnson doesn’t have a particularly large platoon split). However, if Gose stays, Bautista can move to first against right-handers — as he’s been doing from time to time — until Edwin is back, with Kawasaki, Goins, and Francisco handling 3B/2B/DH, with Johnson being made the redundant part. Unless! You could also use Johnson at DH and Francisco at third, with one of Goins or Kawasaki being demoted.

Goins and Gose both have options, while none of the others do, so I could see it coming down to that. However, the Jays certainly seem to like the defence they both bring and have been playing them a lot lately to good effect. I could see them erring on the side of keeping whatever depth they can. Would be nice to be able to keep a Kawasaki around for the balance of the season, and Dan Johnson, too, one supposes, but with Edwin, Lind, and Lawrie on the mend, some tough decisions are going to have to be made sooner or later — and for someone maybe tomorrow, when Valencia likely arrives, will be “sooner.”

We shall see. What we already know, though, is that this team is better now than it was yesterday, and that it cost them pretty close to nothing.

I can live with that. I can so fucking live with that.

dickeyfenway

The Jays face the Red Sox, and R.A. Dickey squares off with Clay Buchholz, for the second time in less than a week, but in a wholly different atmosphere. No, not just because this one goes at Fenway, but because the Red Sox are increasingly being rumoured to be in sell mode — most notably when it comes to free-agent-to-be Jon Lester, who the Sox are being “hit hard on” (along with John Lackey), according to a tweet from Ken Rosenthal, who also indicated that other teams in the AL East are involved.

Meanwhile, we have a trade!

Around 6:30 PM ET, Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News noted that Erik Kratz had been pulled from the Bisons’ lineup, with no reason given. Twenty minutes later, Shi Davidi tweeted that Liam Hendriks had been dealt to the Royals, then not long afterwards, Yahoo!’s Jeff Passan told us that both Kratz and Hendriks are bound for Kansas City, with no word yet on what the return will be (though the early money seems to be on a bullpen piece of some order).

Ben Nicholson-Smith adds that Kratz is expected to contribute in the big leagues for the Royals, so they like him to at least some extent. So… we’ll see.

I’ll update this post as soon as we learn anything new.

Oh yeah, and baseball!

Update:

It’s 3B Danny Valencia who will come the Jays’ way in this deal. Full post upcoming!

Scuttlebutt

MORE SCUTTLEBUTT FORTHCOMING! (Maybe).

Next game(s): Tomorrow, 7:10 PM ET @ Boston

For those of you who’ll be out and about, be sure to follow all the action on your phone with theScore app.

And now, the lineups… 

Toronto Blue Jays

SS Jose Reyes (S)
LF Melky Cabrera (S)
DH Jose Bautista (R)
1B Juan Francisco (L)
CF Colby Rasmus (L)
3B Munenori Kawasaki (L)
C Josh Thole (L)
2B Ryan Goins (L)
RF Anthony Gose (L)

RHP R.A. Dickey

Boston Red Sox

CF Brock Holt (L)
2B Dustin Pedroia (R)
DH David Ortiz (L)
1B Mike Napoli (R)
LF Daniel Nava (S)
RF Shane Victorino (R)
SS Stephen Drew (L)
3B Xander Bogaerts (R)
C David Ross (R)

RHP Clay Buchholz