AL East Notes: Blue Jays, Ellsbury, Britton

Brett Cecil enjoyed a breakout season in his new role as a reliever in 2013, but the Blue Jays were so desperate for pitching that they almost moved him back into the rotation this summer, GM Alex Anthopoulos said on Prime Time Sports radio with Bob McCown of SN590 (via Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith). Anthopoulos also added that the team hasn't considered moving the injury-prone Brandon Morrow to the bullpen, nor have the Jays made a decision regarding Josh Johnson's future. Here's more on the Blue Jays and the rest of the AL East…

  • Nicholson-Smith also runs down the Blue Jays' current contractual commitments, noting that Anthopoulos has the team's core in place long enough to target a sustained run. He quotes Anthopoulos as saying that Blue Jays never completely rule out trade discussions for any player — a familiar refrain from the Toronto GM.
  • Jacoby Ellsbury's strong ALDS performance is boosting his already-strong free agent stock, writes's Rob Bradford. Bradford points out that despite the small sample nature of the playoffs, players such as Derek Lowe, John Lackey, Marco Scutaro and Carlos Beltran have all padded their free agent contracts thanks to strong postseason showings in past years.
  • Despite the fact that Ellsbury might be the MVP of the Red Sox, John Tomase of the Boston Herald opines that the team needs to let him go this winter. Tomase writes that while many fans worry about losing a player who still has plenty left in the tank, the opposite is true far more often — players end up earning millions more than they deserve by the end of a contract. Tomase feels the Red Sox should look to the New England Patriots, who have made unpopular decisions to let popular players depart without hurting the franchise long-term. He adds that "Red Sox executives have privately marveled at the Pats’ ability to remove emotion from their player evaluations" and points out that speed-oriented players typically don't age well.
  • Next season will be a make or break year for former Orioles top prospect Zach Britton, writes Steve Melewski of Britton, who turns 26 in December, will be out of minor league options and must make a strong impression to stick with the team. The left-hander told Melewski that he's happy to have had his first healthy season since 2011, but he knows that performance-wise, he needed to do more at the Major League level. Britton posted a 4.95 ERA and averaged just 4.1 K/9 in 40 innings with the O's, though he was better for Triple-A Norfolk (4.27 ERA, 6.5 K/9, 4.0 BB/9 in 103 1/3 innings).

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