Alex Anthopoulos Rumors

Front Office Notes: Zduriencik, Dipoto, Anthopoulos

Jack Zduriencik’s tenure with the Mariners was characterized by long streams of firings, resignations and strife, Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times writes. Those began early in Zduriencik’s time in Seattle, with Zduriencik apparently frequently blaming others for the team’s problems under his leadership. Baker prints excerpts of a rather amazing email from Zduriencik to then-manager Don Wakamatsu about the struggling 2010 team in which Zduriencik seemed to blame his staff for the failures of the players he had acquired the previous offseason. “When putting this club together throughout the winter, everyone was involved,” Zduriencik wrote. “I asked many questions about the acquired players this offseason and in all cases moved forward to acquire or refrain from acquiring a player based on received recommendations.” He also suggested that the struggles of that 101-loss 2010 team might be due to a “lack of urgency and preparation,” implying that the coaching staff was to blame. The Mariners finally fired Zduriencik this week. Here’s more on front offices.

  • Former Angels GM Jerry Dipoto looks likely to be a talked-about name as the many teams with vacant GM positions search for candidates, FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi writes. Dipoto appears likely to be a candidate for both the Brewers and Mariners jobs. The Mariners have said they will prioritize experience (which, obviously, Dipoto has), and Morosi notes that Dipoto was a finalist for the Mariners GM job years ago, when the team ultimately hired Zduriencik.
  • The Blue Jays are still seeking a team president, but when they hire one, that person will endure criticism if he or she fires GM Alex Anthopoulos, Morosi says. Anthopoulos’ acquisitions of veterans like Josh Donaldson, Russell Martin, Troy Tulowitzki and David Price have helped propel the Blue Jays to first place in the AL East. The team’s decision to keep Anthopoulos shouldn’t be a difficult one, Morosi says.

AL East Notes: Buchholz, Red Sox Front Office, Hanley, Shapiro, Tolleson

Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski says that righty Clay Buchholz is done for the year, as Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald tweets. The new top Boston baseball decisionmaker added that he sees it as an easy call to exercise a $12MM option to keep Buchholz — if he is healthy. That’s an important proviso, of course, though the Sox should have time to assess his recovery before making a final decision.

  • Dombrowski spoke with the press today as he accompanied the Red Sox on the road for the first time, as Tim Britton of the Providence Journal reports. While the offseason is still a ways away, he’s still short on time. “There’s going to be some shortcomings that are just going to fall through the cracks,” he explained. “I can’t see the minor-league clubs; I just don’t have enough time to be able to do that.” Before deciding on any additions or subtractions to his front office group, Dombrowski says, he’s working to get to know his current staff. “You just have to really do your homework to get to know people and to get to know whose opinions you can feel you really trust,” said the incoming executive. “… The people here will know the players better than I will.”
  • While the Red Sox front office composition remains to be seen, one prominent member is already on his way out. Pro scouting director Jared Porter is heading to the Cubs, Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com tweets. It’s important to note that, as Britton explains, Dombrowski indicated that at least one front office member was departing (quite possibly Porter) in a move that had already been in the works before his arrival.
  • Dombrowski also touched upon the Red Sox‘ pending move of Hanley Ramirez to first base, as Britton further reports“It just seemed to make sense” to try the veteran out at the position, he explained. “Not that you have to rush it, but it gives us some time to get him out there. I wouldn’t want to say, ‘Let’s wait until spring training and let’s see if he can do it.’ What happens if he can’t do it? You really need to know that more so now.”
  • If the Blue Jays are going to land Indians president Mark Shapiro to fill that role in Toronto, they may well do so in the coming days, according to Joe Vardon of the Plain Dealer. A source says that “closure” on Shapiro’s status is expected in short order. We learned earlier today that Cleveland has authorized him to meet with the Jays.
  • There’s something of an unusual situation brewing between the Blue Jays and infielder Steve Tolleson, who is on the temporarily inactive list at Triple-A, as John Lott of the National Post writes. Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos said that Tolleson “just decided he didn’t want to play anymore,” while Tolleson says he’s injured. The question is whether Tolleson was injured when he was designated for assignment by the club, the argument being that he should (if that was the case) be earning a major league salary from the MLB disabled list.

AL East Notes: Dombrowski, Yankees, Shapiro, Gonzalez

The hiring of Dave Dombrowski puts a new face atop the Red Sox‘ baseball operations hierarchy but does not change the goal and the philosophy of the organization, writes Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. As Silverman writes, the Red Sox were going to overhaul the roster this winter whether Dombrowski, Ben Cherington or someone else was leading the charge. Chairman Tom Werner and president John Henry both spoke about how the team will still use data and analytics to its advantage, while Dombrowski said he’s not planning to “blow up” Boston’s baseball ops department.

More from the AL East…

  • Tim Britton of the Providence Journal looks at how Dombrowski’s history will tie in with the Red Sox. Dombrowski has a reputation for trading prospects for proven talent after his time in Detroit, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, he notes. Part of successfully executing that philosophy is trading prospects at peak value and maximizing return — something the Sox failed to do with names like Will Middlebrooks and Anthony Ranaudo. Dombrowski spoke of dealing from a surplus in his introduction to Boston media, Britton writes, and he points out that center field, shortstop and catcher could all be areas of surplus/redundancy for the Sox. The other questions for Dombrowski in Boston will be how aggressively he’ll pursue top-flight free agent pitching this winter and whether or not he can rebuild a bullpen that has been largely problematic in 2015, writes Britton.
  • Praising the Yankees‘ decision to hang onto the likes of Greg Bird, Luis Severino and other top prospects is premature, opines Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. While Bird and Severino have each contributed to the Bombers over the past few weeks, Martino writes that the true wisdom or folly of that decision won’t be known for quite some time. A dominant October run from Severino might speed up the process of proving GM Brian Cashman’s decision to be shrewd, but the possibility also exists that the Yankees’ coveted prospects will go the route of Jesus Montero. Martino doesn’t necessarily make the argument that Cashman should have traded prospects away, but rather just urges onlookers to take a less reactionary approach following a two-homer game from Bird and a trio of solid starts from Severino, as narratives can change quickly when looking at small samples from early in prospects’ careers.
  • On the heels of last night’s report from Ken Rosenthal, Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi writes that he, too, hears the Blue Jays consider Indians president Mark Shapiro a “strong candidate” to replace retiring CEO Paul Beeston. However, Davidi notes that there may yet be others in the mix for the impending vacancy. Notably, Davidi writes that the “assumption” is that GM Alex Anthopoulos will be offered some kind of extension prior to his contract’s expiration on Oct. 31.
  • Miguel Gonzalez‘s struggles with the Orioles are ill-timed, writes Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun. The organization’s top alternatives at the minor league level — Tyler Wilson and Mike Wright — are both injured at the moment, and there aren’t many other options to give him a break from his troubles. As Encina notes, Gonzalez has struggled quite a bit when ahead in the count — even on 0-2 counts — which has contributed to a 6.48 ERA over his past 11 starts. I’ll add that the struggles are doubly problematic for Gonzalez, who is eligible for arbitration for the second time this winter and due a raise on his $3.275MM salary.


Blue Jays Interested In Indians’ Shapiro As Successor To Beeston

Indians president Mark Shapiro has “emerged as a strong candidate” to succeed retiring Blue Jays president/CEO Paul Beeston, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The Blue Jays have, in fact, already reached out to Shapiro about the position, Rosenthal continues.

The 48-year-old Shapiro served as the Indians’ general manager for 10 seasons before a promotion to club president that saw longtime lieutenant Chris Antonetti promoted to the GM chair. As Rosenthal notes, Shapiro has overseen renovations at Cleveland’s Progressive Field while serving as president, which would have appeal to the Blue Jays, who are planning on some renovations at the Rogers Centre in the years to come.

Shapiro, or any other president, would have a say in the future of Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos, who, as Rosenthal reports, is signed through Oct. 31. Were Anthopoulos allowed to reach his contract’s expiration date, he’d be able to pursue various other GM openings around the league. While there’s been plenty written about Anthopoulos’ uncertain future over the past year, his team’s success since a number of high-profile acquisitions at this year’s non-waiver trade deadline would, on the surface, appear to have positioned him for a contract extension with Toronto. The Blue Jays are currently two games back from the Yankees in the AL East but are also positioned to make the postseason as a Wild Card team if they do not overtake New York in the standings. The Blue Jays are 21-9 in the second half of the season and 13-4 since Aug. 1. However, a new president could still prefer to bring in their own general manager to help guide the franchise.

Toronto’s search for a successor to Beeston has been ongoing for quite some time. Last offseason, the team reportedly showed interest in Orioles GM Dan Duquette, Twins GM Terry Ryan and White Sox president Kenny Williams to fill the role. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reported earlier this week that the Blue Jays made a strong run at Dombrowski, and their interest pushed the Red Sox to give Dombrowski full decision-making authority.

Specific details of Shapiro’s contract aren’t clear, although if he’s under contract beyond the 2015 season, the Indians could be in for some form of compensation. Last winter, when talks with the Blue Jays were said to have gained traction, the two teams were reportedly discussed player compensation that would’ve gone from Toronto to Baltimore due to the fact that Duquette is signed through the 2018 season.


AL East Notes: Anthopoulos, Wolf, Yankees

With Dave Dombrowski joining their division rivals, the Blue Jays remain in need of a replacement for outgoing president Paul Beeston. Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca suggests that current GM Alex Anthopoulos could make a sensible candidate for that more expansive role. For one thing, says Davidi, it may not be wise to introduce any potential for internal discord in baseball decisionmaking by adding someone on top of Anthopoulos. And elevating the current GM would help ensure continuity. You’ll want to read the piece for the full concept.

  • Of course, as Davidi notes, whether or not the Blue Jays consider Anthopoulos for a promotion, the team will need to act on his contract status by the end of October, when his current deal expires. With front offices churning around the league, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, Toronto would be foolish not to act decisively to retain Anthopoulos. He proposes that the organization vest him with full baseball ops authority while adding a business-oriented president. (Obviously, that’s not the profile of Dombrowski, who Rosenthal says was brought in for a formal interview by the Jays.)
  • Blue Jays lefty Randy Wolf recently requested his release to seek an opportunity at the big league level, but Toronto may give him that chance itself come September, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com writes. Toronto would have done so already had a specific team made an offer to add him to its MLB roster, Heyman notes, but was not interested in letting him go to another team’s Triple-A club. (Wolf was not able to negotiate an opt-out clause into his pact with the Jays.) Wolf has had an interesting recent transactional timeline, especially for a nearly 39-year-old veteran. He’s generated excellent results this year at Buffalo, tossing 139 2/3 innings of 2.58 ERA ball with 6.8 K/9 against 2.6 BB/9.
  • The Yankees‘ 2006 draft class may have featured the most productive haul of future relievers in baseball history, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. David Robertson, Dellin Betances, Mark Melancon, George Kontos, and Zach McAllister were all taken that year by New York — after the team selected Joba Chamberlain in the first round. While Chamberlain never followed through on the amazing start to his career, Sherman notes, the class does help to demonstrate that New York has been rather successful in developing high-quality pen arms.

Heyman’s Latest: Jays, Goldschmidt, Teheran, Chen, Epstein, Gordon, Gray

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports kicks off his weekly Inside Baseball column by chronicling the efforts of Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos leading up to the non-waiver trade deadline. Perhaps most interesting are some of the items about trades the Jays elected not to make. As Heyman notes, the Reds asked for right-hander Marcus Stroman in exchange for Johnny Cueto, but Stroman was a deal-breaker in all trade talks with Toronto. Dating back to the offseason, the Blue Jays considered signing Craig Breslow, Joba Chamberlain, John Axford and Rafael Soriano, as well as some larger names, including David Robertson, whom they considered “closely.” (Toronto never made a firm offer to Robertson, though, Heyman writes.) The Blue Jays’ willingness to include Daniel Norris in a trade for David Price effectively shut every other team out of the market, per Heyman, as others weren’t willing to discuss their absolute top prospects. The Yankees, for instance, wouldn’t part with Luis Severino, while the Dodgers steadfastly refused to part with Corey Seager or Julio Urias.

More highlights from the article (which is worth checking out in its entirety, as there’s far more than can be recapped here with any form of brevity)…

  • Paul Goldschmidt is under team control through 2019, but the D-Backs will attempt to extend him further this offseason, per GM Dave Stewart. “We want to make him a lifetime Diamondback,” Stewart told Heyman. I imagine the price tag there will be extraordinary, as Goldschmidt has gone from rising talent to unequivocal superstardom since signing his initial extension with Arizona. Heyman also reports that the D-Backs will take a shot at extending the arbitration-eligible A.J. Pollock. While not a household name, Pollock probably earns my personal vote as the most underrated player in baseball.
  • The Braves have been making an effort to shed contracts that reach beyond the 2016 season, and Heyman writes to “look for them to take offers on Julio Teheran” this offseason. Clearly, Atlanta would be selling low on a talented arm that comes with a very reasonable contract. Teheran signed a six-year, $32.4MM extension prior to the 2014 season, but he’s logged a 4.57 ERA due in part to diminished control in 2015.
  • The Orioles will make left-hander Wei-Yin Chen a qualifying offer this winter, Heyman reports. Chen might not seem like a prototypical QO candidate, but he’s a lock to turn it down, in my mind, coming off a very nice season at age 30. He should draw pretty significant interest this winter, as MLBTR’s Jeff Todd recently noted in examining Chen’s free agent stock.
  • Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein is up for an extension at an excellent time, as the Cubs’ rebuild looks to be paying tremendous dividends. Epstein has been earning about $4MM per year with the Cubs, but Heyman hears from some in the industry that the expectation is for Epstein to top Andrew Friedman’s reported $7MM annual salary with the Dodgers if and when he signs a new deal.
  • Despite a poor season for the Reds, there’s a sense among some that they may keep manager Bryan Price. The second-year Reds skipper has had to deal with the losses of Devin Mesoraco, Zack Cozart and Homer Bailey, among many injuries to others in 2015.
  • There’s been some buzz about the Tigers trimming payroll, but Heyman spoke to multiple sources close to the situation who say that talk might be overstated. One spoke specifically about the Ilitch family’s continued commitment to winning. Heyman speculatively mentions Justin Upton as a player that has previously piqued Detroit’s interest. He also lists the White Sox as a team that may show interest in Upton.
  • The Royals are serious about trying to make Alex Gordon a lifetime member of the organization. It’ll be tough for Kansas City to do so if he’s seeking something in the vicinity of Shin-Soo Choo money ($130MM), but the increased revenue they’re receiving from the Kansas City baseball renaissance could allow them to spend more than they would’ve in previous seasons.
  • The Dodgers have interest in Johnny Cueto as a free agent, and adding a right-handed arm does intrigue them. Clayton Kershaw, Hyun-jin Ryu and Julio Urias (expected to eventually join the L.A. rotation) are all left-handed, as is fellow offseason target David Price, whom Heyman terms a “more obvious target” for Friedman & Co.
  • The Brewers are serious about trying to emphasize analytics with a new GM hire, as the Attanasio family (the team’s owners) are big believers in the growing statistical trend. Mark Attanasio’s son, a former basketball player, is an MIT grad with a strong foundation in basketball analytics. John Coppolella, Thad Levine, David Forst, Mike Hazen, Billy Eppler, Michael Girsch and Jerry Dipoto are among the names that Heyman feels could be fits in Milwaukee’s GM seat.
  • “Not happening. Not even slightly,” was the response from Athletics general manager Billy Beane when asked by Heyman about the possibility of trading Sonny Gray this winter. That’s a pretty emphatic denial, and while some will recall similar comments made about Josh Donaldson last October, those came from an anonymous executive as opposed to an on-record denial from Oakland’s top decision-maker.

Zwelling, Keri Examine Blue Jays’ Active Deadline

In a pair of excellent columns, Arden Zwelling of Sportsnet and Jonah Keri of Grantland offer behind-the-scenes looks at the chaotic week of Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos leading up to the trade deadline. Each spoke directly to Anthopoulos, and while Keri’s piece focuses on blockbuster deals for David Price and Troy Tulowitzki, Zwelling’s looks at each day of Anthopoulos’ week leading up to the deadline (including those trades and other discussions) — painting a vivid picture of the life of a general manager during one of the most chaotic times of the year.

Some highlights from each piece, although I’d highly recommend reading each in its entirety…

  • Both Zwelling and Keri note that talks between the Blue Jays and Rockies date back to the offseason, but the initial concept of Jose Reyes and pitching prospects for Tulowitzki surfaced in late May. Anthopoulos, Zwelling writes, had been unwilling to part with Jeff Hoffman until the day that Tulowitzki was traded. When Hoffman’s name was put on the table, talks with Rockies GM Jeff Bridich accelerated quickly. Zwelling’s piece also provides a glimpse into the difficult task of Anthopoulos informing Reyes that he’d been traded.
  • Meanwhile, Anthopoulos told Keri that the decision to add Tulowitzki did have its detractors within the Toronto front office. “They brought up the length of his contract, the dollars on his contract, the players we’d have to give up,” said Anthopoulos. However, his take on the situation varied. “Players like that don’t become available,” said the Toronto GM. “They sign 10-year contracts and become the face of a franchise. It wasn’t an easy decision. It was weird, the process was long and stressful … but it was also a lot of fun.”
  • Zwelling writes that Anthopoulos was in negotiation for players such as Ben Zobrist, Gerardo Parra and Mike Leake as well, but an eventual phone call from Detroit’s Dave Dombrowski caused him to shift his focus to Price. Dombrowski had told Anthopoulos a week before the trade deadline that he’d call him if he decided to move Price, and despite the fact that Anthopoulos saw constant rumors about Price’s availability, his respect for Dombrowski prevented him from calling to check in. “His guarantee that he’d call me was all I needed,” said Anthopoulos. “Dave’s a complete pro. No matter what was being said in the media, I was going to take his word for it. When and if the time presented itself, he was going to call.”
  • Anthopoulos tells Zwelling that while there was pressure to get a deal for Price and/or another starter done, he did have a fallback plan. Anthopoulos had a standing agreement in place for a yet-unnamed lesser pitcher than Price that he could’ve swung on July 31, but the move for Price halted that need.
  • Keri notes that Anthopoulos was on the phone with Mariners counterpart Jack Zduriencik discussing Mark Lowe when Dombrowski came calling with the info that he was ready to move Price. “I’m dying to jump off the phone, but I don’t want to do that to Jack,” said Anthopoulos. “I did really want Price, though. So I did hurry it along.”
  • Keri cites a Blue Jays source in reporting that the Blue Jays nearly had a trade completed for the Indians’ Carlos Carrasco, but talks fell apart just as the Jays thought they had something worked out. The Jays also checked in with the Phillies on Cole Hamels over the winter, in Spring Training, before the All-Star break and with 10 days to go before the trade deadline, Keri reports, but were repeatedly told that Hamels wouldn’t waive his no-trade clause to approve a deal to Toronto. Anthopoulos also aggressively pursued the Padres’ Tyson Ross, according to Keri’s source, though he gives no indication that anything was as close with Ross as it seemingly was with Carrasco.

Blue Jays Expect To Be Active On Pitching Market

Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos indicated that he’s working hard to add pitching this summer in an appearance on Sportsnet 590 The FAN (article via Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith). And he left little doubt that he sees the club as a buyer.

“We still need to make upgrades in the rotation and the bullpen, that goes without saying,” said the Jays GM. “I’d love to land both. What we come away with or don’t come away with, I have no idea. Clearly we’re looking to be active. We’re looking to add and make the club a lot better.”

As Nicholson-Smith explains, there is at least some hope of an internal boost as well. Just-promoted rookie Matt Boyd is interesting enough to get a showcase, and the club expects to welcome Aaron Sanchez back from the DL in the near future. While Toronto anticipates that Sanchez will start, Anthopoulos says his role will depend upon the state of the rotation. And there’s even some possibility — albeit, perhaps, fairly remote — that Marcus Stroman could attempt a late-season return, though the team will surely err well on the side of caution with the prized righty.

Interestingly, Anthopoulos also discussed his broader strategy on the market, citing legendary investor Warren Buffett in saying: “It’s better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price.” As Nicholson-Smith notes, value-based dealing was something of a hallmark of the GM’s earlier years, but it seems that his outlook has evolved somewhat.

One undoubtedly high-quality and high-value asset that the Blue Jays possess is the contractual control over third baseman Josh Donaldson, who can be retained via arbitration through the 2018 season. That makes an extension more a future consideration, per Anthopoulos. “There’s no sense of  urgency since we still have him for a very long time,” he explained.


AL East Notes: Odorizzi, Navarro, Bradley, O’s

Rays right-hander Jake Odorizzi will visit a doctor on Monday to determine the severity of the oblique injury that forced an early departure from Friday’s start.  Though the extent of the injury is yet to be determined, manager Kevin Cash told reporters (including the Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin) that it’s “fair to say” that Odorizzi will miss some time.  Needless to say, the last thing the Rays need is another starter on the DL given how their staff has already been ravaged by injuries this season.  Odorizzi was enjoying an excellent season, owning a 2.47 ERA, 7.4 K/9 and 4.2 K/BB rate through 76 2/3 innings as he and Chris Archer have been carrying the beleaguered Tampa rotation.  Here’s some more from around the AL East…

  • Dioner Navarro has returned from the DL and has resumed being one of the Blue Jays‘ primary trade chips, Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star writes.  Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos candidly discussed Navarro’s trade candidacy in a recent chat with reporters, saying that catcher was “an area of depth” for Toronto.  “He could be an everyday guy for somebody. We like him on the team. He’s valuable,” Anthopoulos said.  “We’re glad he’s on this team, but if there’s that opportunity we improve the club and it gets him an everyday playing spot, we would do that and I’ve said that to him as well. He understands that.”  In short, Anthopoulos’ stance on Navarro hasn’t changed from what he was saying about the catcher’s trade status during the offseason.  He noted that he had spoken to Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart about Navarro within the last few weeks.
  • In addition to the Blue Jays‘ known need for relief help, Anthopoulos noted that the Blue Jays were also looking for outfield depth.  Dalton Pompey‘s demotion has led to backup Kevin Pillar playing almost every day, and injuries to Michael Saunders and Jose Bautista led to variety of infielders (including Chris Colabello and Danny Valencia) filling the corner outfield slots with mediocre defensive results.  Griffin figures that Navarro may be dangled as trade bait for an outfielder since the Jays’ remaining payroll space may be targeted for bullpen upgrades.
  • The Red Sox aren’t looking to trade Jackie Bradley, Fangraphs’ David Laurila reports, nor is Bradley “in the proverbial doghouse” with team management.  The Sox, however, have been using other outfield options and have no plans to promote Bradley from Triple-A despite his strong play, leading Laurila to wonder if his source was correct.
  • Since the Orioles‘ roster may be depleted by free agent departures this winter, MASNsports.com’s Steve Melewski wonders if the team could draft college players to provide immediate help for 2016.  This theory is countered, however, by an interview with MLB.com’s Jim Callis, who feels that it’s generally safer to just take the best player available, regardless of whether he’s a high schooler or a college kid.
  • MLBTR’s Zach Links covered a couple of Yankees and Red Sox items in an East Notes post earlier today.

AL East Notes: Lindgren, Red Sox, Blue Jays

The Yankees promoted reliever Jacob Lindgren to the big leagues this weekend after less than a year in the minors, as Ryan Hatch of NJ.com notes. Lindgren was a second-round draft pick just last June. “Them picking a reliever kind of high, I guess there’s always that chance [of being called up],” Lindgren says. “But I kind of had to pitch my game and show them what I could do.” Lindgren is, of course, right to note that college pitchers chosen early in the draft and used as relievers can make the Majors quite quickly. Another reliever, Brandon Finnegan of the Royals, was the first 2014 draftee to reach the big leagues, and other recent early-round relievers, like Drew Storen and Paco Rodriguez, have taken quick routes to the Majors as well. Lindgren’s dominance in the minors is still worth noting, however — he’s posted a 1.74 ERA, 14.8 K/9 and 4.4 BB/9 in 46 2/3 innings since turning pro. Here’s more from the AL East.

  • Despite an uneven start to their season, the Red Sox have an opportunity to win a flawed AL East division, and they need to take advantage by making a big move, Steve Buckley of the Boston Herald writes. The division will most likely go to the team that does the most to improve itself, says Buckley.
  • On a related note, Michael Silverman of the Herald writes that the AL East generally simply doesn’t have as much talent as it once did, with most of the game’s elite players (Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Clayton Kershaw, and so on) playing elsewhere. The division’s shortstop talent is a microcosm of the lack of star-caliber players in the AL East — the division once boasted players like Derek Jeter and Nomar Garciaparra at shortstop, but now it has the likes of Asdrubal Cabrera, Didi Gregorius and Ryan Goins.
  • GM Alex Anthopoulos and manager John Gibbons could be fired if the Blue Jays don’t start winning, Jim Bowden of ESPN writes (Insider-only). Bowden notes that the executives the Jays reportedly sought last offseason to replace business-oriented team president Paul Beeston, like Dan Duquette of the Orioles and Ken Williams of the White Sox, have baseball backgrounds. That might say something about the organization’s level of satisfaction with its on-field product. The Jays have gone heavily after veteran talent in the past several seasons, but they have little to show for it, and they’re currently in last place in what’s been a mediocre division.