B.J. Ryan Rumors

Blue Jays To Sit Out Free Agent Market?

Beyond attempting to re-sign starter A.J. Burnett, Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi does not intend to dabble in free agency this year.  He told MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian he’d probably stay in-house.  Ricciardi shot down rumors of interest in Jason Giambi, Milton Bradley, and Rafael Furcal.  Drunk Jays Fans doesn’t buy the talk, though.

Trades are Ricciardi’s ideal route, though Richard Griffin notes J.P. has rarely dealt prospects for Major Leaguers.  Griffin believes big league trade chips may include B.J. Ryan, John McDonald, and Lyle OverbayJason Frasor could be another.

Blue Jays Rumors: Burnett, Manny, Ryan

10:07pm: Dave O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution heard the Blue Jays will make Burnett a "take it or leave it" offer of four years, $54MM ($13.5MM per year).  Burnett’s agent hasn’t heard that, and Ricciardi says there’s no offer on the table currently.  Jeff Blair of the Globe and Mail says the Jays have indicated privately they’ll do a three-year, $48MM deal ($16MM per year).  On the open market, Burnett can probably get four or five years at a higher salary.

10:06am: A little more on Ricciardi’s talks with Burnett’s agent.  Here, Ricciardi says talks have been "very productive."  But here, Ricciardi says they’re "not going bad, they’re not going good.  They’re fine."

8:42am: Talking to Cathal Kelly at the Toronto Star, Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi gives the standard line of being willing to trade any player if it makes the team better. Beyond that, he gave some quotes about his offseason plans.

  • Ricciardi says payroll will be $100MM, which should mean $15MM+ to spend after A.J. Burnett leaves for greener pastures.  Ricciardi may allow for uncertainty in the rotation and spend that money on a slugger.  He likes Manny Ramirez, but doesn’t sound optimistic on signing him.
  • Burnett hasn’t officially decided whether to opt out, but…c’mon.  The Jays’ exclusive window to talk to him will depend on when he opts out.  Burnett’s agent set salary expectations at more than Derek Lowe, less than C.C. Sabathia.
  • Ricciardi says trading B.J. Ryan is not a priority for the Jays at present.
  • To sum it all up: Burnett is a long shot, he won’t be replaced with another free agent starter, Manny is unlikely, Marco Scutaro is the shortstop, and Ryan is probably staying put.  If all of those things hold true, it may be difficult to improve in 2008.  On the other hand, full seasons of Vernon Wells, Adam Lind, Aaron Hill, Travis Snider, and a free agent hitter could result in a decent offense.

Baseball Blogs Weigh In: Rasmus, Tazawa, Manny

Let’s take a look at what is being written in the Blogosphere…

Cork Gaines writes for RaysIndex.com and can be reached here.

Odds and Ends: Downs, Furcal, Saltalamacchia

Today’s link collection…

  • Perhaps sparked by successful conversions by Ryan Dempster and Justin Duchscherer, the Blue Jays are considering putting Scott Downs in the rotation next year.  Downs has 50 big league starts under his belt, most recently in 2006.  The Jays might be more inclined to make the switch if A.J. Burnett opts out of his contract.  They also may be less willing to shop B.J. Ryan this winter.
  • Rany Jazayerli takes a look at the ’09 Royals, noting whispers regarding their interest in Rafael Furcal.
  • Jamey Newberg notes that Rangers catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia will attempt to prove his health in winter ball, which could make him trade bait.
  • The Mark DeRosa signing has worked out well for the Cubs, says Dave Cameron.  Other good ones from that free agent class: Gil Meche, Ted Lilly, and Jose GuillenTake a look – the majority of signings that winter became busts.
  • RotoAuthority offers simple advice for winning your fantasy league next year.

B.J. Ryan Signs With Blue Jays

B.J. Ryan has signed a five-year, $47MM deal to close for the Toronto Blue Jays.  GM J.P. Ricciardi simply made Ryan an offer he couldn’t refuse. 

Ryan entered the 2004 season as a lefty with a powerful fastball but little control.  He was possible trade bait for the Orioles entering that season.  But then Ryan reduced his walk rate signficantly, and the end result is more lucrative then he possibly could’ve imagined. 

Ryan’s deal will certainly have a ripple effect in coming years for free agent closers on the right side of 30.  Eric Gagne, who is a few weeks younger than Ryan, could stand to cash in following the ’06 season.  Gagne has a $12MM option that he may void after 2006.  While he likely wouldn’t average more than $12MM annually, he may void the option for the chance to lock into a similar five-year pact on the open market.

Gagne has a somewhat better track record than Ryan, although his health comes with a few question marks.  He expressed some displeasure with his organization this season, so a departure is feasible.

Thanks to John