Brett Cecil Rumors

13 Role Changes That Have Impacted Earning Power

Each offseason, teams and fans alike spend the winter projecting a 25-man roster on paper in an attempt to plot out as accurately as possible the way in which a season will progress. Oftentimes, a roster is more or less set from an early standpoint. Those expectations fluctuate based not only on player movement — trades and free agency, of course, have a strong impact on roster construction — but also on elements such as spring performances, injuries and early season success/struggles. Rarely do rosters, and the roles occupied by the players on that roster, shake out the way in which most pundits expected.

In many cases, the changes within a roster can come with significant financial implications for the players who find themselves in a more prominent role. Those who find themselves receiving the short end of the stick, of course, can see their future fortunes diminished.

It’s early in the 2015 season, but already we’ve seen some shifts in role and/or playing time that will make some players considerably wealthier in arbitration, as well as some that figure to severely damage a player’s arbitration case.

Rising Earning Power

Adam Ottavino: Typically, players like Ottavino are the ones that the Cardinals find rather than let go, but St. Louis tried to get the now-29-year-old Ottavino through waivers in 2012 and lost him to the Rockies. Ottavino has been a revelation in the Colorado bullpen, boosting his velocity and ditching his changeup for a devastating slider that has turned him into a late-inning weapon. Ottavino was recently named the new closer by manager Walt Weiss, and he’ll have a chance to head into his second trip through arbitration with a bucket of saves under his arm. The difference between entering arb as a setup man and entering as a closer could be worth millions.

Jeurys Familia: The same role change that benefits Ottavino will do the same for Familia, who entered the season setting up for Jenrry Mejia. However, an 80-game suspension for Mejia and Bobby Parnell‘s recovery from Tommy John surgery have opened the door for Familia to take the reins in the ninth inning. He’s notched a 6-to-1 K/BB ratio in his first 4 2/3 innings this season, and while he hasn’t necessarily secured the job through season’s end — Parnell or Mejia could reclaim the job later in the year — a season resembling last year’s 2.21 ERA in the ninth inning would yield a significant arbitration payday. Zach Britton, for example, parlayed one elite season as a closer into a $3.2MM payday this year, though the two aren’t perfect comparables. (Britton was a Super Two and didn’t have multiple strong seasons under his belt, as Familia theoretically will.) Ottavino landed a $1.3MM salary his first time through arb after a strong season of setup work, however, giving a rough idea of the potential gap between the two roles.

Lorenzo Cain: Entering last season, Cain was the Royals’ No. 8 hitter and didn’t get into the lineup on an everyday basis, as he split time with Jarrod Dyson in center field. Cain didn’t hit higher in the batting order than sixth until June 17 last season, but he’s batted third every day and started in center each game for the Royals this year. Cain doesn’t have the power one would typically expect from a No. 3 hitter, but his preposterous defense will keep him in the lineup every day, and hitting in the heart of the order will lead to plenty of RBI opportunities. A Gold Glove and a career-high in RBIs (which wouldn’t be hard to come by, as it currently stands at 53) will go a long way toward bolstering his $2.725MM salary.

Evan Gattis: The transition from catcher/outfielder in the National League to DH/outfielder in the American League should afford Gattis with the opportunity to see more playing time and therefore accumulate more counting stats to pad his first arbitration case this winter. While it’s true that he probably has more value behind the plate — that type of offense from a catcher is indeed quite rare — defense isn’t as highly rewarded via the arbitration process as good old fashioned homers and RBIs. Gattis has struggled to open the year, but career-highs in home runs, RBIs and most other counting stats wouldn’t be much of a surprise.

Leonys Martin: Martin’s role may not appear different on the surface, as he still figures to man center field on an everyday basis if healthy. However, Martin received just 40 games in the leadoff spot in 2014, spending the bulk of his time occupying the 7th and 8th slots in the Rangers lineup. Manager Jeff Banister declared Martin his leadoff hitter and voiced confidence in his ability to handle the role, even after struggling out of the gate in 2015. Martin’s dropped to eighth in each of the past two games, but Banister said that decision was “tinkering” to give the lineup “a different look,” rather than anything permanent. Martin averaged 3.76 plate appearances per game in 2014 but has averaged 4.4 per game in 2015. Over the course of 150 games, that comes out to an extra 150 to 155 games, that’d be an extra 96 to 100 plate appearances for Martin — a valuable increase in opportunities to boost his counting stats as he wraps up a five-year, $15.5MM contract and heads into arbitration for the first time.

Jordan Schafer: The former top prospect broke camp with the Braves as a reserve outfielder in 2014 and started just 13 games all season before the Twins claimed him on waivers in early August. Schafer impressed the Twins enough that there was never any real thought to non-tendering him (despite a marginal track record), and he outplayed Aaron Hicks in Spring Training to earn a regular role in center field to begin the season. Schafer is in a platoon with Shane Robinson, and he’ll have to hold off Hicks, Eddie Rosario and perhaps even Byron Buxton to keep his playing time, but he’s unquestionably been presented with a better financial opportunity than he was in Atlanta.

Declining Earning Power

Wilin Rosario: After spending the bulk of the past three seasons as Colorado’s everyday catcher, Rosario will now transition to a part-time role in which he’ll be used as an occasional first baseman against left-handed pitching. Rosario will also make sporadic appearances in the outfield and behind the plate. Rosario’s power has never been in question, but he’s regarded as one of the game’s worst defensive backstops and will be without a regular role of which to speak. The decrease in playing time is a critical blow to his earning potential, as his $2.8MM salary won’t be increasing by much if the early stages of the season are any indication of his playing time. Rosario has seven plate appearances in six games thus far.

Welington Castillo: Manager Joe Maddon can refer to the Cubs’ combination of Miguel Montero, David Ross and Welington Castillo as his “three-headed catcher,” but Castillo, formerly Chicago’s starting catcher, and his agent would likely describe the situation much more colorfully behind closed doors. Castillo took home a $2.1MM payday in his first trip through the arb cycle this winter, but like Rosario, he’s seen virtually no plate appearances in 2015. Castillo has appeared in four games and picked up seven PAs. Now that they’ve been through the arb process once, the raises awarded to Rosario and Castillo will be based almost solely upon their 2015 results, so their pay bumps figure to be rather paltry in nature.

Brett Cecil: Cecil was tabbed to as the Blue Jays’ closer to enter the season, but he relinquished those duties to 20-year-old Miguel Castro almost instantly. Cecil’s diminished velocity played a role in that decision, and while he may work his way back into the ninth inning, he looks like he’s tabbed for a setup role in the immediate future. A full season of saves would be a boon for next winter’s arbitration case, but that looks unlikely now.

Ruben Tejada: The Mets have had a hole at shortstop since Jose Reyes departed, and while Tejada got the chance to fill the void last year, it’s Wilmer Flores getting that opportunity this year. Tejada started 105 games in 2014, but it seems highly unlikely that he’ll come anywhere near that number in 2015, barring injuries around the diamond. Tejada’s light bat limited his earning power in the first place, but a lack of regular at-bats will further limit the raise he’ll receive on this year’s $1.88MM salary.

Peter Bourjos: Lights-out center field defense gave Bourjos a chance to pick up quite a few plate appearances early in his Cardinals tenure, but the club quickly departed from the notion of giving him more regular at-bats in 2014, promoting Randal Grichuk and giving more playing time back to Jon Jay. To this point, Bourjos has had just two plate appearances, though his glove has gotten him into five games. The complete evaporation of playing time makes a significant raise on his $1.65MM salary difficult to envision. Bourjos’ elite glove is strong enough that he could start for a number of teams, but it’s also a luxury and a late-inning weapon for St. Louis, so it’s difficult to envision them moving him into a more financially favorable situation.

Jesse Chavez: Despite the fact that he excelled in the rotation for Oakland last year, Chavez lost his starting spot midseason after the acquisitions of Jeff Samardzija, Jason Hammel and, eventually, Jon Lester. Many, myself included, believed he had a strong case for the rotation heading into 2015, but the final three spots behind holdovers Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir went to Jesse Hahn, Drew Pomeranz and Kendall Graveman. Chavez’s 2014 breakout should indicate that he’ll be a perfectly useful reliever in 2015, but 20-30 starts would’ve done quite a bit more for his earning power.

Everth Cabrera: Cabrera’s fall in San Diego was somewhat remarkable, as he went from leading the NL in steals in 2012 and earning a 2013 All-Star nod to a 50-game suspension for PEDs, a dismal 2014 season and an eventual non-tender. He’s latched on in Baltimore and has been starting at shortstop with J.J. Hardy rehabbing from injury, but a reserve role is in the cards for E-Cab, making it difficult to envision a substantial raise on his $2.4MM salary, which was a slight decline from last year’s $2.45MM in the first place.

Note: This post isn’t including role changes for players who will not be arbitration eligible following the 2015 season. Players such as Carlos Martinez and Tony Cingrani, for example, will certainly see their future arbitration outlooks impacted if their recent role changes are permanent, but it’s difficult enough to know whether or not all of these changes will hold throughout the current season, let alone through the 2016-17 seasons.


AL East Notes: Victorino, Pedroia, Pentecost, Blue Jays, ARod

Red Sox manager John Farrell says the club will start veteran Shane Victorino in right field if he’s healthy, tweets Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald. Farrell added that Victorino is “full go,” indicating that only a setback could change those plans. With Hanley Ramirez the obvious starter in left field, that could mean Mookie Betts and Rusney Castillo will compete for the center field job. Others like Allen Craig, Jackie Bradley, Brock Holt, and Daniel Nava appear thoroughly blocked in the outfield. Here’s more from the AL East.

  • Dustin Pedroia is healthy and ready to go, reports Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston. My take: a healthy Pedroia means that Betts and Holt are also blocked in the infield. Should everybody remain healthy, some kind of trade looks all but inevitable. Several players like Betts, Castillo, and Holt still have options, so the club can stow some major league quality talent at Triple-A if necessary.
  • The Rays lost great talent this offseason, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Executive Andrew Friedman tops the list of 13 impactful losses. His departure is mitigated by the presence of Matt Silverman. Rounding out the top five poignant losses include Ben Zobrist, Joe Maddon, Joel Peralta, and bench coach Dave Martinez.
  • Blue Jays top draft pick Max Pentecost has undergone shoulder surgery, reports Ben Nicholson-Smith of SportsNet.ca. Dr. James Andrews performed the procedure. Pentecost, a catcher, is expected to resume throwing in about three months.
  • The Blue Jays continue to be faced with three big questions, writes Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com. They include the identity of their closer, second baseman, and fifth starter. Brett Cecil and Aaron Sanchez are expected to compete for ninth inning duties, although Sanchez could factor in the rotation battle too. Other candidates to start include Marco Estrada and prospect Daniel Norris. Second base will probably go to Maicer Izturis, Ryan Goins, or prospect Devon Travis.
  • The Yankees are right to allow beleaguered veteran Alex Rodriguez to attend camp, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. It’s surprising to see other writers suggest the club swallow the $61MM remaining on Rodriguez’s contract without at least giving him a chance to provide some value. If he fails to remain healthy, the club can also recoup part of the money via insurance.

Players Avoiding Arbitration: Thursday

As we approach tomorrow’s deadline for exchanging filing numbers, the volume of arb deals will increase. All arb agreements can be monitored using MLBTR’s 2015 Arbitration Tracker, but here are today’s smaller agreements, with all projections referring to those of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz:

  • The Indians have avoided arbitration with third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall and agreed to a one-year, $2.25MM deal, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports (Twitter link).  It’s a slight bump over Chisenhall’s projected $2.2MM salary.  Chisenhall hit .280/.343/.427 with 13 homers in 533 PA with the Tribe last season.
  • The Indians and left-hander Marc Rzepczynski have agreed to a one-year, $2.4MM contract to avoid arbitration, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter link).  Rzepczynski surpassed his projected salary with the contract, as he was pegged to earn $1.9MM next season.  The southpaw posted a 2.74 ERA, 2.42 K/BB rate and an even 46 strikeouts over 46 innings out of Cleveland’s bullpen last season.
  • The Nationals and catcher Jose Lobaton will avoid arbitration after agreeing to a deal, CSN Washington’s Mark Zuckerman reports.  Lobaton will earn $1.2MM, FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi tweets, which exactly matches his projected 2015 salary.  Lobaton hit .234/.287/.304 over 230 PA in backup duty for the Nats last season.
  • The Athletics and outfielder Craig Gentry agreed to a one-year, $1.6MM deal to avoid arbitration, FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi tweets.  Gentry was projected to earn $1.5MM.  After posting a .759 OPS over 556 PA in 2012-13, Gentry took a step back at the plate last season, slashing just .254/.319/.289 over 258 plate appearances but still providing tremendous defense (a +16 UZR/150).
  • The Nationals have avoided arbitration with second baseman Danny Espinosa, agreeing to a one-year, $1.8MM contract, James Wagner of the Washington Post reports.  This deal falls below Espinosa’s projected $2.3MM contract, though Espinosa hit .219/.283/.351 in 364 plate appearances for the Nats last season and managed only a .465 OPS in 167 PA in 2013.
  • The Indians agreed to a one-year, $2.337MM deal with right-hander Carlos Carrasco, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (via Twitter).  This figure is a significant increase over the $1.4MM contract that was projected for Carrasco in his first arb-eligible year.  The righty enjoyed a breakout 2014 season, posting a 2.55 ERA, 9.4 K/9 and 4.83 K/BB rate over 134 innings with the Tribe.  Carrasco pitched mostly out of the bullpen but also delivered several quality starts down the stretch.
  • The Dodgers and outfielder Chris Heisey agreed to a one-year deal worth $2.16MM to avoid arbitration, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman tweets.  This is slightly less than the $2.2MM Heisey was projected to earn.  Heisey is coming off a .222/.265/.378 slash line over 299 PA with the Reds last season and was dealt to L.A. last month.
  • The Angels inked catcher Drew Butera to a one-year, $987.5K deal to avoid arbitration, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports.  Butera was projected to earn $900K next season.  The catcher posted a .555 OPS in 192 PA with the Dodgers last season and was dealt to the Halos last month.
  • The Nationals agreed to a one-year, $2.25MM contract with Craig Stammen, avoiding arbitration with the right-hander, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports (via Twitter).  This figure slightly tops Stammen’s projected $2.1MM contract.  Stammen posted a 3.84 ERA, 6.9 K/9 and a 4.00 K/BB rate over 72 2/3 innings out of Washington’s bullpen last season.
  • The Cardinals agreed to a one-year, $1.65MM deal with outfielder Peter Bourjos to avoid arbitration, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.  Bourjos was projected to earn $1.6MM.  Bourjos displayed his usual top-shelf defense with the Cards last season but only hit .231/.294/.348 over 294 PA.

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Players Avoiding Arbitration: Friday

We'll keep track of today's smaller deals to avoid arbitration in this post. Click here for background on the upcoming arbitration schedule and how MLBTR is covering it. You can also check in on our Arbitration Tracker and look at MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz's arbitration projections.

Today's noon CT deadline to exchange arb figures has passed, but negotiations to avoid an arbitration hearing can continue into February. The Braves are the only strict "file and trial" team that did not agree to terms with all of its arb-eligible players, meaning they could be headed for several hearings. The Nats and Indians have also shown a willingness to go to a trial and still have some players unsigned. On to today's contract agreements…

  • After exchanging numbers, the Mets and pitcher Dillon Gee have agreed to settle at the midpoint of $3.625MM, tweets Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. Swartz projected Gee to earn $3.4MM.
  • The Cubs have avoided arbitration with reliever Pedro Strop, president Theo Epstein told Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune (Twitter link). He will earn $1.325MM next year, according to a tweet from Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. It is not immediately apparent whether the deal was reached before the sides exchanged terms.
  • The Angels have reached agreement on a $3.8MM deal with reliever Ernesto Frieri, reports Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com (on Twitter). 
  • Mike Minor has agreed to terms on a $3.85MM deal with the Braves to avoid arbitration, reports Mark Bowman of MLB.com (Twitter links). The deal came before figures were exchanged, Bowman notes.
  • Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reports that the D-Backs and lefty Joe Thatcher have avoided arb with a one-year, $2.375MM deal (Twitter link).
  • Nicholson-Smith tweets that the Angels and Fernando Salas reached an agreement to avoid arbitration. Salas is the first Halos player to avoid arb. Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times tweets that Salas will earn $870K, which beats out his $700K projection.
  • MLB.com's Jason Beck reports (via Twitter) that the Tigers and righty Al Alburquerque have reached agreement on a deal to avoid arb. The hard-throwing righty will earn $837.5K in 2014, tweets Beck.
  • Sherman tweets that the Yankees and Ivan Nova avoided arbitration with a one-year, $3.3MM deal.
  • The Pirates and Vin Mazzaro inked a one-year, $950K deal in lieu of an arbitration hearing, tweets Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune.
  • The Royals announced that they've avoided arbitration with infielder Emilio Bonifacio. Heyman tweets that Bonifacio will earn $3.5MM in 2014.
  • Sherman reports that the Rays avoided arbitration with Jeremy Hellickson and Sean Rodriguez (Twitter link). Hellickson landed a $3.625MM payday with a $25K bonus if he hits 195 innings pitched. Rodriguez will get $1.475MM with a $25K bump for hitting 300 plate appearances.
  • Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets that Brian Matusz avoided arb with the Orioles. Sherman adds that he'll earn $2.4MM in 2014.
  • MLB.com's Brian McTaggart tweets that Jason Castro and the Astros have avoided arbitration. McTaggart adds in a second tweet that Jesus Guzman avoided arb as well. Heyman reports that Castro will be paid $2.45MM, while Sherman tweets that Guzman will make $1.3MM.
  • The Indians tweeted that they've avoided arb with lefty Marc Rzepczynski, and MLB.com's Jordan Bastian tweets that he'll earn $1.375MM in 2014. Bastian adds that Scrabble will earn an additional $25K for appearing in 55 games and another $25K for 60 games.
  • The Giants avoided arbitration with Yusmeiro Petit, according to MLBTR's Steve Adams (on Twitter).  He'll earn $845K, according to Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith (via Twitter).

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AL East Notes: Granderson, Kuroda, Blue Jays, Carp

The Yankees and the then-Kansas City Athletics swung a 13-player trade on this day in 1957, a deal that brought future Yankee regulars Clete Boyer, Bobby Shantz and Art Ditmar to the Bronx.  This was one of many lopsided trades between the Yankees and A's during the 50's, as Kansas City owner Arnold Johnson's past business ties to the Yankees seemingly paved the way for several deals that saw the Yankees acquire promising young talents from the A's for virtually nothing of note in return.  Boyer's case was especially controversial since the A's admitted they originally signed him in 1955 on the Yankees' behalf and dealt him to New York as soon as he gained minor league eligibility.

Here's the latest from around the AL East…

  • Curtis Granderson says he wants to stay with the Yankees past 2013 but "all indications are the Yankees are inclined to bid farewell" to the outfielder, ESPN New York's Wallace Matthews writes.  The Yankees aren't impressed by Granderson's declining non-power numbers and defensive value, plus the team wants to put its money towards re-signing Robinson CanoMLBTR's Tim Dierkes didn't include Granderson as one of the top 10 available free agents next winter but noted that Granderson's stock could rise with a big season.
  • Hiroki Kuroda said it was a "hard" decision to re-sign with the Yankees but he feels he made the right one since he enjoys the Yankees' veteran clubhouse, MLB.com's Bryan Hoch reports.  Kuroda said he weighed offers from other teams, including the Dodgers, but noted that he didn't consider pitching in Japan.  "Actually, I have never said that I want to play in Japan at this stage of my career," Kuroda said. "I don't know; maybe it's the Japanese media that's talking about it.  What I have said is that if I'm going back, I'm going to play for my former team, the Hiroshima Toyo Carp. I haven't thought about that at this stage. Who knows? I may end my career at the end of this year."
  • The Blue Jays have taken several out of options players on the Opening Day roster in recent years to see what value these players had left, but the team says they won't employ that tactic this year, MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm reports.  The Jays have six out of options players in camp, and Chisholm doubts Toronto would let Brett Cecil hit the waiver wire.
  • Fangraphs' J.D. Sussman breaks down the comparisons between Blue Jays pitching prospect Aaron Sanchez to Mets prospect Noah Syndergaard, who was traded by Toronto to New York as part of the R.A. Dickey deal.
  • The Red Sox could possibly obtain Mike Carp from the Mariners in exchange for Alfredo Aceves, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe opines.  The Sox are one of several teams interested in Carp, though Aceves' trade value may be minimal thanks to his off-the-field behavior.

AL East Links: Ibanez, Orioles, Blue Jays, Red Sox

Four years ago today, the Yankees traded a package headlined by Wilson Betemit to the White Sox for Nick Swisher. After helping New York to the 2009 World Series and three other playoff appearances, Swisher is now in line for a big multiyear contract as a free agent this winter. Here's the latest from the AL East…


Cafardo On Red Sox, Aybar, Lannan, Cecil

While Larry Lucchino may not have officially signed a new deal with the Red Sox, the team’s president/CEO told Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe that he expects to be with the organization for years to come.  It's widely known that Lucchino has a greater role in baseball operations than he did in years past when he worked with GM Theo Epstein.  The CEO also told Cafardo that while ownership long considered Cherington to be Epstein's heir, there were brief discussions about going outside for a GM.  Here's more from Cafardo..

  • The Angels are working on a multiyear extension with shortstop Erick Aybar, who can become a free agent next winter.  Agent Fernando Cuza is looking for a five-year deal and Aybar could land a big contract on the open market. If Jose Iglesias doesn't look like the Red Sox's long-term solution, Aybar may become an option.
  • Interest in Nationals left-hander John Lannan has diminished with some teams that feel what they have is just as good.  Boston, for example, feels equally comfortable with Felix Doubront and Andrew Miller.  However, the Nats still have a pitching surplus and it appears that teams are more interested in lefty Ross Detwiler’s upside.  It's also possible that Washington will want to keep all of their starters as insurance because of Chien-Ming Wang's hamstring injury.
  • As the Blue Jays create more room for their top young pitchers, left-hander Brett Cecil could be made available in a deal.  The former top prospect hasn’t lived up to expectations and hasn’t had an especially good spring.  Last week we learned that Cecil and Kyle Drabek are drawing attention from scouts.
  • Mike Aviles is the Red Sox's starting shortstop, but the Phillies are one team that would be interested in dealing for him as they look for an experienced backup infielder.  If Boston committed to Iglesias, Aviles could be made available.
  • The Indians are wading through left fielders to find a fit, and they could wind up with Johnny Damon.  One Tribe exec shot down that idea yesterday, saying that Damon's lackluster defense kills any interest they might have. While the Orioles keep indicating they won’t sign Damon, the veteran would be a great fit for their lineup.
  • Cafardo wonders if Ivan Rodriguez could land somewhere soon.  The Orioles feel protected with Ronny Paulino if Taylor Teagarden’s back issues persist, but Cafardo writes that Paulino never seems to endear himself wherever he goes.  The Royals are on the lookout for catching help due to Salvador Perez’s injury but rather solve that problem from within.  Yesterday we heard that the Royals extended a camp invite to Pudge which was not accepted but the club later denied the report.
6. Johnny Damon, LF/DH, free agent – Cleveland is wading through left fielders to find a fit, and they could wind up with Damon. While the Orioles keep indicating they won’t sign Damon, their lineup keeps screaming his name.


Brett Cecil, Kyle Drabek Drawing Attention

Blue Jays hurlers Brett Cecil and Kyle Drabek and drawing attention from scouts of other teams, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). The team is reluctant to move Drabek while his value is down, however. He was acquired in the Roy Halladay trade and considered one of the game's 30 best prospects just one year ago by Baseball America.

Cecil, 25, pitched to a 4.73 ERA in 123 2/3 innings for Toronto last season. His velocity had dropped noticeably, and he spent a dozen starts in Triple-A trying to figure things out. Drabek, 24, posted a 6.06 ERA with more walks (55) than strikeouts (51) in 78 2/3 innings last season. He spent another 75 ineffective innings in Triple-A. The left-handed Cecil is under team control through 2015, the right-handed Drabek through 2017.

Earlier today Rosenthal reported that the Jays were in the market to add starting pitching, not necessarily subtract it. They've spoken to the White Sox about Gavin Floyd and GM Alex Anthopoulos recently scouted Joe Blanton of the Phillies. Nationals' left-hander John Lannan is said to be available as well. The Jays could be willing to move either Cecil or Drabek for a more established pitcher with a similar amount of team control years remaining.


Blue Jays Notes: Lawrie, Super Two, Escobar

Shaun Marcum has been Milwaukee's best starter this year, but Brett Lawrie is doing his best to make Blue Jays fans forget about the pitcher he was traded for. The 21-year-old infield prospect has a .343/.403/.632 line at Triple-A with 12 home runs. GM Alex Anthopoulos and Jeff Blair of Sportsnet Radio FAN 590 discussed Lawrie's hot start and a number of other issues pertaining to the Blue Jays this morning. Here are the details:

  • Lawrie has improved his strikeout to walk ratio in Triple-A this month, a development that’s encouraging for the Jays’ front office.
  • Super two status is a moving target at the best of times and Anthopoulos points out that over 80% of players who become eligible for arbitration are optioned to the minor leagues at some point. Players like Travis Snider and Brett Cecil don’t have continuous Major League service, which means projecting whether minor leaguers are on track for super two status is mostly futile.
  • The Blue Jays have a record of not manipulating service according to Anthopoulos. He points to J.P. Arencibia and Kyle Drabek, both of whom got the call late last year.
  • Anthopoulos has been on the phone with a few GMs, but he doesn’t expect trades to kick into high gear until after the draft, which starts June 6th.
  • Anthopoulos saw the rumor linking Jose Reyes to the Blue Jays and though the GM declined to comment on another team’s player, he praised the Jays’ current shortstop, Yunel Escobar. “He’s young, he’s everything we want,” Anthopoulos said of Escobar, who is under team control through 2013. “Shortstop is not an area we need to improve. We think it’s a strength.”

Rosenthal’s Full Count: Zambrano, Angels, Brewers

Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com has a new Full Count video up, so let's dive in…

  • The fact that Carlos Zambrano is a 29-year-old pitcher still capable of winning 12-15 games a year should be enough to allow the Cubs to trade him, but of course the team will have to a eat a large chunk of the $45MM left on his deal. Rosenthal reminds us that the Cubbies came ahead financially when they moved Milton Bradley this winter.
  • The Angels still want to add a first baseman, and Adam Dunn is on their list of potential targets. If they do make a move for Dunn or perhaps Adam LaRoche, incumbent first baseman Mike Napoli could become trade bait. 
  • The Nationals have yet to get serious in any discussions about a contract extension with Dunn. 
  • The Brewers are still searching for pitching, and the Blue Jays could be a potential match. Toronto likes Double-A infielder (and Canadian) Brett Lawrie, but the Brewers would be reluctant to trade him. They would have to consider it if he could land them someone like Brett Cecil or Shaun Marcum, though.
  • Arizona will probably not want to keep both Dan Haren and Edwin Jackson since they combine to make over $20MM next year, but Haren's value isn't what it once was. One baseball person told Rosenthal that "[Haren]'s not at the top of anyone's list, he's just another name."