Emilio Bonifacio Rumors
2:14pm: Bonifacio will make $2.5MM, plus a possible $425K in incentives, if he makes the Cubs out of spring training, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman tweets. Bonifacio therefore will not make a league-minimum salary, as had previously been reported. Including the $574K Bonifacio will receive in termination pay from the Royals, his Cubs deal could pay him up to the $3.5MM he orginally would have received had he stuck with Kansas City.
10:53am: The Cubs have agreed to terms with infielder Emilio Bonifacio, Grupo Telemicro's Ildefonso Urena tweets. The agreement is for a minor-league deal, ESPN Chicago's Jesse Rogers reports. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets that Bonifacio had Major-League offers from other teams, so it appears likely that he believes he will make the Cubs out of spring training. Bonifacio is represented by Kinzer Management Group.
The Royals had previously avoided arbitration with Bonifacio, signing him to a one-year, $3.5MM deal, but they designated him for assignment when they signed Bruce Chen, meaning they only had to pay a fraction of that $3.5MM salary. Bonifacio subsequently cleared release waivers, and became free to sign wherever he liked.
Bonifacio, 28, hit a relatively .243/.295/.331 in 461 plate appearances with the Blue Jays and Royals last season, but he can play second and third base and any outfield position, and he contributes good value on the bases. He also played shortstop semi-regularly as recently as 2011. Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney struggled last season, so Bonifacio could provide insurance at second if that happens again. He could also serve as a bench player.
Even though most of Alex Rodriguez's 2014 salary will be wiped out by his season-long PED suspension, the controversial slugger's contract is still ranked as the worst in baseball by Grantland's Jonah Keri. Of Keri's list of the 15 worst contracts in the sport, the Dodgers have four, the Yankees, Angels and Braves each have two and the Reds, Rangers, Phillies, Blue Jays and White Sox have one each.
Here are some items from around the baseball world...
- The Reds and Homer Bailey are "still talking" about a multiyear contract, GM Walt Jocketty tells MLB.com's Mark Sheldon. "There has not been a lot of progress, but good conversations anyhow," Jocketty said. Bailey's arbitration hearing is scheduled for February 20 and there is a $2.9MM gap ($11.6MM to $8.7MM) between his demands and the Reds' offer for a 2014 contract. This is Bailey's last season under contract with Cincinnati and the two sides are reportedly far apart on a long-term deal. Sheldon suggests that the Reds will be watching the Indians' case with Justin Masterson, as he and Bailey have posted comparable numbers over the last three years and Masterson is also scheduled to be a free agent next offseason.
- The Pirates offered A.J. Burnett a $12MM contract for 2014, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports (Twitter link). This obviously fell short of the $16MM Burnett received from the Phillies earlier today.
- The Twins aren't one of the teams interested in Emilio Bonifacio, 1500 ESPN's Darren Wolfson reports (via Twitter). Bonifacio cleared release waivers and became a free agent earlier today. The Orioles are known to be one of at least nine teams interested in the speedy utilityman.
- Also from Wolfson, a Twins official said that the club "had extensive talks" about Erisbel Arruebarruena but he was judged to be too expensive. The Cuban shortstop agreed to a deal with the Dodgers today that could be worth as much as $25MM.
- The Cubs can afford to be patient in trading Jeff Samardzija, Fangraphs' Jeff Sullivan argues, as teams may be more willing to meet Chicago's large asking price once the free agent pitching market thins out and teams get more desperate once the season begins.
- Right-hander Josh Roenicke is drawing interest from a "handful of teams" and could be signed soon, a source tells MLB Daily Dish's Chris Cotillo (Twitter link). Roenicke posted a 4.35 ERA, 6.5 K/9 and 1.25 K/BB rate in 62 relief innings with the Twins in 2013 before being outrighted off Minnesota's roster in November.
- Also from Cotillo, right-hander Blake Hawksworth has retired. Hawksworth posted a 4.07 ERA and 1.85 K/BB over 124 games (eight as a starter) with the Cardinals and Dodgers from 2009-11 before elbow and shoulder injuries derailed his career. Hawksworth has taken a job with the Boras Corporation, his former agency.
- Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill discussed the club's recent signing of Carlos Marmol with Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald.
- Luis Ayala chose to sign a minor league deal with the Nationals since they (as the Expos) were the franchise that originally signed him and he still has many friends in the organization, the veteran reliever tells Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. Several teams were linked to Ayala this offseason but the bidding came down to the Nats, Tigers and Phillies.
The Royals avoided arbitration earlier with Bonifacio earlier this month, agreeing to a one-year, $3.5MM contract. However, since that time, they've agreed to bring lefty Bruce Chen back into the mix in 2014 and chosen to designate Bonifacio for assignment to clear roster space. The Royals were unable to find a trading partner and placed Bonifacio on release waivers two days ago. Arbitration contracts are not fully guaranteed, and as Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports pointed out yesterday, Kansas City is only on the hook for roughly $575K of that $3.5MM guarantee.
Any team is now free to sign Bonifacio at any price. The speedy 28-year-old struggled to a .218/.258/.321 batting line in his short time with the Blue Jays but quickly turned it around upon arriving in Kansas City last year. With the Royals, Bonifacio slashed a healthy .285/.352/.348 in 179 plate appearances. He showed off his best tool -- speed -- by swiping 28 bases in 36 tries between the two clubs last season. Though he's not a gifted defender at most positions, Bonifacio is versatile; he comes with big league experience at second base, shortstop, third base and all three outfield positions. As many as nine clubs, including the Orioles, are said to have interest in the switch-hitter.
Former Brewers reliever Mitch Stetter announced on Twitter last night that he has retired from baseball and accepted a coaching job with the Royals. Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish tweets that Stetter will be the Double-A bullpen coach. Stetter, 33, hasn't appeared in the bigs since 2011 after his career was cut short by hip surgery and a back injury. From 2009-11 with the Brew Crew, Stetter posted a 3.46 ERA with 9.4 K/9 and 5.7 BB/9 in 75 1/3 innings. While his command was clearly lacking, the southpaw held opposing lefties to just a .194/.310/.335 slash line in his career. Best of luck in your coaching career, Mitch.
Elsewhere in baseball's Central divisions...
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that the Royals will only be on the hook for about $575K of Emilio Bonifacio's salary if he clears release waivers tomorrow at 2pm ET and becomes a free agent. While a claim is unlikely, a number of teams are interested in Bonifacio, he adds in a second tweet.
- Cotillo tweets that as many as nine teams have interest in Bonifacio. Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets that the Orioles are one of those teams, pointing out that Bonifacio has long been a favorite of manager Buck Showalter. Besides that, the Orioles lack a clear starter at Bonifacio's best position -- second base. However, Kubatko also tweets that Baltimore isn't interested in him at his $3.5MM salary, so a waiver claim isn't likely.
- Twins GM Terry Ryan, who announced yesterday that he has cancer, is among the game's most respected general managers, writes Phil Rogers of MLB.com. Rogers recalls that Ryan displayed the ultimate selflessness a GM could show back in 2001 when, with the Twins facing contraction, Ryan turned down a chance to run the Blue Jays to stay with his club.
- Right-hander Rich Harden wants to pitch in 2014 but won't sign anywhere until he's further along in his throwing, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. The Twins wouldn't rule out a return for Harden, even though the former ace never pitched for one of Minnesota's affiliates after signing a minor league deal with the club last offseason.
FEB. 10: The Royals have requested unconditional release waivers on Bonifacio, tweets Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish. Any team can now claim Bonifacio if they are willing to take on the entirety of his $3.5MM salary. Those claims will be determined according to last year's league-wide standings and are not subject to the in-season rule that would give AL teams the first shot at him (2013 league-wide standings are also used for the first month of the regular season, as opposed to league-specific priority). Should he clear waivers, he will be a free agent and can then sign with a team of his choosing.
FEB. 1: The Royals have designated infielder Emilio Bonifacio for assignment, according to a team release. The move clears space on the Royals' roster for Bruce Chen. Bonifacio, who will be 29 in April, hit .243/.295/.331 in 461 plate appearances divided between the Royals and Blue Jays in 2013.
In mid-January, the Royals agreed to a one-year, $3.5MM deal with him to avoid arbitration, so it comes as a surprise that they would designate him for assignment two weeks later. Chen's $3MM salary essentially replaces Bonifacio's $3.5MM, and arbitration contracts are not guaranteed, so the decision to designate Bonifacio may have been a matter of making room for Chen in the Royals' budget. The Royals could well trade Bonifacio in the next ten days. Pedro Ciriaco could pick up playing time as a utility infielder in Bonifacio's place.
Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez, Stephen Drew, Nelson Cruz and Kendrys Morales are all still free agents, and draft-pick forfeiture is a key reason why, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman writes. Some agents are upset at the way draft picks have affected the market, Heyman reports, but the number of players affected is relatively small, which may prevent the players' union from trying to do much about it before the next CBA expires in 2016. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- The Red Sox (who have six legitimate big-league starters, plus a strong Triple-A rotation) and Cardinals (who keep adding young talent to complement Adam Wainwright) are smart to treasure their starting pitching depth, writes CBS Sports' Dayn Perry. Of last year's playoff teams, only the Tigers avoided giving at least than 15 starts to pitchers who weren't rotation regulars. Four teams -- the Pirates, Dodgers, Rays and Cardinals -- gave at least 30 starts to pitchers who weren't in their usual top five.
- The Indians feel their biggest loss among their relief pitchers this offseason was not former closer Chris Perez, but setup man Joe Smith, Terry Pluto of the Plain Dealer writes. Smith signed as a free agent with the Angels. The Indians' revamped bullpen will now feature John Axford in the closer's role, with Bryan Shaw and Cody Allen also pitching in the late innings.
- David Ortiz of the Red Sox deserves a contract extension through 2015, and he deserves a raise to $20MM for the coming season, writes Heyman. Ortiz is set to make $15MM in the final year of a two-year deal in 2014. The Red Sox ought to pay him more than the market for him would dictate, Heyman argues, based on what he means to the Red Sox and to Boston.
- Jesse Crain of the Astros doubts he'll be ready for the start of the 2014 season, Joseph Duarte of the Houston Chronicle writes. "I’m not planning on that. I would be surprised if I was ready by then," says Crain, who had biceps surgery in October. Crain hopes to only miss a couple weeks of play. The Astros signed Crain to a one-year, $3.25MM deal in December.
- Emilio Bonifacio could make sense for the Mets if they do not add another shortstop, Michael Baron of MetsBlog writes. The Mets currently plan on going with Daniel Murphy and Ruben Tejada in their middle infield, and if they don't sign Stephen Drew or add a starting shortstop through some other means, they could use depth behind Tejada.
- In the next five days, the Dodgers will likely sign a utility infielder to a minor-league deal, Ken Gurnick of MLB.com tweets.
It might not be likely that the Blue Jays will sign A.J. Burnett, but in some respects, he would be a very good fit for them, writes Ben Nicholson-Smith of SportsNet.ca. Burnett won't require the team that signs him to forfeit a draft pick and likely wouldn't want a long-term deal, and he arguably performed better in 2013 than all the other remaining free-agent pitchers, like Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez and Bronson Arroyo. A return to Toronto might be a longshot for Burnett, though -- he would likely prefer to be closer to his home in Maryland, and had previously said he was deciding between pitching for the Pirates and retiring. Here are more notes from the AL East.
- Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette brushed aside a report that his team was "all-in" on Burnett, saying that he was "not sure where that report came from," MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko reports. The Orioles do, however, remain very interested in signing a veteran starting pitcher. "Some of these young pitchers who we really like should be able to help us later on in the season, but if we could sign a veteran starter, I think that would help fill out our ballclub," he said.
- Emilio Bonifacio, who the Royals designated for assignment in a surprise move today, could make an interesting candidate for the Yankees' open bench infielder job, Mike Axisa of River Ave. Blues writes. If they want to acquire him, though, they'll likely need to do so via trade, since the Dodgers also need infield help and could make a trade for him themselves.
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).
- Cesar Ramos got $750K from the Rays in his deal, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweets.
- Sherman tweets that the Athletics' Craig Gentry will get $1.145MM on a one-year deal to avoid arbitration.
- Jerry Blevins and the Nationals avoided arbitration, tweets Dan Kolko of MASNsports.com. He will earn $1.675MM for the year, tweets Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca.
- Alejandro De Aza agreed to a $4.25MM deal with the White Sox, Sherman tweets. Within the same tweet, Sherman says the Rays shook hands with Jose Lobaton on a $900K deal and James Russell agreed to a $1.775MM pact.
- The White Sox and Gordon Beckham agreed to a one-year, $4.175MM deal, Sherman tweets.
- The Brewers avoided arbitration with Marco Estrada and Juan Francisco, Sherman tweets. Estrada gets $3.325MM with $100K in innings pitched bonuses while Francisco gets $1.35MM.
- Mike Dunn agreed to a $1.4MM deal with the Marlins, according to Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun Sentinel (on Twitter).
- Pedro Alvarez will earn $4.25MM on his brand new deal with the Pirates, Sherman tweets.
- The Nationals announced that they've struck an arb-avoiding deal with Wilson Ramos. Ramos gets $2.095MM with the opportunity to get $105K more through plate appearance bonuses, per Sherman.
- Alexi Ogando gets $2.625MM in 2014 from the Rangers, according to Sherman.
- Mark Melancon will get $2.595MM after striking a deal with the Pirates, tweets Sherman.
- Brandon Moss and the Athletics avoided arbitration with a $4.1MM pact, Sherman tweets.
- The Red Sox and Jonathan Herrera avoided arbitration with a $1.3MM deal for 2014, Sherman tweets.
- Brian Duensing has agreed to a $2MM deal with the Twins, according to Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press (via Twitter). Berardino adds in a second tweet that Anthony Swarzak also avoided arb with a $935K deal. The swingman will earn a $25K bonus if he starts 10 games.
- The Rangers and Neftali Feliz agreed to a $3MM deal with bonuses of $25K for 50/55 games finished, Sherman tweets.
- Jake McGee will earn $1.45MM in his new deal with the Rays, Sherman tweets.
- The Royals and Eric Hosmer have agreed to a one-year, $3.6MM deal, Sherman tweets.
- Mike Carp gets $1.4MM in his deal with the Red Sox, according to Sherman (via Twitter).
- Bobby Parnell agreed to a one-year, $3.7MM with the Mets that can increase by $50K if he appears in 60 games, Sherman tweets.
- The Braves avoided arbitration with Jordan Schafer with a $1.09MM deal, tweets Sherman. Sherman adds that Andy Dirks and the Tigers have also avoided arbitration with a $1.625MM deal.
- Shawn Kelley and the Yankees dodged arbitration by agreeing to a $1.765MM deal for 2014, Sherman tweets. Kelley, 29, has a career 3.77 ERA with 9.6 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9.
- The Red Sox agreed to a one-year, $1.275MM deal with Junichi Tazawa, according to Sherman (on Twitter). Tazawa posted a 3.16 ERA in 2013 with 9.5 K/9 and 1.6 BB/9.
- The Rockies avoided arbitration with Drew Stubbs by agreeing to a $4.1MM deal for 2014, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (on Twitter). With the signing of Stubbs, the Rockies have now taken care of all of their arbitration-eligible players.
- Kyle Blanks has avoided arbitration with the Padres by agreeing to a one-year, $988K deal, according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com (via Twitter).
- Sherman also reports (on Twitter) that the Giants have avoided arbitration with Gregor Blanco and Tony Abreu by agreeing to one-year deals that are worth $2.525MM and $745K, respectively.
- The Cardinals and Peter Bourjos have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $1.2MM contract, tweets Sherman. Bourjos can earn another $150K based on plate appearances.
- Gaby Sanchez and the Pirates have avoided arbitration with a one-year deal, according to Sanchez's agency, the Beverly Hills Sports Council (on Twitter). Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets that Sanchez will earn $2.3MM.
- Sherman reports (via Twitter) that the Blue Jays also avoided arbitration with Esmil Rogers by agreeing to a one-year, $1.85MM contract.
- The Nationals announced that in addition to their two-year deal with Jordan Zimmermann, they've also signed Drew Storen to a one-year deal to avoid arbitration. Sherman tweets that he'll earn $3.45MM in 2014 with an additional $1MM of incentives in his contract for games finished.
- The Rockies and righty Juan Nicasio avoided arbitration with a one-year, $2.025MM contract, Sherman tweets.
- The Blue Jays and lefty Brett Cecil have avoided arbitration with a one-year, $1.3MM pact, per Sherman (on Twitter).
- Sherman tweets that the Rays and Matt Joyce agreed to a one-year, $3.7MM contract, thereby avoiding arbitration.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Reds have avoided arbitration with Alfredo Simon by agreeing to a one-year, $1.5MM contract (Twitter link).
- Connolly also reports that the Orioles have avoided arbitration with Tommy Hunter (Twitter link). Currently the front-runner to serve as Baltimore's closer in 2014, Hunter will earn $3MM after posting a 2.81 ERA with 7.1 K/9 and 1.5 BB/9 in 86 1/3 innings for the O's in 2013.
- Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports that the Orioles and Troy Patton have avoided arbitration (Twitter link). Patton topped Swartz's $1.2MM salary projection by earning a raise to $1.275MM, Connolly adds in a second tweet.. Patton will be suspended for the first 25 games of 2014 for amphetamine use.
- The Twins and Trevor Plouffe have agreed to a one-year, $2.35MM contract, Sherman tweets. Plouffe saw his power numbers drop as he batted .254/.309/.392 with 14 homers in a career-high 522 plate appearances in 2013 (he'd belted 24 homers in 465 PAs in 2012). He figures to open the season as Minnesota's everyday third baseman but could eventually have competition from top prospect Miguel Sano.
- Jon Jay and the Cardinals have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $3.25MM contract, according to Sherman (on Twitter). Jay batted .276/.351/.370 with the Cards in 2013 but struggled defensively (particularly in the playoffs) and will have center field competition in the form of offseason acquisition Peter Bourjos in 2014.
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets that the Phillies and John Mayberry Jr. have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year deal worth $1.5875MM. Mayberry slashed .227/.286/.391 in 2013 and has a career .274/.321/.526 batting line against lefties. He came in just under Swartz's $1.7MM projection.
- The Cubs and Luis Valbuena have also avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year pact, tweets Sherman. Valbuena will earn $1.71MM after slashing .218/.331/.378 and setting a new career-best with 12 homers in 2013. He exceeded Swartz's projection by $210K.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
If MLBTR had only been around in 1954. On this date 59 years ago, the Yankees and Orioles completed the largest trade in baseball history by naming the eight players to be named later in the 17-player deal. Two weeks prior, the Yankees received Don Larsen (yes, that Don Larsen) Billy Hunter, and Bob Turley from the Orioles in exchange for Harry Byrd, Jim McDonald, Willy Miranda, Hal Smith, Gus Triandos, and Gene Woodling. Let's take a look at what's simmering on the Hot Stove in today's American League:
- The Tigers are one more bold move away from entering Spring Training with the "Best Team in Baseball" designation, writes Richard Justice of MLB.com. Signing Shin-Soo Choo, Carlos Beltran, or Curtis Granderson would qualify as that bold move, in Justice's opinion.
- Royals GM Dayton Moore tells the Kansas City Star's Bob Dutton his staff will convene Monday morning to determine the fate of their nine arbitration eligible players. "I don't look for us to do anything that is too surprising," said Moore. "We might not tender everybody, but we might. There are some things that we’re kind of working on."
Also within Dutton's article, Royals officials acknowledge Emilio Bonifacio is drawing steady interest from other teams, so second baseman Chris Getz may be tendered as insurance against a deal involving the utilityman. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz predicts a $3.3MM arbitration award for Bonifacio and $1.3MM for Getz.
- The Rays are likely to tender each of their nine arbitration eligible players and then possibly flip one or more in a trade, reports Roger Mooney of the Tampa Tribune. David Price is the most obvious arbitration eligible trade candidate, but Mooney also lists outfielder Sam Fuld and lefty relievers Cesar Ramos and Wesley Wright as possible chips. If the Rays do tender all nine players, MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz expects their arbitration salaries to total $26.6MM.
- The Astros are already preparing for the 2014 amateur draft as they expect to interview several candidates for the first overall pick by the end of the year, according to the Houston Chronicle's Evan Drellich. The club's approach to the interview process and its slight variations based on whether the player is in high school or college is also detailed by Drellich.
- On Thanksgving Day, MLBTR's Mark Polishuk examined the managers and GMs entering the final year of their contract. Today, Jim Margalus of SouthSideSox.com concludes the most front office stability can be found in the AL Central.
The Blue Jays' decision to fire hitting coach Chad Mottola yesterday made him a curious scapegoat for the team's 2013 failures, opines Shi Davidi of Sportsnet. Davidi points out that Colby Rasmus, Adam Lind and Brett Lawrie (who hit .283/.346/.417 in the second half) all made positive strides under Mottola, who was in his first season as a Major League coach. Here's more on the Blue Jays...
- Sergio Santos' contract no longer looks as team-friendly as it once did, but the Blue Jays aren't missing Nestor Molina, writes Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet. Molina has struggled with the White Sox since being sent to Chicago in exchange for Santos, and Santos' final two months were healthy and dominant. Santos tells Nicholson-Smith that his goal for 2014 is to stay healthy, which will be a key if he's to have any chance at seeing his $6MM option exercised.
- Starting pitching is still the team's top priority this offseason, but an upgrade at catcher has leapfrogged left field for the team's No. 2 priority, writes MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm in his latest Blue Jays Inbox. Chisolm notes that the free agent market will be expensive and competitive and adds that the Jays are interested in Wilson Ramos of the Nationals, though he would be an expensive trade target himself (in terms of prospects). Still, Chisolm writes that GM Alex Anthopoulos "seems determined" to make an upgrade behind the dish.
- Anthony Gose could slot into the fourth outfielder role that will open up with Rajai Davis' departure, but Chisolm notes that he's also one of the team's top trade chips. Gose could also move into a starting role should a starting outfielder be traded.
- The Blue Jays felt that Emilio Bonifacio couldn't handle playing the infield on the turf at the Rogers' Centre due to his poor footwork and limited range, writes Chisholm, which is why they essentially gave him to the Royals. He'd have been non-tendered this winter, Chisholm adds.
- Chisolm also addresses the free agent market, noting that the Jays aren't likely to break their policy of limiting free agent deals to five years this offseason and aren't likely to pursue a Roy Halladay reunion as they need more certainty in a starting pitching acquisition.