Franklin Barreto Rumors

Blue Jays Notes: Saunders, Leake, Price, Pillar, Stroman

The Blue Jays have decided to shut down ailing outfielder Michael Saunders for the remainder of the season, manager John Gibbons told reporters, including Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi (Twitter link). Acquired in a one-for-one swap that sent J.A. Happ to Seattle this winter, Saunders tore the meniscus in his knee when he tripped over a sprinkler head in Spring Training. He was originally projected to miss half the season, but that timetable was accelerated to about six weeks after he had a large portion of the meniscus surgically removed. Saunders returned for nine games in early May but had lingering effects from the surgery. He had fluid drained from the knee and a cortisone shot, but neither proved effective enough to keep him from the disabled list for a second time. Those nine games will be the only ones in which Saunders takes the field in 2015. Uncertainty surrounding Saunders’ knee makes him a non-tender candidate, although he won’t receive much of a raise (if any) on this year’s $2.875MM salary. That makes him a nice low-cost asset with some significant upside; Saunders has always been injury prone but batted .248/.320/.423 with 162-game averages of 19 homers and 18 steals from 2012-14 despite playing his home games at the spacious Safeco Field.

A few other items pertaining to the Blue Jays, who narrowly trail the Yankees for the AL East lead…

  • USA Today’s Bob Nightengale spoke to a number of Blue Jays players as well as Anthopoulous about the club’s flurry of trade deadline activity. Notably, Nightengale reports that the Jays had a trade for Mike Leake worked out with the Reds prior to acquiring David Price, but talks for Price ignited shortly before the trade with Cincinnati was finalized. Price himself offered an interesting take on the trade deadline, telling Nightengale that he thought he was going to be traded to the Yankees prior to learning of the move to Toronto.
  • Nightengale asked Anthopoulos about the contrast to last year’s trade deadline, when the Blue Jays had a better record but did not make a move. “It was different last year,” the GM explained. “We had a lot of holes, a lot of guys hurt, and we weren’t going to (deal) without doing some real long-term damage to the organization. If we had done some of those deals, [Kevin] Pillar and [Josh] Donaldson are not on this team right now.” The implication there, of course, is that Pillar was in demand from other clubs, as were some combination of prospects Franklin Barreto, Sean Nolin and Kendall Graveman, who went to Oakland in the Donaldson swap.
  • Mark Buehrle spoke to Nightengale about how he has fallen in love with the Blue Jays and the city of Toronto after initially being upset to be traded there in 2012. “Before I came here, this was a place where I never wanted to play,” Buehrle candidly explained. “…You come here as a visitor, and you have the customs, trying to figure out your phone bills, the money exchange, the temperature readings. But now that I’ve played here, it’s been so great. It’s just such a great place to live and play. They make it so comfortable for you.” Nightengale’s entire article is well worth a read, particularly for Blue Jays fans.
  • Marcus Stroman will throw a 40-pitch simulated game at the team’s Spring Training complex in Dunedin, Fla., next Monday, reports Sportsnet’s Jeff Blair. If all goes well there, he’ll throw a 55-pitch simulated game on Aug. 29 and then make a rehab outing at Triple-A in early September before Buffalo’s season closes on the seventh. That Triple-A outing will determine whether or not Stroman can return to the club in 2015. GM Alex Anthopoulos shared a generally positive outlook on Stroman’s progress in a message to Blair, saying, “I’ve seen videos of his bullpen sessions, and he looks great.”

Blue Jays Sign Franklin Barreto

FRIDAY: Barreto obtained a $1.45MM bonus, ESPN.com's Keith Law reports (on Twitter).  Luis Castillo obtained an $800K bonus from Toronto, Law adds.

MONDAY: The Blue Jays have signed Venezuelan shortstop/centerfielder Franklin Barreto, according to Ben Badler of Baseball America.  The 5'9", 175-pound prospect is Baseball America's top-ranked international prospect in the July 2nd class.  Terms of the deal are not yet known but Barreto had been expected to sign with the Blue Jays for nearly $2MM.

Badler writes that few amateurs have ever matched the 16-year-old's history of dominance representing Venezuela in international competitions.  Several teams had Barreto as the No. 1 player on their board and some scouts project him as a future plus hitter.  Most teams, however, don't expect him to stick and shortstop and expect to see him wind up in centerfield.