John Buck Rumors
The Blue Jays are searching for the successor to Cito Gaston, and they're not rushing the process. An unnamed source points out to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports that the Blue Jays "want to get it right" (Twitter link). Here are the details on the team's search for a new manager, plus other notes:
- Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun has a summary of the Jays’ search: the team has already interviewed Rockies hitting coach Don Baylor, Red Sox third base coach Tim Bogar, Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell, Red Sox bench coach DeMarlo Hale, former manager Bob Melvin, Padres coach Rick Renteria, Angels bench coach Ron Roenicke, Yankees third base coach Rob Thomson, former manager Bobby Valentine and former Indians manager Eric Wedge plus internal candidates Brian Butterfield, Sal Fasano, Nick Leyva and Luis Rivera. The club has yet to interview White Sox bench coach Joey Cora, Rangers hitting coach Clint Hurdle, Nationals third base coach Pat Listach, Rays bench coach Dave Martinez, Juan Samuel, Ryne Sandberg, and former Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu. That's a whole lot of candidates to consider.
- Rangers GM Jon Daniels told MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan that he's expecting clubs to ask about Hurdle, though no team has formally requested permission to interview the former Rockies manager just yet.
- The Blue Jays will consider bringing John Buck back next year and the catcher says he would love to return, but as MLB.com's Jordan Bastian shows, J.P. Arencibia's presence may mean that Buck's best offers come from other teams.
Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe spoke to nearly a dozen scouts and executives and found that there would be substantial interest in Daisuke Matsuzaka if the Red Sox made the righthander available in a trade this offseason. Most of those polled believe Boston would have to kick in some money to offset the two-years and $20MM left on his deal, but it's unclear what they would want in return. As Cafardo reminds us, there's no such thing as too much pitching depth, so the Sox could simply hold onto him.
As far as teams that could have potential interest in Dice-K, Cafardo names the Mariners, Mets, Dodgers, Brewers, Rangers, and Tigers. Here are the rest of his rumors...
- There's talk that the Red Sox might go after Yu Darvish if he's posted this winter, and there is a little bit of a New England connection there: Darvish's father attended school in the area.
- Doug Melvin said he will go outside the organization to replace departed manager Ken Macha, which rules out Dale Sveum and Willie Randolph.
- Jim Hendry and Cubs ownership likes what interim manager Mike Quade got out of his players down the stretch, so the sentiment to retain him is growing.
- Fredi Gonzalez turned down a chance to interview with the Cubbies, and it's looking more and more likely that he will take over for the retiring Bobby Cox in Atlanta.
- Alex Anthopoulos is looking at third base/bench coaches for his next manager, while Neal Huntington might dip into his Indians' roots to fill the Pirates' managerial vacancy.
- Paul Konerko indicated that contract length won't be much of a factor when he hits free agency this winter because he isn't sure how much longer he wants to play. Kenny Williams indicated that there might not be enough room in the budget for the White Sox to bring back their captain, especially if they seeks out a lefty bat as expected.
- Jason Varitek wants to return to the Red Sox but the team is thinking bigger picture with Jarrod Saltalamacchia on board. Cafardo suggests the Marlins as a potential landing spot for Varitek, where he would work with the team's young pitchers.
- Meanwhile, the Sox could sign John Buck as a stopgap while they wait for Salty to establish himself.
- Teams in need of a second baseman are very interested in Jed Lowrie, though at least one scout thinks he can stick at shortstop. The 26-year-old hit .287/.381/.526 in 197 plate appearances this year.
- Despite a strong finish (1.41 ERA in his last ten starts), the Cubs would still like to move Carlos Zambrano. Of course, they're going to have to eat some of the $55MM left of his contract to do so.
- Cafardo thinks that Carl Pavano could command a three-year deal worth $30MM as a free agent this winter, but he'd have to give a bit of a discount to return to Minnesota. The Twins have shown a willingness to spend in the last year, so this will be an interesting negotiation for them.
We at MLBTR send our best wishes to Ernie Tyler, the Orioles' 86-year-old umpires attendant who has worked every Opening Day in Baltimore for the last 51 years. Tyler underwent brain surgery earlier this week to remove a benign tumor, and The Baltimore Sun's Dan Connolly reports that Tyler is progressing well in the early stages of his recovery. We look forward to seeing Tyler at Camden Yards in April to extend his streak to 52 years.
Let's check out some news items from around the majors...
- Speaking of Dan Connolly, he thinks Baltimore "will go hard after Victor Martinez and/or Derrek Lee," with Lee being the likelier candidate to sign with the Orioles.
- ESPNBoston.com's Gordon Edes thinks the possibility of Martinez re-signing with the Red Sox "looks iffy at best," though three other ESPNBoston contributors predict the free agent will return to the Sox.
- Edes also notes that another free agent catcher, John Buck, has a big supporter in Boston assistant GM Allard Baird.
- If the Nationals don't re-sign Adam Dunn, MLB.com's Bill Ladson writes that Carlos Pena "is at the top of their list" of potential replacements. Ladson also notes that Washington will "go after [James Loney] hard" if the Dodgers put him on the trade market, and that the Nats could also pursue an outfielder like Jayson Werth and fill their first-base opening from within with Josh Willingham.
- Arizona assistant general manager Peter Woodfork and the D'Backs have reached a "mutual decision" to part ways, tweets FOXSports.com's Jon Paul Morosi. It's not an unexpected move since, as Morosi noted in a follow-up tweet, Woodfork has long-term ties to former Arizona GM Josh Byrnes and new D'Backs GM Kevin Towers probably wants to hire his own assistant.
- Baseball America's Matt Eddy has a recall-filled edition of the week's minor league transactions.
- With Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and C.C. Sabathia all anchoring the staffs of World Series contenders this postseason, Steve Dilbeck of the L.A. Times bemoans how the Dodgers missed out on acquiring any of the three "true aces" over the last two seasons.
- Anthony Witrado of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel covered a number of Brewers topics in a chat with readers.
This season, John Buck was afforded a fresh start in Toronto and churned out his best offensive season to date. The 30-year-old catcher hit .281/.314/.489 with 20 homers in 118 games. After being non-tendered by the Royals in 2009, Buck made his first All-Star team in 2010. All in all, a solid year for a guy making $2MM on a one year deal.
However, with J.P Arencibia waiting in the wings, some have wondered if there's room for Buck on the Blue Jays in 2011. Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos said that while he will explore bringing back Buck, the veteran backstop has earned a long-term contract and a starting job. The question is: Will Buck get that opportunity in Toronto? Arencibia had a stellar year in Triple-A, posting a slash line of .301/.359/.626 with 32 homers in 104 games. With numbers like those, one has to wonder if the 24-year-old's learning curve will be steep enough to justify retaining a player who is six years his senior.
Will the Blue Jays re-sign Buck?
Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos met with reporters for an extended media session today, speaking about a wide range of topics. MLB.com's Jordan Bastian brings us the highlights...
- Anthopoulos acknowledged Lyle Overbay's strong finish to the season, but the team's approach for first base is unchanged. They will explore trades and the free agent market with no guarantee that Overbay will return.
- Aaron Hill offered to change positions (third base) if it will help the team. The Jays have until Opening Day of next season to make a decision on the 2012 ($8MM), 2013 ($8MM), and 2014 ($10MM) options in Hill's contract. If they wait until after next season, the 2014 option is voided.
- There is a chance that Edwin Encarnacion will be non-tendered given the raise he's likely to receive through arbitration. Encarnacion earned $4.75MM in 2010 and will be arb eligible for the final time before free agency.
- The Jays are prepared to go to arbitration with 54 HR man Jose Bautista. He earned $2.4MM this year and his salary is likely to jump into the $7-9MM range after his monster season. Bastian doesn't think the two sides will work out a long-term deal this winter.
- Fred Lewis was unhappy when his playing time diminished late in the season. If he's not in the team's plans as a bench player next year, a non-tender could be in order.
- Even with Kevin Gregg, Scott Downs, and Jason Frasor all eligible to become free agents in a few weeks, Anthopoulos doesn't consider having veterans in the bullpen a top priority.
- He'd like to add more balance to a lineup that relied primarily on the long ball this season. The Jays led MLB by a large margin with 257 homers, but they finished just ninth with 755 runs scored because of a pedestrian .312 OBP.
- The possibility of keeping catcher John Buck will be explored, but Anthopoulos said he's earned a long-term deal and a starting job, something that might not work with top prospect J.P. Arencibia having nothing left to prove in the minors.
- The Blue Jays are not operating with a specific payroll; the GM has the ability to adjust the finances as he sees fit. That gives them more flexibility when looking at free agent and trade scenarios.
- There are no more front office hirings in the immediate future, but one thing they're considering is someone with more of a computer and statistical analysis background.
- Shi Davidi of The Canadian Press adds that Anthopoulos acknowledged the inherent riskiness of trades, but he still considers it the best way to improve the team and is willing to deal prospects for established big leaguers (Twitter links).
The Marlins don’t have a permanent manager and Dan Uggla is nearing free agency so Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest and GM Michael Hill have some franchise-defining decisions to make this offseason. Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald has the details:
- Dan Uggla’s representation has asked for a deal worth about five years and $58MM, but the Marlins are offering fewer years and less money. They’d prefer to work out a three-year deal and are offering just over $8MM per season. Uggla, who will be eligible for free agency after 2011, makes nearly that much this year and he’ll earn a raise through arbitration next year, so the Marlins don’t appear to be offering much of a deal.
- The Marlins say they would like to add a top catcher and they’ll consider alternatives to John Baker, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery. Yorvit Torrealba, Bengie Molina, John Buck and Miguel Olivo will be considerations for Florida if they hit the open market, but Victor Martinez probably won’t be a fit. The Marlins could also have interest in Jason Varitek and Rod Barajas as part-time options.
- Rafael Soriano’s expected salary demands have priced him out of the Marlins’ plans.
- The Marlins will consider Yankees bench coach Tony Pena, Padres first base coach Rick Renteria and Padres bench coach Ted Simmons as they search for their next manager. Interim manager Edwin Rodriguez could keep his job and it doesn’t seem likely that the team will resume talks with Bobby Valentine, who was once considered the frontrunner for the gig.
- The Marlins would have interest in Ozzie Guillen if he were available, but the White Sox skipper is under contract in Chicago next year. However, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports hears that Guillen wants assurances that the White Sox want him to be their long-term manager. White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf would prefer to keep Guillen around than search for a new manager, so Guillen could get the security he’s looking for.
Links for Monday night, as the Phillies extend their NL East lead with an eighth consecutive win....
- Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette provides a lengthy preview of the 2011 Pirates, speculating about how the team may improve its roster.
- Ozzie Guillen tells Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune that he has no idea whether the White Sox' front office plans to retain Bobby Jenks next year.
- The Toronto Sun's Ken Fidlin believes that questions about J.P. Arencibia behind the plate and Adam Lind at first base mean that the Jays could attempt to bring back John Buck and Lyle Overbay.
- Ed Price of AOL FanHouse reports (via Twitter) that Logan White is out of the running in the Diamondbacks' search for a general manager. ESPN.com's Buster Olney confirms (via Twitter) that it appears to be a two-man race between Kevin Towers and Jerry Dipoto. Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports suggests that the D'Backs are torn between the appeal of Towers and loyalty to Dipoto; they should name a GM this week.
- Joe Torre hasn't ruled out managing the Mets or another club, writes Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork. Torre told WFAN: "I don't really anticipate managing again, but I think it would be unfair not to listen just out of curiosity to see if something excites me."
- Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets that Coco Crisp would like to return to Oakland next year, though he knows he'll have little say in whether his 2011 option is exercised.
Jose Bautista's incredible season has been the big story for the Blue Jays this year, and for good reason. After blasting his 49th long ball last night, Bautista is just two away from matching Davey Johnson's 1973 record for biggest home run jump in a single season. However, Bautista isn't the only Blue Jay veteran who's having an unexpected career year. Quietly, John Buck has hit .274/.303/.485 in 369 plate appearances and matched his career high in homers (18), while handling a young Toronto starting rotation. Let's break down his stock heading into free agency:
- Buck's offensive performance appears mostly sustainable. He slugged .484 in limited playing time in 2009, and has always had the ability to hit the ball out of the park. Plus, his OBP is right in line with his career rate.
- His numbers haven't been inflated by playing in a homer-friendly park; he's actually hit better on the road (.841 OPS, 11 HR).
- The free agent class of catchers doesn't look as impressive as it might have a few months ago. Veterans like Bengie Molina and A.J. Pierzynski have underperformed, and teams may not be entirely confident in Victor Martinez's ability behind the plate. Buck appears to be one of the more appealing options available.
- At 30 years old, Buck should be able to withstand the wear-and-tear of catching for at least a few more seasons.
- He'll likely remain a Type B free agent, meaning he won't cost a draft pick to sign.
- Buck's .274 batting average isn't a mark he's likely to repeat. He's a career .241 hitter and he has an unusually high BABIP this year.
- His BB/K ratio is a career-worst 12/103.
- The 30-year-old figures to be looking for a contract larger in both years and money than the one-year, $2MM deal he signed with the Jays. He was only a .235/.298/.407 career hitter prior to this season, so suitors may be reluctant to invest millions in him.
Even if the Blue Jays decide to roll the dice with J.P. Arencibia as their primary backstop next season, they should offer Buck arbitration. In the unlikely scenario that he accepts, they'll have him back at an affordable price. If he declines, Buck will probably be looking to land a multi-year deal elsewhere. Last winter, the 35-year-old Bengie Molina was coming off a season similar to Buck's and signed a one-year contract worth $4.5MM. I wouldn't be surprised to see Buck ink a two- or three-year deal for about the same yearly salary that Molina received.
Links for Wednesday, after a roller coaster win by Joey Votto and the Reds...
- GM Doug Melvin told MLB.com's Adam McCalvy that the Brewers won't discuss an extension with Rickie Weeks until the season's over. Weeks, who will hit free agency after 2011, recently switched agents.
- Scott Downs, Jason Frasor, Shawn Camp, Kevin Gregg and John Buck all hit waivers, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). There's no indication that the Blue Jays intend on moving any of their players this month.
- Over at RotoAuthority, Tim Dierkes analyzes the seasons some top second basemen are having.
- Number 18 is an 'ace number' in Japan, so Daisuke Matsuzaka has a clause in his contract ensuring that he gets to wear it. Matsuzaka explained to Alex Speier of WEEI.com that a childhood idol of his, Masumi Kuwata, wore the number for the Yomiuri Giants.
- Ben Kabak of River Ave. Blues calls the Javier Vazquez trade a "true disappointment," but hesitates to label it a "true bust."
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post argues that the Mets should make decisions with the future of the organization in mind, instead of "letting a lame-duck manager make choices" to win as much as possible.
- Manny Ramirez isn't the only Dodger on waivers. As Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times notes (on Twitter), Casey Blake, Jay Gibbons and Scott Podsednik also hit the waiver wire today.
Many of the best trade chips in baseball play for the Toronto Blue Jays, but the team held onto all of them when their rivals didn’t meet the club’s asking price. Scott Downs, Jason Frasor, Kevin Gregg, Jose Bautista and John Buck remain in Toronto for one simple reason: in the end, no team presented GM Alex Anthopoulos with an overwhelming offer.
“I don’t think we were that close today,” Anthopoulos said. “There were things we had on the table that were available to us, but not enough to make us make a trade.”
A year ago today, the Jays held onto the biggest trade chip in baseball: Roy Halladay. This season Anthopoulos targeted the same kinds of players that his predecessor, J.P. Ricciardi did.
“The greatest challenge we have is getting those elite players,” Anthopoulos said. “We’re always going to continue to shoot high and try to get those impact players.”
Multiple teams considered Scott Downs an impact reliever. The 34-year-old may have been the best left-handed reliever available, but he remains a Blue Jay. After a few months, the rumors and speculation became a bigger part of everyday life for Blue Jays relievers.
“It started to,” Downs said. “I can’t lie, it started to a little bit, but it’s a business.”
Downs, Frasor, Gregg and Buck could potentially bring the Blue Jays draft picks in the 2011 draft. If the four players maintain their current standings in the Elias rankings and all turn down offers of arbitration from the Blue Jays, the team could be working with as many as six extra picks in next year’s draft. It’s a big ‘if,’ but one the Blue Jays were keenly aware of.
“It’s absolutely part of the criteria,” Anthopoulos said. “You look at players that are free agents that could have compensation attached to them and you have a lot of options.”
Many teams liked Jose Bautista, but the MLB home run leader is still in Toronto. As far as he’s concerned, that’s a good thing.
“There were a lot of rumors out there,” Bautista said. “But the end result is I’m still here and this is where I wanted to be.”
The July 31st deadline means the end of non-waiver trades, but there’s still the potential for deals. Anthopoulos expects to explore trade possibilities next month, but most of his trade chips wouldn’t clear waivers. August will likely be quieter than July, but the Blue Jays are open to making deals.
“I’d say we’d be active in terms of exploring the waiver wire, talking to clubs, but in terms of actually getting a deal done, impossible to say,” Anthopoulos said.