Jose Reyes Rumors

Injury Notes: Pence, Tanaka, Blue Jays, Fister, Ryu

Giants outfielder Hunter Pence is returning to active duty tomorrow, Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury News reports on Twitter. Pence has yet to see MLB action this year since suffering a fractured forearm in the spring. The 32-year-old figures to provide a nice boost to the club, which has produced middling results thus far.

Here are some more injury notes from around the game:

  • Another important player who received promising injury news is Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka. As Bryan Hoch of MLB.com tweets, Tanaka threw 35 pitches in a BP session today and seems to be nearing the start of a rehab stint. Tanaka’s continued progress is obviously welcome, particularly given that swingman Chase Whitley may be headed for season-ending surgery.
  • The Blue Jays also have some notable situations to watch, with Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca providing several updates. Outfielder Michael Saunders will miss four to six weeks to rest his knee. And catcher Dioner Navarro still does not have a timetable for a rehab assignment as he rests his hamstring. More positively, shortstop Jose Reyes is nearing his own build-up through the minors. While Saunders and Reyes are important for the team, the Navarro news is most notable from a transactional perspective. Though he has not done much offensively this year, Navarro could be a useful trade piece for a Toronto club that has other needs — if he can reestablish his health and show more promise at the plate.
  • The Nationals made the surprising announcement today that righty Doug Fister is heading to the DL with right forearm tightness (via Dan Kolko of MASNsports.com, on Twitter). Young starter A.J. Cole, one of the team’s top prospects, will return to take his spot on the active roster. While hidden somewhat due to the attention given to Stephen Strasburg, there is cause for concern with Fister, whose velocity (86.1 mph average two-seam fastball), K:BB ratio (4.1 K/9 vs. 2.3 BB/9), and groundball rate (40.9%) have suffered in comparison to his usual numbers. Of course, the Nationals are somewhat uniquely suited to weather any extended absence, should that prove necessary. But for the 31-year-old free agent-to-be, the first two months of the season have left him with plenty to prove the rest of the way.
  • Hyun-jin Ryu of the Dodgers is still not even scheduled to resume throwing, J.P. Hoornstra of the Los Angeles News Group reports on Twitter. The health of the 28-year-old lefty remains a key sub-plot in the development of the summer trade market: L.A. already profiles as a strong buyer for starting pitching, and its needs would be enhanced greatly if Ryu isn’t able to develop an upward trajectory.

AL East: A-Rod, Reyes, Blue Jays, Red Sox

The Yankees‘ apparent determination not to pay Alex Rodriguez a milestone bonus under his contract if (really, when) he matches Willie Mays on the all-time home run list has been well-documented. But as David Waldstein of the New York Times reports, the financial motivations are even stronger than had previously been realized. New York would be required to pay a 50% luxury tax on the potential $6MM bonus, meaning that $9MM is actually at issue from the team’s perspective.

Here’s more from the rest of the AL East:

  • The Blue Jays have placed shortstop Jose Reyes on the 15-day DL with a cracked rib and will recall Jonathan Diaz to take his place on the active roster. As Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca explains, the injury was suffered early in the season, and it remains unclear precisely what motivated the move at this point. While it could just be that the club wants Reyes to heal up for a long season, his long list of injury struggles make this a situation to monitor.
  • Reyes is not the only area of concern for the Blue Jays, whose reliance on internal options in the bullpen has started to come into question, as Davidi writes. It was a mistake for Toronto not to find an upgrade or two over the winter, he opines, arguing that the current mix of arms has left the club short of reliable options since the rotation, too, has some questions. Manager John Gibbons discussed the matter at some length, noting that the club may be asking too much of young hurlers Miguel Castro and Roberto Osuna. The division already looks like it could be a tightly-contested affair all season long, and the Jays’ relief corps is an obvious area for upgrade as the summer approaches.
  • Speaking of pitching concerns, the Red Sox rotation has long been an area of attention. Alex Speier of the Boston Globe looks into the team’s league-worst 5.75 starters’ ERA, noting that the club still believes its current options will improve. But as Speier explains, recent history shows that we are reaching a point where it may no longer be reasonable to expect a significant leap forward in productivity from the group as a whole.
  • With a competitive division to navigate, the Red Sox front office is set up for a difficult test of its patience, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com writes. GM Ben Cherington hinted that there could be more early trade activity this year, in part because of an increased sense of urgency owing to the spread of talent in the AL East. We have already seen greater creativity in structuring deals over the last year or so, and Cherington at least hints that the destabilization of established transactional patterns could continue. “The old saying was to take the first two months, figure out what you are and what you need to do, and then take the next two months to try and solve your needs and then let your team play for the last two months,” said Cherington. “I don’t think that it has to be that. Every team’s situation is different and has different needs.”

AL East Notes: Reyes, Castro, Arencibia, Ramirez

In a radio appearance on FAN 590, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons told Sportsnet’s Jeff Blair that Jose Reyes had an MRI the revealed a small crack/fracture in his rib — an injury that could require a trip to the disabled list (Twitter links via Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith). The Blue Jays expect to have a better sense of whether or not Reyes will end up on the disabled list later today, though the injury certainly doesn’t seem to bode well for the shortstop, who exited last night’s game in the first inning. A DL trip for Reyes would seemingly mean that Ryan Goins would see time at short in his absence.

More from the AL East…

  • Shi Davidi of Sportsnet has posted an excellent look at the way in which Miguel Castro came to sign with the Blue Jays. Castro first worked out for both the Mets and Phillies, but failed to finalize a deal with either club for different reasons. Blue Jays director of Latin American operations was occupying that role with the Mets when the team pursued Castro, and Cruz recalls that he and Mets GM Sandy Alderson liked Castro and were comfortable signing him for $200K. However, some of the Mets pitching coaches and Cruz’s direct supervisor were concerned by Castro’s body type — he’s been likened, physically, to NBA superstar Kevin Durant due to his lanky frame — and the Mets ultimately passed. Castro then agreed to a $180K bonus with the Phillies, pending a physical, but Philadelphia didn’t like the look of his elbow and voided the deal. Cruz was transitioning to the Jays at that time and made his first order of business to ask GM Alex Anthopoulos for the money to sign Castro. A physical did reveal that Castro’s elbow looked to have had a past injury that no longer looked to be a major concern, but it was enough for Toronto to drop its initial offer to $43K. Castro accepted, and he impressed enough in his first big league camp to break camp with the team. Castro, of course, has already been moved to Toronto’s closer role.
  • J.P. Arencibia, who signed a Minor League pact with the Rays yesterday, will head to Triple-A and work mostly as a first baseman/DH, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Arencibia will get some occasional time at catcher, but manager Kevin Cash seemingly indicated that the 29-year-old’s bat, not the desire for additional depth behind the plate, was the reason for the signing. “He’s got some pop… we like what he does offensively,” Cash told Topkin. “Any added insurance he can provide, we’ll kind of see how it goes, but we’re excited.”
  • Righty Erasmo Ramirez has been shelled in two outings with the Rays, but Topkin writes that it appears the 25-year-old will stick with the club and try to work out his control issues out of the bullpen. The Rays don’t need a fifth starter until April 25, Topkin points out, and while either Alex Colome or Drew Smyly could theoretically be ready by that point, Tampa is not yet ready to give up on Ramirez.


AL East Notes: Anthopoulos, Sizemore, Schoop

We covered a couple of Yankees items as part of a New York Notes post earlier today, so now let's take a look around the rest of the AL East…

  • Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos said the team is open to possibly extending the contracts of Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Reyes, the GM tells The Toronto Star's Richard Griffin.  Bautista (33) and Encarnacion (31) are contracted through 2015 and the Jays have team options on both players for 2016, while Reyes (30) is locked up through the 2017 season.  Extensions would take any of the trio well into their late-30's, yet Anthopoulos points to David Ortiz and Carlos Beltran as older players who are still big hitters.
  • Also as part of the wide-ranging interview, Anthopoulos discusses his disappointment over the Ervin Santana non-signing, restocking the farm system and more.
  • Grady Sizemore will be the Red Sox center fielder on Opening Day, manager John Farrell told reporters (including Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald).  Star prospect Jackie Bradley was widely presumed the favorite to take over from Jacoby Ellsbury as Boston's new center fielder this season, yet Bradley struggled to hit in Spring Training and will start the year at Triple-A.  Sizemore, meanwhile, enjoyed a big spring and proved he was healthy after missing the last two seasons.  Sizemore signed a $750K minor league deal with Boston this winter that could be worth as much as $6MM if Sizemore meets all the incentives.
  • Farrell said that Sizemore will still receive regular rest in order to keep him fresh.  Since this will free up some outfield playing time, FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi wonders if the Red Sox could be in the market for a right-handed hitting outfielder who can play all three OF spots.
  • Red Sox sports-medicine coordinator Dan Dyrek played an important part in both convincing Sizemore to sign with Boston and in getting him back in playing condition, Sizemore tells Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal.  Dyrek was “the first guy who has understood not only how it happened but what caused it and how to fix it and how to prevent it from happening again,” Sizemore said.
  • The Orioles plan to have Jonathan Schoop on the Opening Day roster, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal tweets.  Schoop will play both second and third base, splitting time with Steve Lombardozzi and Ryan Flaherty, respectively.  The 2014 Baseball America Prospect Handbook ranked Schoop as the fifth-best prospect in the Baltimore farm system, and Schoop fought his way onto the 25-man roster thanks to a huge Spring Training.

Mets Notes: Choo, Dodgers, Saunders, Trades

We learned of a few Mets items earlier today and a couple of minor league signings for the club.  Here's some more news from Citi Field…

  • Robinson Cano is the only player the Mets value as a $100MM-plus player this offseason, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman writes.  Since they won't be in on Cano, the Mets may also not be able to afford Shin-Soo Choo due to agent Scott Boras' nine-figure contract demands.
  • A Mets source tells Heyman that none of Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford or Andre Ethier are currently part of the team's offseason plans.  We heard earlier today that the Dodgers were open to dealing any of the three veteran outfielders and the Mets have been linked to Ethier in the past.
  • Joe Saunders is a good fit for the Mets as a relatively inexpensive veteran innings-eater, several rival talent evaluators tell Mike Puma of the New York Post.  A pitcher like Saunders would help the Mets rotation in the short term while still allowing the team to spend larger dollars on hitters.
  • The Mets could "aggressively shop" Daniel Murphy this winter, MLB.com's Anthony DiComo writes as part of a reader mailbag.  The Mets could be looking to sell high on Murphy as team COO Jeff Wilpon didn't mention the second baseman when discussing players guaranteed roster spots for 2014.  In other mailbag topics, DiComo also doesn't see the Mets spending big on a single player like Choo or Jacoby Ellsbury, and he outlines the club's shortstop depth issue (though re-acquiring Jose Reyes is not a solution).

Blue Jays Notes: Reyes, Lawrie, Wang, Arencibia

Jose Reyes ran the bases yesterday and today practiced taking double-play relays. The big question posed to GM Alex Anthopoulos, when he met with reporters before the Blue Jays' three-game winning streak ended with a 6-4 loss to the Rangers, was the timing of Reyes' return. "Our medical staff had said about 10 days or so, maybe a little bit less, but he’s certainly getting close and it’s great to see," Anthopoulos said (as quoted by Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca). "Then it will be a question of how many at-bats is he going to need and how do his legs feel playing seven innings, nine innings, and so on. We’re definitely going to be anxious to have him back." Based on that timeline, Davidi speculates Reyes, on the disabled list since April 13 with a left ankle sprain, could begin his rehab June 19 and rejoin the Jays for the start of a four-game series in Boston June 27. In other Blue Jay notes:

  • The injury news isn't as encouraging for Brett Lawrie, who is now wearing a protective boot to speed the healing of his high left ankle sprain. "I don't really have a timeline [for his return], because it just takes time to heal," said Anthopoulos (as quoted by MLB.com's Evan Peaslee). "Again, he's going to have to get back to running and all those kind of things. It's not as severe as Reyes, but it seems like it's certainly healing very slowly right now."
  • Anthopoulos is taking a game-by-game approach with right-hander Chien-Ming Wang, who was signed Friday to a $500K contract, reports Davidi. "We hope he makes a lot of starts for us, but we don’t want to go in and promise x-number amount of starts," the GM said. "Hopefully, he does well and we catch lightning in a bottle with him. But he understands, his agent understands, that if things don’t work out, we have the right to turn the page."
  • Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star feels the offseason moves made by Anthopoulos will only be judged as a total failure if he starts a firesale at the Trade Deadline and continues in the off-season to quickly turn some of his off-season acquisitions into prospects because he would invariably receive less in return than what he surrendered.
  • Asked in a readers' mailbag about the possibility of trading slumping catcher J.P. Arencibia, Griffin writes this is one question the organization has to really think about moving forward, but there are no internal, minor-league options after trading away Travis d'Arnaud. If Arencibia (owner of a .220/.240/.436 line with 72 strikeouts and five walks in 225 plate appearances this year) were to be dealt, Griffin thinks it would only happen during the off-season when a quality replacement could be acquired.
  • Griffin still sees the Blue Jays as contenders in the AL East because, even though all five clubs could finish with winning records, it is unclear whether there is a 100-win team in the division and 90 wins could quite possibly be enough for the second Wild Card berth.

Red Sox Discussed Johnson, Reyes With Marlins

It appears that the Blue Jays weren't the only team interested in pulling off a Jose Reyes/Josh Johnson blockbuster this offseason. Rob Bradford of WEEI.com adds that the Red Sox also talked with the Fish regarding the Johnson, Reyes and possibly Emilio Bonifacio as well. Ultimately, the Red Sox backed off due to an unwillingness to consider parting with top prospect Xander Bogaerts.

It's understandable that Bogaerts, viewed by most as Boston's top prospect, would be a sticking point. The shortstop from Aruba is ranked higher than any player the Marlins received in Top 100 lists from Baseball America (No. 8), ESPN's Keith Law (No. 5) and MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo (No. 20).

Johnson told Bradford on Wednesday that he, like others in the trade, was caught off guard by the trade. He had been preparing his wife for a trade during the 2012 season, but once the deadline passed, he thought that he and the Marlins' other star players would remain in Miami until this year's trade deadline at the very least:

"I wasn’t hearing one thing. My agent never said anything. Even when the trade went down he was like, ‘Let me see if this is real or not.' But by then it was already on MLB Trade Rumors and stuff."

The right-hander also noted that close friend Cody Ross told Johnson he would love playing in Boston. Johnson went on to say good things about the city when further questioned on the matter by Bradford.

The Blue Jays ultimately acquired Johnson, Reyes, Bonifacio, Mark Buehrle and John Buck from the Marlins in exchange for Justin Nicolino, Jake Marisnick, Yunel Escobar, Adeiny Hechavarria, Henderson Alvarez, Jeff Mathis and Anthony Desclafani.

However, as we learned last month, that trade may not have happened had the White Sox not reached a last-minute extension with Jake Peavy. Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos and White Sox GM Rick Hahn nearly completed a trade before Peavy signed his contract.


AL Notes: Twins, Gibbons, Reyes, Price, Jackie Bradley

The Twins have devoted only 22.5% of their 2013 payroll to pitching (MLB average is 49.8%) and haven't exceeded the league average since 2005. Phil Miller of the Star Tribune writes perhaps no statistic better illustrates the Twins' dry spell in developing pitching prospects. "It’s not by design. It’s not like we said, 'Let’s spend less on pitching and go another way,'" said Twins assistant GM Rob Antony. "When we’ve spent a lot on a contract, more often than not, it’s on players we already have, that we know. We know how they fit in the clubhouse, and we know their health situation. It makes you a little more comfortable with the investment." Miller notes several pitching investments have been wasted because of injuries including this year's highest-paid pitcher Nick Blackburn ($5.5MM), who was removed from the 40-man roster as he recovers from wrist surgery. One investment that does seem to be paying dividends is Kevin Correia, who signed a two-year, $10MM free agent contract last December. The right-hander tossed eight shutout innings and lowered his ERA to 2.31 in the Twins' 5-0 win over the Rangers. In other news and notes from the American League:

  • After a four-game sweep at the hands of the Yankees, the seat is becoming hotter for Blue Jays manager John Gibbons. CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman calls this a big test for Gibbons while Keith Law of ESPN.com says it's too early to think about firing the skipper (Twitter links).
  • Before the game, Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos met with the media, including Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca, and said he doesn't expect Jose Reyes back until the beginning of July "just to make sure that we do this correctly and we don’t have any setbacks." In the meantime, the plan is use Munenori Kawasaki and Maicer Izturis because Anthopoulos said the costs of going outside the organization for a Reyes replacement "don’t line up for us with what our alternatives are."
  • Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg reiterated his team's ability to afford David Price in an interview with WFAN (partial transcript provided by the Tampa Bay Times' Marc Topkin). "We can; I don't know if we'll have any team around him other than him and (Evan) Longoria."
  • In the same interview, Sternberg said he expects the Rays' next TV contract to be "big relative to the size of our attendance" but "mid-sized market" compared to other teams.  
  • The Red Sox prefer to give Shane Victorino some time to work out his back issues rather than trying to bring Jackie Bradley back too soon, tweets the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo. Victorino underwent an MRI yesterday, which revealed inflammation in his lower back. Bradley, meanwhile, is 7-for-31 with 10 strikeouts and five walks since being optioned to Triple-A.

Jays Already Considering Reyes Replacements

SATURDAY: Toronto may have to wait a week to learn the full extent of Reyes's injury, but may look to add depth up the middle in the meantime, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com. According to Rosenthal, the Jays have recalled Kawasaki to take Reyes's spot on the active roster, but could still look to acquire a player like the recently designated Cody Ransom or the Diamondbacks' Josh Wilson. (Links via Twitter.)

Other trade targets could include Mike Aviles, John McDonald, Yuniesky Betancourt, Jonathan Herrera, Ramiro Pena, Cesar Izturis, or even Dee Gordon, writes Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star. ESPN.com's Buster Olney offers (on Insider) that McDonald may make sense, since he occupies a limited role with a Pirates club that has other options.

FRIDAY: With Jose Reyes' health in question following a left ankle spain, Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos told reporters (including Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star) that he had already talked to other general managers about possible deals to fill the void if the star shortstop is out for an extended period of time.  Anthopoulos said Reyes' "best case scenario" is a one-month stint on the DL while the worst case scenario would be a three-month injury layoff, though the shortstop will undergo an MRI tomorrow to determine the extent of the damage.

Reyes suffered the nasty-looking ankle injury while sliding into second base in the sixth inning of the Jays' 8-4 win over the Royals on Friday night and had to be carted off the field.  He entered the game hitting .412/.487/.559 in nine games and added another hit and two RBIs against Kansas City. 

This is the biggest blow yet to a Toronto club that has struggled early in the season amidst high preseason expectations.  The Jays are already thin in the infield with Brett Lawrie on the DL and, as a scout told CBS Sports' Danny Knobler, Reyes is the player they could least afford to lose given their lack of depth at shortstop.  For now the Jays will use some combination of Mark DeRosa, Emilio Bonifacio and Maicer Izturis at third, short and second  The team's Triple-A infield options with Major League experience include the likes of Andy LaRoche, Munenori Kawasaki, Eugenio Velez, Mike McCoy and Mauro Gomez.

Jeff Todd contributed to this post.


NL East Notes: Santana, Marlins, Phillies

The Nationals won the NL East in 2012, displacing the Phillies atop the division after Philadelphia's five-year run. As impressive as the Phillies' streak of consecutive division titles was, it doesn't compare to the Braves' record of 14 in a row. Here’s the latest from the NL East as the Nationals look to prolong their stay atop the division instead of becoming a one-and-done winner like the 2006 Mets

  • The Mets' relationship with Johan Santana is deteriorating and some liken the situation to the relationship between the Mets and one of their former stars. “This is Carlos Beltran all over again,” one longtime Mets official told Andy Martino of the New York Daily News.
  • Jose Reyes said he has "unbelievable memories" from his one year in Miami, Newsday’s David Lennon reports (on Twitter). But the Blue Jays’ leadoff hitter and shortstop doesn’t seem to mind that he’s now playing elsewhere. "I know I don't want to play for the Marlins no more," he said.
  • GM Ruben Amaro Jr. told Todd Zolecki of MLB.com that the bullpen could be a team strength for the Phillies after some offseason changes. "We've got to hope that we're better. We designed our bullpen to be better this year, and hopefully it will be," Amaro said. The Phillies signed Mike Adams to a two-year deal to improve their setup relief options.