Jose Reyes Rumors

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.

Blue Jays Notes: Reyes, Lyon, Happ

Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos introduced Jose Reyes in Toronto yesterday, explaining that players of Reyes’ caliber are difficult to find. “He’s electric,” Anthopoulos said. “High energy, smile on his face, just so many things. This is a rare guy to find. Leadoff, shortstop, energy, makeup — check off every single box.” Here are some more notes on the Blue Jays with Spring Training just a month away…

  • Before the Blue Jays acquired Reyes, they had been “really close” to another trade that would have had a similar impact on their 2013 payroll, Anthopoulos said. They discussed the deal toward the end of October, when option decisions were due.
  • The Blue Jays continue to seek a 25th man to round out their roster. Anthopoulos said last week that the Blue Jays would like to add a right-handed bench player capable of playing multiple infield positions. That said, the Blue Jays could add such a player in Spring Training.
  • Don’t expect another deal in the near future. “We’re not having any dialogue at all with respect to trades,” Anthopoulos said.
  • The Blue Jays could add a player or two on minor league deals and under the right circumstances they could add a player to the 40-man roster.
  • Anthopoulos hopes the rotation provides enough innings that the team doesn’t need to seriously consider an eight-man bullpen. The Blue Jays have a pretty full bullpen, so it doesn’t appear as though free agent right-hander Brandon Lyon will return. “I don’t want to ever close the door on him, since he did a great job for us,” Anthopoulos said.
  • The GM stressed the importance of starting pitching depth and explained that players such as Justin Germano, Brad Lincoln and J.A. Happ provide the club with options.
  • The Blue Jays are a ‘file and trial’ team meaning if they exchange filing numbers with players they go to a hearing. Anthopoulos said he’s “hopeful” and “optimistic” that the Blue Jays could reach deals with their three remaining eligible players by today’s deadline. Emilio Bonifacio, Happ and Josh Thole are Toronto’s eligible players, as MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker shows. Assistant GM Jay Sartori is leading the way for the Blue Jays as they negotiate with their players.
  • Though the Blue Jays look like an improved team, Anthopoulos cautioned that many of their American League rivals have also added significant pieces. “You can’t take anything for granted,” he said. “We haven’t even played a game yet. We still have to win a game, and we have to win a lot more than one. The whole division is outstanding.”

Anthopoulos, Reyes Talk 2013 Blue Jays

The Blue Jays didn’t set out to trade for Jose Reyes this winter. Instead, they targeted rotation upgrades to recover from a disappointing 89-loss season. Meanwhile, Reyes expected to remain with the Marlins, even after hype gave way to hopelessness in Miami toward the end of the 2012 campaign. Now, as Spring Training approaches, Reyes is officially Toronto's shortstop and there’s an expectation from both sides that the 2013 season will live up to high preseason expectations.

Jose Reyes - Marlins II (PW)

The Blue Jays look at Reyes as a dynamic shortstop who can help them reach the postseason for the first time in 20 years. His skillset rarely becomes available in the view of general manager Alex Anthopoulos.

“I don’t know that we’re going to see another shortstop like this in Toronto for a long time,” the GM said at Reyes’ introductory press conference at Toronto’s Rogers Centre this afternoon. “I don’t know that we could ever think we’re going to draft someone like this or sign someone like this out of Latin America. This is one of the great players to play the game.”

Reyes sounds equally optimistic about his new team. He thought he'd be staying in Miami despite a 69-93 season that cost manager Ozzie Guillen his job. So earlier in the offseason when he and his wife were vacationing he wasn’t expecting to pick up his phone and learn he’d been traded.

“It surprised me a little bit,” Reyes said, “but after that I said ‘you know what, with what the Blue Jays have it’s all about winning and on the field it’s going to be good,' so I can’t wait.”

Judging by Anthopoulos’ comments, the Blue Jays are also eager to get started. The GM described himself as a longtime admirer of Reyes, citing the 29-year-old's energy and multi-faceted game as reasons for his interest. Plus, Reyes provides Toronto with a traditional leadoff hitter, something that Anthopoulos suggested is becoming increasingly rare in today’s game. It's clear that the GM believes there's a lot to like about Reyes.

“He’s probably one of my favorite players in the league to watch,” Anthopoulos said. “He’s the type of guy you want to watch play. He’s electric. High energy, smile on his face, just so many things. This is a rare guy to find. Leadoff, shortstop, energy, makeup — check off every single box.”

Last offseason, when Reyes hit free agency, the Blue Jays weren’t involved in the bidding for the client of the Legacy Agency. At the time they believed that they had ample shortstop depth in Yunel Escobar and Adeiny Hechavarria. One year later, Anthopoulos was prepared to trade both Cuban shortstops to Miami in the blockbuster trade that brought Reyes to Toronto. 

“We felt we were pretty deep at shortstop, but we’ve never seen a guy like this,” Anthopoulos said of Reyes. “It’s a rare opportunity to get a player like this and we wanted to make sure we were able to get it done.”

Interestingly, Reyes wasn’t the one the Blue Jays initially targeted. Anthopoulos started talks with the Marlins by asking about Josh Johnson, following up on an inquiry he’d made during the summer of 2012. Talks progressed from there and Toronto ultimately landed Reyes and the remainder of his six-year, $106MM contract. The Marlins faced considerable criticism for moving the contracts of Reyes, Johnson and Mark Buehrle, among others. Yet their former shortstop says trades are part of the game, even when they occur one year into a long-term commitment. Few players get to spend their entire career with one team.

“You have to understand that doesn’t happen sometimes, because this is a business,” Reyes said. “As a player we need to understand that.”

After last year, Reyes understands more than just the business side of baseball. He has seen firsthand that preseason excitement doesn’t necessarily translate into wins on the field. Like this year’s Blue Jays club, last year’s Marlins were tabbed by many as a breakout team. The Marlins never emerged as a postseason threat, and Reyes says he learned from the experience.

“No matter what people say — a lot of people said ‘they’re going to win it all’ — it’s not about what people say.” Reyes said. “I don’t think that’s going to happen here.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Blue Jays, Marlins Complete Blockbuster Trade

Commissioner Bud Selig has approved the blockbuster trade that the Blue Jays and Marlins agreed to last week.  The Blue Jays announced the 12-player trade, which sends Jose ReyesJosh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, John Buck, Emilio Bonifacio and cash considerations to Toronto for Yunel Escobar, Adeiny Hechavarria, Henderson Alvarez, Jeff Mathis, Justin Nicolino, Anthony Desclafani and Jake Marisnick.

The deal, which calls for the Marlins to send the Blue Jays $4MM, required the approval of the commissioner's office.  The Blue Jays are taking on tens of millions in future payroll obligations, while the Marlins are moving the contracts of Reyes and Buehrle less than one full year after signing them as free agents.

Ultimately the deal "represents the exercise of plausible baseball judgment on the part of both clubs," Selig said in a statement approving the trade.

Reyes, 29, hit .287/.347/.433 with eleven home runs in 716 plate appearances last season.  The batting line wasn't quite as impressive as the .337/.384/.493 he put up in his contract year with New York, but it was promising to see the shortstop appear in 160 games after missing 191 games across the previous three seasons.  Despite the club's disappointing performance last season, Reyes said over the summer that he didn't have any regrets about signing with Miami.  

Buehrle's deal, like Reyes', is heavily backloaded with the hurler set to earn $11MM in 2013, $18MM in 2014, and $19MM in 2015 after making just $6MM in 2012.  The contract also includes a $4MM signing bonus that's deferred without interest.  While considering a number of offers, Buehrle was said to be prioritizing a no-trade clause, something he didn't end up receiving from the Marlins.  The veteran had a 3.74 ERA with 5.6 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 in 31 starts for Miami last season.  

Bonifacio played just 64 games in an injury-riddled 2011 campaign.  The 27-year-old can fill a number of different roles, having experience at all three outfield positions, second base, shortstop, and third base.  Buck, 32, earned his first All-Star selection in 2010 as a member of the Blue Jays.  His offensive production regressed in the two years since, posting a .213/.308/.358 batting line for the Marlins.

While the Marlins gave up a substantial amount of talent in the trade, they won't be coming away empty handed.  Hechavarria was a highly-regarded prospect in the Blue Jays' organization and his play reportedly had Toronto executives ready to part with Escobar in the right trade.  Of course, this megadeal sends both shortstops out of town.

Escobar struggled at the plate last season, hitting .253/.300/.344 with nine homers in 608 plate appearances.  The infielder does come with a team-friendly contract, however, as he'll earn $5MM in 2013 with team options for the same amount in '14 and '15.  For his career, the 30-year-old has a .282/.353/.390 batting line in six seasons with the Braves and Blue Jays.  Mathis, 29, came to the Blue Jays last season in a trade for Brad Mills that helped ease the Angels' catching glut.  The veteran will earn $3MM across the next two seasons with a club option for 2015 worth $1.5MM.

The Marlins also picked up a quartet of quality youngsters in the trade.  Alvarez, 22, made 31 starts for the Blue Jays last season with a 4.85 ERA and 3.8 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9.  Nicolino, taken in the second-round of the 2010 draft, has received high praise for his aggressive pitching and willingness to pound the strike zone.  The Florida native cruised through Single-A ball last year, posting a 2.46 ERA with 8.6 K/9 and 1.5 BB/9.

Marisnick, 21, was rated as the No. 67 prospect in the country and the No. 3 prospect in the Blue Jays' organization after the 2011 season by Baseball America.  The publication also considered the former third-round pick to have the best defensive skillset and arm of any outfielder in the Toronto farm system.  DeSclafani, taken in the sixth-round of the 2011 draft, posted a 3.37 ERA with 6.7 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 in his debut season for Single-A Lansing.

MLBTR's Zach Links contributed to this post.