Marcus Stroman 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.”

Heyman’s Latest: Jays, Goldschmidt, Teheran, Chen, Epstein, Gordon, Gray

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports kicks off his weekly Inside Baseball column by chronicling the efforts of Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos leading up to the non-waiver trade deadline. Perhaps most interesting are some of the items about trades the Jays elected not to make. As Heyman notes, the Reds asked for right-hander Marcus Stroman in exchange for Johnny Cueto, but Stroman was a deal-breaker in all trade talks with Toronto. Dating back to the offseason, the Blue Jays considered signing Craig Breslow, Joba Chamberlain, John Axford and Rafael Soriano, as well as some larger names, including David Robertson, whom they considered “closely.” (Toronto never made a firm offer to Robertson, though, Heyman writes.) The Blue Jays’ willingness to include Daniel Norris in a trade for David Price effectively shut every other team out of the market, per Heyman, as others weren’t willing to discuss their absolute top prospects. The Yankees, for instance, wouldn’t part with Luis Severino, while the Dodgers steadfastly refused to part with Corey Seager or Julio Urias.

More highlights from the article (which is worth checking out in its entirety, as there’s far more than can be recapped here with any form of brevity)…

  • Paul Goldschmidt is under team control through 2019, but the D-Backs will attempt to extend him further this offseason, per GM Dave Stewart. “We want to make him a lifetime Diamondback,” Stewart told Heyman. I imagine the price tag there will be extraordinary, as Goldschmidt has gone from rising talent to unequivocal superstardom since signing his initial extension with Arizona. Heyman also reports that the D-Backs will take a shot at extending the arbitration-eligible A.J. Pollock. While not a household name, Pollock probably earns my personal vote as the most underrated player in baseball.
  • The Braves have been making an effort to shed contracts that reach beyond the 2016 season, and Heyman writes to “look for them to take offers on Julio Teheran” this offseason. Clearly, Atlanta would be selling low on a talented arm that comes with a very reasonable contract. Teheran signed a six-year, $32.4MM extension prior to the 2014 season, but he’s logged a 4.57 ERA due in part to diminished control in 2015.
  • The Orioles will make left-hander Wei-Yin Chen a qualifying offer this winter, Heyman reports. Chen might not seem like a prototypical QO candidate, but he’s a lock to turn it down, in my mind, coming off a very nice season at age 30. He should draw pretty significant interest this winter, as MLBTR’s Jeff Todd recently noted in examining Chen’s free agent stock.
  • Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein is up for an extension at an excellent time, as the Cubs’ rebuild looks to be paying tremendous dividends. Epstein has been earning about $4MM per year with the Cubs, but Heyman hears from some in the industry that the expectation is for Epstein to top Andrew Friedman’s reported $7MM annual salary with the Dodgers if and when he signs a new deal.
  • Despite a poor season for the Reds, there’s a sense among some that they may keep manager Bryan Price. The second-year Reds skipper has had to deal with the losses of Devin Mesoraco, Zack Cozart and Homer Bailey, among many injuries to others in 2015.
  • There’s been some buzz about the Tigers trimming payroll, but Heyman spoke to multiple sources close to the situation who say that talk might be overstated. One spoke specifically about the Ilitch family’s continued commitment to winning. Heyman speculatively mentions Justin Upton as a player that has previously piqued Detroit’s interest. He also lists the White Sox as a team that may show interest in Upton.
  • The Royals are serious about trying to make Alex Gordon a lifetime member of the organization. It’ll be tough for Kansas City to do so if he’s seeking something in the vicinity of Shin-Soo Choo money ($130MM), but the increased revenue they’re receiving from the Kansas City baseball renaissance could allow them to spend more than they would’ve in previous seasons.
  • The Dodgers have interest in Johnny Cueto as a free agent, and adding a right-handed arm does intrigue them. Clayton Kershaw, Hyun-jin Ryu and Julio Urias (expected to eventually join the L.A. rotation) are all left-handed, as is fellow offseason target David Price, whom Heyman terms a “more obvious target” for Friedman & Co.
  • The Brewers are serious about trying to emphasize analytics with a new GM hire, as the Attanasio family (the team’s owners) are big believers in the growing statistical trend. Mark Attanasio’s son, a former basketball player, is an MIT grad with a strong foundation in basketball analytics. John Coppolella, Thad Levine, David Forst, Mike Hazen, Billy Eppler, Michael Girsch and Jerry Dipoto are among the names that Heyman feels could be fits in Milwaukee’s GM seat.
  • “Not happening. Not even slightly,” was the response from Athletics general manager Billy Beane when asked by Heyman about the possibility of trading Sonny Gray this winter. That’s a pretty emphatic denial, and while some will recall similar comments made about Josh Donaldson last October, those came from an anonymous executive as opposed to an on-record denial from Oakland’s top decision-maker.

Anthopoulos: Stroman Could Return In September

The Blue Jays’ deadline pickups of David Price, Troy Tulowitzki, Ben Revere, LaTroy Hawkins and Mark Lowe have provided a jolt to an already-strong roster, but there could be one more major addition on the way, as GM Alex Anthopoulos said on TSN 1040 radio in Vancouver today that there’s a possibility that Marcus Stroman could return to the rotation in September (audio link, with Stroman comments beginning near 11:50 mark).

“Right now, he’ll be stretched out to start,” said Anthpoulos. “We’ll see how many innings we can get out of him assuming no setbacks. Minor league season’s over on the seventh of September, and we’ll see how much he’s built up by then, and hopefully no setbacks at all. I know there’s been talk about reliever/starter. If he’s totally healthy, our plan is to bring him back as a starter.”

Clearly, that’s a very quick recovery from a serious injury — Stroman tore his ACL in Spring Training — but Stroman tweeted yesterday that Dr. James Andrews was “stunned” by the progress in his recovery, adding that he’s “shattering” his projected timetable to return. Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweeted earlier today that Stroman told him that he felt “unbelievable” during a mound session today.

Anthopoulos stressed that Stroman’s career comes first, and if there are any setbacks, the team will shut him down for the season. However, given the nature of expanded rosters in September, the team could continue to stretch out Stroman to get to the point where he could make a start and be backed by a larger-than-usual bullpen. “Is he up to four innings at that time? Five innings? Three innings?” Anthopoulos asked rhetorically when explaining that the specific plan is dependent on Stoman’s progress. “If he looks like the Marcus from a year ago, and his stuff’s good, his command is good, everything looks good … If he’s close, if he’s a 70-pitch outing or 80, he could make a start at the big league level.”

Anthopoulos does not specify whether or not Stroman would be an option for the Blue Jays in a theoretical playoff run, though one would imagine that if he’s healthy and looks to be one of the team’s best options, that could be in the cards.

The Blue Jays’ rotation has improved since the beginning of the season due not only to the addition of Price, but also to the brilliant work of Marco Estrada since transitioning from the bullpen and the dramatically improved performances of R.A. Dickey and Mark Buehrle in the summer months. Adding Stroman to the mix would not only deepen the unit down the stretch, but would introduce an interesting new element to the club’s hypothetical postseason staff.



Market Impact Of Tulo Deal: Reyes, CarGo, Mets, Blue Jays

With Troy Tulowitzki reportedly heading from the Rockies to the Blue Jays, it’s a different trade market today than it was yesterday. Toronto declared itself committed to the present in spending several important trade chips on the star shortstop. Meanwhile, the Rockies now have another expensive veteran shortstop that features as a trade candidate in Jose Reyes. Though we’ve yet to hear anything regarding Colorado’s intentions with regard to Reyes, early indications are that the club is motivated to deal outfielder Carlos Gonzalez.

Here are some potential areas of impact of the blockbuster:

  • The Rockies did not add Reyes with a deal already in place to move him elsewhere, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reported overnight on Twitter (as we noted in the Tulo deal post). While another move makes sense at first glance — Colorado is not in contention, and could turn to prospect Trevor Story and/or utilityman Daniel Descalso — it’s far from a sure thing. As I explained in assessing the trade market for shortstops, despite the relative lack of quality veterans available via trade, it’s also not clear that there’s much demand at the position.
  • The Mets are uninterested in bringing back Reyes, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets. New York still has a potential need up the middle, but the veteran has not shown enough for the club to be amenable to taking on his big contract. In fact, the Mets declined a chance to land Reyes already, as the Blue Jays were widely shopping his deal, per Andy Martino of the New York Daily News.
  • Neither do the Mets intend to pursue Gonzalez, Marc Carig of Newsday hears (Twitter link). Though New York appears still to be in the market for outfield bats, the team may not be willing to consider that level of salary commitment.
  • While the Blue Jays have sufficient lineup depth to move a major league bat for pitching, tweets Buster Olney of ESPN.com, the club does not have any plans to do so this summer. That had seemed at least one plausible path to improving the club’s rotation over the next few days. It remains to be seen how the loss of three talented pitching prospects in the Tulo deal will impact Toronto’s efforts to build out its staff. Certainly, the Jays have now evidenced a willingness to give up future assets to improve their team in the near term, but it’s unclear as yet whether they’ll be more or less inclined to do more of the same in chasing arms.
  • In a tweet this morning, Blue Jays righty Marcus Stroman indicated that he’s still focused on trying to work back by September. That may be somewhat optimistic, but it is worth remembering that he’s working back from a knee injury rather than arm problems (though Toronto will want to prevent the latter from developing out of the former). A hypothetical return from Stroman is still probably too much of a wild card to have an impact on Toronto’s current plans, but adding him back to the rotation would obviously represent a major boost at no cost.

NL Rumors: Bruce, Mets, Cueto, Padres

The Reds already made one big move today, could another be around the corner?  The Mets are heavily scouting outfielder Jay Bruce, according to Anthony DiComo of MLB.com (on Twitter).  Recently, Jayson Stark of ESPN.com heard that the Reds are giving the impression that they are looking to “save money” wherever possible, and that could be an indication that Bruce is very much available.

Here’s more from the National League..

  • The Blue Jays‘ talks with the Reds concerning Johnny Cueto never gained traction, according to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet (on Twitter).  Davidi hears that the Reds were asking for a package headlined by Marcus Stroman.  Cueto, of course, went from the Reds to the Royals on Sunday afternoon.
  • “Industry perception” is that there is some pressure on the Padres to move out future payroll as the deadline approaches, Buster Olney of ESPN.com tweets.  On Sunday morning, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported that Tyson Ross was drawing the most interest of any of the Padres’ starting pitchers.  Of course, when it comes to finances, the Padres would surely prefer to move the contract of James Shields.
  • The Marlins should get a better indication what they can get for Mat Latos after learning the details of the Johnny Cueto deal, Joe Frisaro of MLB.com tweets.

AL East Notes: Bogaerts, Porcello, Stroman, Hoffman, O’s

As Alex Speier of the Boston Globe writes, agent Scott Boras recently addressed the progress of client Xander Bogaerts, who struggled in his first full big league season but enters the 2015 All-Star break hitting .304/.338/.411. As Speier notes, Bogaerts is currently on pace to hit free agency entering his age-27 season — a rare occurrence for any player. Boras noted that rarity, making sure to point out that fellow client Bryce Harper will have an early taste of free agency, but denied that he discourages his clients from signing long-term deals before free agency. Boras maintains that he’s “absolutely” open to long-term deals for clients. Said Boras: “With our clients, we give them a lot of information. I always tell teams, I don’t know of any players we have that haven’t signed a deal that they felt was a value deal for them.” For his part, Bogaerts said that he loves playing in Boston and hopes to remain there, although clearly he’s quite a ways from having to face the possibility of playing elsewhere.

More from the AL East…

  • Rick Porcello spoke with WEEI.com’s John Tomase about his disastrous first half and the importance of trying to take away some positives from the season’s first few months. Porcello, who will spend the All-Star break decompressing at his family’s home in southern Vermont, maintained that he was not feeling the pressures that can come along with signing a large contract. “They brought me over here because of what I’ve done and who I am,” said Porcello. “That’s the most important thing. There’s no added pressure on myself. I am who I am. I can’t try and be somebody else or do something I’m not capable of doing. So that hasn’t factored into it at all.”
  • The Blue Jays are “regularly being asked for Marcus Stroman” as a return in trades for pitching, reports Shi Davidi of Sportsnet. Despite the fact that Stroman won’t contribute to the team in 2015 after tearing his ACL this spring, the Blue Jays won’t be trading him, Davidi writes. Looking at the trade history of GM Alex Anthopoulos, Davidi notes that it’s probably more likely to see the Blue Jays acquire someone with some team control remaining. He lists the Padres as a speculative trade partner, noting that both Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross would fit that mold. Acquiring a starter or two would allow the Blue Jays to transfer Aaron Sanchez to the bullpen to help fix the team’s relief woes, though trade possibilities exist there, too. Jonathan Papelbon said at yesterday’s All-Star festivities that he considered the Jays a “good fit” and would waive his no-trade clause to go there.
  • As Alykhan K. Ravjiani of Postmedia first tweeted, the Blue Jays have promoted top prospect Jeff Hoffman to Double-A. Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet notes that the promotion comes at a time when the Jays are on the hunt for pitching, and Hoffman is likely to be asked about frequently, perhaps along with prospects Daniel Norris and Matt Boyd. Hoffman was a candidate to be selected first overall in the 2014 draft but fell to the Blue Jays with the ninth pick after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Now healthy, Hoffman has a 3.21 ERA through his first 11 starts with Class-A Advanced, where he’s averaged 6.1 walks against 2.4 walks per nine innings.
  • Though man Orioles fans believe the team’s diminished run production to be a reason for the club’s struggles, MASNsports.com’s Steve Melewski opines that questionable starting pitching is the greater culprit. While the decisions to let Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis leave via free agency has had a negative impact on the offense, poor performances from Chris Tillman, Bud Norris and more recently, Miguel Gonzalez, have left Baltimore with a 4.20 ERA from its rotation.

Blue Jays Expect To Be Active On Pitching Market

Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos indicated that he’s working hard to add pitching this summer in an appearance on Sportsnet 590 The FAN (article via Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith). And he left little doubt that he sees the club as a buyer.

“We still need to make upgrades in the rotation and the bullpen, that goes without saying,” said the Jays GM. “I’d love to land both. What we come away with or don’t come away with, I have no idea. Clearly we’re looking to be active. We’re looking to add and make the club a lot better.”

As Nicholson-Smith explains, there is at least some hope of an internal boost as well. Just-promoted rookie Matt Boyd is interesting enough to get a showcase, and the club expects to welcome Aaron Sanchez back from the DL in the near future. While Toronto anticipates that Sanchez will start, Anthopoulos says his role will depend upon the state of the rotation. And there’s even some possibility — albeit, perhaps, fairly remote — that Marcus Stroman could attempt a late-season return, though the team will surely err well on the side of caution with the prized righty.

Interestingly, Anthopoulos also discussed his broader strategy on the market, citing legendary investor Warren Buffett in saying: “It’s better to buy a wonderful company at a fair price than a fair company at a wonderful price.” As Nicholson-Smith notes, value-based dealing was something of a hallmark of the GM’s earlier years, but it seems that his outlook has evolved somewhat.

One undoubtedly high-quality and high-value asset that the Blue Jays possess is the contractual control over third baseman Josh Donaldson, who can be retained via arbitration through the 2018 season. That makes an extension more a future consideration, per Anthopoulos. “There’s no sense of  urgency since we still have him for a very long time,” he explained.


Blue Jays Release Juan Oramas

TUESDAY: Toronto has released Oramas, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca tweets. The club says it did so to allow him to pitch in Mexico, Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star tweets.

SUNDAY: The Blue Jays have announced they have designated left-hander Juan Oramas. Toronto also placed Marcus Stroman on the 60-day disabled list, which creates the needed roster spots for second baseman Devon Travis and right-handers Miguel Castro and Roberto Osuna.

Oramas only got 1 1/3 spring innings to show his stuff to the Jays after being claimed over the winter. The 24-year-old owns a 4.32 ERA over 204 career Triple-A innings, averaging 8.2 K/9 against 4.0 BB/9. He has yet to crack the big leagues.


AL East Notes: Cash, Closers, Jaso

The Rays are considered leaders in analytics, so perhaps it’s no coincidence they hired former catcher Kevin Cash, writes Michael Kolligian of MLB.com. Former catchers account for 12 of the last 19 World Series winning managers. Joe Torre is responsible for four of those victories. While there are a number of confounding variables, former catchers are always popular managerial candidates. Here’s more from the AL East.

  • While most teams are quick to name a closer, the Yankees are taking a wait-and-see approach, writes Andrew Simon of MLB.com. New York has two excellent but unproven options in right-hander Dellin Betances and southpaw Andrew Miller. Selecting a closer could come down to bullpen composition, said manager Joe Girardi. “I think it’s affected by possibly losing someone out of your bullpen to a starting role. That changes things. So we’ve got to figure that out first, then we put the rest of it together.” To me, this means that Miller is more likely to close if Adam Warren earns a gig in the rotation. Betances provided great value in multi-inning appearances last season. If Warren returns to the pen, the Yankees may prefer Miller to be available for tough left-handed hitters.
  • The trickle down effect from Marcus Stroman‘s season-ending injury could cause the Blue Jays to roster a third left-handed reliever, writes Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com. With Stroman out, prospect Aaron Sanchez is likely to make the rotation with lefty Brett Cecil filling in as the closer. Southpaw Aaron Loup is also expected to make the roster. Jeff Francis and Colt Hynes are internal options for the third lefty role. Externally, Cardinals reliever Sam Freeman and Nationals pitcher Xavier Cedeno were connected to the Mets earlier this evening.
  • John Jaso suffered two concussions in the last two seasons that have put his career in jeopardy, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Presently, Jaso feels fine, but he’s unsure if he can catch. Per Jaso, “if they were to say, ‘Here, catch tomorrow,’ I don’t know. That’s the scary part. Like I don’t know if I could take one, take 40 foul tips, what it would be…What I do know is that the longer I have between episodes, the stronger I’ll be. It’s letting the brain heal all the way again. You might think it’s gone, you might think you are all right, but it’s still there.

Blue Jays Notes: Stroman, Estrada, Bullpen

The devastating loss of Marcus Stroman for the season greatly increases the likelihood that top prospect Aaron Sanchez will be in the Blue Jays’ rotation rather than bullpen, as many had assumed, writes MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm. Sanchez, Daniel Norris and Marco Estrada will compete for the final two rotation spots behind R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle and Drew Hutchison. Chisolm notes that if Sanchez does end up in the rotation, an already thin bullpen becomes even thinner, as Brett Cecil becomes the likely closer, with Aaron Loup the top setup option. Behind that duo, Estrada could relieve if he doesn’t win a starting role, and the club can also look to Steve Delabar, Wilton Lopez, Todd Redmond, Kyle Drabek, Jeff Francis and prospect Miguel Castro. One thing no one should expect, Chisolm writes, is a significant trade. GM Alex Anthopoulos all but ruled that out, stating to reporters: “Those guys aren’t normally available in March, actually there might be one but I don’t know that we can afford that right now.” Presumably, Anthopoulos was referring to Cole Hamels.

Here are some more Blue Jays items as they plan for a season without their projected top starter…

  • Writing for FOX Sports, Fangraphs’ Dave Cameron opines that the Jays should give Estrada the first crack at the vacant rotation spot. Cameron notes that while Estrada was undeniably ineffective in 2014, he was a useful rotation piece in 2012-13, getting by with a skill-set similar to that of Jered Weaver; that is to say, he succeeded despite below-average velocity as a result of his ability to command the zone and induce a tremendous amount of infield flies. One shouldn’t expect Estrada to morph into Weaver, of course, but Cameron concludes that Estrada could be useful enough in the first half for the Blue Jays to see if the rest of their team lives up to its potential, and at that point, go rent an ace for the stretch run. Using Estrada in the rotation would also allow Sanchez to pitch at the back of the bullpen, giving the team a bit more relief depth.
  • Castro and fellow right-hander Roberto Osuna, both 20, have a chance at cracking the team’s bullpen, writes Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet. While each is considered a long shot, the duo has impressed Blue Jays management with their power arms and advanced feel, particularly Castro. “If he’s really, really good this spring, there’s an outside shot he could be on the team simply because he’s advanced,” said manager John Gibbons, who noted that Castro is impressive not only due to power stuff but because he can throw strikes. Gibbons also touched on the fact that while there wasn’t necessarily a philosophical change in the organization last year, they acted more aggressively with young arms like Sanchez and Norris and could do so again to help fill out the bullpen.
  • Since publishing that article yesterday, Nicholson-Smith has tweeted that Castro’s odds to make the club seem to be getting better with every passing day. It likely helps that Castro fired two scoreless innings today, yielding one hit and no walks with two strikeouts.