The Blue Jays’ reported minor league contract with outfielder Ryan Kalish has fallen through, according to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet. Kalish will once again be a free agent and is free to sign with any club. Davidi adds that it’s unclear why the deal came unglued, but Kalish was likely headed to Triple-A to serve as depth anyhow, so the move won’t have much of an impact on the big league roster.
A couple more Blue Jays notes as the weekend approaches…
- The market for John Axford is picking up, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, and the Blue Jays are one of four clubs believed to be pursuing the former Brewers closer. Axford, 32 in April, is an Ontario native, though it’s unclear if that gives Toronto any sort of edge in their pursuit. The mustachioed flamethrower began last season with the Indians but struggled with his control and eventually gave way to the talented Cody Allen. The Pirates claimed Axford in August, and he showed improved control in an 11-inning sample there. All told, he pitched to a 3.95 ERA with 10.4 K/9, 5.9 BB/9 and a 53.6 percent ground-ball rate in 54 2/3 innings between the two clubs. Toronto has been eyeing relief help for quite some time, though they’re believed to be working with a limited budget at this stage of the offseason.
- MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm looks at the Blue Jays players that are out of minor league options and assesses which are at the greatest risk heading into Spring Training. Danny Valencia and Justin Smoak have nothing to worry about, he writes, and righty Todd Redmond should be back as a long man out of the bullpen. However, left-hander Scott Barnes has two lefties to compete with in Aaron Loup and Brett Cecil, while Steve Tolleson is behind Valencia, Maicer Izturis and Ryan Goins on the depth chart. That pair, along with righty Liam Hendriks, Chisholm believes, could end up exposed to waivers. One of the more interesting names is Kyle Drabek, as the former top prospect’s only chance at making the club looks to be as a reliever.
- Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith runs down some of the recent rumors pertaining to the Blue Jays and wonders if the club’s interest in Ichiro Suzuki may have been overstated. As Nicholson-Smith notes, the Blue Jays make calls on a vast array of free agents, but they typically do their best to keep it under wraps when they’re on the verge of making a move. Also, with only about $5-7MM left to spend and limited playing time in the outfield behind Michael Saunders, Dalton Pompey and Jose Bautista, he feels there are multiple reasons to doubt that Toronto is the best fit for Ichiro. Even if he were to take a pay cut, adding Ichiro and a relief arm under the remaining budget could be difficult.