Toronto Blue Jays Rumors

Toronto Blue Jays trade and free agent rumors from MLBTradeRumors.com.

AL West Notes: Moss/Donaldson Trades, Joba, Johnson, Angels, Castro

Looking to get some more insight into the trade that sent Brandon Moss from Oakland to Cleveland, Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer spoke with Athletics assistant GM David Forst and manager Bob Melvin about the swap (Oakland received second base prospect Joe Wendle in exchange). Though Wendle has never ranked as a Top 100 prospect according to outlets such as Baseball America, ESPN, etc., Forst said that the A’s don’t concern themselves with prospect rankings. Rather, the A’s have been enamored with Wendle for more than a year and tried to trade for him in the past. “He is a high-contact hitter. He plays good defense. He has an outstanding makeup. We like him,” Forst explained. Melvin explained that the A’s very much like Moss, but were hoping to get a bit younger. Candidly, the Forst told Pluto that the A’s feel Ike Davis can replace Moss’ bat at a cheaper price.

A bit more from Pluto’s interview and the rest of the AL West…

  • Forst told Pluto that the Athletics never discussed Josh Donaldson with the Indians. Oakland targeted a few select teams, and the Blue Jays were at the top of their list of potential trade candidates, he added. Meanwhile, Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star chimed in on that same trade (via Twitter), noting that Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos said that his initial hope was to acquire Donaldson and move Brett Lawrie to second base, but it eventually became clear that Lawrie had to be included in the return to obtain Donaldson.
  • The Rangers offered Joba Chamberlain more than the $1MM base salary he received on his new deal with the Tigers, but Chamberlain elected to return to Detroit, tweets Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. Earlier this morning, GM Dave Dombrowski told reporters that Chamberlain had received more lucrative offers elsewhere but “really wanted” to be a Tiger again.
  • Also from Heyman (on Twitter), infielder Elliot Johnson will receive a $900K base salary if he makes the Rangers‘ big league roster. Johnson signed a minor league deal with a Spring Training invite yesterday, the team announced.
  • Drew Butera‘s Major League experience and the fact that he’s out of options make him the favorite to win the Angels‘ backup catcher job, writes Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. However, Fletcher does quote manager Mike Scioscia, who says he’s also been impressed by candidates Carlos Perez and Jett Bandy“All of these guys have shown on the defensive side they are ready for the challenge,” said Scioscia.
  • Astros catcher Jason Castro recently spoke to Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle about the feeling of seeing his name floated in trade rumors for much of the offseason. “I think if you focus too much on it, you kind of drive yourself crazy,” said Castro, who called trade rumors “part of the offseason.” The White Sox and Rangers were among the teams with interest in Castro, per Drellich. Castro’s spot with the Astros became secure again once the team dealt Carlos Corporan to the Rangers. Castro and Hank Conger will see the bulk of the time behind the plate for Houston.

Dioner Navarro Still Hopes To Be Traded

FEB. 24: Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos met with the media today and said he’d only consider trading Navarro into an everyday role, via Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi (Twitter link). Anthopoulos said he would consider deals that help the team now or down the line, as long as there’s good value in the return.

ESPN’s Jayson Stark adds that Anthopoulos would also consider in-season trades if nothing materializes in Spring Training (Twitter link).

FEB. 23: Earlier this offseason, Dioner Navarro reportedly expressed interest in a trade after watching his team sign Russell Martin to a five-year deal. Several months later as Spring Training gets underway, Navarro tells reporters, including Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi (Twitter link) that he still would like be moved, but he’s ready to help the Blue Jays in 2015 if that doesn’t happen. Via MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm (All Twitter links), here’s what Navarro had to say on the matter:

“I asked for a trade right away, and up to today that’s still my goal. I would like to go a place where I can play everyday. I signed a two-year deal here to catch every day, and unfortunately they felt like they needed to make a move. I was kind of frustrated throughout the whole offseason, a little disappointed that nothing has happened yet.”

Navarro’s frustration is understandable, but his market has likely been dampened by the fact that teams with a seeming need behind the plate have done little to address that weakness. The D-Backs appear content to use Gerald Laird and Tuffy Gosewisch at catcher until prospect Peter O’Brien is ready. The White Sox have added Geovany Soto on a minor league deal, and the Rangers traded for backup Carlos Corporan rather than pursuing an upgrade with more upside at the plate. The Pirates appear set with a defensive-minded tandem of Francisco Cervelli and Chris Stewart. Perhaps the Rays could be considered a team with a need behind the plate, but they’re also prioritizing defense, deploying Rene Rivera as their primary receiver. The Tigers, who are concerned about Alex Avila’s ongoing concussion issues, have had internal discussions about Navarro.

MLBTR’s Mark Polishuk recently examined Navarro as a trade candidate, noting that while the 31-year-old is coming off a solid season with the bat (.274/.314/.395) and has a salary that isn’t exactly prohibitive ($5MM), Navarro ranked near the bottom of the league in both throwing out base-runners and pitch framing.

While there may not be an obvious fit for Navarro at the moment — at least not one that appears to be interested in upgrading at catcher — he could become a target for a team that incurs an injury to a starting catcher in Spring Training. Even then, however, there are multiple options on the market, as both Welington Castillo and Wilin Rosario could likely be had in trades as well (though the latter’s defense is particularly poorly regarded).


AL East Notes: Victorino, Pedroia, Pentecost, Blue Jays, ARod

Red Sox manager John Farrell says the club will start veteran Shane Victorino in right field if he’s healthy, tweets Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald. Farrell added that Victorino is “full go,” indicating that only a setback could change those plans. With Hanley Ramirez the obvious starter in left field, that could mean Mookie Betts and Rusney Castillo will compete for the center field job. Others like Allen Craig, Jackie Bradley, Brock Holt, and Daniel Nava appear thoroughly blocked in the outfield. Here’s more from the AL East.

  • Dustin Pedroia is healthy and ready to go, reports Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston. My take: a healthy Pedroia means that Betts and Holt are also blocked in the infield. Should everybody remain healthy, some kind of trade looks all but inevitable. Several players like Betts, Castillo, and Holt still have options, so the club can stow some major league quality talent at Triple-A if necessary.
  • The Rays lost great talent this offseason, writes Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Executive Andrew Friedman tops the list of 13 impactful losses. His departure is mitigated by the presence of Matt Silverman. Rounding out the top five poignant losses include Ben Zobrist, Joe Maddon, Joel Peralta, and bench coach Dave Martinez.
  • Blue Jays top draft pick Max Pentecost has undergone shoulder surgery, reports Ben Nicholson-Smith of SportsNet.ca. Dr. James Andrews performed the procedure. Pentecost, a catcher, is expected to resume throwing in about three months.
  • The Blue Jays continue to be faced with three big questions, writes Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com. They include the identity of their closer, second baseman, and fifth starter. Brett Cecil and Aaron Sanchez are expected to compete for ninth inning duties, although Sanchez could factor in the rotation battle too. Other candidates to start include Marco Estrada and prospect Daniel Norris. Second base will probably go to Maicer Izturis, Ryan Goins, or prospect Devon Travis.
  • The Yankees are right to allow beleaguered veteran Alex Rodriguez to attend camp, writes Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. It’s surprising to see other writers suggest the club swallow the $61MM remaining on Rodriguez’s contract without at least giving him a chance to provide some value. If he fails to remain healthy, the club can also recoup part of the money via insurance.


Blue Jays Sign Chris Dickerson

The Blue Jays have announced that they’ve signed outfielder Chris Dickerson to a minor-league deal with an invitation to Spring Training. Dickerson is represented by MVP Sports Group.

In 2014, the 32-year-old Dickerson hit .309/.407/.479 in a terrific half-season with the Pirates’ Triple-A Indianapolis affiliate before heading in a minor trade to Cleveland, where he hit .224/.309/.327 in 112 plate appearances. The veteran has a career .257/.335/.395 line in parts of seven seasons, providing teams with a reasonable left-handed bench option who can play all three outfield spots. The Blue Jays are a bit thin in their outfield, so Dickerson could compete for a bench job.


Jonathan Papelbon Talks Trade Possibilities

Phillies’ closer Jonathan Papelbon discussed the possibility of being dealt for the first of what could be many times in camp, as Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News reports. Given that he possesses a 17-team no-trade list, Papelbon’s opinion will play a significant role in how he is marketed by the rebuilding club.

Papelbon says that he has not yet reached the point of considering any trade scenarios that may have implicated his no-trade clause. “Once I hear something from my agents, that’s when I get involved,” Papelbon said. “I never heard anything from them.” That clause is an important part of the free agent contract that brought him to Philadelphia, pursuant to which he is owed $13MM for the coming season and another $13MM for 2016 if (and only if) he finishes 48 games this year.

The veteran righty indicated last summer that he would be willing to waive his no-trade protection to join a winning club, and the same appears to hold true now. But as to whether he would demand that a club on his no-trade list pick up the 2016 vesting option — a key consideration in defining his market — Papelbon remained noncommital: “I’ll cross that bridge when I get there. I think it depends on where I’m going, what the situation is with that other ballclub, what my situation is here. The whole equation comes into play.”

While he may not have been asked to consider specific trade scenarios, he certainly seemed versed in the rumors. Papelbon mentioned two teams that he had been tied to in explaining his willingness to compete wherever he ends up (including Philadelphia): “If Toronto wants me, if Milwaukee wants me, whoever wants me, they’re going to get someone who knows how to compete and go play ball and lay it on the line.”


Quick Hits: Bochy, Navarro, Moncada, Profar

Giants manager Bruce Bochy underwent a medical procedure to insert two stents into his heart and is now resting comfortably in a Scottsdale hospital, according to a team press release.  “Following his physical yesterday, the Giants medical staff was monitoring Bruce Bochy’s heart after he experienced some discomfort,” according to the statement.  The skipper is scheduled to be released on Friday and he’s already sent texts to CSNBayArea.com’s Andrew Baggarly and Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle (both Twitter links) saying that he’ll be back in camp in a couple of days.  We at all MLBTR wish Bochy all the best in his recovery.

Here’s some news from around baseball…

  • The Blue Jays aren’t actively discussing a Dioner Navarro trade with any other teams, FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi reports (via Twitter).  Earlier this week, I examined Navarro as a trade candidate since Russell Martin has taken over the starting catcher’s job in Toronto.
  • A rival executive believes the Yankees are the top contender to sign Yoan Moncada, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports in a roundup of the Moncada market.  The Yankees aren’t keen, however, on paying a bonus in the $40-$50MM range, which is what some sources say Moncada will probably receive.
  • With Jurickson Profar likely to miss another full season due to shoulder injuries, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News wonders if this could spell the end of Profar’s time with the Rangers.  It’s hard to believe Texas would consider non-tendering a former top-ranked prospect Profar when he’s eligible for arbitration next winter, yet Grant is right in noting that the Rangers might just move on with Elvis Andrus and Rougned Odor in the middle infield.
  • Left-hander Joe Beimel is reportedly hoping to land a multi-year contract, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune tweets.  Beimel reportedly had three teams interested in him in late January, though one of those clubs (the Mariners) looks to be out of the running.  Though Beimel had a solid season with the M’s in 2014, it’s hard to see him landing more than a one-year deal at this stage of the offseason given his age (he turns 38 in April) and injury history (missing all of 2012 due to Tommy John surgery).
  • Also from Dutton, the arbitration hearing between the Mariners and Tom Wilhelmsen will take place on Friday.  The reliever is one of just three remaining players with outstanding arb cases, as per the MLBTR Arbitration Tracker.  Wilhelmsen is looking for $2.2MM for his 2015 contract while Seattle has countered with a $1.4MM offer.

Quick Hits: Farrell, Victorino, Delabar, Dodgers, Young

The Red Sox have held preliminary discussions with manager John Farrell about a contract extension, Sean McAdam of CSNNE.com reports. Farrell’s deal is only guaranteed through 2015, though it comes with an additional club option as well. Boston hopes to “add length and security” in a new deal, per the report.

Here are some more items from around the game:

  • Red Sox outfielder Shane Victorino sat down with WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford to discuss his recovery from back surgery, telling Bradford that he feels 100 percent and is as motivated as he’s ever been heading into Spring Training. Victorino disagrees with the notion that there’s a “competition” between himself and Mookie Betts, saying that, rather, he views it as two athletes pushing each other to be better. “I’ve been a big advocate of Mookie since Day 1,” said Victorino. “I learned from Day 1 that he’s a kid that wants to learn. My first day in my rehab assignment in Pawtucket, 15 minutes before the game he’s asking me questions in the most respectful way. From Day 1 I’ve been a big fan of that kid.”
  • Right-hander Steve Delabar was disappointed not to be called up in September by the Blue Jays last year, writes John Lott of the National Post. The team felt that Delabar, a 2013 All-Star who battled knee injuries throughout the 2014 season, needed to rest. Those knee issues, coupled with a 2013 shoulder injury that prevented Delabar from fully engaging in his offseason weighted-ball program, contributed to a rough year in 2014, Lott writes. Delabar will be competing for one of three bullpen spots, and the fact that he has minor league options remaining could work against him if he isn’t sharp this spring.
  • The Rays were excellent at unearthing quality relievers while under the leadership of now-Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, ESPN.com’s Buster Olney notes (Insider link). Friedman will face an immediate challenge in finding a replacement for outstanding closer Kenley Jansen, at least for the season’s early going. The market still contains some notable arms — free agents Francisco Rodriguez and Rafael Soriano, as well as trade candidate Jonathan Papelbon — but in some respects their availability only increases the stakes of getting the decision right. There are several possibilities for filling the closer role and the open pen slot, including a few recent acquisitions as well as younger arms (Pedro Baez, Yimi Garcia) who got a taste of the bigs last year and have impressed the new front office.
  • MLBTR’s Steve Adams recently endeavored to identify potential landing spots for free agent righty Chris Young, and Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs contributes his own analysis on where Young’s notably flyball-prone propensities would best fit. Steve’s market analysis and Sullivan’s fit assessment concur in identifying the Rays as a match.

East Notes: Hamels, Bradley, Minor, DeJesus, Aceves

ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark polled league executives for their takes on the offseason, and some of the strongest opinions related to the game’s eastern divisions. Collectively, that group liked the Blue Jays’ signing of Russell Martin, but was skeptical of the contracts given to players like Max Scherzer (Nationals) and Hanley Ramirez (Red Sox). Check out the piece for the results on a number of other questions.

  • Regarding the oft-discussed possibility of the Red Sox dealing for Cole Hamels of the Phillies, Peter Gammons of Gammons Daily suggests that circumstances may need to change to force a deal. Any changes to Boston’s internal pitching dynamics could, of course, push it toward a deal. Or, with the Sox uninterested in taking on all of Hamels’s salary, a new willingness by the Phils to eat cash to increase the prospect return could move the needle.
  • One other factor in driving trade possibilities for the Red Sox is the club’s overflowing cup of outfielders. Before deciding how to proceed, the club will look to see where things stand, says Gammons, especially in terms of health.
  • Of note is that the Braves have made clear to Boston that they have “strong interest” in young outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. This is not necessarily an active matter, however: Gammons notes that any possible action on that front would occur in the late spring, at the earliest, and David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution tweets his understanding that the expression of interest was made earlier in the offseason, before other moves occurred.
  • Lefty Mike Minor will face a hearing with the Braves tomorrow, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman notes on Twitter. $500K remains at stake between the sides ($5.6MM versus $5.1MM).
  • Rays outfielder David DeJesus tells Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times that he has prepared for the possibility of being dealt but hopes to remain with Tampa. DeJesus says he is refreshed and ready after a “long, grueling” go of things last year, though as Topkin writes there appears to be a logjam in front of him in the outfield.
  • Alfredo Aceves, a seven-year veteran of the Red Sox and Yankees, will throw for teams this afternoon, MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez tweets. Among those expected to be in attendance are the Giants, Padres, Royals, Brewers, and Reds.

Quick Hits: Cubans, Padres, Scott, Dirks, Gaudin

Three more Cuban players — first baseman Lazaro Alonso, infielder/outfielder Osniel Madera, and catcher Yoel Rojas — have left the country, reports Baseball America’s Ben Badler. The 19-year-old Alonso and the 29-year-old Madera should draw interest from MLB teams, according to Badler. Alonso was hitting .299/.436/.494 in 110 plate appearances with more walks (20) than strikeouts (19) at the time he defected. Madera has played both corner outfield positions as well as third base and second base in his career, and he was hitting .319/.390/.469 in 187 PA this season.

Some more notes from around the league…

  • Joel Sherman of the New York Post looks at the Padres‘ offseason and wonders if the team has added star power while sacrificing the cohesion that is typically necessary to for a roster to succeed. Though the team has right-handed power in spades, the Padres lean far too much to the right, with only two left-handed bats projected in their lineup, neither of whom brings much with the bat (Alexi Amarista and Yonder Alonso). The team also lacks a logical lead-off hitter and will field not just a questionable outfield defense but also take a significant step back in pitch-framing, going from a combo of Yasmani Grandal and Rene Rivera to Derek Norris and a yet-undetermined backup. So much focus has been placed on San Diego’s remade offense, Sherman writes, that few have pointed out the fact that the Padres also allowed their fewest runs ever in 2014 — a feat that won’t likely repeat given the factors laid out here.
  • Designated hitter/outfielder Luke Scott worked out for clubs in southern California last week, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweeted. The former Orioles/Astros/Rays slugger spent some time in the Korea Baseball Organization last year and enjoyed success in 130 plate appearances, hitting .267/.392/.505. Scott, 36, is a career .258/.340/.481 hitter and is eyeing a return to the Majors. While a minor league deal is almost certainly all that would be in the cards at this stage, he’s always shown respectable power and could be a reasonable add for a team looking for some left-handed pop off the bench.
  • Outfielder Andy Dirks, who signed a minor league deal with the Blue Jays this offseason, will report to the team’s minor league Spring Training camp instead of Major League camp, writes Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi (the Dirks note gets a brief mention at the bottom of the story). Dirks, who missed all of 2014 recovering from back surgery, is still rehabbing and has again been delayed in his recovery. A healthy Dirks could be a nice addition to the Toronto bench, as he’s an able defender in left field and a lifetime .276/.332/.413 hitter.
  • In similar fashion, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic notes at the end of an article on Addison Reed that the D-Backs watched right-hander Chad Gaudin throw a bullpen session last week. The 31-year-old Gaudin didn’t pitch in 2014 as he recovered from neck surgery, though the swingman has a career 4.44 ERA with 7.2 K/9, 4.1 BB/9 and a 42.4 percent ground-ball rate. Gaudin’s last big league action came with the 2013 Giants, and he pitched quite well, notching a 3.06 ERA (3.34 FIP, 4.00 xFIP) in 97 innings. He made a dozen starts and 18 relief appearances that season. GM Dave Stewart tells Piecoro that Gaudin is a consideration in the team’s search for pitching depth.

East Notes: Phillies, Zimmerman, Porcello

The big fish are off the market, but the Marlins are still looking to pick up a couple of notable relievers.  Miami is interested in signing Phil Coke to a minor league deal and they’re still open to inking Francisco Rodriguez.  Signing Coke to a minor league deal might not be a reality, however.  The 32-year-old is seeking a $2MM guarantee and is getting interest for a major league deal, according to Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet. More from the AL and NL East..

  • Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee won’t be winning any championships in Philadelphia this season, but they could help the Phillies win one down the road, Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com writes.  Both players have been involved in trade rumors, of course, but it’s likely that they’ll start the season with the team and get moved sometime before the July 31st trade deadline. “Sometimes trades take two years to do, sometimes they take seven minutes,” GM Ruben Amaro said recently.  Amaro recently indicated that as many as eight teams have kicked the tires on Hamels and four have made “real” offers.
  • With five years and $74MM left on the contract extension he signed in 2012, Ryan Zimmerman may no longer be the face of the Nationals‘ franchise, but he’s still one of the team’s most important players, as Mark Zuckerman of Nats Insider writes. This season, his ability to make a permanent position switch at the age of 30 may go a long way towards determining how far the Nats can go in 2015 and beyond.
  • Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald looked at Rick Porcello, who has the unique opportunity of becoming a free agent before his 27th birthday.  Boston is still without a true ace and the right-hander is being counted on by many to fill that role.
  • On Saturday, our own Mark Polishuk looked at Blue Jays catcher Dioner Navarro as a trade candidate.