Toronto Blue Jays Rumors

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

Rosenthal’s Latest: Utley, Angels, Zobrist, Zimmermann, Giants, Execs

In his latest notes column for FOX Sports, Ken Rosenthal looks at the failed attempt to acquire Chase Utley made by both the Angels and Cubs. Anaheim “blew it” by not adding Utley, opines Rosenthal, as the Halos had more playing time to offer than the Dodgers but didn’t pull the trigger on a deal despite only having acquired “complementary hitters” in July. (That seems harsh, as there’s no guarantee that the current iteration of Utley is anything more than a complementary piece himself.) As for the Cubs, they initially showed interest while Utley was still hurt, but Utley wasn’t comfortable being traded while on a rehab assignment, says Rosenthal, so the Phils waited to put him through waivers. By the time he returned, Howie Kendrick had been hurt in L.A., creating a match with the Dodgers.

Some more highlights from the column…

  • As others have noted, the Angels‘ GM opening is a tough sell to prospective candidates because Arte Moreno is more involved than the average owner, and Mike Scioscia has more power than the average manager. One rival general manager described the Angels’ GM role to Rosenthal as such: “You take all of the beatings (from Moreno) and you’ve got no power (due to Scioscia).” Jerry Dipoto resigned from his post this summer due to reported clashes with Scioscia.
  • The Blue Jays tried to trade for Ben Zobrist, but the Athletics‘ asking price was Matt Boyd plus other pieces, Rosenthal hears, which was too steep for GM Alex Anthopoulos. Boyd was ultimately one of three pieces used to acquire David Price from the Tigers.
  • Rosenthal reports that the Giants are likely to pursue right-hander Jordan Zimmermann as they look to bulk up their rotation this offseason. However, he notes that the Wisconsin native may prefer to return to the Midwest. Zimmermann ranked eighth on the most recent edition of MLBTR’s Free Agent Power Rankings, though he’s had a couple of rough starts since then.
  • The Giants may also consider attempting to unload the final year of Angel Pagan‘s contract this winter. Pagan is slated to earn $10MM next season in the final season of a four-year, $40MM contract after playing in just 167 games from 2013-14 and struggling at the plate in 102 games to this point in 2015. San Francisco could use Gregor Blanco in center field in the event that they’re able to move Pagan.
  • The recent trend of teams promoting an assistant GM to GM and a current GM to president (as the White Sox and Giants have done) could continue this offseason as teams try to prevent their top AGMs from departing for GM vacancies elsewhere, Rosenthal writes. The Rangers could promote Thad Levine to GM (and presumably elevate Jon Daniels), for instance, and the Cardinals could promote Mike Girsch (presumably promoting GM John Mozeliak as well). And, should Mark Shapiro end up with the Blue Jays, the Indians could bump Mike Chernoff to GM and make Chris Antonetti president (Cleveland previously did his by moving Shapiro from GM to president and Antonetti from AGM to GM). Levine, Girsch and Chernoff could all attract interest from other teams this winter.

Rosenthal On Park, Astros, Brewers, Morse, Jays

Here’s the latest from Ken Rosenthal, via a video from FOX Sports:

  • Jung-Ho Kang‘s strong rookie season with the Pirates could drive up the market for fellow KBO slugger and former teammate Byung-Ho Park, who is likely to be posted this winter. Kang has been a bargain, hitting .287/.360/.444 while playing capably at third base and shortstop this season, all for an approximately $5MM posting fee and a four-year, $11MM deal. Park, who’s hit 95 home runs in the last two seasons, should make more.
  • Friday was an interesting night for both teams in the recent Carlos Gomez / Mike Fiers deal. Fiers, of course, threw a no-hitter for the Astros, while outfielder Domingo Santana homered in his first game with the Brewers.
  • Michael Morse, who went from the Marlins to the Dodgers to the Pirates in a whirlwind series of transactions last month, got a paycheck from the Dodgers even though he never played for them. (The Dodgers were obligated to pay him, of course, but it’s amusing to think about a player receiving a paycheck from a team he never played for.) He’ll also receive a game jersey from the Dodgers the next time they play the Bucs.
  • The Blue Jays‘ additions of Troy Tulowitzki and Ben Revere have greatly improved their defense, Rosenthal says. Justin Smoak is another key to the Jays’ defense — he uses his big frame to get to throws from across the infield that other first basemen might miss.

AL Central Notes: Zobrist, Medlen, Shapiro, Dombrowski, Norris

Recently-acquired Royals utilityman extraordinaire Ben Zobrist says that he’s very much open to a return to Kansas City, MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan reports“Certainly, this had been one of the teams I liked the look of,” he said. “And now, since I’ve been here, it’s a place I want to stay longer. Being here has certainly done nothing but make this [team] go up on my list.” Of course, the versatile and still-productive 34-year-old figures to be as widely pursued on the winter’s free agent market as he was at this year’s trade deadline. Zobrist was already playing well before the trade, but has slashed an outstanding .357/.446/.600 in his first 83 plate appearances with his new club.

Here’s more from Kansas City and the rest of the AL Central:

  • The Royals will hand the ball to Kris Medlen for his first start with the club on Monday, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star tweets. Medlen, 29, has returned nicely after a long layoff for multiple Tommy John surgeries, tossing 14 1/3 innings of 2.51 ERA ball with 14 strikeouts against five walks. His average fastball velocity is as good as ever. Medlen is owed just $5.5MM next year and can be controlled with a $10MM option ($1MM buyout) in 2017. So far, that’s looking like a nice risk for the Royals.
  • Indians president Mark Shapiro declined to comment on recent reports indicating that he could be a candidate to take over the Blue Jays‘ presidency, Zack Meisel of the Plain Dealer reports. The long-time Cleveland executive, still just 48 years old, could conceivably be enticed by the possibility of gaining “power and resources,” the Plain Dealer’s Paul Hoynes writes in an interesting piece.
  • There was a creeping sense of suspicion when he was not approached to discuss a new deal over the summer, former Tigers GM (and newly-minted Red Sox president of baseball operations) Dave Dombrowski tells MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM (audio link). Dombrowski maintained, however, that he remains unaware what precisely led Detroit to release him from its contract when it did.
  • Just-added Tigers lefty Daniel Norris could end up missing the rest of the year with an oblique injury, Chris Iott of MLive.com reports. Manager Brad Ausmus says that Norris is likely to miss at least a month. The 22-year-old, added as the key piece of the David Price trade, figures to be a key piece of the Tigers rotation next year and for the foreseeable future. He recently joined the MLBTR Podcast to discuss that deal and his approach to the game.


AL East Notes: Dombrowski, Yankees, Shapiro, Gonzalez

The hiring of Dave Dombrowski puts a new face atop the Red Sox‘ baseball operations hierarchy but does not change the goal and the philosophy of the organization, writes Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. As Silverman writes, the Red Sox were going to overhaul the roster this winter whether Dombrowski, Ben Cherington or someone else was leading the charge. Chairman Tom Werner and president John Henry both spoke about how the team will still use data and analytics to its advantage, while Dombrowski said he’s not planning to “blow up” Boston’s baseball ops department.

More from the AL East…

  • Tim Britton of the Providence Journal looks at how Dombrowski’s history will tie in with the Red Sox. Dombrowski has a reputation for trading prospects for proven talent after his time in Detroit, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, he notes. Part of successfully executing that philosophy is trading prospects at peak value and maximizing return — something the Sox failed to do with names like Will Middlebrooks and Anthony Ranaudo. Dombrowski spoke of dealing from a surplus in his introduction to Boston media, Britton writes, and he points out that center field, shortstop and catcher could all be areas of surplus/redundancy for the Sox. The other questions for Dombrowski in Boston will be how aggressively he’ll pursue top-flight free agent pitching this winter and whether or not he can rebuild a bullpen that has been largely problematic in 2015, writes Britton.
  • Praising the Yankees‘ decision to hang onto the likes of Greg Bird, Luis Severino and other top prospects is premature, opines Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. While Bird and Severino have each contributed to the Bombers over the past few weeks, Martino writes that the true wisdom or folly of that decision won’t be known for quite some time. A dominant October run from Severino might speed up the process of proving GM Brian Cashman’s decision to be shrewd, but the possibility also exists that the Yankees’ coveted prospects will go the route of Jesus Montero. Martino doesn’t necessarily make the argument that Cashman should have traded prospects away, but rather just urges onlookers to take a less reactionary approach following a two-homer game from Bird and a trio of solid starts from Severino, as narratives can change quickly when looking at small samples from early in prospects’ careers.
  • On the heels of last night’s report from Ken Rosenthal, Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi writes that he, too, hears the Blue Jays consider Indians president Mark Shapiro a “strong candidate” to replace retiring CEO Paul Beeston. However, Davidi notes that there may yet be others in the mix for the impending vacancy. Notably, Davidi writes that the “assumption” is that GM Alex Anthopoulos will be offered some kind of extension prior to his contract’s expiration on Oct. 31.
  • Miguel Gonzalez‘s struggles with the Orioles are ill-timed, writes Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun. The organization’s top alternatives at the minor league level — Tyler Wilson and Mike Wright — are both injured at the moment, and there aren’t many other options to give him a break from his troubles. As Encina notes, Gonzalez has struggled quite a bit when ahead in the count — even on 0-2 counts — which has contributed to a 6.48 ERA over his past 11 starts. I’ll add that the struggles are doubly problematic for Gonzalez, who is eligible for arbitration for the second time this winter and due a raise on his $3.275MM salary.

Blue Jays Interested In Indians’ Shapiro As Successor To Beeston

Indians president Mark Shapiro has “emerged as a strong candidate” to succeed retiring Blue Jays president/CEO Paul Beeston, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The Blue Jays have, in fact, already reached out to Shapiro about the position, Rosenthal continues.

The 48-year-old Shapiro served as the Indians’ general manager for 10 seasons before a promotion to club president that saw longtime lieutenant Chris Antonetti promoted to the GM chair. As Rosenthal notes, Shapiro has overseen renovations at Cleveland’s Progressive Field while serving as president, which would have appeal to the Blue Jays, who are planning on some renovations at the Rogers Centre in the years to come.

Shapiro, or any other president, would have a say in the future of Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos, who, as Rosenthal reports, is signed through Oct. 31. Were Anthopoulos allowed to reach his contract’s expiration date, he’d be able to pursue various other GM openings around the league. While there’s been plenty written about Anthopoulos’ uncertain future over the past year, his team’s success since a number of high-profile acquisitions at this year’s non-waiver trade deadline would, on the surface, appear to have positioned him for a contract extension with Toronto. The Blue Jays are currently two games back from the Yankees in the AL East but are also positioned to make the postseason as a Wild Card team if they do not overtake New York in the standings. The Blue Jays are 21-9 in the second half of the season and 13-4 since Aug. 1. However, a new president could still prefer to bring in their own general manager to help guide the franchise.

Toronto’s search for a successor to Beeston has been ongoing for quite some time. Last offseason, the team reportedly showed interest in Orioles GM Dan Duquette, Twins GM Terry Ryan and White Sox president Kenny Williams to fill the role. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reported earlier this week that the Blue Jays made a strong run at Dombrowski, and their interest pushed the Red Sox to give Dombrowski full decision-making authority.

Specific details of Shapiro’s contract aren’t clear, although if he’s under contract beyond the 2015 season, the Indians could be in for some form of compensation. Last winter, when talks with the Blue Jays were said to have gained traction, the two teams were reportedly discussed player compensation that would’ve gone from Toronto to Baltimore due to the fact that Duquette is signed through the 2018 season.


Tigers Acquire Randy Wolf From Blue Jays

The Blue Jays have traded veteran left-hander Randy Wolf, who had been with the team’s Triple-A affiliate, to the Tigers in exchange for cash considerations, per Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith (Twitter link).

The 38-year-old Wolf has been excellent at the Triple-A level this season, compiling a 2.58 ERA with 6.8 K/9 against 2.8 BB/9 in 139 2/3 innings. Recent injuries to Anibal Sanchez and Daniel Norris — both of whom were placed on the disabled list today — left the Tigers looking for rotation depth, and Wolf had asked for his release from the Blue Jays to pursue a big league opportunity elsewhere (per CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman). However, Toronto kept him around due to the possibility that they could promote him themselves come September. However, it would appear that upon learning of a big league opportunity for the veteran elsewhere, Toronto has made a trade to accommodate his desire to return to the big leagues after a strong season in the minors.


Quick Hits: GM Turnover, Williams, Zduriencik, Prospects

Baseball has experienced intense turnover in its front offices of late, as Bob Nightengale of USA Today notes in a column today, and there could be more to come. Nightengale cites Ruben Amaro Jr. of the Phillies, Jack Zduriencik of the Mariners, and Walt Jocketty of the Reds as candidates for dismissal. The frequency of change represents a “new state of the game,” argues Nightengale.

  • The Mariners could end up bringing in White Sox president Kenny Williams to head its front office, Nighengale reports. But Williams may also be in the running to become the new president of the Blue Jays. Reds special assistant Kevin Towers also increasingly seems to be an option for Seattle, Nightengale adds on Twitter.
  • Zduriencik says that he pays no heed to the rumor mill, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune writes. Though he’s aware that there is chatter that he could be vulnerable, the Mariners general manager explains that he can’t let that affect his work. “I’ve got eyes,” said the seven-year veteran GM. I can see what’s going on here. I know what has not worked and what should be working and isn’t. For me to focus on any outside distractions (is non-productive).” Zduriencik stressed that he still believes in the talent base he’s compiled, explaining: “I think when you start to piece it together, there are things we need to do going forward, but I do think that there are some really solid pieces there.”
  • Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs provides an overhauled, mid-season look at the game’s best prospects. He breaks down a series of different prospect classes. One of those is his list of the game’s premium pre-MLB players, which is made up of the 26 names who separated themselves from the pack. The usual suspects sit atop that list, but there are some quick-rising players as well, including shortstops Orlando Arcia (Brewers, #8), Franklin Barreto (Athletics, #14), and Trea Turner (Nationals, #15), outfielders Bradley Zimmer (Indians, #21) and Gleyber Torres (Cubs, #23), and Rays lefty Blake Snell, who shot all the way up to the 16th slot. McDaniel also lists the year’s newly-emerging prospects, the newly-professional crop of players added over the summer, and the impressive list of young players who no longer qualify as prospects.
  • Ben Badler of Baseball America takes a closer look at one such swiftly-rising prospect, Nationals outfielder Victor Robles. The 18-year-old drew the attention of the organization because of his quick-twitch athleticism and high energy, and the club’s $225K bonus has paid out amply so far. It’s a lengthy piece, but well worth a read for any prospect hounds or Nats fans.

AL East Notes: Anthopoulos, Wolf, Yankees

With Dave Dombrowski joining their division rivals, the Blue Jays remain in need of a replacement for outgoing president Paul Beeston. Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca suggests that current GM Alex Anthopoulos could make a sensible candidate for that more expansive role. For one thing, says Davidi, it may not be wise to introduce any potential for internal discord in baseball decisionmaking by adding someone on top of Anthopoulos. And elevating the current GM would help ensure continuity. You’ll want to read the piece for the full concept.

  • Of course, as Davidi notes, whether or not the Blue Jays consider Anthopoulos for a promotion, the team will need to act on his contract status by the end of October, when his current deal expires. With front offices churning around the league, writes Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, Toronto would be foolish not to act decisively to retain Anthopoulos. He proposes that the organization vest him with full baseball ops authority while adding a business-oriented president. (Obviously, that’s not the profile of Dombrowski, who Rosenthal says was brought in for a formal interview by the Jays.)
  • Blue Jays lefty Randy Wolf recently requested his release to seek an opportunity at the big league level, but Toronto may give him that chance itself come September, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com writes. Toronto would have done so already had a specific team made an offer to add him to its MLB roster, Heyman notes, but was not interested in letting him go to another team’s Triple-A club. (Wolf was not able to negotiate an opt-out clause into his pact with the Jays.) Wolf has had an interesting recent transactional timeline, especially for a nearly 39-year-old veteran. He’s generated excellent results this year at Buffalo, tossing 139 2/3 innings of 2.58 ERA ball with 6.8 K/9 against 2.6 BB/9.
  • The Yankees‘ 2006 draft class may have featured the most productive haul of future relievers in baseball history, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. David Robertson, Dellin Betances, Mark Melancon, George Kontos, and Zach McAllister were all taken that year by New York — after the team selected Joba Chamberlain in the first round. While Chamberlain never followed through on the amazing start to his career, Sherman notes, the class does help to demonstrate that New York has been rather successful in developing high-quality pen arms.

Reactions To Red Sox’ Hiring Of Dave Dombrowski

The Red Sox dropped a stunner on the baseball world yesterday when they announced the hiring of veteran executive Dave Dombrowski as the team’s president of baseball operations. Ben Cherington is said to have declined the chance to stay on in the GM role, preferring instead to look for a new opportunity elsewhere.

Here are some of the many reactions to the move:

  • The deal with the Red Sox will give Dombrowski a raise over the $3MM annual salary he was earning in Detroit, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports on Twitter. The Nationals also had interest in Dombrowski, though they never made him an offer, Nightengale adds. Meanwhile, the Blue Jays had more serious conversations, and their involvement pushed the Red Sox to giving Dombrowski full decisionmaking authority, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets. The Mariners were “next in line,” though, had Boston not pulled off a deal, Nightengale further tweets.
  • Parting with Cherington is just one of the surprising angles of this move. As Nightengale reports, Dombrowski explained that he offered Cherington the chance to stay but understood why he did not. “We offered Ben the opportunity to stay as GM,” said Dombrowski. “I had a lengthy conversation. He could have stayed. We like Ben. He’s a good person. I don’t know him very well, but I have the utmost respect for him and as a person. But I could understand it. It hit him very quickly. He was surprised. As president of baseball operations, you have control over making deals, and the final say in hiring. I understand it would be a transition with him.”
  • It may be a bit too soon to evaluate Cherington’s own legacy as the Red Sox GM, but as Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald writes, it’s already clear that it is a somewhat complicated one. While he won a World Series and leaves the club with a well-stocked farm, Cherington was not able to develop a stream of pitching and whiffed on several significant decisions.
  • Bringing in Dombrowski represents a significant philosophical shift for the Red Sox, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com writes. While it’s hard to see the organization suddenly shelving its analytics work, Heyman notes that they’ll get a hands-on executive in Dombrowski with a penchant for swinging quality trades and keeping a winner on the field.
  • Indeed, the scope of the shift is somewhat hard to overstate. Red Sox “vaporized the way they’ve done business for the last 13 years” overnight, writes John Tomase of WEEI.com. And as Sean McAdam of CSSNE.com explains, it completes a month of change at many key levels of the organization.
  • Dombrowski has a history of dealing away top prospects to bolster his clubs at the major league level, Ben Badler of Baseball America notes on Twitter. Now, he’s in charge of a Boston organization flush with young talent, and Badler rightly notes that it’ll be a fascinating offseason to watch.

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.”