Toronto Blue Jays Rumors

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

Players Avoiding Arbitration: Friday

With the deadline to exchange arbitration figures set for noon CT, there figure to be a large number of agreements to avoid arb today, as there were yesterday. All arbitration agreements can be followed using MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker, and we’ll keep track of today’s smaller agreements in this post, with all projections coming courtesy of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz

  • Righty Henderson Alvarez agreed to a $4MM deal with the Marlins, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported earlier today on Twitter. Alvarez had been projected to earn $4.5MM after putting up a huge 187-inning, 2.65 ERA campaign entering his first season of arb eligibility.
  • The Athletics have agreed to a $1.4MM deal with righty Ryan Cook that includes, MLB.com’s Jane Lee reports on Twitter. Cook gets a slight increase over the $1.3MM he had been projected to earn. Oakland has also inked outfielder Sam Fuld to a $1.75MM deal, per Mike Perchik of WAPT (via Twitter). He too lands just above his projection, which was for $1.6MM.
  • Outfielder Collin Cowgill avoided arbitration with the Angels for $995K, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez tweets. He was projected to earn $900K.
  • Righties David Carpenter and Nathan Eovaldi both have deals with the Yankees, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports on Twitter. Carpenter will earn about $1.3MM while Eovaldi will take home $3.3MM
  • The Rockies have a deal in place with lefty Rex Brothers, tweets MLB.com’s Thomas Harding. Brothers was projected to earn $1.3MM but will take home $1.4MM, Harding adds via Twitter.
  • ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers reports that the Cubs have settled with both Travis Wood and Luis Valbuena (Twitter links). Wood will receive $5.686MM — a bit north of his $5.5MM projection, while Valbuena will earn $4.2MM, per Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald (on Twitter). Valbuena was projected to earn $3.1MM.
  • Mike Perchick of WAPT in New Jersey has a wave of arbitration agreements, starting with the Astros and Hank Conger settling on a $1.075MM, which is just $25K behind Swartz’s projection (Twitter link).
  • Also via Perchick, the Athletics and Brett Lawrie settled on a $1.925MM contract (Twitter links). Lawrie, who had been projected at $1.8MM, was acquired by Oakland in the Josh Donaldson blockbuster.
  • Rockies backstop Michael McKenry will earn $1.0876MM in 2015, via Perchick. McKenry was projected by Swartz to earn $1.5MM.
  • Michael Pineda and the Yankees settled on a $2.1MM salary for the upcoming season, Perchick tweets, which is a direct match with Swartz’s projection.
  • Domonic Brown and the Phillies settled on a one-year pact worth $2.6MM, via Perchick, which represents a difference of just $100K between Swartz’s projection and the actual figure. Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com tweets that Ben Revere has avoided arbitration as well, and the club now announces that he’ll earn $4.1MM — $100K north of his $4MM projection.
  • Red Sox setup man Junichi Tazawa agreed to a $2.25MM payday, according to Perchick. Swartz had pegged him for a $2MM contract.

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Blue Jays Re-Sign Munenori Kawasaki

The Blue Jays announced that they’ve re-signed popular infielder Munenori Kawasaki to a minor league contract with an invite to Spring Training.

Kawasaki, a fan favorite due to his affable nature and quirky sense of humor, has batted .244/.327/.302 in 563 plate appearances for the Blue Jays over the past two seasons. The versatile 33-year-old is known more for his glove than his bat and is capable of handling second base, shortstop and third base.


Quick Hits: A’s, Lynn, Soto, Johan

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court Of Appeals upheld a previous ruling rejecting the city of San Jose’s challenge of Major League Baseball’s antitrust exemption, Fangraphs’ Nathaniel Grow reports (Twitter link).  As explained by CSNBayArea.com’s Joe Stiglich, the ruling is another obstacle in San Jose’s attempt to bring the Athletics to town, and an eventual courtroom victory in front of the Supreme Court seems unlikely.  The A’s may only be allowed to move if a majority of team owners votes down the Giants’ territorial rights claim on San Jose or if the Giants are financially compensated for giving up the area, Stiglish notes.

Here’s some more from around baseball…

  • The Cardinals and Lance Lynn discussed a longer-term deal before settling on a three-year extension that buys out Lynn’s three arbitration years, GM John Mozeliak told reporters (including MLB.com’s Jen Langosch).  “Obviously, when you start talking about free-agent years or option years, there’s a cost to that,” Mozeliak said. “It certainly was something that was on the table and discussed. But ultimately the comfort of something getting done, even though it may feel short, it gives us some cost certainty.”
  • Geovany Soto is expected to sign within the next few days, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweets.  The Rangers are among the teams still in the hunt for the veteran catcher.
  • The Blue Jays, Brewers, Mariners, Rangers and Rays were among the teams who scouted Johan Santana‘s recent Venezuelan Winter League appearance, Gerry Fraley of the Dallas Morning News reports.  The Yankees, whose interest in Santana was already known, also had a scout present.
  • Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski tells Ken Davidoff of the New York Post that his team is “probably not” going to sign Max Scherzer.  “We’ve been in a situation where we’re pretty well set with our starting pitching,” Dombrowski said. “We’ve got five starters that we’re comfortable [with]. I guess you never tell what happens, but we’re not in any type of active pursuit of any other pitching right now.”  Dombrowski has consistently made statements of this type all winter, though there have been whispers that Scherzer could wind up back in Detroit thanks to the relationship between Scott Boras and Mike Ilitch.
  • Right-hander Kameron Loe and outfielder Terrell Joyce have both been issued 50-game suspensions following positive tests for a drug of abuse, the Commissioner’s Office announced.  Both players are currently free agents.  Loe posted a 4.49 ERA over 569 innings in the bigs with five teams from 2004-13, while Joyce (a 12th-round Astros draft pick in 2012) has a career .229/.308/.396 slash line over 704 minor league plate appearances in Houston’s farm system.


Players Avoiding Arbitration: Thursday

As we approach tomorrow’s deadline for exchanging filing numbers, the volume of arb deals will increase. All arb agreements can be monitored using MLBTR’s 2015 Arbitration Tracker, but here are today’s smaller agreements, with all projections referring to those of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz:

  • The Indians have avoided arbitration with third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall and agreed to a one-year, $2.25MM deal, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports (Twitter link).  It’s a slight bump over Chisenhall’s projected $2.2MM salary.  Chisenhall hit .280/.343/.427 with 13 homers in 533 PA with the Tribe last season.
  • The Indians and left-hander Marc Rzepczynski have agreed to a one-year, $2.4MM contract to avoid arbitration, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter link).  Rzepczynski surpassed his projected salary with the contract, as he was pegged to earn $1.9MM next season.  The southpaw posted a 2.74 ERA, 2.42 K/BB rate and an even 46 strikeouts over 46 innings out of Cleveland’s bullpen last season.
  • The Nationals and catcher Jose Lobaton will avoid arbitration after agreeing to a deal, CSN Washington’s Mark Zuckerman reports.  Lobaton will earn $1.2MM, FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi tweets, which exactly matches his projected 2015 salary.  Lobaton hit .234/.287/.304 over 230 PA in backup duty for the Nats last season.
  • The Athletics and outfielder Craig Gentry agreed to a one-year, $1.6MM deal to avoid arbitration, FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi tweets.  Gentry was projected to earn $1.5MM.  After posting a .759 OPS over 556 PA in 2012-13, Gentry took a step back at the plate last season, slashing just .254/.319/.289 over 258 plate appearances but still providing tremendous defense (a +16 UZR/150).
  • The Nationals have avoided arbitration with second baseman Danny Espinosa, agreeing to a one-year, $1.8MM contract, James Wagner of the Washington Post reports.  This deal falls below Espinosa’s projected $2.3MM contract, though Espinosa hit .219/.283/.351 in 364 plate appearances for the Nats last season and managed only a .465 OPS in 167 PA in 2013.
  • The Indians agreed to a one-year, $2.337MM deal with right-hander Carlos Carrasco, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (via Twitter).  This figure is a significant increase over the $1.4MM contract that was projected for Carrasco in his first arb-eligible year.  The righty enjoyed a breakout 2014 season, posting a 2.55 ERA, 9.4 K/9 and 4.83 K/BB rate over 134 innings with the Tribe.  Carrasco pitched mostly out of the bullpen but also delivered several quality starts down the stretch.
  • The Dodgers and outfielder Chris Heisey agreed to a one-year deal worth $2.16MM to avoid arbitration, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman tweets.  This is slightly less than the $2.2MM Heisey was projected to earn.  Heisey is coming off a .222/.265/.378 slash line over 299 PA with the Reds last season and was dealt to L.A. last month.
  • The Angels inked catcher Drew Butera to a one-year, $987.5K deal to avoid arbitration, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports.  Butera was projected to earn $900K next season.  The catcher posted a .555 OPS in 192 PA with the Dodgers last season and was dealt to the Halos last month.
  • The Nationals agreed to a one-year, $2.25MM contract with Craig Stammen, avoiding arbitration with the right-hander, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports (via Twitter).  This figure slightly tops Stammen’s projected $2.1MM contract.  Stammen posted a 3.84 ERA, 6.9 K/9 and a 4.00 K/BB rate over 72 2/3 innings out of Washington’s bullpen last season.
  • The Cardinals agreed to a one-year, $1.65MM deal with outfielder Peter Bourjos to avoid arbitration, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.  Bourjos was projected to earn $1.6MM.  Bourjos displayed his usual top-shelf defense with the Cards last season but only hit .231/.294/.348 over 294 PA.

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Orioles Notes: Duquette, Rasmus, Tillman

The ongoing rumors about Dan Duquette leaving Baltimore to become the Blue Jays’ new team president have cast a fog over the Orioles’ offseason, Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun writes.  While Peter Angelos’ statement yesterday allegedly ended the matter, Schmuck notes that Duquette himself has yet to address the situation, and the speculation will continue until Duquette makes a definitive statement about his future.  Here’s more from Camden Yards…

  • Schmuck noted that the lack of resolution with Duquette could create tension within the front office, and according to Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com, this could already be the case.  More than one source within the organization described the situation as “toxic,” Kubatko writes.
  • The Orioles are preparing a preliminary list of candidates who could potentially fill Duquette’s position if he did leave, The Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly reports.  The list includes four former general managers (Ned Colletti, Kevin Malone, Omar Minaya and Kevin Towers) though none have yet been contacted.  If a hiring is necessary, this new front office figure would join manager Buck Showalter and VP of baseball operations Brady Anderson in making personnel decisions, and the new hire could be working under Anderson on the team’s depth chart.
  • The “ball is in the hands of” Blue Jays’ ownership now, ESPN’s Buster Olney tweets (multiple links), as it seems as if “an extraordinary offer” will be required to get the O’s to release Duquette from his contract.  Since Duquette hasn’t come out and said he wants to stay in Baltimore, Olney notes that the remaining scenarios are that a deal is worked out between the two teams or Toronto decides to look elsewhere for its next president.
  • Colby Rasmus is looking for a raise from his $7MM salary in 2014 and the Orioles aren’t eager to pay him more than that amount, Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun reports.  While the O’s are still interested in the free agent outfielder, they’re hoping to land him on a relatively team-friendly one-year deal, Encina notes.  It had been widely assumed that Rasmus would pursue such a pillow contract in the wake of his underwhelming 2014 season to potentially set him up for a richer multiyear deal next offseason.
  • Also from Encina, right-hander Chris Tillman confirmed that he’s interested in an extension with the O’s, though he is leaving the negotiations up to his representatives at this point.  “I think it’s smart to listen, and I think it’s dumb not to,” Tillman said. “You weigh all the options and go with it. I don’t know a whole lot about it, to tell you the truth. My agent called me about it, and I told him, ‘You know what? Call me back when you know something.’ That’s not me. I’m day to day. I roll with the flow.”  MLBTR’s Charlie Wilmoth recently examined Tillman as an extension candidate.

Blue Jays Sign Andy Dirks

1:40pm: The Blue Jays have announced the signing of Dirks to a minor league deal.

1:28pm: The Blue Jays and outfielder Andy Dirks are in agreement on a minor league contract with an invite to big league Spring Training, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Toronto originally claimed the Frontline Athlete Management client off waivers from the Tigers in October but non-tendered him in December rather than pay a projected $1.6MM salary via arbitration.

The 28-year-old Dirks missed the entire 2014 season after his recovery from back surgery progressed slower than expected. He also suffered a hamstring injury while rehabbing his back, causing him to miss the final leg of the season.

When healthy from 2011-13 with the Tigers, Dirks proved himself to be a highly capable defender in the outfield corners, particularly in left field, where he spent most of his time. A career .276/.332/.413 hitter in 1063 plate appearances, Dirks, at his best, can provide league-average offense and solid glovework. Though his career average and on-base percentage are similar versus both right- and left-handed pitching, Dirks has shown more power against righties in the Majors. He can give Kevin Pillar some competition to serve as Toronto’s fourth outfielder and could find himself in a larger role if the highly touted but inexperienced Dalton Pompey proves unready to hold down an everyday center field job.


East Notes: Yankees, Rays, Moore, DeJesus, Duquette, Desmond, Kimbrel, Braves

The Yankees may not have stowed away their checkbook, as MLB.com’s Barry Bloom reports. Owner Hal Steinbrenner told reporters yesterday that time remained for moves. “It’s not over until it’s over,” he said. “We still have a full month before Spring Training. … [W]e’re still the New York Yankees, all you guys know that. We know what the fans expect. We know what the town expects. We’re not going to be afraid to spend money.”

  • If the Yankees are still the Yankees, then so too are the Rays still the Rays. As Andrew Astleford of FOX Sports Florida writes, trading away Ben Zobrist is just the latest reminder of the team’s continued strategies. “These trades are difficult, but they’re a necessary part of how we operate,” said president of baseball operations Matthew Silverman.
  • One other hallmark of the Rays method is early-career extensions, and one area of risk in such deals is injury, especially for pitchers. Lefty Matt Moore, who is controllable through 2019 under just such a contract, lost virtually all of last season due to Tommy John surgery. He is in a good physical and mental state, tweets Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, and hopes to return to the mound soon while building toward a return to the roster this coming June.
  • Topkin also wonders (via Twitter) whether the Braves and Rays could be a match on outfielder David DeJesus. The veteran is owed $5MM this year and a $1MM buyout on a 2016 option, which makes him a reasonably priced target but also does not leave him with a ton of trade value.
  • Though Orioles owner Peter Angelos threw cold water yesterday on the idea that momentum was building toward a deal that would result in executive VP Dan Duquette taking over the Blue Jays‘ front office, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports says that the possibility still remains. If nothing else, Duquette wants the job in Toronto, per the report, which chalks up the Angelos statement to negotiating tactics.
  • The Mets should make a hard push to acquire shortstop Ian Desmond from the Nationals, Rosenthal argues in the same piece. The recently-acquired Yunel Escobar provides an alternative to Desmond in D.C., and Rosenthal suggests that including Daniel Murphy and adding prospect value could make the trade palatable for the Nats. While I would not write off the idea entirely, it would seem likely that the Nationals would demand a particularly significant return to move Desmond to a rising division rival.
  • Staying in the division, Rosenthal says that the Braves should deal away closer Craig Kimbrel. The righty is an expensive luxury for a non-contending team, says Rosenthal, who does note that the club might get better value for him at the trade deadline. That may well be, but it would be interesting to see what teams would give up now for one of the game’s most dominant arms; I’m guessing quite a bit. For its part, Atlanta is “optimistic about the coming season” and has no interest in dealing away Kimbrel, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman tweets.
  • The ship has sailed at this point, of course, but Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution opines that the Braves may not have been in need of such a dramatic renovation. While the plan to re-build around young pitching obviously makes sense directionally, Bradley argues that the team now looks destined to be rather dreadful for the next season or two and wonders whether a less drastic plan could have been pursued.

Blue Jays Claim Matt West, Designate Cory Burns

The Blue Jays have claimed righty Matt West off waivers from the Rangers, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca tweets. Toronto designated fellow righty Cory Burns to create roster space.

West, 26, had been designated by Texas recently to clear room for the signing of Juan Carlos Oviedo. He reached the bigs for three outings last season, but spent most of the year at Triple-A. Across 56 2/3 innings, he worked to a 3.34 ERA with 10.2 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9.

The 27-year-old Burns, meanwhile, also pitched last in the majors with Texas. He worked at Triple-A last year for the Rangers and Rays, totaling 63 2/3 frames with a 4.95 ERA and 8.2 K/9 against 2.3 BB/9. Toronto claimed him off waivers in late September.


East Notes: Duquette, Gattis, Santana

The Blue Jays and Orioles have reached the point of discussing compensation if current Baltimore executive VP Dan Duquette were to head to Toronto as the club’s new president, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (links to Twitter). The Orioles are “open to his departure,” says Rosenthal, whose sources tell him that some in the organization want him to leave to resolve what has become an uncomfortable situation. No deal is close at present, per the report.

Here are a few more quick notes from the east:

  • The Braves are still talking with clubs regarding catcher/outfielder Evan Gattis, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman tweets. Nothing appears to be imminent, however, according to the report. As things stand, Gattis appears slated to open the season as Atlanta’s left fielder, though the right offer could presumably change that quickly.
  • Among the teams interested in veteran southpaw Johan Santana is the Yankees, according to Dan Martin of the New York Post. New York had eyes on Santana in his recent Venezuelan winter league outing and pursued him last year before he launched an unsuccessful comeback bid with the Orioles.

AL East Notes: Sox, Bradley, Hunter, Zobrist, O’s, Yankees, Jays

The Red Sox made their annual announcement of front office personnel changes today, and among the most significant changes is the creation of a department of behavioral health, writes Alex Speier of the Boston Globe. The Red Sox will hire Dr. Richard Ginsburg as the department head, and he will pair with former Major Leaguer Bob Tewksbury, who served as a mental skills coach with Boston from 2005-13. Tewksbury left the club for a year to work with the MLBPA, and Speier writes that his absence was noticed by young players such as Jackie Bradley Jr. and Xander Bogaerts as they struggled to transition to everyday roles. Said GM Ben Cherington of the new department: “We’re trying to take care of the body as well as we possibly can… Health extends past the body, but it’s all related. … We’re really just trying to help players be as healthy as they possibly can be, physically and mentally.”

More from the AL East…

  • The Red Sox may have to sell low on Bradley Jr., as they did with Will Middlebrooks, writes Jason Mastrodonato of MassLive.com. Boston will likely trade Bradley or another outfielder before Opening Day due to the fact that they have a logjam in the outfield. Mastrodonato opines that Bradley absolutely has the upside to be an everyday center fielder in the field and at the plate — his defense is already considered among the best in baseball — and worries about the danger of moving him only to see him take off with another club. He likens Bradley to Carlos Gomez, who was slow to develop but has always possessed a good glove and is now a perennial MVP candidate in the NL. Bradley may not have that type of power, but Cherington has told Mastrodonato this offseason that he thinks there are other clubs that will perceive Bradley as an everyday outfielder, and the Sox feel he has that ability as well.
  • Though the Orioles have not approached right-hander Tommy Hunter about an extension, the setup man tells Rich Dubroff of CSN Baltimore that he’s certainly open to a long-term deal to remain with the club. Hunter’s agent, Mike Moye, just wrapped up negotiation on a contract to avoid arbitration for the final time, settling on a $4.65MM salary for 2015. Hunter is one of 11 Orioles that can hit the open market next winter, and while he says he’d love to see the group stay together, he acknowledged that that the business element of the game prevents that before adding, “Let’s win this year, and worry about everything else after.”
  • Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com penned a column with multiple Orioles notes, including the fact that the Orioles had definite interest in acquiring Ben Zobrist from the Rays before he was dealt to Oakland. However, the Rays brought up names such as Dylan Bundy and Chance Sisco in talks, neither of whom GM Dan Duquette was willing to surrender.
  • Kubatko also notes that the Orioles don’t appear to have interest in a reunion with Johan Santana, and there’s nothing hot between the O’s and Colby Rasmus at this time. Baltimore’s interest hasn’t waned, but they’re maintaining the same level and don’t appear willing to go beyond their comfort zone to add him to the roster.
  • The Yankees are wise to have looked at the big picture this offseason rather than focusing on the immediate, opines Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com. Historically speaking, the Yankees have lived largely in the present, doling out large contracts with little regard for the potential negatives at the end of a deal. However, despite needs in the rotation, the Yankees have stayed out of the Max Scherzer market and haven’t been seriously connected to James Shields or Cole Hamels. Rather, the club is prioritizing defense and a strong bullpen. While their 2015 outlook may not have improved much, Castrovince writes, the team is in a better place in the long-term due to exercising caution.
  • Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith hosted a Blue Jays chat with readers today and covered a wide variety of hot stove topics. To name a few, Ben noted that he doesn’t foresee a reunion with Casey Janssen, that he expects Dioner Navarro to open the season with the club and that he believes the team will end up acquiring a new closer prior to Spring Training.