Toronto Blue Jays Rumors

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

Minor Moves: Andrew Albers, Casper Wells, Omar Duran

Here are today’s minor transactions from around the league…

  • The Blue Jays announced that they have selected the contract of left-hander Andrew Albers and optioned struggling top prospect Daniel Norris to Triple-A. In order to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Albers, Maicer Izturis has been transferred to the 60-day disabled list. Albers, a native of Saskatchewan, signed a Minor League deal with the Blue Jays this winter after spending the 2014 season with the Hanwha Eagles of the Korea Baseball Organization. The Twins signed Albers out of independent ball in 2011, and he eventually was named their Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2013 — the season in which he made his MLB debut. Albers’ 60 innings that year is his lone sample of MLB work, the end result of which was a 4.05 ERA with 25 strikeouts against seven walks. Alexis Brudnicki of the Canadian Baseball Network first reported that Albers would be joining the Blue Jays (Twitter link).
  • The Tigers have released outfielder Casper Wells and left-hander Omar Duran, MLB.com’s Jason Beck tweeted earlier this morning. The 29-year-old Wells was in his second stint with Detroit after initially being a 15th-round pick of Detroit in the 2005 draft. Wells was sent to Seattle in 2011’s Doug Fister trade and has spent parts of four seasons in the Majors as a platoon/reserve outfielder. At his best, he handles lefties well and is capable of playing all three outfield spots. He hit just .209/.292/.326 in a small sample of 48 PAs at the Double-A level in 2015, however. As for Duran, the longtime A’s farmhand inked a Minor League pact with Detroit in the offseason but yielded nine runs (eight earned) in 8 1/3 innings at the Double-A level this year. The ability to miss bats at a high rate has allowed Duran to succeed in the lower levels of the Minors despite poor control, but the 25-year-old’s proclivity for walks figures to become more troublesome in the upper levels of the Minors. He’s worked just 22 1/3 innings at Double-A in his career.

AL East Notes: Bailey, Sox Rotation, Romero

Yankees right-hander Andrew Bailey‘s road to recovery has again been slowed by a setback, reports Chad Jennings of the Journal News. GM Brian Cashman tells Jennings that Bailey underwent an MRI that has revealed a shoulder strain, and the former A’s closer will be shut down for the time being with no clear timetable for a return. Bailey tossed just 44 innings over the 2012-13 seasons with the Red Sox after being acquired in a trade that sent Josh Reddick to Oakland, and he’s signed Minor League deals with the Yankees in each of the past two offseasons.

Here’s more from the AL East…

  • The Red Sox have struggled tremendously in terms of starting pitching, but those hoping for a quick fix might instead need to be more patient, because the Sox themselves are typically patient with this type of problem, writes the Boston Globe’s Alex Speier. Speier looks at recent slow starts and poor stretches for a number of Sox hurlers in the Ben Cherington era, noting that more often than not, starters are given the opportunity to work out of slumps rather than replaced after limited struggles. Examples listed by Speier include Clay Buchholz in early 2012, Daniel Bard in 2012 and Felix Doubront in early 2013. Speier also notes that even amidst rotation in 2013, Allen Wesbter, arguably the team’s most MLB-ready prospect, made 10 starts at Triple-A while the big league group tried to sort things out.
  • Fangraphs’ Craig Edwards also tackles the Red Sox rotation, noting that the starting mix is filled with pitchers whose FIP is significantly better than their actual ERAs. Edwards looks at teams whose rotations have endured similar struggles stranding runners in the month of April over the past five seasons, noting that each has demonstrated marked improvement moving forward.
  • Ricky Romero was surprised to be released by the Blue Jays after a positive meeting with manager John Gibbons and pitching coach Pete Walker late in Spring Training, writes David Singh of Sportsnet“(They) let me know they were still thinking of me and still believe in me,” said Romero. “They told me ‘Make sure you take your time’ and we think it’s going to be a great story the day you come back up and help us.” Romero said that while he was uplifted by that conversation, he understands that it’s a business decision for Toronto. GM Alex Anthopoulos recently explained that Romero was cut loose after the team realized that he wouldn’t be recovered from a pair of knee surgeries by the end of the season.

Phillies Willing To Pay Some Of Hamels’ Contract In Trade

An incalculable amount of ink has been dedicated to the Cole Hamels saga and whether or not Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. is asking too much in trade talks, but the GM himself added another layer to the story Tuesday in telling USA Today’s Bob Nightengale that the Phillies would pay down some of Hamels’ contract in a trade.

“We are very open-minded,” Amaro told Nightengale. “We’re not afraid to subsidize contracts. We never told a club that we would not absolutely subsidize his contract. That is not a realistic way to do business. If there’s a deal to be made, and we have to subsidize part of it, we’ll do it.”

As recently as Spring Training, reports indicated that the Phillies were looking to add multiple top prospects and get an acquiring club to take on the entirety of Hamels’ four years and $96MM. (His contract also has a $20MM club option that can vest at $24MM based on innings pitched.)

Amaro again took a patient approach when discussing the Hamels situation, noting that it’s understandable if teams want to assess their internal options before making a more drastic move to acquire someone from another organization. “It’s no secret that one team lost an ace and two or three teams have lost very important starters,” said Amaro. “Some teams want to move quickly. Other teams want to ride things out. I think all of us would rather do deals only after exhausting their own internal possibilities and go from there.”

The Cardinals’ recent loss of Adam Wainwright has fueled quite a bit of Hamels-to-St. Louis speculation, and Nightengale also touched base with Cards GM John Mozeliak to discuss Hamels. Mozeliak noted that the team will certainly do its due diligence on trade candidates. Asked if the team could make a deal without including Carlos Martinez, a key member of the 2015 rotation, Mozeliak replied, “There’s probably always a deal worth making.”

Nightengale lists the Cardinals, Red Sox, Dodgers and Blue Jays as teams that could desperately use Hamels in their rotation. The Blue Jays wouldn’t seem to have the payroll capacity to add Hamels’ contract, but perhaps with enough money being paid down, something could be worked out. And for what it’s worth, Amaro did mention Toronto GM when making a tongue-in-cheek comment about his stress levels regarding the Hamels negotiations, stating: “I guarantee I’ll get more grey hairs from my daughter [taking her driving test] than any trade talks with Mozeliak, Anthopoulos and Cherington.” Nightengale adds that Amaro had talks regarding Hamels with a team as recently as Tuesday morning, and “some desperation” began to creep into those talks.

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports took a lengthy look at the market for Hamels earlier today, noting that the Phillies do indeed covet Martinez, though it’s unclear if they’ve formally asked for Martinez in trade negotiations with the Redbirds. Per Heyman, the Phillies are also taken with Jorge Alfaro and Nomar Mazara of the Rangers as well as Luis Severino and Aaron Judge of the Yankees. Despite a brutal month for the Red Sox’ rotation, there’s been no change to their refusal to part with Mookie Betts or Blake Swihart, and the Dodgers similarly won’t part with any of Joc Pederson, Corey Seager or Julio Urias, even with injuries ravaging their own rotation.

One rival exec noted to Heyman that, “A few things have lined up in the Phillies’ favor. There’s a little bit of a crescendo. And now is the time to act.” However, a GM explained to Heyman that he’d be more inclined to part with significant pieces to add someone controllable like Seattle’s Taijuan Walker than an aging star like Hamels. (That comment, for what it’s worth, was made prior to Amaro’s comments to Nightengale about absorbing some of the money on Hamels’ contract.)

It strikes me as unlikely that a deal would come together in the near future, but the early rash of pitching injuries, which grew with tonight’s news that Masahiro Tanaka is lost for at least a month, has likely increased the demand for Hamels. Though Amaro’s refusal to budge has drawn a great deal of criticism, it’s certainly easy to make the claim that he’s in a better spot to trade Hamels than he was late in the offseason.



AL East: A-Rod, Reyes, Blue Jays, Red Sox

The Yankees‘ apparent determination not to pay Alex Rodriguez a milestone bonus under his contract if (really, when) he matches Willie Mays on the all-time home run list has been well-documented. But as David Waldstein of the New York Times reports, the financial motivations are even stronger than had previously been realized. New York would be required to pay a 50% luxury tax on the potential $6MM bonus, meaning that $9MM is actually at issue from the team’s perspective.

Here’s more from the rest of the AL East:

  • The Blue Jays have placed shortstop Jose Reyes on the 15-day DL with a cracked rib and will recall Jonathan Diaz to take his place on the active roster. As Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca explains, the injury was suffered early in the season, and it remains unclear precisely what motivated the move at this point. While it could just be that the club wants Reyes to heal up for a long season, his long list of injury struggles make this a situation to monitor.
  • Reyes is not the only area of concern for the Blue Jays, whose reliance on internal options in the bullpen has started to come into question, as Davidi writes. It was a mistake for Toronto not to find an upgrade or two over the winter, he opines, arguing that the current mix of arms has left the club short of reliable options since the rotation, too, has some questions. Manager John Gibbons discussed the matter at some length, noting that the club may be asking too much of young hurlers Miguel Castro and Roberto Osuna. The division already looks like it could be a tightly-contested affair all season long, and the Jays’ relief corps is an obvious area for upgrade as the summer approaches.
  • Speaking of pitching concerns, the Red Sox rotation has long been an area of attention. Alex Speier of the Boston Globe looks into the team’s league-worst 5.75 starters’ ERA, noting that the club still believes its current options will improve. But as Speier explains, recent history shows that we are reaching a point where it may no longer be reasonable to expect a significant leap forward in productivity from the group as a whole.
  • With a competitive division to navigate, the Red Sox front office is set up for a difficult test of its patience, Rob Bradford of WEEI.com writes. GM Ben Cherington hinted that there could be more early trade activity this year, in part because of an increased sense of urgency owing to the spread of talent in the AL East. We have already seen greater creativity in structuring deals over the last year or so, and Cherington at least hints that the destabilization of established transactional patterns could continue. “The old saying was to take the first two months, figure out what you are and what you need to do, and then take the next two months to try and solve your needs and then let your team play for the last two months,” said Cherington. “I don’t think that it has to be that. Every team’s situation is different and has different needs.”

AL East Notes: Papelbon, Holt, Romero, Paredes

The Phillies have been trying to sell the Red Sox on a reunion with Jonathan Papelbon in light of Koji Uehara‘s decline in velocity, reports the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo. Uehara’s average heater is down to 86.2 mph, according to Fangraphs, which is leading to an alarming reliance on his splitter — a pitch he’s thrown upwards of 85 percent of the time this season, per PITCHf/x. Cafardo looks up and down the Sox roster, noting that uncertainty abounds not only in the rotation, but in the lineup as well.

More from Boston and the AL East…

  • Tony La Russa’s handling of super utility player Tony Phillips in the late 1980s has served as at least somewhat of a blueprint for Red Sox manager John Farrell’s usage of Brock Holt, writes WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford. La Russa spoke with Bradford about the importance of using a player like Phillips (or Holt) to keep the rest of the lineup fresh, particularly when that versatile asset is one of the team’s better hitters. Holt may or may not be one of Boston’s top bats — the lineup is loaded with talent, after all — but it’s hard to look past the .293/.344/.397 line he’s tallied dating back to Opening Day 2014.
  • Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star details the Blue Jays‘ decision to part ways with embattled left-hander Ricky Romero. GM Alex Anthopoulos explained to Kennedy that the Blue Jays didn’t feel Romero would recover from a double knee operation in time to contribute by season’s end, and they therefore opted to part with in order to “give him the opportunity to get a head start somewhere else.” Romero did not request his release from Toronto, per Anthopoulos, who spoke highly of a pitcher who was formerly seen as a building block in Toronto. “He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do,” said Anthopoulos. “He’s worked tremendously hard. We don’t have anything but the highest praise for the way he’s gone about it…” The GM added that to this day, he’s still not sure if anyone has an explanation as to what caused the chronic knee problems that seemed to derail Romero’s career.
  • The decision to re-acquire Jimmy Paredes after first losing him on waivers to the Royals is paying off significantly for the Orioles, writes MASNsports.com’s Steve Melewski. Baltimore lost Paredes to waivers last offseason and acquired him for cash in July. Since that time, he’s batted a collective .352/.374/.636 with the O’s. Paredes won’t sustain a BABIP near .400, but he’s shown more power than most likely expected and could be a valuable utility piece going forward.

AL Notes: Fields, Holt, Hamilton

Center fielder Roemon Fields went undrafted out of college and spent the summer of 2013 working in a mall and delivering mail, but a former coach’s invitation to play in the World Baseball Challenge led to him being signed by the Blue Jays, Shi Davidi writes for Baseball America (subscription-only). Roemon’s brother Anthony urged him to play. “He kept telling me, ‘Just go,’ and I kept telling him, ‘I think I’m done with baseball. I gave it a try in college,'” says Fields. “I hadn’t hit in months, hadn’t thrown, went out there and I guess played pretty good.” Now that Fields is in the Jays’ system, it’s unclear whether he’s a prospect, but if he does get to the big leagues, it will probably be due in large part to his speed — he stole a remarkable 48 bases in 328 plate appearances in short-season Vancouver last year, leading the Jays to promote him all the way up to Class A+ Dunedin this season. Here’s more from around the American League.

  • GM Ben Cherington says the Red Sox want to draft and develop more players like the versatile and effective Brock Holt, Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald writes. “There are guys who are good players and talented but have a harder time staying productive if they’re moving around in the field a lot and there are other guys who seem able to do it, and Holt’s one of those guys, clearly,” says Cherington. “(Holt’s skillset) has always been important, but with the challenges everyone faces of keeping teams and players healthy through a season and getting through the grind, those guys are becoming more and more important.” Cherington notes that it’s crucial to get players rest, so players who can man several positions while hitting reasonably well are especially valuable. The Red Sox are considering the possibility of drafting a player this June, likely after the first round, who they might develop with the goal of turning into the next Holt. So far this season, Holt has played second base, shortstop, third base, left field and center field while getting 14 hits in his first 33 at bats.
  • The Rangers likely represent Josh Hamilton‘s last clear chance of reestablishing himself in the big leagues, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale writes. The Rangers appear likely to be getting Hamilton at such a steep discount that he can be a good value for them even if he’s just a bench player. Meanwhile, though, they’ll also have to try to help him as he battles addiction issues that have now caused problems at several points in his career.

Minor Moves: Snyder, Dykstra, Redmond, Roberts

Here are Sunday’s minor moves from around MLB:

  • The Orioles will sign corner intfielder Brandon Snyder to a minor-league deal, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweets. Snyder, 28, had agreed to a deal with the independent Southern Maryland Blue Crabs in March. He hit .206/.284/.444 in 141 plate appearances with the Red Sox’ Triple-A Pawtucket affiliate in 2014. He last appeared in the big leagues with the Red Sox in 2013 and had previously had cups of coffee with the Orioles and Rangers. The Orioles made him the 13th overall pick in the draft ten years ago.
  • The Rays have outrighted Allan Dykstra, according to MLB.com’s transactions page. Dykstra playing first base for much of April, but he became superfluous when James Loney returned from the disabled list. The 27-year-old Dykstra hit .280/.426/.504 for the Mets’ hitter-friendly Triple-A affiliate in Las Vegas last season, drawing 84 walks in 439 plate appearances.
  • The Blue Jays outrighted right-hander Todd Redmond to Triple-A after he cleared waivers, tweets Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca. Redmond, who was designated for assignment April 16, struggled to start 2015 allowing eight runs (all earned) in a pair of relief appearanes (covering 4 1/13 innings) with five walks and four strikeouts.
  • The A’s have signed infielder Ryan Roberts to a minor league deal and have assigned him to Triple-A Nashville, tweets the Sounds’ play-by-play announcer Jeff Hem. Roberts, who was in camp with the Royals before being released in March, made a cameo appearance with Boston in 2014 and batted just .105/.227/.105 in 22 trips to the plate during eight games. Over his nine-year career, the 34-year-old has slashed a much more acceptable .243/.320/.388 for the Red Sox, Rays, Diamondbacks, Rangers, and Blue Jays.
  • The Marlins have outrighted left-hander Grant Dayton to Triple-A, per the club’s transactions page. The 27-year-old was designated for assignment Friday to create room on the 40-man roster for catcher Jhonatan Solano, whose contract was purchased when the Marlins placed Jarrod Saltalamacchia on the paternity list.
  • The Mets signed free agent second baseman Brooks Conrad to a minor league contract, according to the International League transactions page.  Conrad signed a minor league deal with the Padres in January of last year after spending some time in Japan and joined their major league team later in 2014.  He spent the bulk of the year in Triple-A, slashing .278/.349/.529 with 18 homers in 337 plate appearances. In a limited sample size of 34 major league appearances in 2014, however, he couldn’t produce the same results, and he was released in August.
  • Per MLBTR’s DFA Tracker, Eric Surkamp (White Sox), Grant Balfour (Rays), Eury De La Rosa (A’s), Steve Tolleson (Blue Jays), Xavier Cedeno (Dodgers), and Logan Verrett (Rangers) are still in DFA limbo.

Quick Hits: Manfred, Ramirez, Soriano

Here’s the latest from around the league:

  • Commissioner Rob Manfred would prefer for the Athletics to remain in Oakland, writes Bill Shaiken of the LA Times. The A’s are currently waiting to learn if the NFL’s Oakland Raiders will remain in the city or move to Los Angeles. Manfried also suggested that public financing would be helpful. “We want to remain loyal to [small market fans], but those markets also have to participate in providing the kind of facilities necessary to keep a Major League Baseball team.
  • Brewers third baseman Aramis Ramirez won’t let the club’s slow start affect his decision to retire, reports MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy. Milwaukee is quickly falling out of contention in the tough NL Central. Ramirez is off to a slow start, but you have to imagine he’ll be a trade candidate this summer. Assuming he’s dealt, he’ll have an opportunity to finish his career with a contender – it just probably won’t be the Brewers.
  • The Twins remain among the teams interested in free agent reliever Rafael Soriano, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. Wolfson believes the fit is much better with the Tigers and Blue Jays. While Minnesota could definitely use some relief reinforcements, the club doesn’t figure to contend this season. As such, they probably view Soriano as a piece they could trade at the deadline.

Latest From Rosenthal: Papelbon, Braun, Young, Redmond

Some within the industry believe the Nationals should trade for Jonathan Papelbon and install Drew Storen as the setup man, says Ken Rosenthal with FOX Sports (video link). While there is some concern over Papelbon’s velocity, he’s off to a great start and “never misses his spots.” His $13MM vesting option for 2016 remains an obstacle. Rosenthal notes that the Tigers and Blue Jays are other possible destinations. I agree that these three clubs could all use relief help. To me, it makes more sense for the Nationals to address their bullpen at the trade deadline. The Blue Jays have a tougher path to the postseason, so they could really use the reinforcements now. Here’s more from Rosenthal.

  • The Brewers may shift to a rebuilding stance, and teams are in constant contact about Carlos Gomez and Jean Segura. Another star, Ryan Braun, will be difficult to trade. He’s slumped to start the season. He’s owed $105MM through 2020, and his no trade clause includes every team by the Angels, Dodgers, Nationals, Rays, and Marlins.
  • Yankees GM Brian Cashman credits his analytics department for recommending Chris Young. The outfielder is off to a blazing start with four home runs and a .357/.426/.762 line in 48 plate appearances. The Yankees have become familiar with buying low. They also acquired Chris Capuano, Martin Prado, and Brandon McCarthy at discount prices.
  • The Marlins are en route to their fourth consecutive victory, but manager Mike Redmond may remain on the hot seat. As one insider told Rosenthal, once owner Jeffrey Loria gets an idea in his head, “he can’t let it go.” If that’s the case, Redmond will need his team to go on an impressive streak.

Blue Jays Release Ricky Romero

The Blue Jays have released lefty Ricky Romero, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca tweets. Romero will make $7.5MM in the last year of a $30.1MM contract he signed in late 2010. He will receive a $600K buyout for 2016.

Romero, the sixth overall pick in the 2005 draft, was once a promising young starter. His best year was 2011, when he posted a 2.92 ERA, 7.1 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 in 225 innings and finished tenth in AL Cy Young balloting. The following season, though, was a huge step backward — he had a 5.77 ERA and led the league in walks, then had elbow surgery after the season.

After that, Romero never returned to form. He spent much of 2013 in the minors, and the Jays outrighted him in June and then again in October. A knee injury ended his 2014 season after nine minor-league starts, and he had not yet pitched in 2015. According to Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star (via Twitter), Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos says that since Romero was in the last year of his deal and was not close to being able to help, there was no reason for the team to keep him.