Toronto Blue Jays Rumors

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

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.

Trade Candidate: Dioner Navarro

Catcher didn’t seem to be an obvious area of upgrade for the Blue Jays heading into the offseason, yet the team made a big splash by signing Russell Martin to a five-year, $82MM free agent deal.  This immediately turned incumbent Jays catcher Dioner Navarro into a possible trade candidate, and indeed, at least three teams asked about Navarro in the wake of Martin’s signing.  Navarro himself even inquired about being dealt somewhere where he could receive everyday playing time.

This trade speculation was certainly not what Navarro was expecting coming off his solid 2014 campaign.  After signing a two-year, $8MM deal with the Jays in December 2013, the switch-hitting Navarro hit .274/.317/.395 with 12 homers last season, reaching new career highs in plate appearances (520) and games played (139).  Defense, however, was another story, as Navarro ranked near the bottom of the league in terms of pitch-framing and throwing out baserunners.MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Tampa Bay Rays

As he’s scheduled for free agency next winter, Navarro obviously wants a better platform than a backup catcher/part-time DH role to boost his value as he looks ahead to his next trip into the open market.  Keeping Navarro as a backup makes a lot of sense for Toronto despite the presence of another catcher (Josh Thole) on the roster.  If Martin can handle R. A. Dickey‘s knuckleball, then Thole’s role as Dickey’s personal catcher becomes redundant, and Navarro offers far more hitting value than Thole.

On the other hand, the Jays are looking to add relievers despite limited payroll space; moving Navarro and his $5MM 2015 salary seems like a logical way to free up some money for further transactions.  The Jays are reportedly asking for pitching in return in any Navarro trade, so they’re clearly exploring this strategy already.

The Diamondbacks and Tigers are two teams who have been linked to Navarro on the rumor mill this winter, though Detroit’s interest has been limited to internal discussions at this point.  Gerald Laird and Tuffy Gosewisch project as Arizona’s starting catching combo in the wake of Miguel Montero‘s departure, and while the team may think prospect Peter O’Brien is their future at the position, one year of Navarro would both give the D’Backs an upgrade now and still clear the path for O’Brien beyond 2015. The Tigers, meanwhile, look to have Alex Avila and one of Bryan Holaday or James McCann splitting time at catcher.  Avila is a question mark due to his concussion history while Navarro would certainly provide a more proven bat than Holaday or McCann.

Catching depth is thin enough around baseball that a number of teams could also be fits for Navarro’s services.  In my opinion, the White Sox and Pirates stand out as teams whose hopes of contending would be improved behind the plate by Navarro’s presence, though both clubs already have several catchers battling for those jobs.  (In Pittsburgh’s case, admittedly, their focus on catcher defense might keep Navarro off their radar.)  The Rangers could see Navarro as a more proven option than their current selection of Robinson Chirinos, Carlos Corporan, Tomas Telis and Chris Gimenez.  The Rays could platoon Navarro with the defensive specialist Rene Rivera, though the prospect of an inter-division trade and Tampa taking on a $5MM salary for a part-time player made this seem somewhat unlikely.

Photo courtesy of Kim Klement/USA Today Sports Images


AL East Notes: Hardy, Blue Jays, Edwards, BoSox

J.J. Hardy made an early exit from the free agent market when he re-signed with the Orioles before the ALCS, but the shortstop would’ve preferred to have inked his new contract even sooner.  “It kind of went a lot longer than I wanted it to,” Hardy told Steve Melewski of MASNsports.com. “I didn’t think it needed to go that long, but it did. But I told my agent, ‘Listen, this is what I want and I like it in Baltimore. Let’s get to what is fair and make this happen.’ Now that it is done, I’m glad everything worked out as it did.”  Hardy also said he was hampered by a bad back last season, and hopes to deliver more of his customary power now that he’s feeling healthier.  Here’s some more from around the AL East…

  • Canadian-born Russell Martin, Dalton Pompey and Michael Saunders are slated to play major roles for the Blue Jays, though team president Paul Beeston and Alex Anthopoulos tell Robert MacLeod of the Globe & Mail that this increase in Canadian talent is a coincidence in roster-building, not a promotional gimmick. “The city and the fans and the country embrace great players because great players help you win. And I think winning is what promotes the sport and baseball in Canada,” Anthopoulos said.
  • Rays minor leaguer Spencer Edwards has been issued an 80-game suspension for a PED violation, the league announced.  Edwards was Tampa’s second-round pick in the 2012 draft, selected 88th overall.  The 21-year-old shortstop/center fielder has a .558 OPS in 569 PA over his first three pro seasons, none above the A-ball level.
  • Rough seasons for Xander Bogaerts, Will Middlebrooks and Jackie Bradley were a big reason why the Red Sox suffered through a last-place finish in 2014.  Alex Speier of the Boston Globe examines both why these players struggled and takes a broad overview of how the Sox are adapting their player development system as part of an in-depth four-part series of articles.
  • The main takeaway from Speier’s piece is that the Red Sox felt empowered by their 2013 World Series title to deploy so many youngsters in last year’s starting lineup, and realistically, the team didn’t even expect all three to contribute right away.  The larger roster flaw, according to Speier, may have been that Boston didn’t acquire enough veteran depth last winter to account for some growing pains by their three young starters.  In response, the Red Sox began adding notable veterans even before last season ended, and now theoretically have protection should Bogaerts, Bradley or other unproven talents like Mookie Betts or Rusney Castillo underperform.
  • Speier’s piece also explores some bigger-picture topics, such as how the Red Sox are dealing with the age-old problem of how to best prepare each individual prospect to be ready for the majors.  This is complicated by the fact that the quality gap between Triple-A and MLB has never been wider, yet top prospects are coming into the game with higher expectations than ever thanks to media hype and fan interest.

Pitching Notes: Pen Market, Beimel, Mets, Coke, Stroman

The Blue Jays and Indians appear not to be involved with any of the three best remaining relievers — righties Francisco Rodriguez, Rafael Soriano, and Joba Chamberlain — according to ESPN.com’s Jim Bowden (Insider link). Other theoretically plausible landing spots seem fairly dried up as well, he notes in assessing the most likely remaining suitors.

Here are a few more pitching notes:

  • Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik says that the club spoke with lefty reliever Joe Beimel but that a deal could not be reached, Shannon Drayer of 710 ESPN tweets. Beimel had a nice rebound campaign last year in Seattle, and is one of the few southpaws left on the market.
  • The Mets will not be dealing away any pitchers unless circumstances change, Marc Carig of Newsday reports (Twitter links). Dillon Gee generated the most discussion, but New York never found an offer it liked and its prospective trade partners went with other options.
  • We checked in earlier this evening on K-Rod and lefty Phil Coke, each of whom has received some interest from the Marlins. Within that post, we noted a report from Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca (via Twitter) indicating that Coke still has hope of landing a big league pact.
  • Marcus Stroman of the Blue Jays is likely not going anywhere any time soon, but I can’t help but link to this interesting piece from Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs, who explains that Stroman’s arsenal of pitches looks like it was assembled from amongst the best offerings of some of the very best arms in the game.

AL East Notes: Eovaldi, Cecchini, Albers, Blue Jays

The Yankees‘ primary focus with trade acquisition Nathan Eovaldi will be on improving his offspeed offerings, writes Dan Martin of the New York Post. Despite Eovaldi’s imposing velocity, the 25-year-old generates a surprisingly low number of strikeouts. And, while he struggles more against left-handed hitters, his lack of whiffs isn’t as a result of any platoon issue (6.5 K/9 vs. RHB in his career; 6.0 K/9 vs. LHB). He’s already begun working with pitching coach Larry Rothschild on improving those pitches and would do well to improve his change-up to give him a true out pitch versus lefties. As it is, lefty hitters have batted .466 with a .655 slugging percentage against Eovaldi’s change in his career. The Yankees, Martin writes, were drawn to Eovaldi because of his velocity (95.9 mph fastball from 2013-14), age and the durability he showed in 2014, throwing 199 2/3 innings.

A few more notes from around the AL East…

  • Red Sox third base prospect Garin Cecchini isn’t worried about the team’s addition of Pablo Sandoval, he tells Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe“I take it as a positive for my career,” Cecchini explains. “I get to hang out with a great player like that and work with him in spring training. That has to help me. It’s easy to say, ‘Where is my spot?’ but I can’t worry about that. You have to create your own opportunity.”  Of course, creating that opportunity won’t be easy, barring an injury to Sandoval. And even in that instance, left fielder Hanley Ramirez could slide over to third base, as the Sox have tremendous outfield depth. Cecchini acknowledged to Abraham that a position change or trade could be the eventual outcome. “You hear that kind of stuff. But I don’t look too much into it. … I understand Pablo is in front of me but I hope I can do something to help.”
  • The Blue Jays had two scouts watch Matt Albers‘ recent workout, tweets Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet. Albers turned down multiple offers to sign with the White Sox, according to Nicholson-Smith, though it’s not clear if Toronto was one of the teams to make an offer. Shortly after Albers signed, the Houston Chronicle’s Evan Drellich tweeted that Albers had offers from four teams besides the ChiSox.
  • Nicholson-Smith also spoke with someone familiar with the arbitration process who estimated that the Blue Jays‘ win over Josh Donaldson in yesterday’s arbitration hearing may have saved the club upwards of $6MM over the next several winters, as each salary is based upon the previous year’s figure (Twitter link).

Josh Donaldson Loses Arbitration Hearing

FEB. 13: Donaldson has lost the hearing and will earn $4.3MM in 2015, according to Heyman (Twitter link).

FEB. 12: The Blue Jays and third baseman Josh Donaldson had an arbitration hearing today, reports Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (on Twitter). Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet tweets that a decision should be announced tomorrow, which was the case with the team’s previous arb hearing against fellow corner infielder and fellow MVP Sports Group client Danny Valencia. (Valencia won his hearing.)

Acquired from the Athletics in a blockbuster deal that sent third baseman Brett Lawrie and prospects Franklin Barreto, Sean Nolin and Kendall Graveman to Oakland, Donaldson is arbitration eligible for the first time this winter. The 29-year-old late bloomer has a compelling case in his first trip through arbitration, as he’s batted .277/.363/.477 with 53 homers for the A’s over the past two seasons. Those efforts have netted the former Cubs farmhand a fourth-place and an eighth-place finish in the past two MVP votings, respectively.

Donaldson, who was projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to earn $4.5MM in 2015, filed for a $5.75MM salary, while the team countered at $4.3MM (as can be seen in MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker). He’ll now earn either that $5.75MM figure or the $4.3MM figure, depending on which way an arbitration panel leans.

Donaldson is a Super Two player, meaning that he’ll be eligible for arbitration four times instead of the standard three. He’s under control through the 2018 season and will be arbitration eligible three more times.