Toronto Blue Jays Rumors
Andrew Friedman doesn't think the Rays' search for a first baseman will last beyond another week, the club's executive VP told reporters (including Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times). "There were some suggestions...of movement" between the Rays and James Loney on Thursday, Topkin reports, and Loney remains the Rays' top choice, though at less than his three-year, $27MM asking price. If Loney signs elsewhere, Topkin expects the Rays to acquire a first baseman in a trade rather than in free agency.
Here are some more items from around baseball as we conclude the 2013 Winter Meetings...
- This might be the optimal time for the Braves to trade Craig Kimbrel, ESPN's Buster Olney writes (Insider subscription required). Kimbrel is about to get much more expensive now that he's eligible for arbitration, to the point that Kimbrel's incredible statistics "broke" the arbitration projection model used by MLBTR's Matt Swartz.
- Rumors connecting Rickie Weeks to the Blue Jays, Braves and Marlins during the Winter Meetings were all false, Brewers GM Doug Melvin tells Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Twitter link).
- Ryan Kalish "is in the final stages" of signing with a new team, Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe reports. Kalish was non-tendered by the Red Sox earlier this month. The outfielder missed the entire 2013 season recovering from shoulder and neck surgeries.
- Several teams, including the Red Sox, have been scouting right-hander Ryan Madson, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports. The Rockies were also recently linked to Madson, who has missed two full seasons recovering from Tommy John surgery.
- ESPN's Paul Swydan (Insider subscription required) lists four teams who could be helped by the inexpensive additions of Kevin Youkilis, Brian Roberts, Johan Santana and Jeff Francis, respectively. Swydan also wrote about how Clint Barmes could help the Mets, but Barmes re-signed with the Pirates earlier today.
- Diamondbacks president/CEO Derrick Hall discussed his team's desire for a top starting pitcher, the recent Mark Trumbo deal and several other topics during a live chat with fans on MLB.com.
- The Pirates, Orioles and Indians could be risking their recent success with their hesitation to spend, USA Today's Bob Nightengale opines.
- Several team executives and scouts joined ESPN's Jayson Stark in listing the winners and losers of the offseason thus far, with a pair of teams (the Mariners and Yankees) somewhat in between, in the "winners with an asterisk" category.
Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos spoke with reporters at the conclusion of the Winter Meetings today. Sportsnet.ca's Ben Nicholson-Smith (in two seperate pieces) and the Toronto Sun's Bob Elliott have the highlights of Anthopoulos' talk, as well as a few other hot stove items...
- Anthopoulos didn't say whether or not he'd recently discussed a contract extension with Colby Rasmus, who is eligible for free agency next winter. Rasmus has raised his value after a big 2013 campaign, though Anthopoulos noted that larger-market teams like Toronto had the luxury of waiting before locking players up. "We don’t mind paying a little more to be sure we get a little more information," Anthopoulos said.
- The team did explore an extension with Rasmus during last year's All-Star break. “We wanted to see how he was going to play. We could look to do it this offseason, All-Star break, end of the season. I never divulge it because it becomes a daily watch," Anthopoulos said.
- Rasmus' name reportedly emerged in trade talks for starting pitching. While Anthopoulos noted that "no one is untradeable," he also added that "for us to move an everyday position player and feel like we can get better, that would be hard to do."
- The Cubs are asking for Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez and a third prospect from the Blue Jays for Jeff Samardzija, Elliott reports. Anthopoulos recently said he was constantly being asked about Stroman and Sanchez, the Jays' top two pitching prospects, in possible deals.
- The Blue Jays have been approached by teams looking to add power hitters. "The one thing we have is power and there’s not a lot of power on the market and the free-agent prices don’t work....We haven’t lined up anything,” Anthopoulos said.
- The Jays have three starting pitchers targeted and Anthopoulos says a fourth pitcher could also be in play. “We’re not going to close the door on the fourth,” the GM said. “The fourth is a little more challenging, but I think there could be a domino effect with the fourth if we do some other things.”
- The signing of Tomo Ohka adds another knuckleballer to the organization and Anthopoulos hinted that the team may add more knuckleballers to prepare their catchers for the challenge of handling R.A. Dickey. “To be honest, we’ll look to add some more guys if we can....We may look to get some other guys that we think can be guys to convert," Anthopoulos said.
- The Jays are looking to add an international free agent, Nicholson-Smith reports, so the trade of Rule 5 draft pick Brian Moran to the Angels for $244K of extra space under the international spending cap helped Toronto prepare for this potential signing. The Blue Jays attempted to acquire international cap space from the Phillies earlier this winter but were turned down.
The Royals and Blue Jays have talked about a trade that would send Billy Butler and prospects to Toronto, The Globe & Mail's Jeff Blair reports (Twitter links). No deal is imminent, however, as Blair says the talks haven't "moved beyond [the] discussion stage."
Butler was rumored to be on the shopping block earlier this winter, especially during the Royals' pursuit of Carlos Beltran. Even with Beltran now a Yankee, ESPN's Jayson Stark reported on Tuesday that the Royals could still be looking to move Butler, and would perhaps then attempt to sign Nelson Cruz. The rationale behind a Butler trade would be to free up payroll space and also free up the Royals' DH spot so a defensively-challenged player like Cruz wouldn't be locked into playing the field every day.
Butler will earn $8MM in 2014 and the Royals hold a $12.5MM option (with a $1MM buyout) on his services for 2015. The 27-year-old slugger hit .289/.374/.412 with 15 homers in 668 PA in 2013, solid numbers that nevertheless represented a step back from the .854 OPS and 21 homers that Butler averaged from 2009-12.
It seems that Toronto wouldn't be able to make a move for Butler until they could unload Adam Lind, the team's incumbent designated hitter. Lind outhit Butler (23 homers, .854 OPS) in 147 fewer PA in 2013, but Lind is three years older, posted subpar numbers from 2010-12 and struggles to hit left-handed pitching, whereas Butler has produced against both lefties and righties. The Pirates showed interest in Lind earlier this offseason but trade talks with the Jays didn't develop.
The Angels have acquired left-handed reliever Brian Moran from the Blue Jays in exchange for an international bonus slot, according to Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times. The Blue Jays had selected Moran from the Mariners in this morning's Rule 5 Draft (Twitter links). Jeff Fletcer of the Orange County Register reports that the Blue Jays will pick up $244K of international money in the deal (on Twitter).
Moran, 25, was seen as a near lock to be taken in this year's Rule 5 Draft aftr being left off the Mariners' 40-man roster. The 2009 seventh-rounder posted a strong 3.45 ERA with 12.2 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in 62 2/3 innings at Triple-A Tacoma in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League last season.
The Blue Jays have a verbal agreement in place with Tomo Ohka on a minor league deal, according to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet (via Twitter). The Japanese pitcher, who last appeared in the big leagues in 2009, has reinvented himself as a knuckleball pitcher.
The 37-year-old may start at Double-A New Hampshire, according to Davidi. Earlier this offseason, we heard that the Orioles were among the clubs with interest, but it appears that he'll be going to another AL East team.
The Red Sox haven't made a formal offer to shortstop Stephen Drew, a source tells Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. Per multiple sources, the Red Sox’ strategy continues to be to wait for Drew to find what his market might result in before looping back in with him. Here's more out of the AL East..
- The Orioles have a two-year offer out to Grant Balfour, tweets Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. Earlier today, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported that the O's have an offer out to the reliever.
- A report from Japanese outlet Sponichi (Japanese link) indicates that submariner Shunsuke Watanabe is expected to sign a minor league deal with the Red Sox. Special thanks to Patrick Newman of NPB Tracker for posting the report along via Twitter.
- The Blue Jays announced that right-hander Thad Weber has been granted his release and has signed a contract with the NC Dinos of the Korean Baseball Organization. The club now has 39 players on the 40-man roster.
A quick look at the AL East..
- GM Ben Cherington says the Red Sox won't pursue Johan Santana, tweets Tim Britton of the Providence Journal.
- Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos says that he's exploring a deal with a "three-team component" that he believes can get done, tweets Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com.
- The Orioles have considered a contract extension for shortstop J.J. Hardy, according to Britt Ghiroli of MLB.com (via Twitter).
Yesterday it was reported that the Mariners have a real opportunity to acquire David Price. Seattle would prefer to keep Taijuan Walker but could be willing to move Mike Zunino, according to those reports. Here's the latest on Price's trade market...
- The Giants have checked in on Price, according to ESPN's Buster Olney (on Twitter). The two sides have yet to get into any sort of exchange, however.
- The Blue Jays have also asked about Price, tweets Rosenthal, but they're not big on the idea of parting with Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports spoke with Price's agent, Bo McKinnis, this morning at the Winter Meetings and was told that Price would not sign a long-term deal if he were traded to the Mariners. McKinnis told Rosenthal that Price would consider signing an extension with other clubs, but wouldn't disclose which clubs in which Price would have interest. Rosenthal stresses that this doesn't preclude the Mariners from acquiring Price anyway (All Twitter links).
It's still early on Day Three of the Winter Meetings in Orlando, but Joel Sherman of the New York Post is coming out of the gate with a few items of note. Let's dive in and round them up...
- An increasingly crowded first base trade market may make it difficult for the Mets to acquire a solid return for Ike Davis, as Sherman outlines in a column.
- Sherman adds in the same piece that the Mets have placed a "significant return cost" on Daniel Murphy, but people around the league continue to believe he could be dealt.
- With Tyler Skaggs headed to the Angels, the Diamondbacks may no longer have the trade pieces to pry Jeff Samardzija away from the Cubs. However, Sherman says (via Twitter) that the D-Backs would now "really love" to acquire Justin Masterson from the Indians.
- The Toronto Sun's Bob Elliott reported on Tuesday that the Blue Jays had offered Colby Rasmus to a pair of teams in exchange for starting pitching, and it sounds as if Rasmus remains in play. Sherman tweets that the Jays will use Rasmus to try to land a starter.
The Red Sox would benefit most strongly if Masahiro Tanaka were to not be posted, Tim Britton of the Providence Journal writes. If Tanaka were to stay in Japan, not only would he not go to the Yankees, but prices for other starters (such as Ervin Santana and Matt Garza) would rise, and so would the value of the Red Sox's own pitchers, such as John Lackey, Ryan Dempster and Jake Peavy. Also, if Tanaka were to be posted next offseason, the Red Sox might actually bid for him. Right now, they don't have a need. Here are more notes from the East divisions.
- The Blue Jays have offered outfielder Colby Rasmus to two teams in exchange for starting pitching, the Toronto Sun's Bob Elliott writes.
- If Corey Hart doesn't re-sign with the Brewers, the team could quickly deal for Ike Davis of the Mets, tweets Andy Martino of the New York Daily News. Hart could make a decision tonight about where to sign.
- The Mets have had discussions with the Legacy Agency, which represents Freddy Garcia and Cesar Izturis, today, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports (via Twitter). Puma notes the Mets could sign either player.
- The Braves are on the lookout for a hitter for their bench, and Eric Chavez could be their top free agent option, reports MLB.com's Mark Bowman. They also continue to stay in touch with reliever Eric O'Flaherty.