Toronto Blue Jays Rumors
The Braves are indeed very interested, with financial concerns the main limitation. Meanwhile, the Royals have put in a call on Santana. The Blue Jays and Orioles have standing offers out, Rojas adds.
2:21pm: O'Brien hears from a person connected to the Royals that the Braves may now be making a run at Santana (Twitter link). In addition to Medlen's injury, Brandon Beachy left today's Spring Training start with biceps tightness.
10:17am: The Braves haven't completely ruled out Santana in the event of a serious Medlen injury, writes MLB.com's Mark Bowman, but the financial and draft pick costs are definite factors. Atlanta would very much like to strengthen its crop of top prospects, and sacrificing the No. 26 selection in the draft would go against that thinking.
9:19am: Over the weekend it was reported that Ervin Santana has completely changed course and is now seeking a one-year deal with an eye toward a lucrative multi-year deal next offseason. With one-year offers of $13MM plus incentives and $14MM without incentives from the Orioles and Blue Jays, respectively, there appear to be a pair of clear favorites for Santana.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports provides some updates on the Santana sweepstakes this morning, noting that the Blue Jays' players are lobbying for Santana to come to Toroto. Santana has many friends on the club, including countrymen Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Reyes. One source told Rosenthal that several Jays players got together and texted Santana a picture of themselves holding a poster that read, "Come to Toronto."
One potentially game-changing factor to the Santana market could be the severity of the injury to Braves right-hander Kris Medlen, who left Sunday's Spring Training game with a forearm strain. David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution touched on the topic this morning, wondering if the Braves could consider expanding their budget to bring him into the fold. Rosenthal writes that the Braves will get the results of an MRI on Medlen today. The draft pick loss wouldn't be as big for the Braves as some teams around the league, as Atlanta would surrender the No. 26 selection after already having received the No. 32 selection for losing Brian McCann to free agency. That forfeiture, however, would be the most significant of the specific teams mentioned in Rosenthal's piece.
Rosenthal also has some specifics on recent offers made to Santana; the Orioles' last three-year offer was believed to be in the $27MM range, while the three-year offer from the Twins was in the $30-33MM range. That offer was still on the table as of last night. However, as Rosenthal notes, Santana could earn nearly that much over the next two seasons by taking $14MM or so in 2014 and receiving a qualifying offer following the season, as next year's QO could jump to the $15-16MM range.
Here are some minor moves from around the league...
- The Angels have signed righty Joe Martinez to a minor league pact, per the club's official transactions page. The 31-year-old Martinez made a pair of appearances for the Indians last season, allowing one run in five innings. He has a 5.82 ERA in 55 2/3 career innings between the Giants, D'Backs, Pirates and Indians and a 4.75 ERA in 548 Triple-A innings.
- Right-hander Brandon Erbe has signed a minor league deal with the Rockies, according to the team's transactions page. Erbe, 26, ranked as the game's No. 27 prospect heading into the 2007 season, per Baseball Prospectus, but 2010 shoulder surgery has stalled his once-promising career. The former third-round pick has thrown just 45 minor league innings over the past three seasons as he's battled back from a torn labrum.
- The Blue Jays signed right-hander Radhames Liz to a minor league contract, Baseball America's Matt Eddy tweeted this weekend. The 30-year-old was once among the game's Top 100 prospects, per BA, but hasn't pitched in the Majors since 2009. Liz has spent the past three seasons pitching for the LG Twins in the Korea Baseball Organization and led the league in strikeouts last season with 188. However, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet reported (via Twitter) that he'll begin the season rehabbing a knee injury. Liz had a 7.50 ERA in 110 1/3 Major League innings with the Orioles from 2007-09.
- Brewers senior director of media relations Mike Vassallo tweets that the club has released right-hander Michael Olmsted. Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel spoke with manager Ron Roenicke about the decision to release the 6'6", 282-pound right-hander. Roenicke said they simply wanted to give Olmsted a chance to get an opportunity elsewhere rather than releasing him later in the spring. Olmsted posted a 5.88 ERA in 59 2/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A for the Brew Crew last season, but the 26-year-old has an excellent 3.02 ERA with 11.1 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 in his minor league career.
The following 40-man roster players have less than five years service time and are out of minor league options. That means they must clear waivers before being sent to the minors, so the team would be at risk of losing them in attempting to do so. I've included players on multiyear deals. This list was compiled through MLBTR's sources. Today, we'll take a look at the AL East.
Back on February 20th, Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos spoke about beginning the season with an eight-man bullpen, as they did in 2013, partially because of the desire not to lose a player, according to MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm. Cecil, Santos, Casey Janssen, Steve Delabar, and Aaron Loup are the locks.
Perez has already been sent to minor league camp, with the Jays expected to buy some time by putting him on the DL to start the season. Dustin McGowan is under contract on a multiyear deal, and was not listed above because he has over seven years of big league service. Still, the Jays will have to find a spot if they wish to retain him, and they probably will. McGowan, Rogers, Redmond, and Jeffress are part of the fifth starter competition, as outlined by Rosie DiManno of the Toronto Star on Friday. In theory, all four could be retained: one in the rotation, the other three filling out the bullpen. That scenario would involve sending Neil Wagner and other solid pitchers to Triple-A, establishing strong depth but perhaps not putting the team's best 13 pitchers on the Opening Day roster. A trade would be another way to find some breathing room. The Jays are known to be in the mix for Ervin Santana, who would take a rotation spot and have a ripple effect on the above-named players.
Sierra seems to have a good shot at the team's last bench spot partially because of his lack of minor league options. It's another case where making the decision to retain the player might be less than ideal, as Sierra would have to be the team's fourth outfielder over the defensively superior Anthony Gose. Sierra would also platoon at DH with Adam Lind and could pitch in at first base, however.
Orioles: Edgmer Escalona, Chris Davis, Tommy Hunter, Troy Patton, Nolan Reimold, Chris Tillman, Zach Britton, Kelvin De La Cruz, David Lough, Brian Matusz, Steve Pearce, Francisco Peguero, Josh Stinson
The Orioles' list includes a staggering 13 players. Let's start with the team's rotation. We can project three members with certainty: Ubaldo Jimenez, Chris Tillman, and Wei-Yin Chen. At this moment, Miguel Gonzalez and Bud Norris would grab the two remaining spots. Two of the above-named pitchers, Britton and Matusz, had been among those competing for the fifth starter job before Jimenez was signed. Further muddying the picture, as explained by Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun today, is the pursuit of Ervin Santana. Additionally, Suk-min Yoon and Johan Santana will come into play later in the season.
Connolly notes that Norris or Gonzalez could move to the bullpen if necessary. Hunter, Darren O'Day, Ryan Webb, and Matusz seem to be locks for the pen. A 25-game amphetamine suspension for Patton takes him out of the picture for most of April. That leaves Escalona, De La Cruz, Britton, and Stinson as out of options pitchers competing for three likely spots, with Steve Johnson, Alfredo Aceves, T.J. McFarland, and Evan Meek also in the mix. You may recall the Orioles were loose with 40-man roster spots in the offseason, giving them to Escalona, De La Cruz, and Peguero despite scant big league experience. Retaining them now requires putting them on the 25-man roster. This situation seems to call for a trade or two.
As the backup center fielder, Lough is assured a spot on the roster. The Cruz signing takes away at-bats from Reimold, but he still seems likely to make the team. Peguero or Pearce could take the final roster spot, but only by beating out the other candidates in camp, such as Delmon Young, Xavier Paul, Julio Borbon, Quintin Berry, and Henry Urrutia. There seems a good chance Peguero or Pearce is exposed to waivers; perhaps both. Again, a minor trade could make sense in the coming weeks.
Archer is a lock for the Rays' rotation, while Ramos is battling pitchers such as Erik Bedard, Jake Odorizzi, Nate Karns, and Alex Colome for the fifth starter job until Jeremy Hellickson's projected late May return. If he doesn't win the job, Ramos would go back to the Rays' bullpen.
McGee is a lock for a bullpen job, as are Grant Balfour, Heath Bell, and Joel Peralta. Juan Carlos Oviedo has yet to report to camp due to visa issues, but he's expected to take a spot as well. If Ramos doesn't win the rotation job, that leaves one potential opening for Lueke. Late last month, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times named Brad Boxberger, Brandon Gomes, and Mark Lowe as other candidates, choosing Lueke as the favorite given his option situation.
Joyce is a lock for a roster spot. If the Rays go with a traditional fifth outfielder, Guyer could snag the job, as Roger Mooney of The Tampa Tribune explained late last month. The team could also use Sean Rodriguez or Ben Zobrist as the fifth outfielder.
Doubront is penciled into Boston's rotation. Carp has a bench spot locked down, though he did pop up in recent trade rumors.
Nova is a key piece of the Yankees' rotation, while Cervelli is highly likely to break camp as the backup catcher.
In his latest notes column for FOXSports.com, Jon Paul Morosi spoke with several Blue Jays players, including Jose Bautista and Brett Lawrie, about the team's chemistry and whether or not it played a role in their disappointing 2013 campaign. Bautista said that it wasn't a problem, but the team will benefit in 2014 from having spent a year together. Morosi writes that the Jays' players are paying particularly close attention to the level of resources (dollars) ownership is willing to allocate to a potential Ervin Santana signing. Here are some highlights from Morosi's piece...
- Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski told Morosi on Sunday, via email, that the club is "looking at [its] own personnel" and "will continue to evaluate" outside alternatives for left field in the wake of Andy Dirks' injury. Non-roster invitees Ezquiel Carrera and Trevor Crowe will compete for a spot to platoon with Rajai Davis, though neither has been impressive thus far in Spring Training.
- The Cardinals could've lined up as a trade partner for Dombrowski had Oscar Taveras been fully healthy, as he could've served as more of a challenge to Jon Jay's spot in Spring Training. Taveras has played in just two games at this point, however.
- Morosi also hears that the Rockies aren't looking to trade an outfielder and haven't had discussions about doing so, even though it may be tough to fit Charlie Blackmon and Corey Dickerson on the Opening Day roster. Either left-handed hitter would be a logical target for Detroit to pursue should Colorado change its mind.
- Michael Pineda could give the Yankees a playoff-caliber rotation if he's able to pitch a full season, Morosi writes. He spoke with Yankees catcher Brian McCann, who recalled feeling uncomfortable when facing Pineda in 2011 and has been encouraged by his work in Spring Training thus far.
- MLBPA executive director Tony Clark told Morosi that the union and MLB continue to discuss potential changes to the Joint Drug Agreement that could take effect for the 2014 season. Clark has received "extensive" feedback from players on whether stiffer penalties are needed, including opinions on the 50-game suspension for first-time offenders.
It was reported yesterday Ervin Santana is weighing one year offers from both the Blue Jays ($14MM) and Orioles ($13MM plus incentives) with two other clubs also expressing interest. Here's the latest on the top ranked free agent remaining on MLBTR's 2014 Top 50 Free Agents list:
- Orioles manager Buck Showalter told reporters, including MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko (Twitter), GM Dan Duquette told him nothing is imminent on the Santana front.
- Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com writes the Twins offered Santana a three-year deal, but he prefers a one-year contract unless someone is willing go four years at his asking price.
- With all this recent action on Santana, Heyman tweets it may take a few days for the situation to resolve itself adding both the Blue Jays and Orioles have made strong one-year proposals.
- 1500ESPN.com's Darren Wolfson tweets he's been told Santana isn't coming to Twins with the hangup being length of contract (Santana wants one year and the Twins want three years).
Red Sox owner John Henry returned fire in his club's ongoing dispute with the Marlins, tweeting, "They should apologize for their regular season lineup." For the uninitiated, at a matchup earlier this week between the two teams, the Red Sox angered the Marlins by running out a lineup of minor leaguers instead of their typical starting nine. The Marlins had hiked ticket prices with the expectation that fans would be watching the Sox's World Series-winning squad. You can check out a writeup of the spat by USA Today's Nick Schwartz here. On to more East links:
- Mets GM Sandy Alderson maintains that it's unlikely Matt Harvey will pitch in the Majors in 2014 (via ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin). The issue surfaced again earlier today when Harvey tweeted "2014 Harvey day will happen" from his personal account. The tweet was later deleted. "I can't control what he tweets or says by other means," Alderson commented. "But if that's how he feels, that's his perspective and we'll see where it goes."
- Adding Ervin Santana would lift the Blue Jays' playoff chances into the realm of "conceivable," writes FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi, noting that many of the club's major pieces remain in place after a lost 2013 season. "It's not the same players: We're missing Josh Johnson, who was supposed to be a big key to our rotation," outfielder Jose Bautista told Morosi. "That's why it's so important that we add (Santana)."
- Tyler Kepner caught up with Jays pitcher R.A. Dickey, profiling him for The New York Times. Dickey personally responds to letters he receives from struggling fans, Kepner writes. "They’re just wanting someone to listen, that’s really it," the ace says. Dickey discussed his experiences as a sexual abuse victim in his 2012 memoir.
6:26pm: Santana continues to consider offers from the Orioles and the Jays, ESPN's Enrique Rojas tweets, noting that two other clubs had expressed interest this afternoon (Spanish link).
4:08pm: FOX Sports' Jon Morosi tweets that a source tells him that Santana could wait "days" before signing. 4:00 has come and gone, and there's no news about his decision.
12:08pm: Rojas writes (Spanish-language) that Santana is deciding between the Jays, who have offered $14MM, and the Orioles, who have offered $13MM plus incentives.
11:43am: Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes tweets that Santana will sign with the Jays for $14MM by 4:00pm if he does not receive a better offer by then.
11:40am: The deal is not yet done, but Santana and the Jays are discussing one, the New York Post's Joel Sherman tweets.
11:18am: The Blue Jays have agreed to terms with Ervin Santana on a one-year, $14MM deal, Dionisio Soldevila of ESPN Deportes tweets. Earlier in the day, Soldevila had reported that Santana would sign with an AL club for $14MM. Santana has until recently been represented by Proformance, although there have been recent reports about the possibility of Santana ending his relationship with that agency.
Santana pitched 211 innings with the Royals in 2013, posting a 3.24 ERA with 6.9 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9. After the season, he rejected a $14.1MM qualifying offer, hoping to strike it big on the free agent market. Obviously, that didn't happen, as the issue of draft pick forfeiture supressed the market for Santana and several other players. The Blue Jays have two first-round picks, at No. 9 and No. 11, and both are protected. So they'll have to give up the No. 50 overall pick for signing Santana.
Santana's one-year deal gives him the opportunity to hit the free agent market again next offseason, when he will turn 32. If he performs well, however, he may still have to deal with the qualifying offer issue. Santana ranked sixth on MLBTR's list of the top 2013-14 free agents. Ubaldo Jimenez, who ranked 11th and also rejected a qualifying offer, received four years and $50MM from the Orioles, and Santana reportedly sought a similar contract. ESPN's Buster Olney recently tweeted that teams were concerned about the health of Santana's elbow.
Assuming Santana remains healthy, however, $14MM plus the No. 50 overall draft pick seems like a very reasonable price for the Blue Jays to pay a young-ish, solidly-above-average starting pitcher who topped 200 innings last year. Santana will provide a significant boost to a Jays rotation that was unsettled after R.A. Dickey, Brandon Morrow and Mark Buehrle.
6:46pm: The Royals are "moving forward" without Santana even if he is available on a one-year pact, GM Dayton Moore tells Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star (via Twitter). "The candidates for our rotation are in-house," said Moore.
6:29pm: Free agent starter Ervin Santana has switched gears and is now looking for a one-year deal, reports FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal (links to Twitter). Santana wants to get signed and into camp as soon as possible, and does not intend to wait to ink a deal until after Opening Day.
Of course, if Santana signs a one-year deal before Opening Day, he could still be made a qualifying offer again next year. That type of scenario was said to be out of the question by Santana's agent, but we learned last night and this morning that Santana's team of representatives was undergoing some changes. It would appear that a change of strategic direction has resulted.
With the new focus on achieving a pillow contract, Santana hopes to land on a team with a strong offense, says Rosenthal. The Blue Jays and Orioles are two teams that could meet that requirement and have had interest, Rosenthal adds. It is not clear whether there is anything connecting those teams specifically to Santana since his shift of plans.
Neither is it clear whether other clubs remain in the mix, or whether Santana's market could expand. Earlier today, there were conflicting reports as to whether the Phillies had (Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, via Twitter) or had not (Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer, via Twitter) inquired about the righty's services. Of course, in theory, many other clubs could potentially have renewed interest in Santana under these changed circumstances.
Let's take a look at the latest on the best arm left on the market, starter Ervin Santana.
- Seemingly contradicting Alou, Dionisio Soldevila of ESPNDeportes.com reports (Twitter links) that Santana has fired Stringfellow. Santana does not have plans to hire a replacement, and could negotiate his own deal, according to Soldevila.
- Another of Santana's reps at Proformance, Jay Alou, tweets that there has been "no change" in Santana's representation. "Ervin Santana is still represented by the same person that he first signed with 15 years ago," wrote Alou.
- Santana is now considering a change of representation, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). Santana is currently represented by Proformance. We heard from Proformance managing director Bean Stringfellow recently, as he spoke in strong terms about his determination to land Santana a contract befitting his talent, and said they had discussed the possibility of waiting to sign until after the June amateur draft (to shed the draft pick compensation tied to Santana).
- The Blue Jays are still unlikely even to make Santana an offer, reports Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com. Though GM Alex Anthopoulos said that he has still had some contact with the representatives of some free agents, he added that "I don't think we have anything active."
- Updating the market situation of Santana, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com writes that teams still in touch with Santana include the Mariners, Orioles, Rockies, Rangers, and aforementioned Blue Jays. Stringfellow weighed in to say that Santana was dealing well with the wait. "He's concentrating on his workout," he said. "Obviously, he'd rather be in camp, as he's always in camp at this time. But he understands the process, and the business aspect of it. He's doing well."
- Though the Orioles would have no problem sacrificing a third-round pick to add Santana, reports Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun, the team has not engaged in "real dialogue" over the past few days. As with the team's previous signing of compensation free agents, Baltimore is looking to achieve value in any deal.
The Brewers and Pirates have scouts watching the Red Sox, with a specific focus on Mike Carp, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes in his weekly Sunday column. While it's still unknown whether Carp can handle an everyday job, he wouldn't have to fill that role in Pittsburgh, as the Bucs have been looking for a left-handed hitting platoon partner for first baseman Gaby Sanchez. Carp has received a lot of trade buzz this offseason though Boston was known to be asking for a lot in return.
Here's some more from Cafardo's latest piece...
- Sam and Seth Levinson of the ACES agency "are gaining the reputation of persuading clients to take under-market-value contracts if they’re happy where they are," which is why there is a feeling amongst general managers that Jon Lester, an ACES client, will sign an extension with the Red Sox. “If you’re a team with a big-ticket guy out there, they are the agents you want to be dealing with right now,” said one National League GM. “The teams love it. You can get something done with them." This past summer, ACES client Dustin Pedroia signed an eight-year, $110MM extension with the Red Sox that was perceived as a team-friendly deal (especially given what Robinson Cano was able to find on the open market this offseason), though it's worth noting that the Levinsons kept Pedroia fully informed of his market value and the second baseman just really wanted to stay in Boston. Lester, for his part, has also said he'd be willing to take a discount to remain with the Sox.
- Cafardo speaks to Orioles manager Buck Showalter about the team's recent signings of Nelson Cruz and Ubaldo Jimenez and how the club weighed the value of the draft picks they'd have to surrender to sign the qualifying offer-rejecting free agents. Also, Showalter doesn't think money will be an obstacle in retaining key players over the long term. “I feel confident with Peter [Angelos] that when we come to him and say this is someone we want to hold on to, he’s going to find a way to do it,” said Showalter. “I don’t think our guys want to go anywhere."
- Baltimore's hiring of Dave Wallace as pitching coach "may be the best acquisition we’ve made this offseason," Showalter said. “He’s really simplified things for us. Sometimes we’re so mechanics-driven in this business.”
- "Don't believe" the Blue Jays when they say they aren't interested in Ervin Santana, Cafardo writes. He also thinks the Orioles could still have an eye on Santana even after the Jimenez signing.
- Oliver Perez seemed to be close to a new contract two weeks ago when he was weighing offers from four teams, but "nothing has transpired" since then, Cafardo writes. He opines that the Nationals and Yankees are teams who could use Perez's lefty presence in their bullpens.