Toronto Blue Jays Rumors
With less than one month until the 2013 Amateur Draft, Conor Glassey of Baseball America spoke with Astros scouting director Mike Elias about the team's No. 1 overall selection and approach to the draft. Glassey's piece is a terrific, in-depth look at the amount of Astros personnel that is involved in the decision as well as GM Jeff Luhnow's role in scouting potential No. 1 picks. Elias says the Astros are still choosing from a pool of about seven players but won't prematurely count anyone out or make any rushed rankings. Here's more from Glassey and others on the upcoming draft...
- Glassey speculates that the seven players up for debate among Astros brass are Mark Appel, Jonathan Gray, Clint Frazier, Austin Meadows, Kris Bryant, Sean Manaea and Colin Moran. There aren't many surprises in that group, as those names are commonly regarded among the best talent available in the draft.
- Also within Glassey's piece, he notes that the overall strength of this year's draft class on the 20-80 scale would probably be a 45. An NL scouting director told him that success in this year's draft will be about finding an undervalued niche within that underwhelming crop of players.
- More from Glassey, who adds that college talent, in particular, is weak in this draft. The first round could feature as few as six college pitchers, and there's no consensus top college shortstop. The first college shortstop might not come off the board until the third round. Zack Cozart (No. 79 overall in 2007) currently represents the latest instance of the first four-year college shortstop coming off the board in any draft.
- Baseball America's Jim Callis reports that Ryan Boldt, a high school outfielder from Red Wing, Minn., will undergo arthroscopic surgery to repair a slight tear in his meniscus. Boldt was a potential first-round pick, and Callis feels that even with the injury he will still go "pretty high" because he was so good last summer (Twitter links).
- ESPN's Keith Law feels that Boldt's injury could drop him out of the first round and may ultimately lead Boldt to honor his commitment to Nebraska rather than sign out of high school (Twitter link). Law ranked Boldt as the 13th best prospect (Insider required) in this year's class in mid-April.
- Logan Shore, a high school right-hander who is also from Minnesota, hit 91 mph in the seventh inning of his start yesterday, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. Wolfson reports that the Twins, White Sox, Mets, Nationals, Blue Jays, A's and Reds have shown the most interest in Shore, who Law listed as the draft's No. 39 prospect in his Top 50 rankings.
Today's minor moves:
- Infielder Josh Bell has been released by the White Sox, according to Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune (on Twitter). Bell, 26, was with the club's Triple-A affiliate in Charlotte where he hit .273/.310/.345 in 58 plate appearances this season. He was the key player in the July 2009 trade that sent George Sherrill to the Dodgers.
- The Blue Jays released righty Trystan Magnuson, tweets Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca. Magnuson, a 27-year-old Canadian, struggled in his ten Double-A appearances this year. The 56th overall pick in the 2007 draft, Magnuson was traded to the Athletics in 2010 in the deal that brought Rajai Davis to Toronto. A year later, the Blue Jays bought Magnuson back from the A's.
- Marlins second baseman Donovan Solano was placed on the 15-day DL last night, reported MLB.com's Joe Frisaro, prompting the club to purchase the contract of infielder Nick Green from Triple-A. Henderson Alvarez was transferred to the 60-day DL in a corresponding move. Green, signed to a minor league deal in January, lost his 40-man roster spot last Thursday in favor of Matt Diaz but has already regained it.
- Four players currently reside in DFA limbo: Jonathan Sanchez of the Pirates, Kameron Loe of the Cubs, and Rick Ankiel and Fernando Martinez of the Astros.
If you are looking for some interesting reading this evening, have a look at the evolution of the defensive shift as told by Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Meanwhile, let's take a look at some American League clubs and ballplayers:
- We heard on Wednesday that the Yankees were looking for a right-handed bat, and all signs point to that need being real. Bryan Hoch of MLB.com reports that Jayson Nix, who sports a career .365 slugging percentage, has been taking balls at first base in case the team wants a righty to spell Lyle Overbay. Nix has held down third base while Kevin Youkilis works his way back, but the Yanks' recent acquisition of Chris Nelson provides the club with another option at the hot corner.
- Yankees GM Brian Cashman deserves a ton of credit for finding value in Overbay, Travis Hafner, and Vernon Wells, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. There may be a flicker of light at the end of the tunnel for the scrambling Cashman, however. Hoch reports that Ivan Nova, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, and Youkilis are all expected to report to the Yankees' Tampa facility for rehab work. Meanwhile, Curtis Granderson has been playing in extended spring training since Wednesday.
- Count Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer as a fan of the Indians' decision to trade for young pitcher Trevor Bauer this offseason. Hoynes writes that Bauer is ready to be a successful big leaguer this year, and may be the most talented pitching prospect in Cleveland since a certain CC Sabathia.
- Of course, all three teams involved in the deal that brought Bauer to the Indians seem to have gotten what they wanted out of the deal (at least so far). In addition to Bauer, outfielder Drew Stubbs is off to a fairly promising start for Cleveland, and currently sports a .284/.340/.420 line. The Indians have also enjoyed quality bullpen work from Matt Albers and Bryan Shaw. Meanwhile, Shin-Soo Choo has clobbered the ball for the Reds, putting up a .330/.467/.541 line. He has done so while playing a passable, albeit below average, center field. And the Diamondbacks not only seem quite pleased with shortstop prospect Didi Gregorius, who is off to a .407/.448/.778 start in his first 30 plate appearances, but have received solid production from veteran reliever Tony Sipp.
- Of course, not all deals turn out the way you hope. As ESPN's Buster Olney notes on Twitter, Twins fans are (or should be) cringing at the hot start for the Brewers' Carlos Gomez. After emerging as a solid regular center fielder last season, Gomez is putting up excellent power, speed, and on-base numbers thus far in 2013. The Twins shipped Gomez to Milwaukee in return for J.J. Hardy after the 2009 season, and later sent Hardy to the Orioles to make way for the failed Tsuyoshi Nishioka experiment. In exchange for Hardy, in turn, the Twins got a pair of young righties -- Jim Hoey and Brett Jacobson -- who have failed to deliver any value to the club.
- While the full ramifications of trades often take years to clarify, the Blue Jays could be wondering already how the recent trade for R.A. Dickey will turn out. As Mark Simon of ESPN.com explains, Dickey is failing to get hitters to chase pitches outside the zone, which could attributable in part to decreased knuckleball velocity. On the other side of the ledger, the Mets have surprisingly received incredible production from a seemingly minor piece of that deal -- catcher John Buck -- and were able to slot prospects Travis d'Arnaud and Noah Syndergaard atop the team's prospect list.
Here's a look at the latest edition of Full Count from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports..
- Chase Headley is probably going to be traded by the July 31st deadline. The Padres plan to spend the next two months determining whether they can lock up the third baseman long term, but there are two problems with that. For starters, Headley says he doesn't want to talk about a new deal during the season. Secondly, it would be surprising to see San Diego crack $100MM to keep him. Headley probably wants a better hitting environment and to play for a better team. Meanwhile, there's no shortage of teams that would like to add him as Rosenthal says there could be at least a dozen clubs in the market for a third baseman, including the Dodgers, Cubs, and White Sox.
- If Mike Napoli stays healthy and continues producing, the Red Sox first baseman will build his case for a multi-year deal in free agency. Of course, Boston reduced their three-year offer to Napoli to one-year after learning he had a condition in both hips. However, he's taking MRIs every three months to keep tabs on it and if the tests show that his condition is improved or stable, a team might be willing to extend a longer offer, especially since he's playing first base rather than catcher.
- Josh Johnson is the Blue Jays' most obvious trade candidate but if the season becomes a train wreck, they'll have the ability to move virtually any player. Jose Reyes is the only player signed beyond 2015 while most players on multi-year deals are signed at affordable prices and no one has a no-trade clause. Brandon Morrow might be an interesting name as the club has lots of young pitching coming. Of course, the Blue Jays have to fall out of things before considering such a move.
- It's bad enough for the Angels that shortstop Jean Segura is blossoming into a star elsewhere, but they've also traded away an entire rotation's worth of talent in recent years. The Halos sent Patrick Corbin and Tyler Skaggs to Arizona for Dan Haren, Donn Roach to San Diego for Ernesto Frieri, and Johnny Hellweg to Milwaukee in the Zack Greinke deal. On top of that, the Angels weakened their farm system by giving up their first and second round picks last year for Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson and their first round pick this year to ink Josh Hamilton. Their top pick last year was No. 114, this year it'll be No. 59.
After designating him for assignment yesterday, the Blue Jays have outrighted pitcher Justin Germano to Triple-A, tweets Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca. The move allowed for the return of one-time ace Ricky Romero to the big league club.
Germano, a 30-year-old journeyman, signed a minor league deal with the Blue Jays early in the offseason. He has made just one relief appearance with Toronto this year, allowing two earned runs over two innings. Germano started twelve games for the Cubs last season, but struggled to a 6.75 ERA during his stint with Chicago.
There's been lots of speculation over Terry Collins' job security as he is in the final year of his contract, but Mets GM Sandy Alderson says that he'll "absolutely" remain as manager for at least the remainder of the season, writes Mike Puma of the New York Post. "He came into the season without a contract for next year and may not have one for next year through this season," Alderson said. "But as I've told him and said before: This isn't just about wins and losses, it's about how we approach the game and fully taking into account what he has to work with." Here's more from the AL and NL East..
- In his latest mailbag, Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star notes that while Josh Johnson could get back to his old form once he returns from injury and boost his trade value, the fact that he was the Blue Jays' initial target in trade talk with the Marlins could mean that the club isn't going to go for a quick trade if things aren't going well. Johnson is making $13.75MM in his walk year, which may give him extra motivation once he takes the hill again.
- The newest member of the Yankees, Chris Nelson, is excited about his new opportunity in the Bronx, writes MLB.com's Bryan Hoch. The Bombers acquired Nelson for cash or a player to be named later earlier this week.
- Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos says that everything is alright in the clubhouse, but Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com sees signs of fraying within the new-look team.
The 30-year-old Germano has appeared in one game for the Jays this season after signing a minor-league deal with the club in the offseason. Toronto promoted him on April 27 after they designated fellow pitcher Aaron Laffey for assignment.
Germano pitched 23 innings for Triple-A Buffalo this year while posting a 6.65 ERA, 5.9 K/9, and 0.8 BB/9. The righty has also pitched for the Padres, Reds, Indians, Red Sox, and Cubs over the course of his big league career, compiling a 5.29 career ERA with 5.7 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 along the way.
The Blue Jays optioned Romero to High-A Dunedin in late March in an effort to get his mechanics ironed out. The pitcher is owed $7.5MM in each of the next three seasons and Toronto was willing to be patient with him as he worked through his issues.
Shi Davidi of Sportsnet (on Twitter) reported yesterday that the Blue Jays were gearing up to designate Germano for assignment in order to make room for Romero.
The Prospect Rumor Roundup returns for a second week with a look back at the biggest trade of the offseason...
With Toronto almost 10 games out of first place at the beginning of May, and with the bandwagon already set ablaze by fickle fans, it's safe to say that this is not the type of start to the year that the Blue Jays front office was expecting. The organization orchestrated two key trades during the 2012-13 offseason, which brought a number of high-profile veterans north of the border, including R.A. Dickey, Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle and Emilio Bonifacio. A month into the season, those five players have accumulated a combined 0.3 fWAR (Wins Above Replacement).
With arguably a top five minor league system prior to the deals, Toronto mortgaged a good deal of its future for a chance to win now. While the veterans are struggling, the majority of the prospects -- no longer under the Jays' control -- are thriving in their new digs.
Catcher Travis d'Arnaud reportedly came close to winning a big league roster spot out of spring training with the Mets. He was assigned to Triple-A where six of his nine hits went for extra bases. He also added 12 walks before going down with a broken foot. He'll miss about eight weeks, but veteran catcher John Buck is holding down the fort in the Majors. D'Arnaud was added to the 40-man roster in November 2011 and is currently in his second of three option years, so he'll have to establish himself in the Majors by the end of the 2014 season to avoid being sent through waivers to be demoted to the minors.
One of three top young arms in Toronto's system prior to being dealt to the Mets, Noah Syndergaard has a 3.24 ERA in five High-A ball starts. He's been even better than it appears, though, as he allowed seven of his nine earned runs on the year in just one start. Jonathan Raymond of MiLB.com recently spoke to the prospect's A-ball pitching coach to learn more about his approach. The Texas native is eligible for the Rule 5 draft in 2014 so he'll have to be added to the 40-man roster after next season to avoid being snatched away from the Mets.
Outfielder Wuilmer Becerra suffered a scary injury last year in rookie ball when he was hit in the face during an at-bat, ending his season after just 11 games. The 18-year-old was originally signed out of Venezuela for $1.3MM and was considered one of the top Latin amateur free agents in 2011. He's currently playing in extended spring training and should be assigned to a short-season club in June.
Adeiny Hechavarria was signed out of Cuba by the Jays and has taken over the starting shortstop gig in Miami, although he's currently on the disabled list. His offense hasn't kicked in yet but he's playing steady ball in the field and is known for being a plus defender capable of providing a ton of value with his glove alone. Hechavarria's traditional three option years expired at the end of 2012 but he was granted a rare fourth option year for the 2013 season, so he can be sent down to the minors this year -- if need be -- without being exposed to waivers.
Like Syndergaard, Justin Nicolino was a member of Toronto's top pitching trio. The Florida native has enjoyed his time in the Miami Marlins organization despite an inconsistent year to date and has a 3.60 ERA in five starts in the High-A Florida State League. Nicolino's adjustment to his hometown organization was recently outlined by Guy Curtright at MiLB.com. He doesn't have to be added to the 40-man roster until after the 2014 season. I recently spoke with Marlins Director of Player Development Brian Chattin, who said the organization was happy with all the players they acquired. "Nicolino has shown an above-average changeup and a mature approach to his development," he added.
An injury to outfielder Jake Marisnick kept him on the sidelines until this past weekend. After spending 55 games at the Double-A level in 2013, he got his feet wet back in High-A ball before moving back to Double-A. He has plus defensive skills but a front office contact within the Jays organization told me during the offseason -- shortly before the big trade -- that he's still getting used to some adjustments made to his batting stance and swing mechanics. Chattin told MLBTR, "[Jake has] excellent makeup, he's a well-above-average athlete, impressive defender in center field and has the tools to be an impact major leaguer." Marisnick will have to be added to the 40-man roster this coming November to shield him from the Rule 5 draft.
The lesser known name of the group of prospects sent to Miami, Anthony DeSclafani arguably has had the most success of the four players. The University of Florida alum has a 0.44 ERA with 16 strikeouts and three walks in 20.2 innings pitched. A reliever with inconsistent results in college, the organization is trying to stretch him out as a starter in pro ball. "Anthony has thrown strikes and lived at the bottom of the zone in each of his starts," Chattin told MLBTR. "We are allowing him to use his curveball in addition to his slider/fastball/changeup combination. He has confidence in his curveball and is using it well as a complement to the rest of his arsenal." Like Nicolino, DeSclafani has to be added to the 40-man roster after the 2014 season.
Prospect Tidbits: With the recent success of 2012 National League Cy Young award winner R.A. Dickey, the knuckleball is enjoying renewed popularity. Orioles minor leaguer Eddie Gamboa is attempting to become the next successful big league knuckleballer. Benjamin Hill of MLB.com explained that the pitching prospect received some guidance from Hall of Famer Phil Niekro during spring training. Gamboa said that he's currently throwing his new pitch about 50 percent of the time in game situations, much to his surprise. Said Gamboa:
"I always put up okay numbers, enough to keep getting a job again but not enough to get a promotion... My game was stuck... The knuckleball was always something that I had practiced just in case, but I didn't think that just in case was going to be this year."
A talented two-way player in high school, Stetson Allie signed with the Pirates for a $2.25MM bonus in 2010 and began his career on the mound. When he was unable to harness his control (29 walks in 26 innings in 2011), the organization took a huge gamble by shifting the strong-armed prospect to first base. It took a year of struggling to find his footing but Allie is finally tapping into his plus raw power and has eight home runs in 24 A-ball games. Mike Newman of FanGraphs.com recently watched the Pirates prospect play and he also spoke with Allie, as well as Pittsburgh's assistant general manager Kyle Stark.
It appears that the Blue Jays weren't the only team interested in pulling off a Jose Reyes/Josh Johnson blockbuster this offseason. Rob Bradford of WEEI.com adds that the Red Sox also talked with the Fish regarding the Johnson, Reyes and possibly Emilio Bonifacio as well. Ultimately, the Red Sox backed off due to an unwillingness to consider parting with top prospect Xander Bogaerts.
It's understandable that Bogaerts, viewed by most as Boston's top prospect, would be a sticking point. The shortstop from Aruba is ranked higher than any player the Marlins received in Top 100 lists from Baseball America (No. 8), ESPN's Keith Law (No. 5) and MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo (No. 20).
Johnson told Bradford on Wednesday that he, like others in the trade, was caught off guard by the trade. He had been preparing his wife for a trade during the 2012 season, but once the deadline passed, he thought that he and the Marlins' other star players would remain in Miami until this year's trade deadline at the very least:
"I wasn’t hearing one thing. My agent never said anything. Even when the trade went down he was like, ‘Let me see if this is real or not.' But by then it was already on MLB Trade Rumors and stuff."
The right-hander also noted that close friend Cody Ross told Johnson he would love playing in Boston. Johnson went on to say good things about the city when further questioned on the matter by Bradford.
The Blue Jays ultimately acquired Johnson, Reyes, Bonifacio, Mark Buehrle and John Buck from the Marlins in exchange for Justin Nicolino, Jake Marisnick, Yunel Escobar, Adeiny Hechavarria, Henderson Alvarez, Jeff Mathis and Anthony Desclafani.
However, as we learned last month, that trade may not have happened had the White Sox not reached a last-minute extension with Jake Peavy. Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos and White Sox GM Rick Hahn nearly completed a trade before Peavy signed his contract.
Earlier today, Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts presented his plans for a $300MM renovation on Wrigley Field and made waves when he said that the club may have to move to a new park if certain requests are not met. After his presentation, Ricketts told David Kaplan of CSNChicago.com that his focus is still on making things work at Wrigley. "We also need to generate the revenue we need to compete as a franchise," Ricketts added. "There has been some question as to whether or not we can put up a revenue generating video board and signage in our own outfield and if we can't then at some point we've got to look at other options. But I don't think it's now. We really believe that we are going to be able to work this out and move forward." Here's more from around baseball..
- Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet looked at potential infield trade targets for the Blue Jays. BN-S suggests that Brendan Ryan of the Mariners and Alex Gonzalez of the Brewers are among those that could make sense for Toronto.
- High school shortstop Riley Unroe is seeing his stock soar as he was viewed to a fifth-to-seventh round talent but could now find himself going as early as late in the first round and in the sandwich round, at worst, writes Allan Simpson of Perfect Game. Keith Law of ESPN.com (Insider sub. req'd) recently wrote that he personally sees Unroe as a third round talent but wouldn't be surprised to see him go higher.
- Despite their $148MM payroll and World Series expectations, it no longer seems like a fluke that the Angels are struggling, writes Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times. The Halos snapped a four-game losing streak earlier today to bring their record to 10-17.