Toronto Blue Jays Rumors
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.
If you share my excitement for the onset of spring (or, at least Spring Training), you'll want to give a quick listen to the late, great Ernie Harwell reciting the "Voice of the Turtle" to announce the start. (Via James Jahnke of the Detroit Free Press; hat tip to Scott Miller.) Here are some AL notes to round out the day:
- Hisashi Iwakuma of the Mariners will keep his right middle finger in a splint for three more weeks, the originally expected timetable, the club announced. With the hurler unable to begin his full pitching program until that time, needless to say, he is unlikely to be be in the team's rotation when the season opens.
- The Blue Jays expect Ryan Goins to handle the bulk of the club's second base duties, manager John Gibbons said today, as MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm reports. Toronto's second base position has long been an area of speculation as to a possible addition; while a change of direction is always possible, of course, Gibbons did not make it seem like that was likely. "We're giving Goins every opportunity to be the guy," said the manager. In an excellent recent profile of Goins' progress, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca broke down some reasons for the team's optimism.
- In his podcast yesterday (audio link), ESPN.com's Buster Olney talked with colleague Jayson Stark about a possible extension for Mike Trout of the Angels (among many other topics). His record $1MM pre-arbitration deal is already in the bag, but what's next? Olney says that executives around the league tell him that, if Trout agrees to anything less than a monster ten-year (or greater) deal, their take would be that he hopes to have a chance to make a triumphant return to his native east coast with a large-market team. Otherwise, now is the time to cash in given his incredibly high standing and youth.
The Orioles organization suffered a major loss today, as PR director Monica Pence Barlow passed away at just 36 years of age after a long battle with cancer. As this morning's outpouring reveals, Barlow was an inspiration to those who knew her. Among the many writers impacted by the loss was MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko, who offers a tribute: "Whenever someone would ask, 'Why you?,' Monica would reply, 'Why not?' Pretty much says it all, doesn't it?"
As MLBTR joins in offering its condolences, here are some notes from around the American League East:
- Sam and Seth Levinson, the agents for Jon Lester and several other Red Sox players, have arrived in Fort Myers, reports WEEI.com's Rob Bradford. It is not yet known whether they will engage in talks with GM Ben Cherington regarding a new deal for Lester, but Cherington has made clear that he would to keep negotiations to the spring.
- Fellow Sox starter John Lackey says he is not worried about the fact that he'll be subject to a league-minimum club option net year, writes Bradford. "It's different," said Lackey. "There will be some things I will have to think about, for sure." But he says he isn't worried about that now. "I haven't even gotten to that point of thinking that far ahead," Lackey said. "We'll play this year out and see what happens. I'm not worried about the money. I've made plenty of that."
- Blue Jays center fielder Colby Rasmus is entering his walk year, but he says he'll join Lackey in focusing on the present, reports Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca. "I haven't thought about it at all," said Rasmus. "For me, it's all about right now, and next year don't matter." After a turnaround 2013 season that restored some of his earlier luster, the 27-year-old Rasmus could play his way into (or out of) a big contract.
Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers says he hasn't had many trade talks about a shortstop given that Stephen Drew is still on the market, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports. If Towers did feel compelled to move either Chris Owings, Didi Gregorius, Cliff Pennington or Nick Ahmed in "the right deal," Towers said that the team would likely target either a minor league pitcher who's close to the big leagues or a catcher. "Our biggest needs in our system are catching," Towers said. "If it’s the right, top-notch catching prospect. Someone we could have right behind Miggy [Miguel Montero]. More of an upper-level guy.” Of the teams known to be looking for shortstop help, the Yankees stand out as a possible trade partner, especially since New York is known to be shopping its catching depth.
Here's some more from around the majors...
- Also from Piecoro, the Red Sox are "at least monitoring the shortstop market." The Sox currently aren't in negotiations with Stephen Drew, but it stands to reason they could still be looking for a cheaper infield option to back up Xander Bogaerts.
- With more and more teams locking up their young stars to long-term extensions, SI.com's Tom Verducci writes that "what we are going to see is a further eroding of the free-agent market as a place of any kind of efficiency. Teams will continue to make bad deals on free agents because it mostly involves paying too long and too much for the decline years of star players."
- Mike Trout is the most high-profile example yet of a team locking up its young superstar, and Verducci thinks that a seven-year extension (covering four of Trout's free agent years) could cost the Angels $204MM.
- Juan Rincon is planning to work out for interested teams soon, CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman tweets. The 35-year-old righty posted a 4.03 ERA over 444 games (three of them starts) with the Twins, Indians, Tigers and Rockies from 2001-10, but hasn't appeared in the Majors since, spending the last three years with the Angels' Triple-A affiliate and for independent teams. In December, we heard Rincon was looking for a minor league deal that would allow him to mentor young pitchers and then eventually turn into a scouting job.
- Tomo Ohka talks to the Toronto Star's Brad Lefton about adopting the knuckleball in order to save his career, and how he's hoping for one last crack at the Major Leagues with the Blue Jays.
- Fangraphs' Wendy Thurm breaks down which teams spend the highest percentage of their payroll on their starting rotation, starting lineup, bullpen and bench, respectively.
- The Astros (+18 WAR) and Red Sox (-16 WAR) project as the most- and least-improved teams in 2014, according to Fangraphs' Jeff Sullivan, who lists a top ten in each category. Of course, as Sullivan notes, these totals are respectively skewed by how poorly and how well the two clubs fared last season, as Sullivan still expects Boston to contend and Houston to be one of the league's lesser clubs.
TODAY: Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com provides a list of the other clubs who sent representatives to watch Santana: the Phillies, Blue Jays, Pirates, and Rangers. Scouts in attendance told Heyman that Santana still needs to build his arm strength back up, but looked to be in great shape and threw as expected given his point on the recovery curve.
YESTERDAY, 5:40pm: The Orioles were among the teams to see Santana, tweets Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun. The club could be interested in bringing him in on a minor league deal, says Encina.
3:26pm: Throwing in Fort Myers today, rehabbing starter Johan Santana showed his current form to seven teams, reports George A. King III of the New York Post. Santana mostly threw in the high-70s, topping out at just 81 mph, though he did flash his usually phenomenal change.
Though those numbers sound less than promising, the workout comes very early on in the process for Santana to regain strength on the mound following a second shoulder surgery, reports Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Indeed, a mid-season return has always been the early target for Santana. Agent Peter Greenberg said there is no "firm date," with Santana committed to "tak[ing] it conservatively this time" and "not rushing things."
Per the above two reports, both the Yankees and Twins were among the teams with scouts in attendance.
The Orioles introduced new outfielder Nelson Cruz today, and MLB.com's Britt Ghiroli has a transcript of the press conference. Cruz, of course, settled for a one-year, $8MM deal with Baltimore after previously declining a $14.1MM qualifying offer from the Rangers. "It was a frustrating process," said Cruz, "but I'm happy for the decisions that I made. I'm really excited for the opportunity." Here are more notes from the O's and the rest of the AL East:
- We learned previously that the Orioles had made a competitive offer for free agent starter Bronson Arroyo before he signed with the Diamondbacks, and now Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com has the details. Baltimore ultimately offered Arroyo a $21.5MM guarantee over two years, including a third-year option that could have brought the total value to $33MM. The pitcher instead signed with Arizona for a $23.5MM guarantee, but his deal can only max out at $30MM if his option is exercised.
- Though agent Scott Boras softened his strong words towards the Blue Jays in comments today, he continued to implore the team to open its pocketbooks by saying that Toronto has a "rare opportunity" to add impact free agents because of its protected first-round draft picks, reports Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca (interview via Jeff Blair of Sportsnet 590 The FAN). In addition to its advantageous draft situation, Boras argued that the Jays have the "flexibility in the long term" to backload contracts.
- Boras said that client Stephen Drew could significantly upgrade the team's second base position, and that Drew would be willing to shift to the other side of the bag "if the club came and made the position a long-term one for him." Meanwhile, Boras argued that the switch-hitting Kendrys Morales would offer a better option against lefties than incumbent DH Adam Lind, who Boras said could be dealt for pitching. Toronto could recoup a future draft choice via qualifying offer when those players' deals end, the agent added.
- In spite of (or, perhaps in part, because of) their success last year, the Red Sox are sticking with their strategy of "caution and strict sensibility," writes MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince. "We recognize that our goal is to be as good as we possibly can be in 2014 but also 2015 and 2016 and beyond," explains GM Ben Cherington. "To do what we want to do, year in and year out, there has to be integration of young players. We're not going to force that unless we're reasonably confident those guys can contribute right away."