Toronto Blue Jays Rumors
The Orioles announced yesterday that they have hired Dave Wallace as their new pitching coach. Wallace, 66, has 10 years of experience as a Major League pitching coach and filled that role for the 2004 World Series Champion Red Sox. He has served as pitching coach for the Dodgers (1995-97), Mets (1999-2000), Red Sox (2003-06) and Astros (2007) prior to Baltimore's hiring. Here's more out of baseball's Eastern divisions...
- Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun thinks the Wallace hiring to be somewhat of a surprise, if only for the reason that many felt he ultimately wouldn't take the job. Wallace was serving as the Braves' minor league pitching coordinator and was known to be content with his job. Of leaving his post with the Braves, Wallace told Connolly: "As a teacher, it’s kind of tough sometimes to walk away from those students. But you are also proud because you’ve had somewhat of an influence on what they’ve been able to accomplish in the last few years."
- It remains likely that the Mets will trade either Ike Davis or Lucas Duda this offseason, writes Andy Martino of the New York Daily News, but team insiders tell him that it's too soon to tell which player will have more value on the market. COO Jeff Wilpon said yesterday that the team has already begun to receive calls from teams with a need for first base help.
- Martino also points out that Wilpon identified just four players as "solidified" for next year: David Wright, Jon Niese, Dillon Gee and Zack Wheeler. Notably omitted is Daniel Murphy, who could find himself on the trading block with the Mets looking to move Eric Young Jr. to second base on a permanent basis. Martino opines that because of the team's desire for Young to man the keystone, it's actually a good thing that he didn't win a Gold Glove for his work in left field, as it would've made the decision tougher to justify to fans.
- The Blue Jays announced yesterday that they have extended their player development contract with the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats through the 2016 season. The Fisher Cats have been the Jays' Double-A affiliate since 2004, winning a pair of Eastern League titles in that time.
- Earlier today, MLBTR's Mark Polishuk peeked into Baltimore's future with the Orioles edition of our Offseason Outlook series.
The Twins announced today that they have added Hall of Famer and St. Paul native Paul Molitor to their Major League coaching staff. Molitor has been an oft-rumored candidate to be Ron Gardenhire's successor in the Twin Cities media, but with Gardenhire receiving a two-year extension, Molitor will oversee baserunning, bunting, infield instruction/positioning and assist with in-game strategy from the dugout. He has previously served as the Mariners' hitting coach and coached with the Twins under manager Tom Kelly in 2000-01.
Here's more on the managerial/coaching front from around the league...
- The Dodgers announced that the options of coaches Davey Lopes, Rick Honeycutt and Tim Wallach's were exercised for 2014. Hitting coach Mark McGwire was already under contract for next season. It's an apparent indication that the Dodgers would prefer for Mattingly to stay, tweets Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times (Twitter link), as a new manager would want to have some say in his staff. However, the renewal of the coaches' contracts wouldn't preclude a promotion for Wallach (link).
- The Dodgers have fired bench coach Trey Hillman and advanced scout Wade Taylor, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (on Twitter). Both were close with manager Don Mattingly, who said at a press conference yesterday that his return in 2014 wasn't a guarantee just because his option vested and added that he wanted his entire coaching staff to return in 2014. The dismissal of Hillman and Taylor figures to add to the tension between Mattingly and the Dodgers brass.
- Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times tweets that Dodgers GM Ned Colletti informed Hillman of his dismissal, but Mattingly, who hired Hillman, was not involved.
- John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press runs down a list of candidates for the recently vacated Tigers managerial position. Former Pirates manager and current hitting coach Lloyd McClendon is the leading in-house candidate, but Lowe contacted Dusty Baker and Eric Wedge, both of whom expressed interest in the job. GM Dave Dombrowski said yesterday that the Tigers would hire someone with either Major League or Minor League managerial experience, adds Lowe, which seemingly takes former Detroit backstop Brad Ausmus out of the running.
- The Nationals have intereviewed Blue Jays bench coach DeMarlo Hale for their managerial vacancy, reports Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. Hale is the fifth candidate interviewed by the Nats (and third external candidate). He has previously interviewed for managerial openings with the Mariners (2009), Blue Jays (2011) and Cubs (2012). Kilgore adds that the Nationals were impressed by Hale's interview.
- The Rangers announced yesterday that they have hired Tim Bogar as their bench coach. The 47-year-old Bogar spent 2012 managing the Angels' Double-A affiliate and spent the 2009-12 seasons filling the positions of Major League first base coach, third base coach and bench coach for the Red Sox.
Catcher is known to be a priority for the Blue Jays this offseason, and Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun reports that the team is interested in Chris Iannetta and Hank Conger of the Angels. According to Elliott, the Blue Jays have already begun their efforts to acquire one of Anaheim's backstops.
As MLBTR's Mark Polishuk noted in analyzing the Blue Jays' upcoming offseason, the team is set at most offensive positions with the exception of catcher and second base. Mark noted that while incumbent J.P. Arencibia may not be non-tendered, his days as the team's starter are likely over. Toronto's desire to acquire one of the Angels' catchers and their interest in Washington's Wilson Ramos seem to support that line of thinking.
Iannetta, who turns 31 next April, might at first appear to be similar to Arencibia given his low batting averages and escalating strikeout rate (25.1 percent in 2013). However, Iannetta has always been adept at drawing a walk. In fact, he drew nearly as many walks in 399 plate appearances in 2013 (68) as Arencibia has in his entire career (74). Overall, Iannetta batted .225/.358/.372 for the Halos in the first season of a three-year, $15.5MM extension. He'll earn $4.975MM in 2014 and $5.525MM in 2015. In each of those seasons, his contract calls for an additional $100K bonus for starting 90 games at catcher and $125K when he reaches each of 100, 110, 115, 120 and 125 starts behind the dish.
The switch-hitting Conger batted .249/.310/.403 in 2013. He'll turn just 26 years old in January and won't be eligible for arbitration until next offseason. Originally selected by the Angels with the No. 25 overall pick in the 2006 draft, Conger has never gotten a full season's worth of at-bats with the Halos despite a robust .298/.371/.470 slash line in 854 career plate appearances at Triple-A.
As we saw last offseason, Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos has no problem dealing young talent to fill holes on his big league roster. Though the Blue Jays' farm system was depleted after acquiring R.A. Dickey, Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson in trades, the team still has plenty of minor league pitchers that would pique the Angels' interest. According to MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo, the Blue Jays' top six prospects are all pitchers, though a top prospect along the lines of Aaron Sanchez would seem far too steep a price for either of the catchers in question.
If the Blue Jays really want to get aggressive, they could look to structure a deal that would land one of Iannetta or Conger as well as second baseman Howie Kendrick, who is known to be available. While that scenario is purely my speculation, such a trade would address both of the major holes highlighted in Polishuk's outlook. The Blue Jays own two of the first 11 picks in next year's draft, so they would have ample opportunity to add high-end talent to their farm system following another aggressive winter on the trade market.
After the Tigers were knocked out of the playoffs, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe looks at some of the club's flaws. He starts at the top of the lineup, where Austin Jackson's .337 on-base percentage and eight stolen bases were not good enough of a contrast to the slow, power-hitting lineup that produced the best offense in baseball. Possible solutions this winter include Scott Boras clients Shin-Soo Choo and Jacoby Ellsbury. “That’s the one team we haven’t heard Ellsbury’s name mentioned with,” said one American League GM. “We’ve heard a lot about the Mets, Mariners, Rangers, but the Tigers make perfect sense. They are a big-market team with big resources. There’s a relationship with Scott and Mr. Ilitch. They’ve done business before and there’s no reason they can’t do business again.” Here's more from today's column..
- The Giants would probably listen to anyone who had interest in Pablo Sandoval, but his weight will be an issue for clubs. However, his conditioning might not totally dissuade teams given the lack of third base options available.
- Tony La Russa is out there, but according to a Cubs source there’s been no contact with him. For his part, La Russa has told friends he’d rather be considered for a front office job than manage again.
- Two people in baseball operations with the Blue Jays indicated to Cafardo that they need two quality starting pitchers to go with Brandon Morrow, Mark Buehrle, and R.A. Dickey. They could take care of one of those spots by extending a qualifying offer to Josh Johnson.
- It doesn't appear that Justin Morneau will return to the Pirates but the Orioles could make a play for him this winter as they go for another bat. If Carlos Beltran is too pricey, Morneau could be an alternative even though the O's may prefer a right-handed bat like Mike Morse.
- The Red Sox went pretty far in their pursuit of Jose Dariel Abreu, but ultimately they lost out to the White Sox. It was a sensitive negotiation for Boston out of respect for pending free agent Mike Napoli, who would have been affected by an Abreu signing.
- There’s some real talk about the possibility that the Rays could see Montreal as a real alternative if plans for a new stadium don’t work out in the Tampa area.
- One of the reasons why Nolan Ryan parted ways with the Rangers was because of the club's decision to let bench coach Jackie Moore go.
- The Yankees appear to be on the verge of shaking up their scouting and player development departments.
The Red Sox can return to the World Series for the third time in the last 10 seasons if they beat the Tigers tomorrow or in a potential Game Seven on Sunday. The other four AL East teams will be working hard this offseason to match (or better) Boston's 2013 success, so here's the latest from around the division...
- The Athletics could exercise Brett Anderson's $8MM option for 2014 and then trade him to one of a few teams who are interested, with the Blue Jays being specifically cited, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle writes. Toronto scouted Anderson late last season and have been interested in the southpaw for the last two years. Anderson has appeared in just 54 games over the last four seasons due to several injuries, most notably Tommy John surgery, so it would be a risky move for the injury-plagued Jays to acquire another pitcher with a poor health history.
- Rajai Davis is looking forward to his first free agent experience, the outfielder tells MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm. Davis is looking for an everyday job and has historically struggled against right-handed pitching, which Chisholm notes makes it unlikely that the Blue Jays will re-sign him.
- Both Major League Baseball and Alex Rodriguez's camp have admitted to paying to obtain documents from the Biogenesis clinic, sources familiar to the Rodriguez appeal hearing tell Ken Davidoff of the New York Post.
- Rays right-hander Taylor Guerrieri has been suspended for 50 games for a PED violation, the league announced Friday. Guerrieri twice tested positive for a "drug of abuse" that is believed to be marijuana, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Guerrieri was the 24th overall pick of the 2011 draft and was considered one of the top prospects in baseball by MLB.com (44th-best), ESPN's Keith Law (#47) and Baseball America (#64) in preseason rankings. The 20-year-old won't miss any game action due to the suspension since he was already slated to miss most of the 2014 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery.
- In AL East news from earlier today, the Yankees are reportedly planning to spend $300MM on new contracts this offseason while the Red Sox have agreed to sign Cuban right-hander Dalier Hinojosa to a minor league deal.
As is the case at the end of every season, there have been quite a few shakeups to coaching staffs around the game. Here's the latest on several situations around the league...
- Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com reports that Rick Adair will not return as the Orioles pitching coach in 2014. Bullpen coach Bill Castro, who was named the team's interim pitching coach when Adair left the team to be with his dying father, is unlikely to be a candidate. The same goes for rehab coordinator Scott McGregor. The rest of the coaching staff will return, according to Kubatko.
- The Yankees and pitching coach Larry Rothschild have agreed to terms on a new deal, though nothing has been finalized or announced yet, according to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News.
- Kilgore tweets that the Nationals interviewed Diamondbacks third base coach Matt Williams for their managerial opening recently.
- Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports that the Angels have hired Don Baylor as their hitting coach. The 64-year-old Baylor has served as the D-Backs' hitting coach since 2011 and has 21 years of coaching experience to go along with a 19-year playing career that saw him take home AL MVP honors when he played for the Angels in 1979. Arizona had asked him to return for 2014, but the Halos have announced that Baylor opted to take the position in Anaheim.
- Bill Shaikin of the L.A. Times points out some history between Angels GM Jerry Dipoto and Baylor, noting that Baylor was Dipoto's manager when Dipoto served as the Rockies' closer in 1997-98 (Twitter link).
- The Blue Jays nearing a deal with former Royals hitting coach Kevin Seitzer to fill the same role in Toronto, according to Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star (on Twitter). Seitzer, a career .295/.375/.404 hitter in a 12-year big league career, has experience working with Blue Jays manager John Gibbons. Gibbons served as the Royals' bench coach for part of Seitzer's tenure with the club.
- Brad Ausmus is on the list of Nationals' managerial candidates, tweets Ken Rosenthal. Rosenthal notes that it's unclear whether or not Ausmus has interviewed, though Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post indicated that the interview has yet to take place (also via Twitter).
- Kilgore writes in a full article for the Post that as of late last week, the Nats have yet to conduct any interviews. Bench coach Randy Knorr and third base coach Trent Jewett are still the strongest internal candidates, says Kilgore.
- Arash Markazi of ESPN Los Angeles provides readers with several quotes from Angels skipper Mike Scioscia's appearance on ESPNLA 710 radio. Scioscia says that he and Dipoto went through a series of "aggressive" meetings with ownership before they were informed they would return for the 2014 season. Scioscia said there's "no doubt" that he's on the same page as ownership and the front office after those talks.
We'll keep track of tonight's minor moves here..
- Blue Jays outfielder Ryan Langerhans elected free agency earlier this month, according to the MLB.com transactions page. Langerhans, 33, posted a .748 OPS in 248 PA with Triple-A Buffalo this season between two minor league stints in Toronto's sytem. The outfielder also spent some time playing for the independent Sugar Land Skeeters, hitting .287/.420/.500.
- The Marlins outrighted outfielder Alfredo Silverio to Triple-A New Orleans, according to the MLB.com page. Silverio was plucked from the Dodgers in the 2012 Rule 5 draft but hasn't played since 2011 after being badly injured in a car accident and undergoing two Tommy John surgeries. The 26-year-old hit .306/.340/.542 in 572 Double-A plate appearances in '11.
Before the season began, Blue Jays righty Josh Johnson ranked third on my Free Agent Power Rankings, which serves as an example of how tantalizing his abilities can be. He lasted four starts before hitting the DL with triceps tightness. He returned over a month later and made another dozen starts before a forearm injury ended his season. On October 1st, Johnson had arthroscopic surgery to remove loose bodies and a bone spur in his elbow, and he's expected to be ready for Spring Training. Let's take a look at his free agent prospects after the lost season.
Johnson is one of the hardest-throwing free agent starters, as his average fastball velocity of 92.8 miles per hour this year was bested only by Garza. He finished fourth in strikeouts per nine innings at 9.18. Even in a year in which almost nothing went right, Johnson still threw hard and whiffed more than a batter per inning.
Prior to 2013, Johnson had a reputation of a pitcher who would spend some time on the DL, but would be excellent when he was on the mound. He posted a 3.14 ERA over 904 1/3 innings from 2006-12. During that time period, his ERA ranked sixth in all of baseball among those with at least 800 innings. Johnson pitched like an ace for the Marlins from 2009-10, with a 2.80 ERA over 392 2/3 innings. Only four pitchers were better. He made the All-Star team in both seasons, and finished fifth in the 2010 NL Cy Young voting after posting a 2.30 ERA.
Given his rough 2013 campaign, Johnson is highly unlikely to receive a qualifying offer, so he won't come with a draft pick cost attached.
Johnson's recent elbow surgery could be construed as a positive, as Dr. James Andrews told the pitcher he thought the bone spurs were the cause of his struggles this year, agent Matt Sosnick told MLBTR.
Johnson is a starting pitcher who tossed fewer than 1,000 innings over an eight-year span, as he's been injured a ton. In 2006, his first full season, he was done on September 12th due to a forearm strain. He began the '07 season on the DL with ulnar nerve irritation in his right biceps. After beginning his season in June of that year, he made four starts before going under the knife for Tommy John surgery in August. His recovery was short, as he was back on a Major League mound in less than a year.
Johnson was injury-free in '09, and signed a four-year extension after that season. Though he technically avoided the DL in his fantastic 2010 campaign, his last start came on September 4th due to shoulder inflammation and a back strain. He hit the DL with shoulder inflammation in May 2011, and wasn't able to return from the injury that year, finishing with only nine starts. The mostly-healthy 2009-10 seasons showed Johnson bounced back well from Tommy John surgery, but '11 reintroduced the idea that he was injury-prone. He bounced back in 2012, avoiding the DL and making 31 starts. Johnson didn't pitch at his previous ace level, but he re-established enough hope to be a major part of the November blockbuster with Toronto.
As mentioned in the introduction of this post, Johnson endured separate injuries in 2013 involving his triceps and elbow, culminating in surgery. He made a lot of bad pitches, allowing 11.6 hits and 1.66 home runs per nine innings, leading to a career-worst 6.20 ERA in 81 1/3 innings. Even if we give him a pass for Tommy John surgery early in his career, Johnson has had three healthy seasons in the last five. He hasn't had an ace-caliber healthy season since 2010, calling into question whether he can return to that level for 180 innings. After 2013, his ability and durability must be questioned. With only one 200-inning season in his career, Johnson is the polar opposite of a dependable, low-upside arm like Bronson Arroyo.
Josh is married with two children, and they reside in Las Vegas during the offseason. He's a big golfer who plays to a 1 handicap.
Sosnick told MLBTR Johnson loved playing for Blue Jays manager John Gibbons, and bought into the vision of GM Alex Anthopoulos. The pitcher has interest in returning to the Jays. If a reunion doesn't happen, pretty much any team could explore a deal, since the risk will be limited to one year. The Cubs, Rays, Mets, Rangers, Pirates, Nationals, Twins, Indians, and Athletics are some teams that have shown a willingness in recent years to sign free agent starting pitcher projects.
A one-year deal free of options is in the cards for Johnson, as he aims to rebuild value with a healthy 2014. The gold standard contract for a pitcher coming off an injury is the one-year, $10MM deal Ben Sheets signed with the Athletics after missing all of 2009. Though that contract is almost four years old, I see it as the ceiling for Johnson. Ultimately, I predict a one-year, $8MM deal, with significant incentives in the $4-6MM range.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
On Friday it was reported that the Yankees are expected to be serious players for Japanese ace Masahiro Tanaka. While many teams figure to be in the mix, the New York Post's Joel Sherman offered up a look at why the Yankees, specifically, will be motivated to sign Tanaka. Here are some of the highlights from Sherman's latest work...
- The Yankees want to re-energize their fanbase and generate interest in buying tickets again, and adding Tanaka would allow them to do so without shattering the luxury tax threshold, as the posting fee wouldn't go against that figure. Sherman spoke with multiple executives who told him that each team is set to receive about $25MM from national TV revenue, and the Yankees also received a good chunk of money when News Corp. bought 49 percent of the YES Network. As Sherman puts it: "The Yanks have a big pile of newfound money to use lavishly for a posting bid."
- Sherman also lists the Red Sox, Rangers, Giants, Diamondbacks and Blue Jays as suitors for Tanaka.
- The Yankees may be extra-motivated to sign Tanaka due to the fact that many within the organization believe Hiroki Kuroda is leaning toward returning to Japan to finish his career.
- In a separate piece, Sherman writes that Boston's decision on whether or not to tender qualifying offers to Jacoby Ellsbury, Stephen Drew, Mike Napoli and Jarrod Saltalamacchia will shape the market. Sherman spoke with four Major League executives -- two from the AL and two from the NL -- and asked about the Red Sox quartet's chances at receiving a qualifying offer. All four agreed that Ellsbury will receive one. Both AL execs and one of the NL expected Napoli to receive an offer, while just one of the NL execs thought that Drew and Saltalamacchia would get offers. Sherman offers his own expectation as well, predicting that all four will receive qualifying offers.
After a very disappointing 2013 season, the Blue Jays will try to fix the remaining holes in their roster and finally get back into contention.
- Jose Reyes, SS: $86MM through 2017
- Mark Buehrle, SP: $37MM through 2015
- Jose Bautista, OF: $29MM through 2015
- R.A. Dickey, SP: $25MM through 2015
- Edwin Encarnacion, 1B: $21MM through 2015
- Ricky Romero, SP: $15.6MM through 2015
- Brandon Morrow, SP: $9MM through 2014
- Melky Cabrera, OF: $8MM through 2014
- Maicer Izturis, IF: $7MM through 2015
- J.A. Happ, SP: $5.4MM through 2014
- Sergio Santos, RP: $4.5MM through 2014
- Dustin McGowan, RP: $2MM through 2014
- Josh Thole, C: $1.25MM through 2014
Arbitration Eligible Players (service time in parentheses)
- Colby Rasmus, OF (5.000): $6.5MM
- J.P. Arencibia, C (3.059): $2.8MM
- Esmil Rogers, SP/RP (3.135, non-tender candidate): $1MM
- Brett Cecil, RP (3.152): $900K
- Adam Lind, 1B: $7MM club option ($2MM buyout)
- Casey Janssen, RP: $4MM club option
- Munenori Kawasaki, 2B/SS: $1MM club option
- Mark DeRosa, IF: $750K club option ($25K buyout)
The Blue Jays were the talk of the 2012-13 offseason after two major trades with the Marlins and Mets added Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, Emilio Bonifacio, R.A. Dickey and Josh Thole to the fold. These trades (and the free agent signings of Melky Cabrera and Maicer Izturis) left the Jays and their fans expecting to challenge for the World Series, let alone an end to the club's 20-year playoff drought.
Instead, almost everything went wrong. Aside from Buehrle, all of Toronto's major acquisitions ended up badly regressing from their 2012 performance or were limited by injuries (or both). On top of this, some core players already on the roster also failed to live up to expectations or took steps backwards in their development. A season that looked so promising in Spring Training ended with a 74-88 record and a last-place finish in the AL East.
The Jays have over $110MM committed to 13 players for 2014, not counting contract options or arbitration salaries that could push the payroll to around $134MM. While general manager Alex Anthopoulos has said that the team won't be cutting spending, another big payroll boost seems unlikely, though one more notable salary could be added. Trading will be more difficult since the farm system was thinned by the Marlins/Mets deals.
In short, don't expect any major overhaul of the roster --- the Jays believe they already have the nucleus of a winning team. It may sound odd to say that a last-place club is just looking to fine-tune the roster, but the Blue Jays may not be as far away from contention as they seem if they get some good health luck (after two injury-ravaged seasons in a row) and if the underachievers return to form.
MLBTR's Matt Swartz projects Toronto will spend $11.2MM on their four arbitration-eligible players, presuming all are tendered contracts. J.P. Arencibia's stock plummeted after he hit .194/.227/.365 with 148 strikeouts over 497 PA and struggled defensively, to boot. A non-tender wouldn't be surprising, yet I'd guess the Jays will keep Arencibia either on a short leash as a platoon player, send him to Triple-A to revamp his batting approach or perhaps trade him to another team interested in trying to fix him.
There isn't much suspense with contract options, as Anthopoulos has already hinted that Adam Lind, Casey Janssen and Mark DeRosa are all likely to have their 2014 options exercised. Lind enjoyed his first healthy and productive season since 2009, getting his career back on track by hitting .288/.357/.497 with 23 homers in 523 PA, though he still can't hit left-handed pitching. Janssen's option is a no-brainer after he posted a 2.56 ERA and recorded 34 saves in his first full year as Toronto's closer. The Jays like DeRosa's veteran clubhouse presence and versatility off the bench, so they'll leave the door open for him to return if he wishes to keep playing. That leaves fan favorite Munenori Kawasaki, who could be back as minor league depth.
The Jays are set (with some reservations) at most positions around the diamond, except for catcher and second base. While Arencibia may not be non-tendered, his days as a starter are assuredly over. Brian McCann is easily the top catcher available in free agency and one of the top free agents overall this offseason, so he could command a deal that is too rich for the Jays to match, as much as he would check a lot of boxes for the team. If not McCann, expect Toronto to explore several free agent catchers and all possible trade options (such as Wilson Ramos) to improve behind the plate.
Late-season callup Ryan Goins wowed the Jays with his glove at second base, and since improvement on defense is one of Anthopoulos' stated goals, Goins may have worked himself into the Jays' plans despite his .609 OPS in 121 PA. The Blue Jays could focus on upgrading their other weak areas and get away with a Goins/Izturis platoon at second next season, given the thin second base free agent market. Robinson Cano isn't signing with Toronto, and even a second-tier option like Omar Infante would be in line to receive a contract in the neighborhood of three years/$25MM. While the Jays will at least check in on Infante or Kelly Johnson, I'd guess the club will look to trade for second base help.
Beyond second base and catcher, the Jays will look to add some outfield depth. Cabrera recently had a benign tumor removed from his spinal cord, a condition that explains the leg and back injuries that ruined his season and left him barely able to run. Even though Cabrera is expected to be fit, it wouldn't hurt the Jays to have a backup option ready given that Cabrera and Jose Bautista are both coming off injury-shortened years.
Rajai Davis provided strong base-stealing ability and a quality bat against southpaws over the last three seasons, but he'll sign elsewhere in search of an everyday job. Anthony Gose can replace Davis' speed and is a better fielder, though he has only a .655 OPS in 342 career PA. The Blue Jays may want Gose to get more seasoning at Triple-A rather than spend most of his time on a Major League bench. Toronto could look to replace Davis with another right-handed hitting outfielder that can also spell Lind at DH against lefty starters.
Edwin Encarnacion, Bautista and Reyes are all over 30 years old, the Jays are feeling some urgency to contend before any of their cornerstone hitters start declining. Encarnacion has posted two elite slugging seasons in a row and the three-year, $29MM extension signed midway through his breakout 2012 campaign is looking like one of Anthopoulos' cannier moves. The Jays have to be concerned that Bautista hasn't played a September game since 2011, having been shut down with wrist and hip injuries, respectively, in each of the last two seasons. Bautista was still a force when healthy, hitting 28 homers with an .856 OPS in 528 PA.
Colby Rasmus was limited to 118 games due to injury himself but it was still a big year for the 27-year-old. Rasmus hit .276/.338/.501 with 22 homers in 458 PA (while boosted by a .356 BABIP) and was one of the sport's better defensive center fielders, posting a +15.2 UZR/150. A repeat of that performance will make Rasmus arguably the top free agent outfielder on the market next offseason, though it's a good bet that the Jays will discuss a long-term extension with Rasmus this winter.
The bullpen was one of the few bright spots for the team in 2013 and it'll require little-to-no tinkering. Toronto has more than enough bullpen depth to make up for the loss of Darren Oliver, who is retiring after 20 years in the Show.
Toronto's rotation posted the second-worst starters' ERA (4.81) in baseball last season, so it's no surprise that starting pitching is by far the Jays' biggest offseason need. Dickey and Buehrle return as the projected top two starters having delivered fairly similar numbers in 2013, though Dickey was perceived as having the more disappointing campaign given the dropoff from his 2012 Cy Young Award-winning stats. The Jays need Brandon Morrow to rebound from a negative WAR season that saw him post a 5.63 ERA in 10 starts and spend most of his time on the DL due to a nerve injury in his right forearm.
The last two spots in the rotation are completely up in the air. Josh Johnson could've set himself up for a nine-figure contract in free agency with a strong 2013 season, but instead the right-hander posted a 6.20 ERA over 16 starts and now might not even receive as much as a qualifying offer from the Jays. While Anthopoulos says the club hasn't made up its mind about Johnson's future, agent Matt Sosnick recently told MLBTR that his client enjoyed his time with the Jays and would like to return. Johnson was yet another player affected by injuries last year, so if the Jays can re-sign him to a cheap, one-year deal, he could go from bust to bargain in a hurry if the Josh Johnson from 2008-12 shows up.
Internal rotation candidates include J.A. Happ, swingmen Rogers, Todd Redmond and Chad Jenkins, prospects Sean Nolin and Marcus Stroman, plus Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison will both be back after undergoing Tommy John surgeries in 2012. There's also Ricky Romero, but he isn't even 40-man roster material for the Jays at this point, and the team isn't counting on their former ace for anything in 2014.
As Anthopoulos has said, however, those arms are only seen as the depth options. The Jays will look to acquire at least one front-of-the-rotation pitcher, whether that's pursuing a trade or such top free agents as Matt Garza, Ervin Santana, Ricky Nolasco or Tim Lincecum. Toronto has scouted Masahiro Tanaka and will likely bid on the Japanese righty, though the Jays are but one of many teams interested in Tanaka.
The Jays may have to overpay to attract a free agent pitcher to the AL East, so a trade is probably the preferable option. With the minor league system light on premium talent, Toronto could use pieces from their Major League roster as bait. Janssen or other relievers could be moved as part of a package for a quality starter, as the Blue Jays could dip into their deep bullpen and promote Brett Cecil, Sergio Santos or Steve Delabar to the closer's job. Lind has regained enough trade value to be shipped to a team in need of first base or DH help.
Even Rasmus could be shopped in a sell-high move, especially if the Jays can't work out a contract extension. The Jays aren't going to move Encarnacion or Bautista unless they receive a knockout of an offer, so Rasmus could be the best and most realistic trade chip they have amongst the position players.
It's easy to write off the 2013 Blue Jays as victims of injuries and bad luck, but 2014 is a pivotal year for this era of the franchise. Another disappointing season could cost Anthopoulos his job and spur yet another rebuilding phase in Toronto. The Jays are hoping that their big moves from the 2012-13 offseason will start paying dividends and that they are indeed just a second baseman, catcher and couple of arms away from finally getting back to the postseason.