Toronto Blue Jays Rumors
Bluebird Banter looks at both the Blue Jays' most recent arbitration hearings and, more importantly for the general MLBTR readership, the most recent arb hearing from each team. The Indians have gone the longest without an arbitration hearing, having not taken a case to court since Jerry Browne and Greg Swindell back in 1991. Anibal Sanchez and Emilio Bonifacio are the two most recent players to win arb hearings, both coming against the Marlins in 2012. The whole table is worth checking out, featuring notable names like Kyle Lohse, Andruw Jones, A.J. Pierzynski and Oliver Perez. Here are some more links related to the possible arb cases we could see next month ...
- With several star Braves players (Craig Kimbrel, Freddie Freeman, and Jason Heyward) set to face a hearing, writes MLB.com's Mark Bowman, the effects on the organization could be long-lasting. First of all, if Kimbrel wins the $9MM salary he has requested, he would set himself up for two more massive arb paydays that could force Atlanta to deal him. As for Freeman and Heyward, both of whom are represented by Excel Sports Management, Bowman says that the confrontational hearing process could potentially make it at least marginally harder (or, at least, more expensive) to keep them around for the long haul.
- The Mets will continue to negotiate with first baseman/outfielder Lucas Duda after exchanging numbers, reports Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. The respective salary submissions ($1.35MM vs. $1.9MM) did not fall among the most difficult-to-bridge gaps, as noted in my roundup of notable arbitration situations from Friday.
- Club GM Sandy Alderson also said today (courtesy of Rubin) that Duda could see time in the outfield next year, and could conceivably break camp with the Mets alongside Ike Davis. Since Duda has an option remaining, his 2015 arbitration case could suffer from a lack of playing time if he does not force his way onto the active roster for a substantial portion of the coming season.
Jeff Todd contributed to this post.
Here are Monday's minor moves from around the league...
- The Blue Jays announced on Twitter that they've re-signed outfielder Ricardo Nanita to a minor league deal with an invite to Major League Spring Training. The 32-year-old Nanita has spent the past four seasons with the Jays' minor league affiliates, where he's batted over .300 overall. He struggled a bit in 2013, slumping to .258/.312/.376.
- The Padres have re-signed outfielder Travis Buck to another minor league deal, according to Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish (Twitter link). Last season marked the first time since 2006 that Buck did not appear in a Major League game. The 30-year-old CAA client appeared in 35 games at Triple-A Tucson where he batted .256/.296/.464. Buck did not receive an invite to Major League Spring Training, Cotillo adds in a followup tweet.
- Carlos Peguero of the Mariners is the only player that is currently in DFA limbo, as can be seen in MLBTR's DFA Tracker.
We'll keep track of today's smaller deals to avoid arbitration in this post. Click here for background on the upcoming arbitration schedule and how MLBTR is covering it. You can also check in on our Arbitration Tracker and look at MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz's arbitration projections.
Today's noon CT deadline to exchange arb figures has passed, but negotiations to avoid an arbitration hearing can continue into February. The Braves are the only strict "file and trial" team that did not agree to terms with all of its arb-eligible players, meaning they could be headed for several hearings. The Nats and Indians have also shown a willingness to go to a trial and still have some players unsigned. On to today's contract agreements...
- After exchanging numbers, the Mets and pitcher Dillon Gee have agreed to settle at the midpoint of $3.625MM, tweets Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. Swartz projected Gee to earn $3.4MM.
- The Cubs have avoided arbitration with reliever Pedro Strop, president Theo Epstein told Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune (Twitter link). He will earn $1.325MM next year, according to a tweet from Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. It is not immediately apparent whether the deal was reached before the sides exchanged terms.
- The Angels have reached agreement on a $3.8MM deal with reliever Ernesto Frieri, reports Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com (on Twitter).
- Mike Minor has agreed to terms on a $3.85MM deal with the Braves to avoid arbitration, reports Mark Bowman of MLB.com (Twitter links). The deal came before figures were exchanged, Bowman notes.
- Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish reports that the D-Backs and lefty Joe Thatcher have avoided arb with a one-year, $2.375MM deal (Twitter link).
- Nicholson-Smith tweets that the Angels and Fernando Salas reached an agreement to avoid arbitration. Salas is the first Halos player to avoid arb. Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times tweets that Salas will earn $870K, which beats out his $700K projection.
- MLB.com's Jason Beck reports (via Twitter) that the Tigers and righty Al Alburquerque have reached agreement on a deal to avoid arb. The hard-throwing righty will earn $837.5K in 2014, tweets Beck.
- Sherman tweets that the Yankees and Ivan Nova avoided arbitration with a one-year, $3.3MM deal.
- The Pirates and Vin Mazzaro inked a one-year, $950K deal in lieu of an arbitration hearing, tweets Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune.
- The Royals announced that they've avoided arbitration with infielder Emilio Bonifacio. Heyman tweets that Bonifacio will earn $3.5MM in 2014.
- Sherman reports that the Rays avoided arbitration with Jeremy Hellickson and Sean Rodriguez (Twitter link). Hellickson landed a $3.625MM payday with a $25K bonus if he hits 195 innings pitched. Rodriguez will get $1.475MM with a $25K bump for hitting 300 plate appearances.
- Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets that Brian Matusz avoided arb with the Orioles. Sherman adds that he'll earn $2.4MM in 2014.
- MLB.com's Brian McTaggart tweets that Jason Castro and the Astros have avoided arbitration. McTaggart adds in a second tweet that Jesus Guzman avoided arb as well. Heyman reports that Castro will be paid $2.45MM, while Sherman tweets that Guzman will make $1.3MM.
- The Indians tweeted that they've avoided arb with lefty Marc Rzepczynski, and MLB.com's Jordan Bastian tweets that he'll earn $1.375MM in 2014. Bastian adds that Scrabble will earn an additional $25K for appearing in 55 games and another $25K for 60 games.
- The Giants avoided arbitration with Yusmeiro Petit, according to MLBTR's Steve Adams (on Twitter). He'll earn $845K, according to Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith (via Twitter).
- Cesar Ramos got $750K from the Rays in his deal, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweets.
- Sherman tweets that the Athletics' Craig Gentry will get $1.145MM on a one-year deal to avoid arbitration.
- Jerry Blevins and the Nationals avoided arbitration, tweets Dan Kolko of MASNsports.com. He will earn $1.675MM for the year, tweets Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca.
- Alejandro De Aza agreed to a $4.25MM deal with the White Sox, Sherman tweets. Within the same tweet, Sherman says the Rays shook hands with Jose Lobaton on a $900K deal and James Russell agreed to a $1.775MM pact.
- The White Sox and Gordon Beckham agreed to a one-year, $4.175MM deal, Sherman tweets.
- The Brewers avoided arbitration with Marco Estrada and Juan Francisco, Sherman tweets. Estrada gets $3.325MM with $100K in innings pitched bonuses while Francisco gets $1.35MM.
- Mike Dunn agreed to a $1.4MM deal with the Marlins, according to Juan C. Rodriguez of the Sun Sentinel (on Twitter).
- Pedro Alvarez will earn $4.25MM on his brand new deal with the Pirates, Sherman tweets.
- The Nationals announced that they've struck an arb-avoiding deal with Wilson Ramos. Ramos gets $2.095MM with the opportunity to get $105K more through plate appearance bonuses, per Sherman.
- Alexi Ogando gets $2.625MM in 2014 from the Rangers, according to Sherman.
- Mark Melancon will get $2.595MM after striking a deal with the Pirates, tweets Sherman.
- Brandon Moss and the Athletics avoided arbitration with a $4.1MM pact, Sherman tweets.
- The Red Sox and Jonathan Herrera avoided arbitration with a $1.3MM deal for 2014, Sherman tweets.
- Brian Duensing has agreed to a $2MM deal with the Twins, according to Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press (via Twitter). Berardino adds in a second tweet that Anthony Swarzak also avoided arb with a $935K deal. The swingman will earn a $25K bonus if he starts 10 games.
- The Rangers and Neftali Feliz agreed to a $3MM deal with bonuses of $25K for 50/55 games finished, Sherman tweets.
- Jake McGee will earn $1.45MM in his new deal with the Rays, Sherman tweets.
- The Royals and Eric Hosmer have agreed to a one-year, $3.6MM deal, Sherman tweets.
- Mike Carp gets $1.4MM in his deal with the Red Sox, according to Sherman (via Twitter).
- Bobby Parnell agreed to a one-year, $3.7MM with the Mets that can increase by $50K if he appears in 60 games, Sherman tweets.
- The Braves avoided arbitration with Jordan Schafer with a $1.09MM deal, tweets Sherman. Sherman adds that Andy Dirks and the Tigers have also avoided arbitration with a $1.625MM deal.
- Shawn Kelley and the Yankees dodged arbitration by agreeing to a $1.765MM deal for 2014, Sherman tweets. Kelley, 29, has a career 3.77 ERA with 9.6 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9.
- The Red Sox agreed to a one-year, $1.275MM deal with Junichi Tazawa, according to Sherman (on Twitter). Tazawa posted a 3.16 ERA in 2013 with 9.5 K/9 and 1.6 BB/9.
- The Rockies avoided arbitration with Drew Stubbs by agreeing to a $4.1MM deal for 2014, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (on Twitter). With the signing of Stubbs, the Rockies have now taken care of all of their arbitration-eligible players.
- Kyle Blanks has avoided arbitration with the Padres by agreeing to a one-year, $988K deal, according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com (via Twitter).
- Sherman also reports (on Twitter) that the Giants have avoided arbitration with Gregor Blanco and Tony Abreu by agreeing to one-year deals that are worth $2.525MM and $745K, respectively.
- The Cardinals and Peter Bourjos have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $1.2MM contract, tweets Sherman. Bourjos can earn another $150K based on plate appearances.
- Gaby Sanchez and the Pirates have avoided arbitration with a one-year deal, according to Sanchez's agency, the Beverly Hills Sports Council (on Twitter). Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets that Sanchez will earn $2.3MM.
- Sherman reports (via Twitter) that the Blue Jays also avoided arbitration with Esmil Rogers by agreeing to a one-year, $1.85MM contract.
- The Nationals announced that in addition to their two-year deal with Jordan Zimmermann, they've also signed Drew Storen to a one-year deal to avoid arbitration. Sherman tweets that he'll earn $3.45MM in 2014 with an additional $1MM of incentives in his contract for games finished.
- The Rockies and righty Juan Nicasio avoided arbitration with a one-year, $2.025MM contract, Sherman tweets.
- The Blue Jays and lefty Brett Cecil have avoided arbitration with a one-year, $1.3MM pact, per Sherman (on Twitter).
- Sherman tweets that the Rays and Matt Joyce agreed to a one-year, $3.7MM contract, thereby avoiding arbitration.
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Reds have avoided arbitration with Alfredo Simon by agreeing to a one-year, $1.5MM contract (Twitter link).
- Connolly also reports that the Orioles have avoided arbitration with Tommy Hunter (Twitter link). Currently the front-runner to serve as Baltimore's closer in 2014, Hunter will earn $3MM after posting a 2.81 ERA with 7.1 K/9 and 1.5 BB/9 in 86 1/3 innings for the O's in 2013.
- Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports that the Orioles and Troy Patton have avoided arbitration (Twitter link). Patton topped Swartz's $1.2MM salary projection by earning a raise to $1.275MM, Connolly adds in a second tweet.. Patton will be suspended for the first 25 games of 2014 for amphetamine use.
- The Twins and Trevor Plouffe have agreed to a one-year, $2.35MM contract, Sherman tweets. Plouffe saw his power numbers drop as he batted .254/.309/.392 with 14 homers in a career-high 522 plate appearances in 2013 (he'd belted 24 homers in 465 PAs in 2012). He figures to open the season as Minnesota's everyday third baseman but could eventually have competition from top prospect Miguel Sano.
- Jon Jay and the Cardinals have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $3.25MM contract, according to Sherman (on Twitter). Jay batted .276/.351/.370 with the Cards in 2013 but struggled defensively (particularly in the playoffs) and will have center field competition in the form of offseason acquisition Peter Bourjos in 2014.
- Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets that the Phillies and John Mayberry Jr. have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year deal worth $1.5875MM. Mayberry slashed .227/.286/.391 in 2013 and has a career .274/.321/.526 batting line against lefties. He came in just under Swartz's $1.7MM projection.
- The Cubs and Luis Valbuena have also avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year pact, tweets Sherman. Valbuena will earn $1.71MM after slashing .218/.331/.378 and setting a new career-best with 12 homers in 2013. He exceeded Swartz's projection by $210K.
Zach Links contributed to this post.
The Blue Jays have avoided arbitration with center fielder Colby Rasmus by agreeing to a one-year deal worth $7MM, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (Twitter link). This is Rasmus' final year of arbitration eligibility, as he'll be a free agent in the offseason.
Rasmus, 27, is represented by Excel Sports Management. The left-handed swinger batted .276/.338/.501 with 22 homers for the Blue Jays in 2013 and played strong defense in center field according to UZR/150 (+15.2) and The Fielding Bible's Defensive Runs saved metric (+11). Rasmus will be one of the most appealing free agents on next year's market, though he could stand to cut down on this past season's 29.5 percent strikeout rate. His $7MM guarantee tops the projection of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz by $500K.
The Blue Jays originally acquired Rasmus from the Cardinals in a three-team trade that sent Edwin Jackson, Octavio Dotel, Marc Rzepczynski and Corey Patterson to St. Louis. Toronto has successfully avoided arbitration with all three of its arbitration eligible players (the others being Brett Cecil and Esmil Rogers), meaning GM Alex Anthopoulos can boast that he's never had to go to an arbitration hearing for at least another year.
Here's the latest from around the American League East:
- Red Sox first baseman/outfielder Mike Carp could still be dealt before Opening Day, reports Jason Mastrodonato of MassLive.com. Though Boston has reportedly held out for a substantial return for Carp, and the club values the depth he provies, he might be worth more to other clubs who could deploy him more regularly.
- Meanwhile, extension talks still have yet to begin between Jon Lester and the Boston front office, reports WEEI.com's Rob Bradford. Clayton Kershaw's extension does not necessarily serve as a comparable for Lester's purposes, says Bradford, but his absence from the open market could have an impact.
- The Orioles are having ongoing discussions with free agent starter Bronson Arroyo, reports Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (via Twitter). We learned recently that Baltimore had active interest in the veteran.
- Confirming recent reports, Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos said today that the price of pitchers on the free agent and trade market remains too high for the club's liking, Sportsnet.ca's Shi Davidi tweets.
- Recent comments from Alex Rodriguez and Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner indicate that both sides believe a return to the field in 2015 is a realistic possibility. Rodriguez sounds as though he has accepted the likelihood that he will ultimately sit out the entire 2014 campaign, but a spokesman said Rodriguez would "get ready for 2015 should the judge rule against him" in his court challenge against his full-season suspension. Steinbrenner, meanwhile, said that Rodriguez is "an asset" on the field and insisted the club would take a business approach to dealing with Rodriguez's situation going forward.
The Blue Jays have reached a minor league deal with second baseman Chris Getz, reports Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca (via Twitter). Getz will have an opportunity to compete for playing time at the keystone during Spring Training, GM Alex Anthopoulos said.
Getz, 30, had spent the last four years with the Royals but never gained hold of the club's second base job. Lat year, in 237 plate appearances, Getz put up a .220/.288/.273 triple-slash. Advanced metrics see him as a roughly average defender at second, though he landed at a solid 7.5 UZR/150 mark last year (good for 12th in baseball, minimum 200 plate appearances) and was credited with a career-best five defensive runs saved.
Earlier today, we learned the Cubs are prepared to offer Masahiro Tanaka a nine-figure contract and a National League GM expects one team will "come in and blow everyone away." Here's the latest on the top ranked player on MLBTR's 2014 Top 50 Free Agents list still on the market:
- The level of the Dodgers' aggressiveness in pursuing in Tanaka may be defined by the progress, or lack thereof, in extension talks with Clayton Kershaw, according to ESPN's Buster Olney (Insider subscription required).
- The Blue Jays have scouted Tanaka, but their reluctance to offer players seven-year contracts make it unlikely the prized right-hander will sign with Toronto, writes Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun.
- Also within Elliott's article, a source provides this scouting report on Tanaka: "Plenty of great Japanese hitters say his four-seam fastball and splitter are indistinguishable. His regular season was outstanding: 95-96 mph, four-seam fastball, location was great, velocity was great and an unhittable splitter, along with a hard slider."
- Elliott's source also outlined what Tanaka will be seeking from potential suitors. "Tanaka wants to go to a World Series, wants a city where his family will feel at home since they don’t speak English. He has a desire to be on a team with potential to win and loves the pressure."
Last night, Red Sox GM Ben Cherington appeared on WEEI radio and discussed a number of topics, including Stephen Drew, Masahiro Tanaka and David Ortiz. That post has been updated this morning to include the full audio of Cherington's 18-minute interview. Elsewhere in the AL East...
- Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports notes that the Yankees have a 40-man roster crunch right now, but Alex Rodriguez's likely suspension would clear one spot. The Yankees will still need to clear more via trades or DFA, as they've yet to officially announce the signings of Brian Roberts and Matt Thornton, despite agreeing to deals with that duo on Dec. 17. Signing Masahiro Tanaka would require further roster manipulation (Twitter links).
- Blue Jays manager John Gibbons isn't ruling out the possibility of top prospect Marcus Stroman making the team out of Spring Training, though he did caution that it's a long shot, tweets Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.
- Nicholson-Smith also tweets that Gibbons says the Blue Jays are keeping tabs on Tanaka.
- Wei-Yin Chen's recovery from surgery to remove bone spurs from his knee "hasn't been as seamless as some others have been," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said on WBAL Radio (via MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko). Though Showalter said he expects Chen to be fine, he did say his recovery has been slow and that the team is "keeping really close tabs" on Chen.
- From that same piece, Showalter says Manny Machado "feels great." The manager added that his gut feeling is that Machado can be healthy by Opening Day, but the organization will not rush him. The O's will use Ryan Flaherty as their Opening Day third baseman if Machado isn't ready, writes Kubatko.
- Tanaka is in Los Angeles not only to meet with clubs, but to undergo a physical, reports Steve Dilbeck of the Los Angeles Times. Tanaka will have his physical on Thursday and release the results to interested clubs. With a sizeable workload already under Tanaka's belt at age 25, says Dilbeck, agent Casey Close may be looking to get out in front of any health concerns.
- After Dodgers GM Ned Colletti said yesterday that discussions were in the "feeling-out" stage, president Stan Kasten further discussed the team's interest in Tanaka today in an interview with Mark Willard and Ben Lyons of ESPNLA 710, writes Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com. "You can be assured we'll investigate everything and, if there's a way that it made sense, I'm sure we would consider it," said Kasten. "But I wouldn't predict it, I wouldn't hang our hat on it, because I think the team we have right now in place is ready to go to spring training, ready to start the season and ready to compete and win."
- Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers also discussed Tanaka from his club's perspective, indicating to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic that he anticipates a chance to meet with Tanaka and his camp. "They've been good through the process," Towers said in reference to Tanaka and Close. "I'm sure they've dealt with us the same way they've dealt with other clubs." Towers also addressed the issue of whether Arizona could compete with other teams that may have greater financial flexibility. "We don't know if it's about dollars or location or the chance to be competitive," said Towers. "Nobody has really met with him so I don't think any of us have any idea. ... If they come out and say it's going to be the club that spends the most money on him, then we're probably not the front-runner. But everything right now is pure speculation by the media." The D-Backs' top baseball man declined to disclose his sales pitch, but did say that his organization has "spent a great deal of time putting together what our plan of attack is and what our selling points are."
- The White Sox have issued a statement confirming that club representatives met with Tanaka and his camp today, Scott Merkin of MLB.com was among those to report (through a series of Twitter links). GM Rick Hahn was joined by executive VP Ken Williams and manager Robin Ventura for a meeting that was, in Hahn's words, "exploratory in nature."
- Meanwhile, the Red Sox have been in touch with Close, GM Ben Cherington told WEEI.com in a radio interview today. As WEEI.com's Alex Speier tweets, Cherington said that "we'll see how it plays out" as to whether the club ultimately meets with Tanaka and company.
- The details of the negotation process could have a major role in where Tanaka ultimately ends up, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports explores in a series of tweets. For instance, the Diamondbacks have a scout who played with Tanaka in Japan, while Angels executive Hal Morris played ball with Close in college. While such advantages may be minor, Rosenthal says that clubs are looking for any edge.
- The precise structure of the deal could also be highly variable, says Rosenthal, and may well include creative contract terms. Rosenthal cites Close's utilization of an opt-out clause in the Zack Greinke deal, and proposal to include a similar clause in a Clayton Kershaw extension. An opt-out clause or even a massive AAV over a shorter term would not be surprising, according to Rosenthal.
- Tanaka arrived in the United States to begin meeting with Major League clubs, tweets David Waldstein of the New York Times. Tanaka was originally planning on flying into Chicago, but an NL official tells Waldstein that weather caused him to fly into Los Angeles instead.
- Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that Tanaka's camp could meet with as many as a dozen by Friday. According to Heyman, the Dodgers, Cubs, and Yankees (in addition to the above-noted Angels, White Sox, and Diamondbacks) all have meetings set. The Blue Jays have also had multiple conversations with Tanaka's camp already, he adds, but it's unclear if they have a face-to-face meeting set in Los Angeles. Heyman reports that Tanaka began meetings yesterday and could meet with five to six teams per day.
- We also learned additional details on the payment schedule for the posting fee that will be owed by whatever team ultimately lands Tanaka.
Jeff Todd contributed to this post.
The Major League Baseball Players Association announced that Kevin McGuiness, a lawyer who has spent a decade heading a lobbying firm in Washington, D.C., has been hired as COO under new union head Tony Clark. The 61-year-old will fill a post that had been vacant since Gene Orza retired in March 2011. McGuiness will start work with the union next month. Tonight's look around baseball..
- The Pirates signed starting pitcher Edinson Volquez as a free agent this offseason, but that wasn't the first time they had pursued him, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writes. "When San Diego put me on waivers (last year), the Pirates called right away," says Volquez. "This winter, they called again. I thought, 'They must really want me, so let's do it.'" Volquez posted a 5.71 ERA with 7.5 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9 with the Padres and Dodgers last year, but the Pirates have had success with down-on-their-luck pitchers like Francisco Liriano in the recent past. "What I hear about the Pirates pitching coaches and the pitching staff is pretty good," Volquez says. "So, why not take a chance to come here and maybe get better?"
- Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers has made no secret of his desire to make a play for Masahiro Tanaka and he has a strategy in place to make it happen, writes MLB.com's Steve GIlbert.
- Tanaka flew to the U.S. today and is expected to start meeting with MLB clubs in the coming days, according to a report from Nikkan Sports.
- While some see the Blue Jays’ starting rotation as a weakness, others view it as an opportunity, writes Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet. Pitching prospects Sean Nolin and Marcus Stroman both say they aim to make the rotation out of spring training. Of course, there will be less seats at the table if Toronto goes out and finds more arms via trade or free agency.
Charlie Wilmoth and Aaron Steen contributed to this post.