Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports breaks down a half-dozen managers who may be on the hot seat. Among them, only Blue Jays skipper John Gibbons could be in a postseason-or-bust position, in Rosenthal’s estimation (he also lists Bryan Price of the Reds, Walt Weiss of the Rockies, Robin Ventura of the White Sox, Chip Hale of the D-backs and Brian Snitker of the Braves — each for other reasons), who points out that Gibbons was hired by former GM Alex Anthopoulos, who is no longer with the organization. Moreover, the Jays have a number of free agents, including Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, R.A. Dickey and Michael Saunders, and new baseball ops heads Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins could look to make a large transition with such a great deal of roster turnover already likely to be forthcoming.
More from the AL East…
- With such little certainty in their rotation heading into the 2017 season, the Yankees need to focus on starting pitching this winter, opines ESPN’s Buster Olney (Insider subscription required). Olney surmises that the Yankees have the financial firepower to add via free agency and should target left-hander Rich Hill as a high-upside addition to the staff. While Hill doesn’t come with much in the way of certainty himself, adding him would allow the team to enter the season with a high-upside mix of rotation arms and conserve its prospect depth and make a midseason pitching acquisition at a time when a greater number of targets will be available.
- Joe Kelly is demonstrating the potential to be a shutdown reliever for the Red Sox and could develop into a late-inning weapon in that role next season, writes Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal. MacPherson spoke to Red Sox pitching analyst (and former big league pitcher) Brian Bannister about Kelly, with Bannister noting that Kelly has one of the best spin rates of any pitcher in baseball on his curveball. “As a reliever, he can showcase that much more often,” said Bannister of Kelly, who has all but cut out his changeup and slider since moving to the bullpen. “It’s as impressive of a curveball as you’ll see out of anybody. It’s just a matter of finding out how far that can take him.” Kelly would like another chance at starting, however, according to MacPherson, though the Red Sox have yet to have the necessary conversations to determine if they’ll give him that chance.
- Sticking with the Boston ’pen, the Globe’s Nick Cafardo writes that the return of Koji Uehara has helped to stabilize what was once a weak point for the Red Sox and turn it into a strength. Uehara’s return, paired with Kelly’s emergence, has allowed Robbie Ross Jr. and Brad Ziegler to be used in more specialized high-leverage roles. Uehara’s strong work late in the season makes it imperative that the Sox try to re-sign him this winter, Cafardo opines, despite the fact that he’ll pitch next season at age 42.