The Blue Jays continue to have interest in Michael Brantley, writes Ken Rosenthal of the Athletic. Toronto’s top free agent outfield target remains George Springer, and Rosenthal floats the possibility of the Jays signing both players. Springer and Brantley have spent the past two seasons as teammates with the Astros, and Brantley is plenty familiar with Jays’ president/CEO Mark Shapiro and GM Ross Atkins from their time in Cleveland. Signing both Springer and Brantley would make for a bit of an awkward fit on-paper, since Toronto already has a glut of corner outfield/designated hitter options. Nevertheless, doing so could free the Jays up to trade one of their young, in-house outfielders for rotation help, Rosenthal feels.
Some more from around the sport:
- Cardinals reliever Jordan Hicks is “ready to go” for next season, bullpen coach Bryan Eversgerd tells reporters (including Anne Rogers of MLB.com). That’s welcome news after a setback in Hicks’ recovery from Tommy John surgery contributed to his choice to opt out of the 2020 season. The 24-year-old suffers from Type 1 diabetes, which no doubt also played a role in that decision. In 106.2 career innings between 2018-19, the fireballer has pitched to a 3.47 ERA behind an elite 62.3% groundball rate.
- The Astros have signed Ryne Stanek and Pedro Báez this winter. Even still, they’d like to continue to add to their bullpen, ideally by acquiring a traditional closer, writes Brian McTaggart of MLB.com. “It’s something that I think all of us would like to have, and it can certainly make you feel better about your bullpen than if you don’t have someone who maybe has done it in the past,” general manager James Click said of a set ninth inning option. “However, there are always guys who step up into that role every year. There are new closers every year, and our young talent on this roster did an impressive job last season in stepping up in some roles that, if we’re being honest, I don’t think that we thought that they might have been ready for, and our hand was forced because of a lot of different reasons.” As Click alluded to, Houston’s bullpen was decimated by injuries in 2020 and ranked just 24th league-wide with a 4.55 SIERA. One potential option is Brad Hand, with whom the club remains in contact, tweets Jon Morosi of MLB.com.