MLB Trade Rumors » » Toronto Blue Jays https://www.mlbtraderumors.com Thu, 18 Jan 2018 05:28:10 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Agent: Yelich’s Relationship With Marlins “Broken” https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/01/christian-yelich-agent-trade-request-rumor-marlins.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/01/christian-yelich-agent-trade-request-rumor-marlins.html#comments Wed, 17 Jan 2018 00:55:12 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=112771 In the latest dose of Marlins-related drama, agent Joe Longo of Paragon Sports International, who represents Christian Yelich, tells ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick that a trade of his client in the next month would be in the best interest of both team and player.

Longo states that he respects the Marlins’ long-term plan for a return to contention, but states that the “…plan shouldn’t include Christian at this point in his career.” Yelich’s relationship with the Marlins has been “irretrievably broken” and has “soured,” according to Longo, who goes on to speak about the disappointment that Yelich has felt in watching the Marlins’ new ownership group gut the roster in trades that have sent Giancarlo Stanton, Dee Gordon and Marcell Ozuna elsewhere.

“The new ownership regime needs to get new parts into this plan and move forward, and [Yelich] needs to get on with his career where he’s got a chance to win,” Longo tells Crasnick. The agent goes on to explain that Yelich signed his seven-year, $49.57MM contract extension with the Marlins in a “completely different climate” — that is, one where the organization looked to be making a clear push to win in the short term. Yelich’s deal (which Longo and Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill discussed at length with MLBTR’s Zach Links back in 2015) was agreed upon in the same offseason that saw the Fish sign Stanton to a record-setting $325MM contract. New ownership, however, clearly has no intent of pushing for a division title in 2017 as payroll has been slashed by roughly $50MM.

Longo’s comments, of course, don’t ensure that a trade of Yelich will transpire before or during Spring Training. Such decisions are up to president of baseball operations Michael Hill and his staff, who needn’t feel pressure to move Yelich in the same manner as they did with regard to Stanton, Gordon and Ozuna. The Marlins’ payroll projection is inching closer to its reported target of roughly $90MM, and Yelich’s $7MM salary for the coming season isn’t especially burdensome. Moreover, the fact that Yelich can be controlled for another five years at a total of $58.25MM is a clear indicator that he’ll be an asset with considerable surplus value at virtually any point the Marlins decide to make him available.

Yelich is hardly the only player that is less than enthused about the notion of suiting up for a Miami club that looks destined for the NL East cellar. Catcher J.T. Realmuto’s agents have reportedly informed the Marlins that their client would prefer to be traded, and infielder Starlin Castro (acquired as a financial component in the trade that sent Stanton to the Yankees) is reportedly hoping to be dealt elsewhere before so much as playing a single game for the Marlins.

Per Crasnick, the Blue Jays, Braves, Dodgers, Angels, Padres, D-backs and Phillies are “among” the teams that have reached out to the Marlins to gauge the asking price for Yelich in a trade, though there are assuredly more team that have expressed interest. Toronto GM Ross Atkins recently suggested that virtually every team in the league would have interest in a Yelich trade, and reports have suggested that more than 15 teams have at least kicked the tires on the former Gold Glove and Silver Slugger winner.

Yelich, just 26 years of age, is a career .290/.369/.432 hitter. He’s averaged 20 homers and a dozen steals over the past two seasons and has proven to be a capable center fielder or an elite defender in left field. Crasnick notes that Yelich himself may speak publicly in the coming days, and the column is stuffed with additional quotes from Longo. It’s well worth a full read-through, both for those that have been diligently tracking the Marlins’ offseason roller coaster and those who haven’t been monitoring the situation as closely.

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Blue Jays To Sign Curtis Granderson https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/01/blue-jays-sign-curtis-granderson.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/01/blue-jays-sign-curtis-granderson.html#comments Tue, 16 Jan 2018 01:58:18 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=112710 The Blue Jays have reached an agreement with free agent outfielder Curtis Granderson on a one-year deal worth $5MM, reports Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (via Twitter). The contract, which is pending a physical, includes additional incentives. Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith notes that said bonuses are tied to the veteran outfielder’s playing time. Granderson is represented by agent Matt Brown of Pro Prospects, Inc.

Curtis Granderson | Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The veteran Granderson will turn 37 in March and is coming off a down season at the plate in 2017. Granderson tallied 527 plate appearances and hit .212/.323/.452 with 26 homers in 2017 — the final season of a four-year, $60MM contract signed with the Mets prior to the 2014 season. He floundered following an August trade to the Dodgers, hitting just .161/.288/.366 in L.A. However, he was hitting a more palatable .228/.334/.481 through 395 plate appearances with New York.

While Granderson obviously had some struggles in the batting average department, he posted a strong OBP which was fueled by a career-best 13.5 percent walk rate. He still displayed plenty of pop as well, as his .241 isolated power mark (slugging minus average) was his highest since a 43-homer campaign with the Yankees back in 2012. Granderson belted 24 doubles and three triples in addition to his 26 big flies. Of course, as is typically the case with Granderson, the vast majority of his damage was done against right-handed pitching; Granderson hit .214/.337/.470 with 21 homers while holding the platoon advantage but limped to a bleak .202/.274/.394 slash against left-handed opponents.

As such, it stands to reason that Granderson will be largely platooned in an outfield corner with the Blue Jays in 2018. Kevin Pillar figures to lock down center field on an everyday basis, but Granderson makes a natural platoon partner for Steve Pearce in left field. His left-handed bat will also provide some insurance in the event that young Teoscar Hernandez, a right-handed hitter, struggles early in the ’18 campaign. (The same is true of Anthony Alford, should he make the club out of camp or later down the line in 2018.)

From a defensive standpoint, Granderson’s days as top-notch center fielder are in the past, though he showed in 2017 that he can still handle the position in a pinch, logging 473 innings there — mostly for an injury-ravaged Mets roster. The majority of Granderson’s corner work has come in right field, where he’s routinely posted above-average marks, as was once again the case this past season. Though Granderson logged only 273 innings in right field last year, he turned in an excellent +6 Defensive Runs Saved mark and an equally impressive mark of +5.1, per Ultimate Zone Rating.

Toronto has been tied to various outfielders as of late, though two potential targets — Jay Bruce and Andrew McCutchen — have come off the market in the past week. Both players are limited to the outfield corners, so it’s possible that Toronto viewed Granderson as a fallback and moved quickly once those younger options were off the board.

It remains to be seen if the addition of Granderson halts the Jays’ reported interest in Lorenzo Cain, though there’s certainly room to add him to the roster. An outfield that regularly deployed both Cain and Pillar would be a formidable defensive unit, particularly if Granderson is able to maintain his quality work in the outfield corners. And, Granderson’s left-handed bat could be used to occasionally spell both Pillar and Cain against tough righties while providing a fair bit of insurance against injuries.

Financially speaking, the Blue Jays should still have plenty of room to add Cain and/or a rotation upgrade. Toronto reportedly had about $20MM to spend on 2018 payroll before the agreement with Granderson, and GM Ross Atkins has said that bolstering the outfield and the pitching staff are both priorities with the team’s remaining offseason resources. Granderson is a nice start on that goal, though he’s also the type of player that could be pushed into the role of a high-quality bench bat/reserve player in the event that the team can land an upgrade that is closer to his prime.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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Minor MLB Transactions: 1/15/18 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/01/minor-mlb-transactions-11518.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/01/minor-mlb-transactions-11518.html#respond Mon, 15 Jan 2018 19:08:50 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=112643 We’ll cover the day’s minor moves in this post …

  • The Blue Jays have brought back second baseman Jon Berti on a minors deal, per Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press (via Twitter). A former 18th-round pick who’ll soon turn 28, Berti will remain with the only professional organization he has played for. He has appeared mostly in the upper minors for the past several seasons but hasn’t yet earned a promotion to the majors. In 237 Triple-A plate appearances in 2017, the fleet-footed Berti carried a .205/.271/.321 slash line with three home runs and 23 steals.
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Atkins On Donaldson, Arb Cases https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/01/quick-hits-nationals-atkins-donaldson-giants.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/01/quick-hits-nationals-atkins-donaldson-giants.html#comments Sun, 14 Jan 2018 20:21:35 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=112579
  • Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins declined to say whether or not the team discussed a long-term deal with Josh Donaldson before the two sides settled on Donaldson’s 2018 contract, Atkins told Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi and other reporters.  Both the third baseman and the team have been quiet about what extension talks (if any) have taken place, which has only led to trade speculation as Donaldson enters the last year of his deal.  Toronto aims to contend this season, however, so it doesn’t seem like a Donaldson trade would happen until the July deadline, if at all.  The two sides already collaborated on one tricky negotiation — the $23MM Donaldson will earn in 2018, a single-year record for an arbitration-eligible player.  Davidi’s piece also contains quotes from Atkins on the Blue Jays’ other arbitration cases, plus Davidi’s estimation that the team has roughly $20MM left in payroll space to spend on further upgrades.
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    Unresolved 2018 Arbitration Cases https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/01/unresolved-2018-arbitration-cases.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/01/unresolved-2018-arbitration-cases.html#comments Sat, 13 Jan 2018 00:02:01 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=112362 We’ve covered a whole lot of arbitration deals today, many of them reached before today’s deadline to exchange filing figures. Some other agreements have come together after team and player submitted their numbers. It’s still possible, of course, that these situations will be resolved before an arbitration hearing becomes necessary. (At this point, we seem to lack full clarity on teams’ approaches to negotiations after the filing deadline. And most organizations make exceptions for multi-year deals even if they have a file-and-trial stance.)

    Some situations could even be dealt with in short order. As things stand, though, these unresolved arbitration cases could turn into significant hearings. (As always, MLBTR’s 2018 arbitration projections can be found here; you will also want to reference MLBTR’s 2018 arbitration tracker.)

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    Players Avoiding Arbitration: American League https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/01/players-avoiding-arbitration-american-league.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/01/players-avoiding-arbitration-american-league.html#comments Fri, 12 Jan 2018 21:00:23 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=112296 The deadline for MLB teams to exchange salary arbitration figures with their arbitration-eligible players is today at 1pm ET. As such, there will be a veritable flood of arb agreements piling up in the next few hours — especially in light of a more universal approach to the “file and trial” method for teams. (That is to say, those teams will no longer negotiate one-year deals after arb figures are exchanged and will instead head to a hearing with those players, barring an agreemenr on a multi-year deal.)

    Note that you can keep an eye on all of today’s deals using MLBTR’s 2018 Arbitration Tracker, which can be filtered to show only the results of the team you follow and is also sortable by service time and dollar value of the agreement. All projections that are referenced come from MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz’s annual compilation of projected arbitration salarie

    American League West

    • The Astros and Evan Gattis agreed to a $6.7MM deal for 2018, per FanRag’s Robert Murray (Twitter link). A free agent next season, Gattis lands within $100K of his $6.6MM projection. The club also has deals (for values unknown) with starters Dallas Keuchel, Lance McCullers Jr., and Brad Peacock, Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle tweets.
    • The Rangers agreed to a $1.05MM deal with infielder Jurickson Profar, tweets Murray. Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star Telegram, meanwhile, tweets that lefty Jake Diekman landed a $2.7125MM deal and righty Keone Kela will earn $1.2MM. Profar had been projected at $1.1MM and is controllable another three seasons. Diekman, a free agent next winter, was projected at $2.8MM. And Kela, still controlled for three more years, matched his $1.2MM projection on the dot.
    • The Athletics and closer Blake Treinen agreed to a $2.15MM deal for next year, tweets Murray. The A’s can control Treinen for another three years. He was projected at $2.3MM. Shortstop Marcus Semien has settled for $3.125MM, Heyman tweets; his $3.2MM projection was nearly spot-on. Oakland has announced that it has avoided arbitration with Liam Hendriks and Josh Phegley as well, but their salaries have yet to be reported.
    • The Angels have a one-year, $7.3MM agreement in place with right-hander Garrett Richards, per Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register (Twitter link). Richards, a free agent next offseason, tops his $7MM projection by a margin of $300K. The Halos have also avoided arb with first baseman C.J. Cron ($2.3MM) and left-hander Tyler Skaggs ($1.875MM), tweets USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. Cron’s total falls a ways shy of his $2.8MM projection, while Skaggs comes in just $25K south of his $1.9MM projection. Both are controllable through the 2020 season. Lastly, Murray tweets that Matt Shoemaker agreed to a $4.125MM deal. He’s controlled through 2020 and projected at $4.4MM. Fletcher also tweets that the club has agreed with righty J.C. Ramirez ($1.9MM salary vs. $2.6MM projection) and lefty Jose Alvarez ($1.05MM salary vs. $1.1MM projection). Finally, righty Cam Bedrosian has agreed at $1.1MM, Flecher tweets, which represents a payday close to his projection of $1.2MM.
    • Left-hander James Paxton will earn $4.9MM with the Mariners in 2018, tweets Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times. Murray tweets that the Mariners and David Phelps agreed to a $5.55MM deal. Paxton, controlled through 2020, projected to earn $5.6MM, while Phelps was pegged at $5.8MM. He’s a free agent next winter. Righty Erasmo Ramirez took a $4.2MM deal, MLB.com’s Greg Johns reports. That’s half a million shy of what the model suggested. Fellow right-hander Nick Vincent also has an agreement, but the terms aren’t yet known.

    American League Central

    • New lefty Luis Avilan has agreed to a $2.45MM deal with the White Sox, Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune reports via Twitter. The recent trade acquisition came with a projected $2.3MM price tag. Fellow southpaw Carlos Rodon will receive $2.3MM, a bit of a bump over the $2MM he projected to receive. Also, utilityman Leury Garcia gets $1.175MM, which is just $25K short of his projected value.
    • The Royals and righty Nate Karns agreed to a $1.375MM deal for 2018, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet reports (on Twitter). That lands within $25K of his $1.4MM projection for the coming season. Kansas City controls Karns through 2020. Meanwhile, MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan reports (via Twitter) that Kelvin Herrera will earn $7.9375MM in 2018, landing a bit shy of his $8.3MM projection. Herrera is a free agent next winter.
    • The Indians have a $5MM agreement with righty Danny Salazar, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian tweets. He had projected to earn just $200K more, this falls right in line with expectations. Cleveland also agreed with Lonnie Chisenhall on a $5.5875MM deal, tweets Nightengale. The third baseman-turned-outfielder, who was projected to earn $5.8MM, will be a free agent following the 2018 season.
    • Trevor May has a $650K agreement with the Twins for the 2018 season, according to Phil Miller of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. May, who missed the entire season due to Tommy John surgery (and did some writing for MLBTR during his rehab process), had been projected at $600K. The Twins also agreed to a $1MM deal with infielder Ehire Adrianza, per La Velle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune. Meanwhile, righty Ryan Pressly has agreed to a $1.6MM deal, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. Both deals are identical matches with their projections. Adrianza has three years of team control remaining, while Pressly has two. Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press tweets that outfielder Robbie Grossman settled at $2MM, leaving him $400K shy of his projection. Grossman is controlled for another three seasons.
    • Tigers third baseman/outfielder Nick Castellanos will earn $6.05MM, per Heyman (via Twitter). He had projected at a much heftier $7.6MM in his second-to-last season of arb eligibility. MLB.com’s Jason Beck reports (Twitter links) that the Tigers and right-handed reliever Alex Wilson settled at $1.925MM, while fellow righty Shane Greene will earn $1.95MM. Wilson was projected to earn $2.1MM, while Greene was at $1.7MM. Wilson is controlled through 2019, while Greene is under control through 2020.

    American League East

    • The Yankees have knocked out some of their biggest arb cases, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (Twitter links). Shortstop Didi Gregorius receives $8.25MM and righty Sonny Gray checks in at $6.5MM. The former had projected to earn $9.0MM while the algorithm was just $100K high on the latter.Backstop Austin Romine will earn $1.1MM, Heyman also tweets, which is also $100K below the projection. Righty Adam Warren and the Yankees have a $3.315MM deal, per Murray (Twitter link). This is Warren’s final season of eligibility before hitting the open market next winter. He’d been projected at $3.1MM. Meanwhile, fellow right-hander Dellin Betances has agreed to a $5.1MM deal, per MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand (via Twitter). That’s just $100K more than Betances had sought last year, when he took his case to a hearing that he ultimately lost. But it’s quite a bit more than the $4.4MM he projected to receive after a subpar season in which he played at a $3MM salary.
    • The Red Sox have agreed to pay $8.5MM to southpaw Drew Pomeranz, per Alex Speier of the Boston Globe (Twitter link). That’s short of the $9.1MM that had been projected after Pomeranz turned in a productive 2017 season. Boston and Jackie Bradley Jr. settled at $6.1MM, tweets Murray. That’s a bit north of the $5.9MM at which he’d been projected for the upcoming season. Bradley Jr., a Super Two player, has another three seasons of club control remaining. Nightengale tweets that righty Joe Kelly ($3.6MM projection) agreed to a $3.825MM deal. He’ll be a free agent next winter. Lefty Eduardo Rodriguez ($2.375MM salary vs. $2.7MM projection) and righty Brandon Workman ($835K salary vs. $900K projection) are two other Sox hurlers that have agreed to terms, Speier reports (Twitter links). On the position player side, catcher Sandy Leon falls a bit under his projection $1.95MM (via Speier, on Twitter) while utilityman Brock Holt just beats expectations at $2.225MM (per ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick, on Twitter). The team also agreed with shortstop Xander Bogaerts for $7.05MM, Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston tweets, which comes in a bit shy of his $7.6MM projection. Boston also announced agreement with backstop Christian Vazquez, who’ll earn $1.425MM, per MLB.com’s Ian Browne (via Twitter). That’s just under the projection of $1.5MM.
    • The Blue Jays and righty Aaron Sanchez agreed to a $2.7MM deal for 2018, according to Nightengale (Twitter link). That crushes his $1.9MM projection, which was likely suppressed due Sanchez’s lack of innings (just 36) in 2017. He’s under Jays control through 2020. Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith, meanwhile, tweets that second baseman Devon Travis will make $1.45MM next year, falling a bit shy of his $1.7MM forecast. Other Toronto players agreeing to terms include Kevin Pillar ($3.25MM vs. $4.0MM projection) and Dominic Leone ($1.085MM vs. $1.2MM projection), MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm tweets.
    • The Rays and closer Alex Colome settled at $5.3M, per USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (on Twitter). He’d been projected at $5.5MM and is controllable for three more years. They also settled at $5.95MM with outfielder/DH Corey Dickerson ($6.4MM projection) and $4.5MM with infielder Brad Miller ($4.4MM projection), per Murray (all Twitter links). Steven Souza, according to Murray will earn $3.55MM, placing him right in line with his $3.6MM projection. Dickerson and Miller are controlled through 2019. Souza is controlled through 2020.
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    Blue Jays, Josh Donaldson Agree To Record Arbitration Deal https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/01/blue-jays-josh-donaldson-avoid-arbitration.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/01/blue-jays-josh-donaldson-avoid-arbitration.html#comments Fri, 12 Jan 2018 16:23:58 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=112276 The Blue Jays and third baseman Josh Donaldson have avoided an arbitration hearing by agreeing to a $23MM salary for the 2018 season, reports Shi Davidi of Sportsnet (via Twitter). That massive payday represents an all-time record payout for an arbitration-eligible player on a one-year contract. Donaldson, a client of MVP Sports Group, is entering his final year of team control and will be a free agent following the season.

    Josh Donaldson | Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

    Donaldson, 32, recovered from a slow (by his lofty standards) start to the 2017 season and closed out the year on a blistering hot streak, during which he was one of baseball’s best hitters (if not the very best). From Aug. 1 through season’s end, Donaldson batted a ridiculous .302/.410/.698 batting line with 22 homers in 227 plate appearances. That Herculean stretch took his season batting line from .243/.364/.442 on the morning of Aug. 1 all the way to his final slash of .270/.385/.559.

    The record payday handily tops the projected arbitration salary from MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz, whose arbitration projection algorithm had pegged Donaldson at $20.7MM. Recognizing the unique nature of Donaldson’s case, Matt took a lengthier look at the factors that could’ve factored into negotiations in an Arbitration Breakdown piece on Donaldson, explaining the reasoning behind the $20.7MM figure as well as some ways in which the projection could’ve been off target.

    That ultimately proved to be the case, as Donaldson now has his name in the arbitration record books. Prince Fielder’s $15.5MM contract was the largest one-year offseason payout for an arbitration-eligible position player, while David Price’s $19.75MM salary in his last year before free agency was the largest one-year, offseason payout on record to date. (The “offseason” distinction is of note, as the Nationals bought out Bryce Harper’s final year of arbitration eligibility for a hefty $21.65MM back in May, though Donaldson’s contract obviously tops that mark as well.)

    Over the past three seasons in Toronto, Donaldson has been one of baseball’s elite players, posting a .285/.387/.559 slash (150 OPS+) while playing excellent defense at third base. Though he’ll hit the open market in advance of his age-33 season next winter, the 2015 American League MVP will have a strong case for a nine-figure contract in free agency, assuming good health and a characteristically excellent season in 2018.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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    Arbitration Breakdown: Josh Donaldson https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/01/arbitration-breakdown-josh-donaldson-2.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/01/arbitration-breakdown-josh-donaldson-2.html#comments Fri, 12 Jan 2018 15:22:40 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=111626 Recently, I have been discussing some of the higher-profile upcoming arbitration cases as part of MLBTR’s Arbitration Breakdown series. I rely partly on my arbitration model developed exclusively for MLB Trade Rumors, but will also break out some interesting comparables and determine where the model might be wrong. Full arbitration projections for 2018 are also available.

    Josh Donaldson enters his third year of arbitration with an already extraordinarily high $17MM salary. This would already be the highest ever one-year deal signed in arbitration (with the exception of Bryce Harper’s 2018 salary, inked back in May) and Donaldson will certainly command a raise above that. The highest one-year deal ever signed went to Prince Fielder in 2011 at $15.5MM. However, Buster Posey and Ryan Howard earned $20MM during years generally covered by arbitration as part of multi-year deals inked earlier in their careers.

    Josh Donaldson | Jordan Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

    Generally, players who are beyond their first year of arbitration are effectively given raises, rather than absolute salaries, and my research has determined that these raises are almost exclusively based on their platform season. That is how my model is set up. In other words, Donaldson is projected to earn $20.7MM because the model projects a $3.7MM raise for a player with his 2017 performance.

    However, Donaldson received a two-year deal covering 2016-17, making his case somewhat tricky. We sometimes see players in such circumstances being paid as a “re-slot” case, which means they are slotted back into the arbitration system based on career performance. So it is possible that Donaldson’s performance prior to 2017 will be considered. However, that would probably push his salary even further above the current record and seems unlikely.

    Like many others in the league this season, Donaldson could see his case impacted by the record level of home runs that were hit in Major League Baseball in 2017. Big league hitters combined for a total of 6,105 total home runs — a whopping 26 percent increase over the average from the past five seasons. When I look at players with similar home run totals in that span, it isn’t clear if an arbitration panel (or teams and agents that are negotiating in the shadow of what an arbitration panel would say) would treat home runs from Donaldson as similar to other players with the same number as home runs, or as someone with maybe 26 percent fewer home runs.

    In recent years, data has shown that run environment is not a big consideration in arbitration, and as such, my model does not adjust for league run environment in this way. Hitters in high-scoring years benefit from being compared to hitters in low-scoring years, and pitchers in low-scoring years benefit from being compared to pitchers in high-scoring years.

    Donaldson hit 33 home runs but did so only in 496 plate appearances, and that total was only accompanied 78 RBIs. If we re-adjust his home run baseline to the average of the last five years, that would put us at 26.  If we allow for the possibility that a potential panel might consider his home run total to be inflated, we might want to look for other players who hit 25 home runs. But playing time is a huge factor in arbitration, so we would want to look for players who did not play full seasons.

    If we even limit to players with 25 home runs and under 600 PAs, we only get five players in the last five seasons. These are actually the same five players who hit 25 home runs but had fewer than 90 RBIs as well. They are Lucas Duda (who got a $2.5MM raise two years ago), Luis Valbuena (who got a $1.9MM raise two years ago), Brandon Moss (who got a $2.4MM raise three years ago), Chris Davis (who got a $1.65MM raise three years ago), and Jarrod Saltalamacchia (who got a $2MM raise five years ago).

    All five of these players had batting averages between .196 and .244, so Donaldson at .270 is far above them. They also all hit between 25 and 27 home runs, which means Donaldson’s mark total of 33 will probably place him above that group as well. Valbuena and Saltamacchia are poor comparables because their averages were in the .220s and both had fewer than 60 RBIs. Davis, who hit .196, is probably also low. So we would rather compare Donaldson to Duda (.244/27/73) or Moss (.234/25/81). But it is clear that these are both probably floors, since Donaldson bests them on all major fronts considered in arbitration. That leads me to believe that Donaldson should definitely get a raise above $2.5MM.

    If we relax the home run assumption and look for players who had fewer than 600 PAs, we find a couple other recent players who got raises around $2.9MM. Justin Smoak hit .226/18/59 in 328 PAs in 2016, and Steve Pearce hit .293/21/49 in 383 PAs in 2015. Both seem like floors as well. So we have to assume Donaldson probably pulls in above $3MM.

    If we relax the playing time assumption, we could arrive at Todd Frazier in 2017. He hit .225/40/98 in 666 PAs, so while his batting average was low, the more-important home run and plate appearance totals put him as a clear favorite. He received a $3.75MM raise last year, so that seems like a plausible ceiling for Donaldson.

    All of the players listed here were actually reaching arbitration for only their third year of eligibility and Donaldson is actually entering his fourth year of eligibility (his first year was 2015, before his two-year pact for 2016-17). If we want to strictly adhere to finding a fourth time eligible, we could see Eric Hosmer last year at .266/25/104 in 667 PAs. He got a $4MM raise and could potentially be a good comparable as well.

    I think the model is pretty close to accurate for Donaldson in this case. I could see an argument for a raise in the low 3’s rather than the high 3’s, putting him between $20MM and $20.5MM instead of $20.7MM, but I do not think he will go lower than that.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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    Blue Jays Avoid Arbitration With Carrera, Loup https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/01/players-avoiding-arbitration-11118.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/01/players-avoiding-arbitration-11118.html#comments Fri, 12 Jan 2018 05:12:47 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=112191
  • The Blue Jays avoided arbitration with outfielder Ezequiel Carrera and lefty Aaron Loup, per Nightengale (Twitter links). Carrera’s $1.9MM salary matches his projection, while Loup’s $1.8125MM payday is slightly north of his own $1.8MM projection. Loup will be a free agent next winter, while Carrera is controlled through 2019.
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    Jays Consider Outfield Top Priority, Have Interest In Yelich https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/01/al-east-notes-stanton-frazier-andujar-jdm-givens-blue-jays.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/01/al-east-notes-stanton-frazier-andujar-jdm-givens-blue-jays.html#comments Wed, 10 Jan 2018 02:59:36 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=112039
  • Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins said in an appearance on Sportsnet 590 that his club does indeed have interest in Marlins star Christian Yelich, though he cautioned that virtually every team in baseball is in that boat as well (link via Sportsnet’s Michael Hoad). Atkins again voiced a desire to strengthen both his outfield and his pitching staff, though he acknowledged that the outfield is a greater need. The Jays, Atkins added, are heartened by the fact that they have both payroll capacity (a reported $20MM or so in 2018 space) and a strong farm system that allows them to trade. Certainly, the Marlins would be keen on top-tier talents like Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette if they were to seriously entertain parting with Yelich. Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith tweets that Atkins addressed the theoretical notion of moving those elite prospects, saying they’d only be available were the Jays to acquire a “young, controllable player that we feel could be as talented or more as those two players.” While Yelich arguably fits that description, Nicholson-Smith notes that it still seems likely that the Jays will hang onto both players.
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    Blue Jays Notes: Offseason, Solarte https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/01/al-east-notes-orioles-rays-jays-duffy-solarte.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/01/al-east-notes-orioles-rays-jays-duffy-solarte.html#comments Mon, 08 Jan 2018 15:27:44 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=111961 The Orioles, Rays and Blue Jays are among the teams that face a critical decision this offseason, writes MLB.com’s Mike Petriello. All three are looking up at a stacked pair of rosters in Boston and New York, and there’s an argument to be made that each of the three should rebuild rather than make an aggressive push to contend in 2018. The Orioles and Jays are set to lose Manny Machado and Josh Donaldson to free agency next winter, while the low-payroll Rays have already been forced to trade Evan Longoria largely for fiscal reasons and have yet to see this core group realize its full potential. What truly matters for bubble teams of this nature, though, is simply making a definitive call, Petriello argues. With so many incentives (in terms of talent acquisition) for teams at the bottom of the league, rebuilding toward a brighter future or aggressively “going for it” are more logical routes for each of these teams than merely executing half-measures that will result in another middle-of-the-pack finish, Petriello posits.

    • The Blue Jays’ acquisition of Yangervis Solarte over the weekend gives the club plenty of versatility, which has been a point of focus for the organization as GM Ross Atkins explains to Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi. “What we’re looking for, and will continue to look for, are options and versatile options and guys that can do multiple things, and guys that can typically play in the middle of the diamond can do more than that,” says Atkins. The GM notes that both Solarte and fellow trade pickup Aledmys Diaz can handle middle-of-the-diamond positions, which should strengthen the club’s depth considerably — a critical need for a Jays team that last year leaned heavily on Ryan Goins and Darwin Barney in the absence of Troy Tulowitzki and Devon Travis. Atkins suggests that Solarte can not only see time at second base, third base and shortstop but also indicated that he could log occasional innings at first base and in the outfield. Atkin also acknowledged that the Jays are still in the market for an outfielder and for some rotation help; the staggeringly slow free-agent market should leave with plenty of options to pursue in that regard. Per Davidi, the Blue Jays have about $20MM to spend.
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    Blue Jays Have Shown Interest In Lance Lynn, Jarrod Dyson https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/01/al-rumors-jays-lynn-rangers-cashner-tigers-orioles-machado.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/01/al-rumors-jays-lynn-rangers-cashner-tigers-orioles-machado.html#comments Sun, 07 Jan 2018 05:31:53 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=111856 The Blue Jays have shown at least some offseason interest in free agent right-hander Lance Lynn and center fielder Jarrod Dyson, according to Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi, who also lists the previously reported Lorenzo Cain and Alex Cobb. Whether they add any of those players, other free agents or go the trade route, the Blue Jays still have the payroll flexibility to make notable moves, Davidi explains. And general manager Ross Atkins suggested to Davidi and other reporters Saturday that the Jays aren’t yet satisfied with their their outfield or starting pitching, adding that they “could go several directions” for help. “We feel like we have one of the better systems in baseball, it’s not the best, we still have work to do, we feel that we’re probably in the top third, but we have plenty of depth to protect us throughout the major-league season, to provide options for us throughout the major-league season and to trade from,” Atkins said. “Whether that’s a bigger deal or a smaller deal, we’ll see, but we are now in a position where we have that option.”

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    Blue Jays Rumors: Yelich, Cain https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/01/cafardos-latest-yelich-rangers-jays-cain-bosox-jdm-castellanos.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/01/cafardos-latest-yelich-rangers-jays-cain-bosox-jdm-castellanos.html#comments Sun, 07 Jan 2018 02:06:12 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=111879 The Blue Jays and Rangers “appear” to be among teams with interest in Marlins center fielder Christian Yelich, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. Yelich has landed on several clubs’ radars this offseason, owing to his impressive track record, long-term affordability and age (26), but he may end up sticking with the Marlins. Miami understandably wants an enormous return for Yelich, presumably in the form of prospects, so it’s worth noting that Toronto is ninth and Texas 21st in Baseball America’s most recent farm system rankings (subscription required and recommended).

    • The Blue Jays are also interested in free agent center fielder Lorenzo Cain, though they’d move him to right field, per Cafardo. While Cain does have some experience in right, he has spent the vast majority of his career in center and thrived there. Toronto has an excellent center fielder in Kevin Pillar, who’d form two-thirds of a great defensive outfield with Cain, but whether the latter would be willing to give up his typical position is unclear.
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    Blue Jays Acquire Yangervis Solarte https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/01/blue-jays-acquire-yangervis-solarte.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/01/blue-jays-acquire-yangervis-solarte.html#comments Sat, 06 Jan 2018 22:08:52 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=111835 The Blue Jays have acquired infielder Yangervis Solarte from the Padres in exchange for two prospects – outfielder Edward Olivares and reliever Jared Carkuff – per announcements from both teams.

    "<strong

    The 30-year-old Solarte is the second infielder the Blue Jays have landed via trade this winter, joining Aledmys Diaz, whom they acquired from the Cardinals last month. The area was a clear point of emphasis for Jays entering the offseason, given that neither second baseman Devon Travis nor shortstop Troy Tulowitzki have been able to stay consistently healthy during their careers. Solarte may end up as a multiyear piece for Toronto, as he’ll make an affordable $4MM in 2018 before the club will have to decide on options totaling $13.5MM over the next two offseasons.

    [Updated Blue Jays Depth Chart]

    Solarte brings experience at all four infield positions, with the majority of his work having come at third base. He’s unlikely to see much action there next season, however, unless the Jays trade superstar Josh Donaldson between now and the summer or Donaldson misses time with injuries. Solarte spent the majority of last year at second base, where he has posted minus-3 Defensive Runs Saved and a minus-1.1 Ultimate Zone Rating across just over 1,000 career innings, and that figures to be his primary position in 2018.

    The switch-hitting Solarte is known mostly for his bat, having slashed a respectable .267/.327/.419 over 2,061 plate appearances since debuting with the Yankees in 2014. Solarte experienced a drop-off in production last year, though, as both his .255/.314/.416 line and .161 ISO underwhelmed. However, he did strike out in just 11.9 percent of PAs (in line with his career rate of 11.5) and belt a personal-high 18 home runs.

    This trade brings an end to a decent tenure in San Diego for Solarte, whom the Padres acquired from the Yankees for third baseman Chase Headley in 2014. Solarte had been an oft-speculated trade piece over the past couple years, and with Headley having returned to the team in a deal with the Yankees this winter and shortstop Freddy Galvis also now in the mix after a swap with the Phillies, the Padres had a glut of infielders. As a result, they’d been shopping Solarte, whose exit leaves the Pads with Headley, Carlos Asuaje, Cory Spangenberg and Christian Villanueva among their current third/second base options (though Headley may be on his way out soon).

    In Olivares, the Padres are getting a soon-to-be 22-year-old whom MLB.com ranked as the Blue Jays’ 18th-best prospect. The outlet notes that Olivares, a Venezuelan who signed with the Jays as an international free agent in 2014, “began to tap into his above-average raw power” last season, when he batted .277/.330/.500 with 17 homers in 464 Single-A plate trips, and has further potential on that front. He also possesses “well above-average speed” and the ability to play all three outfield positions. That skillset could make Olivares a major league regular down the line, per MLB.com.

    Carkuff, 24, did not rank among Toronto’s top 30 prospects at MLB.com. The right-hander, a 35th-round pick in 2016, is coming off a year in which he pitched to a 3.86 ERA and recorded 7.3 K/9 against 2.1 BB/9 in 63 innings divided among the Single-A, High-A and Triple-A levels.

    Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reported that Solarte was headed to the Jays. Robert Murray of FanRag reported the Padres would get Olivares. Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reported the Pads would receive Carkuff (all Twitter links). Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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    Blue Jays Are Not Actively Discussing Josh Donaldson https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/01/trade-chatter-dodgerswhite-sox-mccutchen-salazar-donaldson.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/01/trade-chatter-dodgerswhite-sox-mccutchen-salazar-donaldson.html#comments Thu, 04 Jan 2018 23:43:01 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=111611
  • One name not currently being discussed on the trade market is Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson, Morosi tweets. Toronto isn’t in any active talks regarding Donaldson, which lines up with numerous reports (and comments from GM Ross Atkins) that have indicated the Jays’ desire to field a competitive club in 2018. It stands to reason that an unexpected king’s ransom could change that thinking, especially if it included MLB-ready pieces, but at present it seems more likely that the Jays head into the 2018 season with the former AL MVP in the middle of their order.
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    Blue Jays Have Reportedly Made Offer To Ji-Man Choi https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/01/international-notes-choi-senga-yang.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/01/international-notes-choi-senga-yang.html#comments Mon, 01 Jan 2018 15:31:02 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=111508
  • First baseman Ji-Man Choi’s agency in Korea recently spoke to the media about their client’s current foray into free agency and revealed that he’s received offers (presumably of the minor league variety) from the Yankees, Angels, Rays, A’s, Brewers, Marlins, Cubs, Reds, Orioles, Twins, Braves, Blue Jays and White Sox (English link via Jee-ho Yoo of South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency). The 26-year-old Choi slugged a pair of homers in 18 plate appearances with the Yankees last year and posted a strong year with their Triple-A affiliate, slashing .288/.373/.538 in 87 games. In parts of five Triple-A campaigns, Choi has posted a robust .298/.390/.479 batting line.
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    Latest On Market For Josh Harrison https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/12/latest-on-market-for-josh-harrison.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/12/latest-on-market-for-josh-harrison.html#comments Thu, 28 Dec 2017 02:59:44 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=111255 In an update on the market for Pirates second baseman Josh Harrison, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review writes that a “handful” of organizations have at least reached out to gauge the asking price. Indeed, there’s some indication that he’s the Bucs’ most heavily pursued trade candidate.

    Among the teams to have reached out are the Yankees, Mets, and Blue Jays. The Yanks were tied recently, albeit somewhat speculatively, to Harrison in relation to a potentially larger move involving Gerrit Cole. Interest from the latter two was reported a few weeks back (see here and here), though it’s notable to hear they’re still in pursuit.

    Though further pursuers haven’t yet been identified, it isn’t difficult to imagine quite a few other clubs having interest. Harrison, after all, can play all over the diamond and would fit quite comfortably on a number of rosters.

    His contract rights are also rather appealing. The 30-year-old will earn a reasonable $10MM in 2018 and can be controlled by successive club options. At $10.5MM and $11.5MM apiece, they won’t exactly come at a bargain rate, but the flexibility is plenty desirable in its own right.

    Harrison likely won’t replicate his excellent 2014 campaign, but was plenty productive in 2017. He ended the year with a solid .272/.339/.432 batting line and career-best 16 home runs to go with a dozen steals. As usual, Harrison rated as a quality defender and baserunner, making him an approximately 3-WAR player despite only carrying league-average production at the plate.

    At this point, it does not seem that any team has emerged as a clear favorite to acquire Harrison — or even that the Pirates are more likely than not to move him. While the organization could fill in from within should it deal Harrison, there’s also little question that he improves the team’s outlook for 2018. Just how inclined the Pirates will be to move him may hinge on whether they end up dealing Cole and/or long-time franchise face Andrew McCutchen.

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    Blue Jays "Fully Intend" To Start 2018 With Josh Donaldson https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/12/olneys-latest-hosmer-padres-machado-jays-red-sox.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/12/olneys-latest-hosmer-padres-machado-jays-red-sox.html#comments Sun, 24 Dec 2017 14:39:57 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=111084
  • Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins has suggested on multiple occasions this winter that the club won’t trade third baseman Josh Donaldson prior to the season. Indeed, the Jays “fully intend” to start the year with Donaldson on their roster, per Olney. After missing the playoffs in 2017, Toronto is not ready to rebuild; rather, it’ll attempt to return to its 2015-16 form in the final season of Donaldson’s contract.

    [SOURCE LINK]
    • Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins has suggested on multiple occasions this winter that the club won’t trade third baseman Josh Donaldson prior to the season. Indeed, the Jays “fully intend” to start the year with Donaldson on their roster, per Olney. After missing the playoffs in 2017, Toronto is not ready to rebuild; rather, it’ll attempt to return to its 2015-16 form in the final season of Donaldson’s contract.
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    Roberto Osuna Drawing Plenty Of Interest https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/12/cafardos-latest-machado-red-sox-yankees-osuna.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/12/cafardos-latest-machado-red-sox-yankees-osuna.html#comments Sun, 24 Dec 2017 00:46:12 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=111063
  • Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna has garnered plenty of trade inquiries this winter, according to Cafardo. However, there’s no indication the Jays are considering moving the proven Osuna, who’s still young (23 in February) and set to play his first of three potential arbitration years in 2018. The right-hander turned in his third straight excellent year last season, tossing 64 innings of 3.38 ERA ball with career-best strikeout (11.67 K/9), walk (1.27 BB/9) and groundball (48 percent) rates.

    [SOURCE LINK]
    • Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna has garnered plenty of trade inquiries this winter, according to Cafardo. However, there’s no indication the Jays are considering moving the proven Osuna, who’s still young (23 in February) and set to play his first of three potential arbitration years in 2018. The right-hander turned in his third straight excellent year last season, tossing 64 innings of 3.38 ERA ball with career-best strikeout (11.67 K/9), walk (1.27 BB/9) and groundball (48 percent) rates.
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    Blue Jays Still Intend To Compete In 2018 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/12/al-east-notes-wright-rays-jays.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/12/al-east-notes-wright-rays-jays.html#comments Sat, 23 Dec 2017 00:44:03 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=111016
  • Regardless of how things turn out elsewhere in the division, the Blue Jays plan to enter 2018 with designs on competition, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick writes. That likely means the team isn’t going to seriously consider dealing star third baseman Josh Donaldson, despite persistent chatter about outside interest. GM Ross Atkins tells Crasnick both that the Jays are “trying to win” and that he “can’t imagine our team being better without Josh Donaldson.”
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    Blue Jays Still Pursuing Several Significant Players https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/12/heymans-latest-blue-jays-d-backs-cobb-lagares-castro.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/12/heymans-latest-blue-jays-d-backs-cobb-lagares-castro.html#comments Fri, 22 Dec 2017 21:44:57 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=111014
  • While the Blue Jays have been quiet thus far, Heyman says they could be lurking on a few interesting names. In the outfield, J.D. Martinez is a legitimate target, he says, as are Carlos Gonzalez and Lorenzo Cain. The club is also considering quality utility options such as Eduardo Nunez and Howie Kendrick. Meanwhile, Toronto has reached out to the Padres on Brad Hand, who’s a highly valuable relief asset. It remains to be seen whether the Jays will be willing to pony up a lot of cash or prospect assets to make a significant win-now move, but it’s notable that the team is at least exploring some notable possibilities.
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    Latest On Cardinals' Interest In Josh Donaldson https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/12/manny-machado-trade-decision-near-rumor.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/12/manny-machado-trade-decision-near-rumor.html#comments Wed, 20 Dec 2017 23:56:39 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=110837
  • Meanwhile, the Cardinals perhaps have some cause to believe the Blue Jays are willing to consider moving star third baseman Josh Donaldsonper Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He suggests there’s some indication from the Jays side that the team isn’t dead-set against a move if it brought back MLB pieces as well as prospect value. To an extent, the Toronto organization has something of the opposite problem that the Cards do: the former needs multiple assets while the latter is loaded with solid players but would like a few premium pieces. Dave Cameron of Fangraphs had posited this sort of scenario a few weeks back.
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    Market Notes: Red Sox, Hosmer, Royals, Cards, Donaldson, Mets, Kipnis, A-Gon https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/12/market-notes-red-sox-hosmer-royals-cards-donaldson-mets-kipnis-a-gon.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/12/market-notes-red-sox-hosmer-royals-cards-donaldson-mets-kipnis-a-gon.html#comments Tue, 19 Dec 2017 04:26:17 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=110679 Signing Mitch Moreland doesn’t take the Red Sox out of the market for hitting, president of baseball ops Dave Dombrowski told reporters including Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. And adding another stick wouldn’t necessarily mean trading away from the current roster to create space, the club’s top baseball decisionmaker added. But it surely does not seem that Boston will sign another first baseman; rather, a DH/corner outfield bat seems the likeliest possibility.

    • Boston’s decision seems to take it out of the market for Eric Hosmer, which has raised some eyebrows in Royals country. As Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star writes, there are still many barriers remaining to a return to Kansas City for Hosmer, including the possibility that agent Scott Boras will find a way to bring some new suitors into the picture. But keeping Hosmer in Royals blue for the future now seems more plausible than might have been expected when the organization began giving indication it would rebuild. Of course, even if that comes to pass, the general rebuilding plan will remain, the Star’s Rustin Dodd notes on Twitter.
    • The Cardinals appear to be showing more interest in veteran Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson than in Manny Machado of the Orioles, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter). Nightengale posits that the club may believe it’s better situated to pursue a long-term deal with Donaldson — who’s much older than Machado, though both will hit the open market at the same time — which would increase his appeal. Of course, it’s important to bear in mind there’s still no real indication that Toronto will move Donaldson and the St. Louis front office has suggested recently that it’s not all that keen on giving up significant assets for a rental.
    • While there has been some chatter recently connecting the Mets to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post says that possibility is not as likely as it has come to seem. Especially with Carlos Santana moving on, says Davidoff, the Indians are not particularly inclined to part with Kipnis’s contract for a marginal return. New York is trying to thread the needle in finding an upgrade at the position, with the organization concerned with giving up too much in salary or prospect value to make a deal. As the Post’s Joel Sherman writes, the Mets’ lack of top-end, marketable pre-MLB talent has posed an under-appreciated barrier to its winter activity.
    • The Mets, of course, are also eyeing the addition of another option at the first base position. New York had some interest in Moreland, per the above-cited Cafardo piece. And as James Wagner of the New York Times tweets, the Mets intend at least to take a look at the newest entrant onto the open market: Adrian Gonzalez. The veteran will be looking to bounce back after a rough, injury-plagued 2017 season, though he could conceivably bring some upside at a very appealing price.
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    Phillies Asked About Marcus Stroman, Danny Duffy https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/12/phillies-asked-about-marcus-stroman-danny-duffy.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/12/phillies-asked-about-marcus-stroman-danny-duffy.html#comments Mon, 18 Dec 2017 05:19:20 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=110612 The Phillies have been aggressively shopping for controllable pitching this winter, as the team has “inquired on just about every young starter that could be traded this winter,” Matt Gelb and Matt Breen of Philly.com report.  This list of targets include their previously-reported interest in Chris Archer, and the Phillies also checked in with the Blue Jays about Marcus Stroman and the Royals about Danny Duffy.

    It’s clear that Philadelphia is looking to take its rebuild to the next level, after signing Carlos Santana and even adding veteran relievers Tommy Hunter and Pat Neshek on multi-year contracts.  The rotation remains a major need for the club — Aaron Nola is the only member of a young projected starting five that looks like a solid bet for 2018.  It has been expected that the Phillies would try to land at least one veteran innings-eater this winter, though they’re apparently also setting their sights higher for a pitcher that could contribute when the team returns to contention.

    Of the two new names mentioned in the Phillies’ search, Stroman is by far the less likely to be available.  The Jays are planning to contend in 2018, and moving Stroman would be an even bigger indicator of a total rebuild than even a trade of Josh Donaldson, given that Donaldson is only under contract for one more season.  Stroman, by contrast, still has three years of arbitration eligibility remaining.  MLBTR projects him to earn $7.2MM this winter through the arb process, and while Stroman’s price tag will continue to grow through his arbitration years, Toronto will happily shoulder that cost if Stroman keeps producing as he did in 2017.  Stroman posted a 3.09 ERA, 7.3 K/9, 2.65 K/BB rate and a league-best 62.1% grounder rate over 201 innings, cracking the 200-inning threshold for the second consecutive season.

    Duffy, on the other hand, has already drawn a lot of trade attention this winter, with the Cubs, Yankees, and Orioles reportedly among the teams interested.  The Royals seem to be on the verge of a rebuild given all of their expected free agent losses, though they aren’t yet “aggressively shopping” Duffy’s services.  It was just 11 months ago that K.C. locked Duffy up on a five-year, $65MM extension with the hope that he would be one of the cornerstone pieces of the next era of Royals baseball, though it remains to be seen just how extensive a rebuild the Royals may have in mind.  If the team hopes to reload over a year or two, Duffy will still be an asset for when Kansas City aims to once again open a contention window.

    If a longer rebuild is necessary, the $60MM remaining on Duffy’s contract makes him a logical trade chip.  The Phillies certainly have the open payroll space to accommodate his salary; Santana, Neshek, Hunter, and Odubel Herrera are the only players beyond the 2018 season.  Philadelphia has widely been expected to target the top stars of next year’s free agent class, though the team has gotten a jump-start on that plan now by landing Santana.  Given the Phillies’ payroll flexibility, they could try to land their desired pitching help by offering to take another big and/or undesirable contract off the the other team’s hands with little prospect capital going back in return.  (In the Royals’ case, for instance, the Phillies could offer to take on Ian Kennedy’s deal in order to land Duffy.)

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    Cardinals, Blue Jays Continue To Discuss Josh Donaldson https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/12/central-notes-brewers-royals-cards-donaldson-cubs.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/12/central-notes-brewers-royals-cards-donaldson-cubs.html#comments Sun, 17 Dec 2017 22:51:56 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=110572
  • The Cardinals typically prefer to acquire controllable players, notes Derrick Goold of the St. Louis-Post Dispatch, though “it remains possible” the win-now club will swing a deal for one year of Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson or the Orioles’ Manny Machado. The Redbirds and Blue Jays continue to discuss Donaldson, according to Goold, but he’s the latest to point out that the Jays don’t seem motivated to move him.
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    Blue Jays Notes: Avisail, Relievers https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/12/al-east-notes-ellsbury-avisail-blue-jays-jdm-red-sox-orioles.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/12/al-east-notes-ellsbury-avisail-blue-jays-jdm-red-sox-orioles.html#comments Fri, 15 Dec 2017 01:46:38 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=110235
  • The Blue Jays are one of the teams who have spoken to the White Sox about outfielder Avisail Garcia, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports (Twitter link).  Chicago doesn’t seem to be close to a deal, however.  Garcia would be a solid answer for the Jays’ hole in right field, as the 26-year-old is coming off an All-Star season that saw him hit .330/.380/.506 with 18 homers over 561 PA.  This success has led the Sox to put a high asking price on his services, though the Jays and other clubs will have to weigh that against Garcia’s .392 BABIP and lack of production prior to 2017.
  • It was a pretty quiet Winter Meetings for the Blue Jays, though GM Ross Atkins tells Sportsnet.ca’s Ben Nicholson-Smith and other reporters that “it just feels like there’s momentum” towards some significant moves after some productive talks with other teams.  Nicholson-Smith wonders if the rising prices in the free agent relief market could help Toronto, as the Jays have several much less-expensive middle relievers that could be available in trades.  Joe Biagini figures to have received some interest from other teams, Nicholson-Smith speculates, though there hasn’t been any indication that the Jays would be looking to move the right-hander.
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    Position Player Rumblings: Red Sox, Machado, White Sox, Cards/Donaldson, Jays/Cain, Mets https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/12/mlb-trade-rumors-red-sox-jd-martinez-hosmer-machado-white-sox-cardinals-donaldson-josh-blue-jays-lorenzo-cain.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/12/mlb-trade-rumors-red-sox-jd-martinez-hosmer-machado-white-sox-cardinals-donaldson-josh-blue-jays-lorenzo-cain.html#comments Thu, 14 Dec 2017 17:43:19 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=110156 The Red Sox have designs on adding the two top position players on the free agent market, according to the Boston Herald’s Michael Silverman, with ongoing pursuit of both J.D. Martinez and Eric Hosmer. Interestingly, Silverman notes that Boston would likely look to shed some of its obligations to Hanley Ramirez by dealing him away in the event it can acquire both players.

    That scenario seems to be one of several possibilities still remaining for the Red Sox, who are one of the many teams with plenty of work yet to do in settling their regular lineups. Here’s a look in at the latest notes on bats from around the game:

    • Orioles VP of baseball ops Dan Duquette made clear today that he does not foresee striking a deal involving third baseman Manny Machado that is contingent upon extension negotiations, as Joel Sherman of the New York Post was among those to report on Twitter. In other words, it seems any acquiring team would be gaining just one year of control over over Machado. Sherman also hears that the odds are in favor of a deal at this point, tweeting that the White Sox and Cardinals are the “most aggressive” teams in pursuit of the young superstar.
    • For the White Sox, the interest in Machado does not include an intention to flip him in a later swap, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter). While Chicago has made an “impressive” bid for Machado, per Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune, Nightengale also says that the belief on the South Side is that others have offered more. Meanwhile, GM Rick Hahn said that the team’s “focus remains on the long term” and says he won’t “make any sort of move that’s aimed at jumping up” into immediate contention. Despite that cold water, he did say the organization is willing to “take some calculated risks along the way.” Just what the team has in mind with this reported pursuit remains a bit of a mystery, but we’ll have to wait and see how things shake out.
    • While evidently maintaining interest in Machado and pursuing other fronts, the Cardinals are also still “pushing” the Blue Jays to offer up their own star third baseman, Josh Donaldson, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (via Twitter). At this point, though, there’s no reason to believe that Toronto will budge from its stance on Donaldson — namely, that it’s not interested in moving him for anything approaching a reasonable return.
    • Far from dangling Donaldson, it seems the Blue Jays are at least weighing a major addition. The club has interest in free agent center fielder Lorenzo Cain, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter). In theory, Cain could coexist with current center fielder Kevin Pillar, though Cain is also most valuable up the middle. The Jays are interested in committing up to four years, says Heyman, but it seems there are indications Cain will have an opportunity to secure a better deal elsewhere. MLBTR predicted that Cain would land four years in free agency; to this point, we haven’t heard much public discussion of his market, but he’s rather clearly the top available center fielder.
    • While the Mets were able to come away from the Winter Meetings with a relief arm, they have yet to fill their opening at second base. Per Marc Carig of Newsday, Ian Kinsler was not willing to waive his no-trade rights to go to New York. (All links to Twitter.) The club has a variety of other options still in play, Carig explains, adding that the organization was discussing righty Rafael Montero in talks regarding Kinsler.
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    Trade Chatter: Nats, Rays, Fulmer, Reds, Jays, Braves, Giants, Yelich, Phils https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/12/trade-chatter-nats-rays-fulmer-reds-jays-braves-giants-yelich-phils.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/12/trade-chatter-nats-rays-fulmer-reds-jays-braves-giants-yelich-phils.html#comments Thu, 14 Dec 2017 03:44:39 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=109911 Looking to improve an already enviable rotation, the Nationals have Rays right-handers Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi on their radar, Jon Heyman of FanRag reports (via Twitter). Either would cost far less in terms of salary than free agent Jake Arrieta will, and Heyman notes that the Nats are unsure if they’d be able to afford Arrieta. Heyman also points to Diamondbacks righty Zack Greinke as a possibility for the Nats; however, he’s not exactly cheap, with $138.5MM coming his way through 2021.

    More on the trade front:

    • The Tigers “will only entertain lopsided offers” for righty Michael Fulmer, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press (Twitter link). A trade involving the highly coveted 24-year-old doesn’t look likely, then.
    • The Blue Jays are interested in Reds outfielders Billy Hamilton and Adam Duvall, per reports from Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet (via Twitter) and Jays Journal. The Braves also have interest in the 29-year-old Duvall, tweets Heyman. Duvall, a 30-home run hitter in each of the previous two seasons, is controllable for the next four years. He won’t be arbitration eligible until next winter.
    • The Giants’ own interest in Hamilton continues, but Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic tweets that the chatter with the Reds has “faded significantly” of late. Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer adds on Twitter that the Giants are the most serious suitors for Hamilton, but they’re “at a bit of a standoff” with the Reds. San Francisco still has interest in free agent Jay Bruce, per Rosenthal, and Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets that Bruce is the top name on San Francisco’s “wish list.” Still, the club has not made him an offer to this point.
    • It’s up in the air whether the Marlins will trade center fielder Christian Yelich. Either way, the Phillies will continue to monitor his availability, Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia relays. Meanwhile, they’ve “been aggressive” in shopping shortstop Freddy Galvis, according to Salisbury, who adds (via Twitter) that the Angels “really liked” second baseman Cesar Hernandez before they acquired Ian Kinsler. The Halos didn’t want to meet the Phillies’ asking price for Hernandez, however.
    • The Red Sox asked about Marcell Ozuna before the Cardinals acquired him, but they did not have the sort of pitching assets the Marlins were for, Dombrowski told reporters including the Globe’s Peter Abraham (Twitter link.) The Indians also inquired about Ozuna, Paul Hoynes of cleveland.com writes.
    • In addition to Chase Headley, the Padres are dangling infielder Yangervis Solarte in chatter with rival organizations, Heyman reports on Twitter. Solarte, 30, is controllable for the next three years at affordable costs (a guaranteed $4MM in 2018 and then club options totaling $13.5MM for 2019-20).
    • The Blue Jays were another team with interest in Kinsler before Wednesday’s trade, Nicholson-Smith tweets. Toronto was on Kinsler’s 10-team no-trade list, so it’s unclear how open he’d have been to going there.
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    Blue jays Rumors: Nunez, CarGo, Gomez https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/12/fa-rumors-nunez-cargo-gomez-rondon-reynolds-os.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/12/fa-rumors-nunez-cargo-gomez-rondon-reynolds-os.html#comments Thu, 14 Dec 2017 01:46:20 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=109994
  • A variety of organizations are still looking at versatile infielder Eduardo Nunez. Jon Heyman of FanRag tweets that the Red SoxBlue Jays, and “possibly” the Yankees are among the suitors. Boston president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski acknowledged the interest, as Alex Speier of the Boston Globe was among those to tweet. The Giants have some ongoing involvement, too, but Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic reports (via Twitter) that San Francisco is “a longshot” to make a deal.
  • In addition to a host of other teams, the Astros have some interest in outfielder Carlos Gonzalez, according to Heyman (Twitter links). The Blue Jays, meanwhile, have checked in not only on Gonzalez but also fellow free agent oufielder Carlos Gomez.
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    Pitching Market Chatter: Phils, Yanks, Greinke, Cole, Archer, Duffy, CC, Jays https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/12/pitching-market-chatter-phils-yanks-greinke-cole-archer-duffy-cc-jays.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/12/pitching-market-chatter-phils-yanks-greinke-cole-archer-duffy-cc-jays.html#comments Thu, 14 Dec 2017 00:51:51 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=109922 With a pair of relief signings being wrapped up, the Phillies seem to feel good about that aspect of their roster. Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, via Twitter, the team will turn its gaze to improving the rotation. Both they and the Yankees checked in with the Diamondbacks regarding right-hander Zack Greinke, Robert Murray of FanRag writes. Greinke ending up with either club is unlikely, however, sources informed Murray. With the Rangers also having shown interest in Greinke, we now know at least three teams have inquired about the expensive 34-year-old this offseason.

    Greinke is the latest hurler to land on the radar of the Yankees, who have also eyed Pirates righty Gerrit Cole. Consequently, the Bucs “are gathering names of young, controllable” Yankees they could acquire in a Cole deal, though there’s “nothing close,” Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports (on Twitter). Notably, Brink adds that the Yankees are also “looking at” Rays righty Chris Archer. The 29-year-old has drawn significant interest this winter, but it’s unclear whether the Rays will move him.

    Plenty more pitching rumors…

    • The Royals are giving serious consideration to dealing southpaw Danny Duffy, who’s “extremely popular” on the trade market, Jon Heyman of FanRag tweets. Duffy suggested on Twitter that he doesn’t want to go anywhere, for what it’s worth. “Bury me a Royal,” he declared.
    • As the Blue Jays look for pitching reinforcements, they are giving real consideration to veteran CC Sabathia, as Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca writes. Though manager John Gibbons suggested his own priority is to add bats, he also said he’d welcome the addition of the veteran Sabathia — who has a lengthy history with the Jays’ current front office leadership stemming from their time in Cleveland together.
    • Teams have given up on trying to acquire Reds closer Raisel Iglesias, Heyman reports on Twitter. The Reds understandably want an enormous haul back for the 27-year-old star, who’s under affordable control for the foreseeable future.
    • The Twins and Rays have chatted about veteran righty Jake Odorizzi, per Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press (via Twitter), who adds that Tampa Bay was not interested in Minnesota’s initial offer.
    • Although they’re at the beginning of a full, cost-cutting rebuild, the Marlins aren’t feeling any urgency to deal righty Dan Straily, per Joe Frisaro of MLB.com (Twitter link). Miami’s de facto ace will play his first of three arbitration-eligible seasons in 2018. He’s projected to earn a $4.6MM salary, which even the Marlins can afford.
    • The Mets are not likely to sign another free agent reliever, at least in the near term, according to GM Sandy Alderson and as MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo tweets. Instead, after landing Anthony Swarzak, the organization expects to begin looking to fill its other needs.
    • Brewers GM David Stearns discussed his organization’s situation with reporters including MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy (Twitter links). He said the team was willing to go to two years to get Swarzak, but wasn’t willing to match the dollar amount he ultimately took. The club still has open payroll capacity, which Stearns says he’ll put to good use. “We have spending power this offseason,” he said. “I’m confident we are going to find places to use that effectively.”
    • Before the Astros agreed to a deal with Joe Smith on Wednesday, Brian McTaggart of MLB.com hinted on Twitter that the team could have interest in free agent righty Hector Rondon. Whether that still stands remains to be seen, but the Astros are already chock-full of righty relievers as it is.
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    Cardinals & Marlins “Making Progress” On Marcell Ozuna Swap https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/12/cardinals-marlins-making-progress-on-marcell-ozuna-swap.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/12/cardinals-marlins-making-progress-on-marcell-ozuna-swap.html#comments Wed, 13 Dec 2017 17:53:23 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=109850 11:53am: It seems St. Louis is still not fully zeroed in on Ozuna — or, at least, not just Ozuna. In addition to some pitchers to whom the club has been tied previously, the Cards still seem to have some possible interest in Rays third baseman Evan Longoria, Rosenthal tweets.

    And Bob Nightengale tweets the team is “optimistic” of scoring at least one significant hitter with the possibility of another. He also cites Longoria and adds Blue Jays Josh Donaldson as a player who is “in play” for St. Louis, though certainly most indications to date have been that Toronto has little interest in trading him.

    11:22am: The Cardinals and Marlins are “making progress” on a deal that would send outfielder Marcell Ozuna to St. Louis, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (via Twitter). These organizations have been tied in chatter of one kind or another for much of the offseason.

    We heard yesterday that the Cards were the favorites to land Ozuna. As of that time, though, there were multiple other suitors reportedly still involved and the Cardinals were also eyeing fellow Miami outfielder Christian Yelich.

    It is still unclear just how things might come together, but there are quite a number of possible ways the sides could line up. The Cardinals have a host of young outfielders, potentially offering Miami a direct replacement with greater future contract control, along with the sort of youthful pitching that the Marlins covet.

    As for Ozuna, he’d be the major stick the Cardinals have sought all winter. While he’s not at the level of former teammate Giancarlo Stanton, he did post an excellent .312/.376/.548 slash with 37 long balls in 2017. And Ozuna is also much friendlier to the checkbook, as he’s projected to earn $10.9MM in his second-to-last season of arbitration eligibility. That relatively light payroll hit might leave the Cards with capacity to make some other impact additions via free agency.

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    Blue Jays Eyeing Backup Catchers https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/12/trade-rumor-red-sox-manny-machado-yankees-brandon-drury.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/12/trade-rumor-red-sox-manny-machado-yankees-brandon-drury.html#comments Wed, 13 Dec 2017 16:38:40 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=109824
  • Rosenthal also notes within that piece that the Giants, Blue Jays, Rangers and Twins are all looking for backup catchers as well. Any from that bunch could stand out as a reasonable landing spot for Avila, though he’s stated that his preference is to play for a contender even if it comes at the expense of some playing time. Jonathan Lucroy is the biggest name on the catching market but probably doesn’t wish to serve as a backup option; Rene Rivera, Nick Hundley and Chris Stewart are among the other available catchers.
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    International Notes: Keithron Moss, Bolsinger, Wagner https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/12/international-notes-keithron-moss-bolsinger-wagner.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/12/international-notes-keithron-moss-bolsinger-wagner.html#comments Wed, 13 Dec 2017 11:00:46 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=109786 The Rangers have signed 16-year-old shortstop Keithron Moss, according to Ben Badler of Baseball America. Moss, a native of the Bahamas, trained at the Max D Sports Academy and will get a bonus of $800K. As I noted when the club signed Yenci Pena recently, the Rangers are finding other ways to allocate the large bonus pool (about $3.5MM) they were saving in part to gain an advantage in the competition for Shohei Ohtani. The switch-hitting Moss is 5’10” and weighs 170 pounds. Ben Badler of Baseball America (insider subscription required and recommended) describes him as, “mostly a line-drive hitter with gap power and a bit more sock from the right side of the plate.”

    A couple of other items from outside the United States…

    • Mike Bolsinger has signed with the Chiba Lotte Marines in Japan, J.P. Hoornstra of the Southern California News Group tweets. Bolsinger posted an ERA north of 6.00 across his past two seasons with the Blue Jays and Dodgers, but has had some success in the past. Most notably, the right-hander had a 3.62 ERA and a 53.1% ground ball rate with L.A. in 2015. Bolsinger began his career with the Diamondbacks after the club selected him late in the 2010 draft.
    • Elsewhere in Japan, the Seibu Lions signed right-hander Neil Wagner to a deal worth $750K (via Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.CA). The contract is for one year, and comes with a potential $300K in incentives. The 33-year-old righty joined the Indians organization as a 21st round selection in the 2005 draft, but although he’s been with six different organizations, he’s only pitched in the majors in parts of three seasons. Across 53 MLB innings, Wagner has a 4.92 ERA, but a 4.08 xFIP estimates that he’s been nearly a full run better. He averages 96.2 MPH on his fastball and has excelled in limiting hard contact (26.8 hard%), but his 1.45 career WHIP may have been a deterrent for major league clubs.
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    Blue Jays Meet With C.C. Sabathia https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/12/al-east-notes-sabathia-jdm-frazier-orioles.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/12/al-east-notes-sabathia-jdm-frazier-orioles.html#comments Wed, 13 Dec 2017 03:56:54 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=109757 The Blue Jays met with C.C. Sabathia today, George A. King III of the New York Post reports (via Twitter).  Toronto joins the Yankees and Angels as teams that have checked in on Sabathia to bolster the back of their rotations, eating innings and still delivering effective results at age 37.  The Jays have a lot of uncertainty with the fifth spot in their rotation, and maybe even beyond that given the blister and fingernail problems that plagued Aaron Sanchez last season.  There was some good news on that front today, however, as Sportsnet.ca’s Shi Davidi reports that Sanchez played catch for the first time in three months and reported no issues with his finger.

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    Cardinals Talked With Blue Jays About Josh Donaldson https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/12/nl-central-notes-davis-cards-donaldson-santana-brewers-bucs-cole-hamilton.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/12/nl-central-notes-davis-cards-donaldson-santana-brewers-bucs-cole-hamilton.html#comments Wed, 13 Dec 2017 00:13:56 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=109697
  • The Cardinals’ Winter Meetings activities have also included talks with the Blue Jays about a Josh Donaldson deal, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports (Twitter link).  St. Louis has been rumored to be interested in Donaldson for some time, though there is still no indication that the Jays are considering moving the former AL MVP.
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    Latest On Carlos Gonzalez https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/12/giants-rumor-carlos-gonzalez-blue-jays-athletics-rays-royals.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/12/giants-rumor-carlos-gonzalez-blue-jays-athletics-rays-royals.html#comments Tue, 12 Dec 2017 20:47:22 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=109628 2:47pm: Other clubs with some level of interest include the Astros, Orioles, and Rockies, per MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez (via Twitter). Colorado GM Jeff Bridich has previously indicated a desire to “continue conversations” with CarGo, as Nick Groke of the Denver Post tweeted yesterday, though he did not commit to anything beyond that.

    12:46pm: Though Carlos Gonzalez hasn’t drawn a huge amount of headlines coming off a down season in the final campaign of his seven-year deal with the Rockies, he’s generating a fair bit of interest from clubs looking to take a flyer on the former MVP candidate, tweets ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. Gonzalez is likely to sign a short-term deal to rebuild his value, and Crasnick notes that the A’s, Blue Jays, Rays, Giants and Royals are among the clubs that are “believed” to be keeping tabs on him.

    Gonzalez, 32, struggled to a ghastly .221/.299/.338 slash in the season’s first half before erupting with a .314/.390/.531 slash, 21 doubles and eight homers in the second half. That surge was fueled largely by a mammoth spike in CarGo’s BABIP (.390 following the All-Star break). While that level isn’t sustainable over a full season, the fact that Gonzalez’s hard-contact rate spiked by nearly eight percent from the first half to the second half suggests that there was more than mere good fortune at play in his late rebound.

    Defensively, Gonzalez hasn’t graded out as an elite right fielder by any means in recent years, but he’s been a bit above average per Defensive Runs Saved and a bit below average in the estimation of Ultimate Zone Rating. Statcast rated him one out above average in the outfield this past season.

    Of the teams listed, the A’s are a bit of a surprise, given their desire to add a controllable right-handed-hitting corner bat. However, they do have outfield space to spare, and Gonzalez could be a nice value play for them on a short-term deal. From a hitter’s standpoint, the Coliseum isn’t necessarily a great place to go try to put up big numbers, though Gonzalez is plenty familiar with the setting from his days in Oakland early in his career.

    The Rays are an even more curious fit given their payroll crunch, though if the team sheds a significant amount of salary and looks to rebuild, they could reallocate some resources to a one-year pact for Gonzalez with the intent to flip him at the nonwaiver deadline. It’s a similar story in Kansas City, where they have space in the outfield but are reportedly on the path to a rebuild.

    The Jays have been eyeing left-handed bats and some outfield help, so there’s certainly a reasonable match there. San Francisco, of course, just missed out on Giancarlo Stanton and will be looking to bolster its offense in other manners now. Depending on the price point at which Gonzalez and agent Scott Boras ultimately settle, other teams could well jump into the mix and hope to sign the Gonzalez that hit 65 homers from 2015-16 as opposed to the one that struggled in 2017 and 2014.

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    Pitching Market Rumblings: Brewers, Rays, Duffy, Nicasio, Arrieta https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/12/pitching-market-rumblings-brewers-rays-duffy-nicasio-arrieta.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/12/pitching-market-rumblings-brewers-rays-duffy-nicasio-arrieta.html#comments Tue, 12 Dec 2017 17:28:06 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=109592 Starting pitching is in the news this morning, with several notable names being discussed. But there are a whole lot of other moving pieces out there. Let’s run down the latest chatter on the pitching market:

    • The Brewers have chatted with the Rays about their potential rotation trade pieces, according to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (via Twitter), who cautions that there’s no indication to this point that “any traction was made.” It’s not immediately clear which Tampa Bay hurlers have piqued the interest of the Milwaukee front office, though surely they’d have the trade pieces necessary to swing a deal for just about anyone. Chris Archer remains the big name to watch, though we don’t yet know whether he’s truly available. The Brewers could conceivably have interest in other pitchers, too, including veteran Jake Odorizzi, but it’s all speculation at this stage.
    • Meanwhile, the Brewers are said to have interest in righty Jesse Chavez, Haudricourt also tweets. We heard yesterday the veteran swingman was likely to find a new home this week.
    • Veteran closer Fernando Rodney has met with the Rangers and Twins, per MLB.com’s TR Sullivan (via Twitter) and Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press (via Twitter). It’s not clear at this point how serious the interest is, though Rodney might conceivably be an option for either club, both of which have largely unsettled ninth-inning plans.
    • Another interesting possibility on the rotation market is Royals lefty Danny Duffy. He has drawn interest from the Cubs, per Robert Murray of Fan Rag. Indeed, K.C. has been contacted by rivals on Duffy and a few other notably interesting assets, MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan tweets. It’s entirely unclear at this point what kinds of scenarios might be pondered on Duffy, but the Royals will surely want a significant return for a player they only recently extended. His contract runs through 2021 and promises him $60MM. While a DUI arrest and elbow surgery introduce some uncertainty into the situation, from a pure on-field perspective Duffy remains a valuable asset as he nears his 29th birthday.
    • The Mets are among the organizations with interest in free agent righty Juan Nicasio, according to Tyler Kepner of the New York Times (via Twitter). The 31-year-old pitched quite well throughout 2017, both before and after an odd series of August transactions. He ended the year with a 2.61 ERA over 72 1/3 innings, with 9.0 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9.
    • We’ve heard some possibility that the Nationals could have interest in free agent righty Jake Arrieta, and ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick tweets that agent Scott Boras is working to sell that potential fit to the team’s ownership. Then again, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post characterizes the Nationals’ interest as “tepid” in a tweet. The division-rival Phillies are reportedly also a possibility, along with several other teams, as we covered this morning. Given that the Nats have an opening in their rotation, it isn’t at all surprising to hear that Boras is pushing for it to be filled by Arrieta; after all, his connection to the organization’s ownership is quite well-established by this point. Of course, adding yet another high-priced starter would carry some pretty notable risk for the organization, so it stands to reason that the club will explore other possibilities before deciding whether to join the pursuit of the 31-year-old Arrieta. Crasnick also takes a broader look at Arrieta’s still-developing market, including an extensive examination of Boras’s marketing strategy.
    • While there is action at the top of the pitching market, the Blue Jays seem to be taking a patient approach, as Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca writes. While GM Ross Atkins says there’s a lack of depth in the rotation market, he also has indicated no interest in pushing hard to strike a deal. It seems the organization’s inclination remains to seek value in bolstering the rotation depth.
    • For the Diamondbacks, meanwhile, the team may at least be preparing to consider deals involving some fairly surprising players. Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic runs down the team’s options for trade candidates who might free up some payroll space and enable the team to achieve future value. At the top of the list are center fielder A.J. Pollock and lefty Patrick Corbin. Meanwhile, the D-Backs are certainly still looking to field a competitor in the near term as well. They are one team with some level of interest in reliever Seung-Hwan Oh, according to Murray. Oh was not able to match his compelling MLB debut season in 2017, but still posted 8.2 K/9 against 2.0 BB/9 while carrying a 4.10 ERA over 59 1/3 innings.
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    6 To 8 Teams Interested In Marcell Ozuna https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/12/6-to-8-teams-interested-in-marcell-ozuna.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/12/6-to-8-teams-interested-in-marcell-ozuna.html#comments Tue, 12 Dec 2017 16:42:00 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=109506 TODAY: The Rockies and Blue Jays are also among the interested teams, according to Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald (Twitter link).

    YESTERDAY, 7:45pm: The Marlins are telling teams Ozuna would be easier to acquire than outfield mate Christian Yelich, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic tweets. That’s not surprising, as the 26-year-old Yelich is controllable by way of a team-friendly contract through 2022 and carries a more consistent track record than Ozuna.

    7:01pm: Marlins outfielder Marcell Ozuna is drawing interest from six to eight clubs, Joe Frisaro of MLB.com reports (on Twitter). Along with the Cardinals, whose interest was already known entering Monday, the Giants and Nationals are among the teams in on Ozuna, per Frisaro. The Athletics are also still considering Ozuna, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Slussser first reported their interest in Ozuna in early November.

    Two of these clubs – the Cardinals and Giants – have spent a large portion of the offseason engaging with the Marlins about right fielder Giancarlo Stanton, and they even had deals in place to land the 2017 NL MVP. But Stanton nixed those trades before accepting a deal to the Yankees over the weekend, sending the Cards and Giants scrambling for other options. Ozuna makes for an appealing Plan B, then, as he’s coming off a season in which he slashed a career-best .312/.376/.548 with 37 home runs and a 4.8 fWAR over 679 plate appearances.

    In terms of production, last year was an outlier for Ozuna relative to the rest of his career – which began when he debuted in 2013 – but he has still accounted for at least 2.5 fWAR in three of four full seasons. At worst, Ozuna seems to be a solid regular, and the 27-year-old doesn’t come with an onerous, Stanton-esque contract. He’s controllable for two more years via arbitration and will earn a projected $10.9MM in 2018. That’s certainly an affordable figure, though it should also help the Marlins land a quality return for him. They’re obviously educated on both the Cardinals’ and Giants’ farm systems thanks to the Stanton talks.

    The Nationals, meanwhile, share a division with the Marlins, but that shouldn’t necessarily serve as a deterrent to a payroll-cutting Miami team whose primary goal in an Ozuna trade should be to bolster its weak system. Washington’s prospect pool is only the majors’ 18th best, per Baseball America (the outlet ranks the Cards’ 13th and the Giants’ 27th), but it seems that’s primarily because of a lack of depth. The top of the Nationals’ system is impressive, according to BA, and that could help pave the way for an Ozuna swap.

    With the Nationals at risk of losing Bryce Harper to free agency in a year, Ozuna might somewhat help cover for his potential exit in 2019. In the meantime, the Nats could perhaps use a left fielder to complement Harper in right and Adam Eaton in center. They do, however, have other in-house options in Michael A. Taylor and Brian Goodwin. Taylor was particularly strong in 2017, yet the Nats may not be content with him functioning as a regular in 2018, if their interest in Ozuna is any indication.

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    Blue Jays Still Aiming To Contend In 2018 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/12/al-notes-mariners-tigers-castellanos-yanks-jays-donaldson-rays.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/12/al-notes-mariners-tigers-castellanos-yanks-jays-donaldson-rays.html#comments Tue, 12 Dec 2017 04:25:46 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=109527
  • Even without Stanton, New York finished 15 games ahead of division-rival Toronto in 2017. Nevertheless, Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins iterated Monday that they’re aiming to rebound, not rebuild, next season. Atkins told reporters, including Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet, that he’s focused on putting together the “best possible team.” That would likely mean retaining star third baseman Josh Donaldson as he enters a contract year, which the Jays seem inclined to do. “It’s hard to imagine making (the Jays) better without Josh,” Atkins noted (Twitter link).
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    Mets, Rockies, Mariners, Jays Showing Interest In Jay Bruce https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/12/mutual-interest-between-mets-jay-bruce.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/12/mutual-interest-between-mets-jay-bruce.html#comments Tue, 12 Dec 2017 01:49:33 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=108286 Dec. 11: The Blue Jays are also interested in Bruce, Jon Heyman of FanRag tweets. Of course, the Jays nearly traded for Bruce when he was a member of the Reds in February 2016, and they went on to show interest in him again last offseason.

    While the Mariners are reportedly in on Bruce, Greg Johns of MLB.com doesn’t see a match in the wake of their acquisition of newly minted outfielder Dee Gordon (Twitter link). Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times is similarly skeptical, noting that the Mariners would have to trade away a corner outfielder to make it possible. He doesn’t completely rule that out, though, considering GM Jerry Dipoto’s affinity for making deals (via Twitter).

    Dec. 1: The Mets are interested in Bruce on a three-year contract, tweets Mike Puma of the New York Post. Bruce is still seeking a five-year deal according to Puma, indicating that despite a stagnant free-agent market, he hasn’t gotten anxious and lowered his early-November asking price (at least in terms of years).

    Nov. 30, 6:46pm: Other organizations with some level of interest in Bruce include the Rockies and Mariners, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter).

    It’s not known just how the Rockies view Bruce, but it’s conceivable they’d consider him as a first base target. Colorado was willing to roll the dice on utilizing Ian Desmond at first last year, but ended up using him mostly in the outfield and will likely keep him on the grass in 2017. That leaves first as the team’s most evident need in the field, though perhaps the club could instead view Bruce as a direct replacement for outgoing free agent corner outfielder Carlos Gonzalez.

    Seattle evidently has its eye on a lefty outfield bat, as it has also been linked with Jon Jay (who is, of course, otherwise quite a different hitter than is Bruce). The M’s current outfield mix is more proficient in the defensive and baserunning departments, so Bruce could add a different skillset that might allow for greater situational flexibility.

    5:28pm: The Mets share mutual interest with free agent slugger Jay Bruce, according to a report from Marc Carig of Newsday. Bruce, of course, opened the 2017 season in New York but was dealt in the middle of the year to the Indians.

    It’s far from clear at this point whether the sides match up, but obviously they are plenty familiar after Bruce played 153 games with the Mets between his mid-2016 acquisition and the subsequent trade. Though he struggled initially, Bruce gave the Mets 448 plate appearancs of .256/.321/.520 hitting and 29 home runs in the most recent season — numbers that he largely maintained (.248/.331/.477) upon heading to Cleveland.

    The time that Bruce spent with the Indians may actually have helped link him back to the Mets. Carig’s source notes that Bruce has a positive relationship with new Mets skipper Mickey Callaway, who just came over from the Cleveland organization.

    It’ll be interesting to see how serious the Mets are about adding a player like Bruce, who only is even under contemplation owing to problems with two youngsters the organization had hoped to rely upon. Outfielder Michael Conforto is recovering from major shoulder surgery while first baseman Dominic Smith is coming off of a poor initial showing in the majors while facing some front office scrutiny for his conditioning. There are some generally positive signs for Conforto. And Smith at least seems to be taking the concerns to heart with a stepped-up effort to trim up, as Mike Puma of the New York Post was among those to report (Twitter links).

    Bruce has not spent much time at first, but was used there briefly by the Mets in 2017. Evidently, the team is comfortable with the idea of giving him significant time there. Unlike another rumored possibility, free agent Carlos Santana, Bruce would also provide an option in the corner outfield, where he has spent the bulk of his career.

    Of course, what Bruce cannot do is offer any kind of solution to some of the Mets’ other pressing needs. Signing him, naturally, would draw resources that otherwise might be dedicated elsewhere, which is particularly notable given that Bruce is expected to command a long-term contract. (MLBTR predicts he’ll net $39MM over three years, but it’s certainly possible he could garner more.)

    Notably, per Carig, the Mets are having some difficulty finding traction with potential second base targets. New York’s middling slate of upper-level prospects is “a barrier” in dialogue with the Tigers regarding Ian Kinsler, Carig reports, while the Mets have yet to engage in earnest with the Marlins on Dee Gordon.

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    FA Rumors: LoMo, Rox, Hunter, Mets, Kintzler, Brewers, O’s, Tigers, Jays https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/12/fa-rumors-lomo-rox-hunter-mets-kintzler-brewers-os-tigers-jays.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/12/fa-rumors-lomo-rox-hunter-mets-kintzler-brewers-os-tigers-jays.html#comments Mon, 11 Dec 2017 23:41:02 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=109497 The latest free agent rumors…

    • Contrary to a report from Sunday, the Rockies haven’t had any discussions about signing first baseman Logan Morrison, per Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post (Twitter link).
    • Reliever Tommy Hunter has emerged as a “prime target” for the Mets in their search for bullpen help, according to Marc Carig of Newsday (on Twitter). The 31-year-old right-hander was quietly excellent over 58 2/3 innings with the Rays in 2017, recording a 2.61 ERA and putting up 9.82 K/9 against 2.15 BB/9.
    • Count the Diamondbacks among those interested in reliever Brandon Kintzler, tweets ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, who expects the former Twins closer to land a two-year deal. Kintzler suggested last month that his wife is rooting for him to sign with Arizona. The Twins continue to monitor him, and they’ve also checked in on almost every other available pitcher, chief baseball officer Derek Falvey revealed (Twitter link via Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com).
    • Brewers GM David Stearns said Monday that he’s likely to “cross paths” at the Winter Meetings with the agents for second baseman Neil Walker and reliever Anthony Swarzak, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tweets. Walker and Swarzak ended last season with the Brewers after coming over in trades and performed quite well during their short stints in Milwaukee.
    • Although the Orioles badly need starters, they’re not inclined to dole out long deals. GM Dan Duquette suggested to Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun and other reporters Monday that four- to five-year pacts for pitchers generally don’t work out well (Twitter link). On the other hand, Duquette hasn’t closed the door on re-signing righty Chris Tillman, who figures to be an affordable, short-term pickup after enduring a dreadful 2017 (Twitter link via Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com).
    • As is the case with Baltimore, the Tigers are in the market for a starter who won’t require a long commitment, GM Al Avila informed reporters (via Evan Woodbery of MLive.com, on Twitter). Detroit is open to reeling in another starter on a one-year deal to join the just-signed Mike Fiers.
    • The Blue Jays are engaging with multiple starters and relievers, GM Ross Atkins told Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet and other reporters Monday. They “will most likely add an infielder,” too, and are looking at outfielders, Atkins said (Twitter link).
    • The Rangers are considering signing catcher Rene Rivera, per Jon Heyman of FanRag (Twitter link). The righty-hitting Rivera, who was with the Mets and Cubs last year, batted .252/.305/.431 in 237 plate appearances. Behind the plate, he caught an excellent 38 percent of would-be base stealers (10 percent above the league average) and, as has been the case for most of his career, held his own as a framer.
    • Right-hander Jesse Chavez appears likely to sign this week, MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes tweets. The 34-year-old Chavez spent last season with the Angels and posted an ugly 5.35 ERA across 138 innings and 38 appearances (21 starts), though he did log acceptable strikeout and walk rates (7.76 K/9, 2.93 BB/9).
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    Latest Chatter On Josh Donaldson As A Trade Target https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/12/latest-on-corner-infield-market.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/12/latest-on-corner-infield-market.html#comments Mon, 11 Dec 2017 17:02:25 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=109391
  • Having missed out on Giancarlo Stanton, the Cardinals are now scanning the rest of the market for offensive upgrades. Jon Heyman of Fan Rag looks at the team’s possible options, including free agents Eric Hosmer and J.D. Martinez. He notes that several upper-echelon third basemen might hold appeal on the trade market — which will come as little surprise to those that have followed the Cards’ trade rumblings for the last several months. Of course, it’s still unclear whether the Blue Jays (Josh Donaldson), Rays (Evan Longoria), or Orioles (Manny Machado) will make their stars available.
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    Blue Jays Not Yet Ready For Rebuild https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/12/al-east-notes-blue-jays-rebuilds-longoria-rays-bard-red-sox.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/12/al-east-notes-blue-jays-rebuilds-longoria-rays-bard-red-sox.html#comments Mon, 11 Dec 2017 03:28:15 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=109316 The Blue Jays are planning to contend in 2018, though with the team facing a tough road back to the postseason, Sportsnet.ca’s Ben Nicholson-Smith looks at the broader question faced by the Jays and other clubs about deciding when a rebuild is necessary.  Reaching the playoffs even once is a worthy goal, though mortgaging the future to do so won’t lead to a sustainable contender, which is what teams like the Cubs and Astros appear to be after writing off several seasons to totally remake their franchises.  An even greater challenge is trying to rebuild while remaining competitive, which is what the Blue Jays seem to be trying.  “I personally don’t feel that you should ever be in a rebuild mode, especially in this market and in this environment,” Jays GM Ross Atkins said.  “There might be soft resets based on circumstance….But personally, I don’t buy into the strategy that we’re not going to be a good team for five and six years.”

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    Blue Jays Interested In Josh Harrison https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/12/blue-jays-interested-in-josh-harrison.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/12/blue-jays-interested-in-josh-harrison.html#comments Sun, 10 Dec 2017 19:17:37 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=109252 The Blue Jays join the previously reported Mets as teams with interest in Pirates utilityman Josh Harrison, according to Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The Angels would also be a logical fit for Harrison, Brink notes, though it’s unclear whether they’re actually pursuing him.

    Toronto already addressed its middle infield in a notable way when it acquired Aledmys Diaz from the Cardinals on Dec. 1, but general manager Ross Atkins revealed a week later that the club was still in the market for help there and in the outfield. The Blue Jays’ interest in Harrison makes sense, then, given that he has racked up vast experience in the infield and in the grass. The 30-year-old has logged at least 110 career appearances at second base, third base and the corner outfield.

    The majority of Harrison’s work both during his career and from 2016-17 came at the keystone, where the Jays have options in Diaz, who’s coming off a subpar season, and the oft-injured Devon Travis. Like those two, Harrison isn’t a sure bet to produce, having endured an up-and-down career, but he is fresh off one of his best seasons. The right-handed hitter batted a respectable .272/.339/.432 and totaled a personal-best 16 home runs across 542 plate appearances, and he added 12 stolen bases.

    For Toronto, picking up Harrison would seemingly give the club a front-runner to start at second and protect against further injuries to Travis and another oft-hurt middle infielder, shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, who now has a capable backup behind him in Diaz. Of course, it’s unclear whether the Pirates are truly open to giving up Harrison, especially considering fellow infielder Jung Ho Kang’s iffy-at-best status for 2018. However, Adam Berry of MLB.com suggested earlier this week that Harrison may be Pittsburgh’s most logical trade chip, as the team would still have David Freese, Adam Frazier, Sean Rodriguez and Max Moroff on hand as versatile infielders even if it were to part with him. So, if the low-payroll Pirates view Harrison as a redundant piece, they could look to jettison him and his relatively lofty salary. While Harrison’s pact isn’t onerous – he’ll make $10MM in 2018 and has club options worth $10.5MM and $11.5MM over the following two seasons – he nonetheless ranks as one of the Bucs’ most expensive players.

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    Cubs Among Teams Pursuing Alex Cobb https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/12/cubs-pursuing-alex-cobb.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2017/12/cubs-pursuing-alex-cobb.html#comments Sun, 10 Dec 2017 17:17:42 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=109208 SUNDAY: Along with the Cubs, count the Rangers, Yankees, Blue Jays and Orioles among teams interested in Cobb, according to FanRag’s Jon Heyman (Twitter link).

    SATURDAY: The Cubs added right-hander Tyler Chatwood on a three-year, $38MM guarantee this week, but another sizable investment for their rotation could be on the way. With the Winter Meetings nearing, they’re making a “strong push” to sign free agent righty Alex Cobb, Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago reports. Their hope is to reach a deal with Cobb prior to Monday, which would enable them to turn their focus elsewhere during the meetings and prevent other suitors from aggressively pursuing the 30-year-old.

    Cobb going to the North Side of Chicago has frequently come up as a possibility since last season ended, in part because of his connection to multiple members of the Cubs’ coaching staff. He played under manager Joe Maddon in Tampa Bay from 2011-14 and was under the tutelage of pitching coach Jim Hickey with the Rays through last season. Hickey, whom the Cubs hired in October, has been Cobb’s sole pitching coach since he debuted in 2011. Cobb spoke glowingly of those two last month and said he’d be “very honored” to sign with the Cubs.

    While Cobb would be a risky signing, having undergone two serious procedures (thoracic outlet syndrome surgery in 2011 and Tommy John surgery in 2015) during his career, he’s still poised to land one of the richest contracts on the open market this winter. Across 700 major league innings, including a career-high 179 1/3 last season, Cobb has pitched to a 3.50 ERA with 7.33 K/9, 2.62 BB/9 and a 54 percent groundball rate. Some of his numbers took a dip in 2017 (6.42 K/9, 47.8 percent grounder rate) – his first full year back from Tommy John surgery – though his velocity looked normal and he managed a quality 3.66 ERA/4.16 FIP, also recording a career-best walk rate (2.21 per nine).

    Along with guaranteeing a notable sum to Cobb, who rejected the Rays’ $17.4MM qualifying offer, the Cubs would have to surrender their second-highest draft pick in 2018 (No. 63 overall) and $500K in international bonus pool space to sign him. But that prospect clearly isn’t scaring off the Cubs, who will collect compensation if their own qualified free agents (starter Jake Arrieta and closer Wade Davis) depart. The Cubs are still interested in retaining those two, per Levine, but picking up Cobb would give them five capable starters (Kyle Hendricks, Jon Lester, Jose Quintana and Chatwood are the others) and seemingly lessen the chances for an Arrieta re-up.

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