MLB Trade Rumors » » Toronto Blue Jays 2017-12-18T21:37:36Z Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Phillies Asked About Marcus Stroman, Danny Duffy]]> 2017-12-18T05:19:20Z 2017-12-18T05:19:20Z 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 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.)

Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Cardinals, Blue Jays Continue To Discuss Josh Donaldson]]> 2017-12-17T22:51:56Z 2017-12-17T22:51:56Z
  • 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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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Blue Jays Notes: Avisail, Relievers]]> 2017-12-15T01:48:37Z 2017-12-15T01:46:38Z
  • 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’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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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Position Player Rumblings: Red Sox, Machado, White Sox, Cards/Donaldson, Jays/Cain, Mets]]> 2017-12-14T17:45:32Z 2017-12-14T17:43:19Z 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.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Trade Chatter: Nats, Rays, Fulmer, Reds, Jays, Braves, Giants, Yelich, Phils]]> 2017-12-14T03:45:12Z 2017-12-14T03:44:39Z 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 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.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Blue jays Rumors: Nunez, CarGo, Gomez]]> 2017-12-14T01:46:20Z 2017-12-14T01:46:20Z
  • 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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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Pitching Market Chatter: Phils, Yanks, Greinke, Cole, Archer, Duffy, CC, Jays]]> 2017-12-14T00:51:51Z 2017-12-14T00:51:51Z With a pair of relief signings being wrapped up, the Phillies seem to feel good about that aspect of their roster. Per’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 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 (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’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’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 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.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Cardinals & Marlins “Making Progress” On Marcell Ozuna Swap]]> 2017-12-13T17:57:55Z 2017-12-13T17:53:23Z 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.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Blue Jays Eyeing Backup Catchers]]> 2017-12-13T16:38:40Z 2017-12-13T16:38:40Z
  • 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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    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[International Notes: Keithron Moss, Bolsinger, Wagner]]> 2017-12-13T14:04:10Z 2017-12-13T11:00:46Z 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.
    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Blue Jays Meet With C.C. Sabathia]]> 2017-12-13T03:56:54Z 2017-12-13T03:56:54Z 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’s Shi Davidi reports that Sanchez played catch for the first time in three months and reported no issues with his finger.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Cardinals Talked With Blue Jays About Josh Donaldson]]> 2017-12-13T00:18:46Z 2017-12-13T00:13:56Z
  • 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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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Latest On Carlos Gonzalez]]> 2017-12-12T20:52:51Z 2017-12-12T20:47:22Z 2:47pm: Other clubs with some level of interest include the Astros, Orioles, and Rockies, per’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.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Pitching Market Rumblings: Brewers, Rays, Duffy, Nicasio, Arrieta]]> 2017-12-12T17:59:15Z 2017-12-12T17:28:06Z 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’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,’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’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 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.
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[6 To 8 Teams Interested In Marcell Ozuna]]> 2017-12-12T20:27:46Z 2017-12-12T16:42:00Z 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 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.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Blue Jays Still Aiming To Contend In 2018]]> 2017-12-12T04:25:46Z 2017-12-12T04:25:46Z
  • 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).
  • ]]>
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Mets, Rockies, Mariners, Jays Showing Interest In Jay Bruce]]> 2017-12-12T01:55:01Z 2017-12-12T01:49:33Z 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 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.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[FA Rumors: LoMo, Rox, Hunter, Mets, Kintzler, Brewers, O’s, Tigers, Jays]]> 2017-12-11T23:41:02Z 2017-12-11T23:41:02Z 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
    • 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
    • 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, 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).
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Latest Chatter On Josh Donaldson As A Trade Target]]> 2017-12-11T17:26:06Z 2017-12-11T17:02:25Z
  • 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.
  • ]]>
    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Blue Jays Not Yet Ready For Rebuild]]> 2017-12-11T04:44:34Z 2017-12-11T03:28:15Z The Blue Jays are planning to contend in 2018, though with the team facing a tough road back to the postseason,’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.”

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Blue Jays Interested In Josh Harrison]]> 2017-12-10T19:37:18Z 2017-12-10T19:17:37Z 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 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.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Cubs Among Teams Pursuing Alex Cobb]]> 2017-12-10T17:17:29Z 2017-12-10T17:17:42Z 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.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Jays Still In Market For Middle Infield Help]]> 2017-12-08T17:48:53Z 2017-12-08T17:48:53Z
  • Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins tells Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith that even after acquiring Aledmys Diaz from the Cardinals, his team is still looking at additional middle infield options (Twitter link). The outfield, too, remains a priority, and the Jays are open to adding some help at catcher, though that’s a lesser priority, Nicholson-Smith notes. While the addition of Diaz certainly gives Toronto some much-needed depth, he’s coming off a down year while shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and second baseman Devon Travis are both prone to injuries.
  • ]]>
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Mariners, Casey Lawrence Agree To Minor League Deal]]> 2017-12-07T14:51:29Z 2017-12-07T14:51:29Z The Mariners have agreed to bring back right-hander Casey Lawrence on a minor league contract, per Baseball America’s Matt Eddy. He’d previously been outrighted off the 40-man roster and become a free agent. Presumably, he’ll be in Major League camp this coming spring.

    The 30-year-old Lawrence proved to be an oft-used depth piece for an injury-plagued Mariners staff in 2017. After being claimed off outright waivers (out of the Blue Jays’ system) in early May, Lawrence was recalled to the Majors on four separate occasions by the Mariners through season’s end.

    All told, Lawrence tossed 42 innings for the M’s, and while his 5.57 ERA wasn’t pretty, he did average 9.6 K/9 against a respectable 3.0 BB/9 mark in his 23 appearances. Home runs proved to be a significant problem for the rookie, though, as he also averaged 1.93 big flies per nine innings pitched in Seattle. Metrics like xFIP (3.87) and SIERA (3.68) reviewed Lawrence’s work far more favorably than his ERA (due largely to those K/BB numbers), but he’ll need to rein in the home runs if he’s to have any sort of chance at success in the Majors.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Rogers Communications Considering Sale Of Blue Jays]]> 2017-12-06T14:18:32Z 2017-12-06T14:18:32Z Rogers Communications, the Canadian telecommunications company that owns the Toronto Blue Jays, is considering a possible sale of the team, as Natalie Wong of Bloomberg writes. At this point, it seems the potential move is merely in the conceptual stage.

    Rogers CFO Tony Staffieri suggests that the entity is pondering the sale in order to raise funds for other initiatives. Other significant Rogers investments are also under consideration for sale, so it seems the broader strategic considerations are driving the company more than any particular consideration tied to the ballclub.

    That said, there’s little doubt that Rogers is also aware of the potential to lock in a massive gain on its initial purchase of the Jays. Back in 2000, an eighty percent stake cost just $112MM. Given that a struggling Marlins franchise just went for $1.2B, it stands to reason that Canada’s only MLB team — a marketing juggernaut with excellent attendance figures even in losing seasons and robust profitability in winning campaigns — would fetch quite a bit more.

    Clearly, there’s little reason to think that any sale effort is imminent, let alone a deal itself. But it’s plenty significant that ownership has floated the idea, since that’ll surely function as an initial gauge on market interest and value.

    In the meantime, it’s naturally fair to wonder how the higher-level business maneuverings might trickle down to the baseball operations. Perhaps the likeliest scenario, though, is to anticipate a continuation of the recent past. Even in the Marlins’ situation, the club waited to make major changes in the lead-up to the sale. Here, there’s good cause to think the Jays will continue their trajectory of attempting to contend while also being notably mindful of maintaining future financial flexibility and building up their farm.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Blue Jays Re-Sign Luis Santos To Minor League Deal]]> 2017-12-04T20:58:13Z 2017-12-04T20:58:13Z The Blue Jays announced Monday that they’re re-signed righty Luis Santos to a minor league contract and invited him to Major League Spring Training.

    The 26-year-old Santos (27 in February) made his Major League debut with the Jays back in September and tossed 16 2/3 innings of relief down the stretch. In that brief time, he posted a 2.70 ERA with a 16-to-4 K/BB ratio and a 33.3 percent ground-ball rate. He was also tagged for four home runs.

    Santos spent most of the 2017 season as a starter for Toronto’s Triple-A affiliate in Buffalo, working to a 4.07 ERA with 8.1 K/9, 3.7 BB/9 and a 36.5 percent ground-ball rate. He totaled 108 1/3 innings in the minors over the life of 21 starts and three relief appearances before making his late-season debut. The Jays outrighted Santos off the 40-man roster a month ago, allowing to become a free agent in the process, but he’ll return for another crack at forcing his way onto the big league roster in some capacity.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Mariners, Giants, Padres, Rangers, Cubs, Angels Among Teams To Meet With Shohei Ohtani]]> 2017-12-04T05:40:13Z 2017-12-04T05:40:33Z 11:40pm: The Angels are indeed one of the finalists, as per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal (via Twitter).

    10:39pm: The Angels are thought by “multiple sources” to be one of the finalists, Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan tweets.  The Tigers are out of the running, according to Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press.

    8:59pm: The Rangers and Cubs will both meet with Ohtani, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports (Twitter link), and they’re also the only two non-West Coast teams who appear to still be alive in the candidate process.  The Rangers, Grant notes, have yet to comment on their status one way or the other.

    7:22pm: The Nationals won’t be receiving a meeting, the Washington Post’s Chelsea Janes reports (Twitter link).

    6:58pm: The Braves are out,’s Jerry Crasnick reports (via Twitter).

    6:50pm: The Padres will receive a meeting with Ohtani, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman reports (Twitter links).  The Dodgers are also thought to still be active in the Ohtani sweepstakes though Heyman doesn’t have confirmation; regardless, the Dodgers aren’t thought to be favorites to land Ohtani.

    6:38pm: The Rays, Cardinals and White Sox are out, according to the Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (all Twitter links).

    6:15pm: The Diamondbacks won’t receive a meeting, Ken Rosenthal tweets.

    6:12pm: The Blue Jays, Pirates, and Brewers are all out, as respectively reported by’s Shi Davidi,’s Adam Berry, and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Tom Haudricourt (all Twitter links).

    5:48pm: The Mets are also out, as per Joel Sherman of the New York Post (Twitter link).

    5:38pm: Ohtani’s list is “heavy” on West Coast teams, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports, though the Cubs may still be involved.  Not every west-based team is included, however, as The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal tweets that the A’s aren’t involved.

    5:28pm: The Red Sox are also out of the running, president of baseball ops Dave Dombrowski told Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe.  The Twins also won’t be getting a meeting with Ohtani, Heyman tweets.

    5:16pm: The Giants and Mariners are among the teams that will receive meetings with Shohei Ohtani and his representatives next week, Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan reports (Twitter link).  It isn’t known who the other finalists are in the Ohtani sweepstakes, though the Yankees are one of the teams that didn’t make the cut, as Yankees GM Brian Cashman told reporters (including’s Brendan Kuty and’s Bryan Hoch).

    According to Cashman, Ohtani seems to be leaning towards West Coast teams in smaller markets.  This ties to a report from FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman saying that Ohtani’s reps are informing teams that the two-way star would prefer to play in a smaller market.

    The news adds another fascinating layer to the Ohtani sweepstakes, which was already one of the more intriguing free agent pursuits in recent memory.  Given the seeming lack of immediate financial motive that inspired Ohtani’s move to Major League Baseball, it opened the door for every team in baseball (regardless of market or payroll size) to make a push for the 23-year-old.  There had been speculation that Ohtani might look to avoid playing in a larger market, so this apparent confirmation creates a realistic possibility that he will land with a team that wouldn’t normally be considered a favorite to land such a coveted free agent.

    Of course, San Francisco isn’t exactly a small market, though Ohtani wouldn’t necessarily be the center of attention on a club with such established stars as Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner (and maybe even Giancarlo Stanton in the near future).  Playing for an NL team, however, would force Ohtani into a pinch-hitting or even a part-time outfield role for the at-bats he seeks in his attempt to be a two-way player in the big leagues.  The Mariners do have such a DH spot available (in a timeshare with Nelson Cruz), and were considered to be a contender for Ohtani given their long history of Japanese players.

    The Yankees also have had several significant Japanese players on their past and current rosters, and were widely seen as one of the major favorites for Ohtani’s services from a financial (in terms of available international bonus money) and positional (openings at DH and in the rotation) standpoint, not to mention their international fame and their young core of talent ready to make a World Series push.  With Ohtani now out of the picture, the Yankees could move to signing more pitching depth — a reunion with C.C. Sabathia has been widely speculated as a possibility — or a veteran bat to serve as designated hitter, if the club doesn’t just rotate its DH days to find plate appearances for everyone on the current roster.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Blue Jays Acquire Aledmys Diaz]]> 2017-12-02T15:34:17Z 2017-12-02T01:43:42Z The Blue Jays have struck a trade to acquire shortstop Aledmys Diaz from the Cardinals, per an announcement from the Toronto organization (h/t Shi Davidi of, on Twitter). Outfield prospect J.B. Woodman is heading back to St. Louis in return.

    [RELATED: Updated Blue Jays Depth Chart]

    This time last year, such a deal would not have seemed possible. In 2016, Diaz turned in a sparkling rookie campaign. Over 460 plate appearances, he slashed .300/.369/.510 with 17 home runs. Diaz went down on strikes just sixty times while drawing 41 walks.

    Alas, he was not able to sustain that surprising outbreak in his sophomore season. Diaz limped to a .259/.290/.392 batting line in 301 trips to the plate. He was ultimately demoted to Triple-A, where he watched as Paul DeJong took off and dashed any hopes of a near-term return.

    Beyond the questions at the plate, there are also some questions regarding Diaz’s defensive work, at least at short. He has drawn mixed reviews from UZR and DRS which, in the aggregate, paint him as at least a somewhat below-average defender at that challenging spot.

    For the Jays, Diaz represents a possible solution to the team’s depth issues up the middle. While Troy Tulowitzki and Devon Travis will likely enter camp as presumptive starters, they have each struggled with significant injury issues in recent years. Diaz, then, not only adds another option but also represents a potential buy-low candidate.

    In exchange, Toronto parted with its second-round pick from the 2016 draft. Woodman, a left-handed-hitting outfielder who’ll soon turn 23, had a solid debut season at the low A level but struggled upon reaching Class A in 2017. In 414 plate appearances, he slashed just .240/.320/.378 while striking out 157 times. Needless to say, his offensive game will require quite a bit of polishing, but the Cards can certainly afford to be patient with him.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[2017 Non-Tenders]]> 2017-12-02T07:43:50Z 2017-12-02T01:10:38Z The deadline to tender 2018 contracts to players is tonight at 8pm EST. We’ll keep track of the day’s non-tenders in this post (all referenced arbitration projections courtesy of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz) …

    • The Giants non-tendered righty Albert Suarez, Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area tweets. Suarez, 28, was not yet eligible for arbitration.
    • Righty Tom Koehler and infielder Ryan Goins are heading to the open market after being non-tendered by the Blue Jays, per a team announcement.
    • The Rays announced that lefty Xavier Cedeno has been non-tendered, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweets.
    • The Cubs non-tendered catcher Taylor Davis, per a team announcement. He was not yet eligible for arbitration.
    • Four Rangers players have not been tendered contracts, per a club announcement. Righties Chi Chi Gonzalez, A.J. Griffin, and Nick Martinez have been cut loose along with infielder Hanser Alberto. Griffin ($3.0MM projection) and Martinez ($2.0MM) were both noted as non-tender candidates by MLBTR. The other two players were not yet eligible for arbitration. Gonzalez was a former first-round pick who had struggled of late and underwent Tommy John surgery in July.
    • The Diamondbacks have also non-tendered lefty T.J. McFarland, who had projected at a $1.0MM salary.
    • The Reds non-tendered lefty Kyle Crockett, a pre-arb lefty who was only recently claimed on waivers, per a club announcement.
    • Per a club announcement, the Brewers have non-tendered veteran righty Jared Hughes. He will end up being the only 40-man player not to receive a contract from Milwaukee. Hughes had projected at a $2.2MM arbitration value. The 32-year-old is a master at inducing grounders and has turned in repeatedly excellent results. He also averaged a career-best 93.9 mph on his sinker in 2017.
    • The Mariners have non-tendered lefty Drew Smyly and righty Shae Simmons, per a club announcement. While the former was expected, due to Smyly’s Tommy John surgery, the latter rates as something of a surprise given his cheap $700K projection. Of course, it’s possible the club is not optimistic of his chances of bouncing back from arm troubles.
    • The White Sox will not tender a contract to reliever Jake Petricka, per SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (via Twitter). He had projected to take home $1.1MM in his second trip through the arb process. Also non-tendered, per a club announcement, were righties Zach Putnam and Al Alburquerque as well as infielder Alan Hanson.
    • It seems that righty Bruce Rondon will wind up his tenure with the Tigers, as the organization is set to non-tender him, per Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free-Press (via Twitter). Rondon was long viewed as a potential late-inning arm for the Tigers, but had some notable run-ins with the organization, struggled with control, and never consistently produced at the MLB level. Though he projected to earn just $1.2MM, Rondon will be allowed to find a new organization. He will turn 26 later this month.
    • The Diamondbacks will non-tender righty J.J. Hoover, per SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (via Twitter). Hoover projected at just $1.6MM, but Arizona is watching every penny as it seeks to return to the postseason with a tight payroll situation. The 30-year-old turned in 41 1/3 innings of 3.92 ERA ball in 2017 with 11.8 K/9 but also 5.7 BB/9 on the year.
    • The Royals announced that they have non-tendered outfielder Terrance Gore. Though Gore was not eligible for arbitration, teams occasionally utilize today’s deadline to prune their 40-man rosters. Gore had quite an interesting run with Kansas City, scarcely playing at all during the regular season and then appearing as a speed-and-defense asset in the team’s two storied postseason runs. Now, though the fleet-footed 26-year-old is out of options. With an upper minors OPS that hovers just over .600, Gore just was not going to break camp with the club. It seems reasonable to think there’s a chance he’ll return to the organization on a minors deal, though Gore will also have a shot at exploring the broader market.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Brief Markakis Talks Between Blue Jays, Braves Did Not Advance]]> 2017-11-30T04:51:21Z 2017-11-29T20:41:44Z
  • The Blue Jays held talks with the Braves regarding veteran outfielder Nick Markakis, Morosi tweets. But the chatter has “failed to advance” and it’s not clear whether the sides will pick things up. Markakis has continued to put up roughly league average offensive numbers, compensating for a lack of pop with solid on-base numbers, but isn’t much of a value on a $10.5MM salary. Presumably he’d have provided the Jays with a platoon piece for their outfield mix, but it stands to reason that the organization is looking to spend a bit less than that — particularly given that it has other, greater priorities.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Market Notes: Darvish, Donaldson, Frazier]]> 2017-11-29T17:10:40Z 2017-11-29T14:39:22Z There has been no shortage of chatter on Giancarlo Stanton and Shohei Ohtani over the past few weeks. We gathered up more news and rumors on each of these significant players yesterday — here and here, respectively. It’s fair to wonder whether their still-unsettled situations could be to blame for a notably sluggish start to the free agent market. The former, in particular, is a potential cause given that his massive contract and complicated trade situation might be hindering the development of the markets of premium free agents — though certainly other structural factors may be playing a far greater role, as Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports argues in a must-read piece.

    • Free agent righty Yu Darvish evidently still has a broad class of suitors, according to a report from Jim Bowden of Sirius XM (via Twitter). Six (unidentified) clubs have engaged on the veteran hurler, with about as many others seemingly having shown some degree of interest. That’s not surprising for a pitcher of Darvish’s stature — he entered the offseason atop MLBTR’s list of the top fifty free agents — but it does suggest that the back-and-forth is only just getting underway.
    • Over at Fangraphs, Dave Cameron has explored the hypothetical possibility of the Blue Jays dangling star third baseman Josh Donaldson in trade. He first posited that Toronto could match up with the Cardinals in a swap that might allow both teams to maximize their resources and stay in contention. (Of course, this is presented as analysis, not a report of actual discussions.) And yesterday, Cameron argued that Donaldson might not bring maximum value if he’s ultimately shopped at the deadline (supposing, of course, that the Jays end up in a selling posture). Other premium hot corner rentals could also be available this summer, Cameron notes, and it seems unlikely that there’ll be a whole lot of demand.
    • Third baseman Todd Frazier is likely to plug a gap for one of the few contenders that does need a new option there. But he’s also still interested in returning to the Yankees, he tells MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM (Twitter link). Of course, that’s an organization that may well decide not to add at that position; we covered just that subject in some detail about a month back. Frazier says it’d be “great” to remain in the Bronx, but also suggests he may be resigned to finding a new home, noting that he “understand[s] the business” side of things.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Braves Hire Blue Jays' Andrew Tinnish]]> 2017-12-02T00:27:36Z 2017-11-28T00:27:33Z DECEMBER 1: In a surprising turn of events, the Braves have announced that Tinnish has withdrawn from the organization. In statements, both he and Anthopoulos attributed the decision to family considerations. Tinnish will instead remain with the Blue Jays organization.

    NOVEMBER 27: The shakeup in the Atlanta front office is continuing, as Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Braves have “parted ways” with assistant GM Adam Fisher and hired Andrew Tinnish away from the Blue Jays as their new vice president of amateur/international scouting (Twitter links). With Fisher’s departure, Perry Minasian will become Atlanta’s new assistant GM and vice president of baseball operations.

    In hiring Tinnish, the Braves add will yet another executive with roots in Toronto that date back to Anthopoulos’s time at the helm of that front office. As Ben Nicholson-Smith of notes on Twitter, Tinnish had played a key role in the Jays’ international amateur efforts. Before that, his responsibilities were on the domestic side of the amateur market.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Max Pentecost Dealing With Shoulder Troubles]]> 2017-11-27T18:48:01Z 2017-11-27T17:10:56Z
  • Max Pentecost’s omission from the Blue Jays’ slate of 40-man roster additions surprised some, but Shi Davidi of Sportsnet reports that troubles with the former No. 11 overall pick’s shoulder caused the Jays to leave him unprotected. Pentecost was shut down near the end of the AFL, which could make it difficult for a team to select him or to carry him for the bulk of the 2018 season. Pentecost has undergone multiple surgeries since being drafted in ’14 and has managed to play just 30 of his 171 games at catcher, spending the bulk of his time as a DH in addition to some work at first base. “We’re continuing to work hard to help Max be in the best possible physical shape and baseball shape he can be in,” said GM Ross Atkins of Pentecost.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Blue Jays Have Shown Interest In Jake Arrieta]]> 2017-11-25T21:55:49Z 2017-11-25T21:55:49Z
  • In addition to the previously reported Brewers and Twins, the Blue Jays, Rockies and Rangers have shown interest in free agent right-hander Jake Arrieta, Cafardo relays. All of those teams have contacted agent Scott Boras about Arrieta, though it’s unclear how serious any of them are about the 31-year-old. The Rangers seem to have the greatest need for Arrieta, who MLBTR projects will land a nine-figure contract, but as Steve Adams pointed out when previewing their offseason, they don’t have a lot of payroll flexibility.

    • In addition to the previously reported Brewers and Twins, the Blue Jays, Rockies and Rangers have shown interest in free agent right-hander Jake Arrieta, Cafardo relays. All of those teams have contacted agent Scott Boras about Arrieta, though it’s unclear how serious any of them are about the 31-year-old. The Rangers seem to have the greatest need for Arrieta, who MLBTR projects will land a nine-figure contract, but as Steve Adams pointed out when previewing their offseason, they don’t have a lot of payroll flexibility.
    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Blue Jays To Investigate Minor League PED Usage]]> 2017-11-24T05:49:10Z 2017-11-24T05:49:10Z
  • The Blue Jays are conducting an internal investigation after six minor league prospects all tested positive for PEDs within the last week,’s Shi Davidi reports.  Thirteen Jays prospects have now been hit with PED test-related violations within the last two years, a stunning increase for an organization that saw just 18 players fail tests from 2005-15.  “This situation is very disappointing and disturbing to the organization; disappointing that the players made these choices, but more so disturbing that some failure of our environment allowed this to happen,” Jays GM Ross Atkins said.  “It is our responsibility to create an environment and culture where our players know that PED use is not condoned, and to give them resources and education to ensure that they do not make these decisions.”
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Ross Atkins On Blue Jays’ Preliminary Offseason Efforts]]> 2017-11-23T16:58:43Z 2017-11-23T16:58:43Z Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins joined Ben Nicholson-Smith and Arden Zwelling on Sportsnet’s At the Letters podcast. There’s lots to listen to — including the Sportsnet team’s discussion of other subjects — but we’ll look at a few key takeaways here:

    • The Jays are still committed to “putting a winning product on the field,” says Atkins, and that’ll be the driving force in the team’s decisions. (Indeed, he says he does not really anticipate a need for a full-blown rebuild in Toronto, though he would not rule out the possibility at times of requiring a “soft reset.”) Though there haven’t been any significant moves yet, that’s true of the entire remainder of the league as well. Atkins says he thinks the hold-up is likely at the top of the market but also results from a more general trend toward “more patience” in transactional decisionmaking. That could be a result of greater understanding between teams as to how they value players, he suggests, while noting there may also be a cyclical element to it. The tendency toward slow-developing action, after all, may itself create opportunities, Atkins notes.
    • Toronto’s top priority remains “protect[ing] our middle infield,” says Atkins, who acknowledges the organization cannot simply rely upon Devon Travis and Troy Tulowitzki to handle regular duties. The ideal player — who, Atkins acknowledges, doesn’t likely exist — would not only add “depth and versatility” up the middle but would be a left-handed hitter that can also play in the outfield. More likely, he says, achieving all of these goals will involve multiple players. Atkins suggests a major outfield addition isn’t likely, explaining that he believes there’s “good depth” on hand but expressing a desire to find a way to “complement” the existing players “a little bit better.”
    • Atkins also expanded a bit on his previously stated intentions to seek some pitching depth. The goal, he says, is “complementing our pitching in some significant way.” A back-end starter would be one possibility, per Atkins, but the team could also pursue an “elite reliever or some hybrid of the two.” It seems, then, that there’s some flexibility in the organization’s thinking on the pitching side of the ledger. More than chasing a single pitcher, perhaps, the front office will be looking for a high-value opportunity in this area.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Blue Jays Have Considered Pursuit Of J.D. Martinez]]> 2017-11-21T15:55:47Z 2017-11-21T14:33:00Z It’s possible the Blue Jays could weigh a run at star free agent outfielder J.D. Martinez, Jon Heyman of Fan Rag writes. At the moment, that seems like a fairly tenuous connection; Heyman explains that the team has “at least considered” Martinez but may also be hesitant to participate in a bidding war to get him. But that’s more than we’ve heard of at least some other conceivable landing spots for the best hitter on this year’s open market; the Cardinals, for instance, are said not to have much inclination to pursue him.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Players Added To The 40-Man Roster]]> 2017-11-21T01:48:28Z 2017-11-21T00:47:42Z As detailed earlier this morning at MLBTR, the deadline for Major League clubs to add players to the 40-man roster in order to protect them from next month’s Rule 5 Draft is tonight. Because of that, there will be literally dozens of moves between now and 8pm ET as teams make final determinations on who to protect and who to risk losing in next month’s Rule 5 draft. This process will lead to smaller-scale trades, waiver claims and DFAs, but for some clubs the only necessary moves will simply be to select the contracts of the prospects they wish to place on the 40-man roster. We’ll track those such moves in this post…

    Click to check in on other teams that have selected players to their 40-man rosters …

    Read more

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Blue Jays Acquire Gift Ngoepe]]> 2017-11-20T22:58:11Z 2017-11-20T22:50:28Z The Blue Jays have acquired infielder Gift Ngoepe from the Pirates, per club announcements. The talented defender changes hands as the clubs go about trimming their 40-man rosters in advance of the Rule 5 draft. A player to be named later or cash will head to Pittsburgh in return.

    Ngoepe, 27, became the first African-born player to reach the majors when he debuted in 2017. Though he moved around in Pittsburgh, Ngoepe has spent the bulk of his minor-league time at shortstop and is regarded as a proficient middle infielder.

    Ngoepe could function as an optionable utility piece in Toronto. But he’ll need to boost his offensive production to hold down a steady job in the bigs. In his first 63 MLB plate appearances, Ngoepe slashed just .222/.323/.296. He has never shown all that much punch in the minors, either, with a .221/.295/.362 composite batting line over three seasons at Triple-A, but clearly some major-league organizations still think there’s some hope for improvement.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Indians Claim Rob Refsnyder, Designate Kyle Crockett & Dylan Baker]]> 2017-11-20T22:23:49Z 2017-11-20T22:06:17Z The Indians announced today that they’ve claimed infielder/outfielder Rob Refsnyder off waivers from the Blue Jays and designated left-hander Kyle Crockett and Dylan Baker for assignment. Cleveland has also selected the contracts of right-hander Julian Merryweather and infielders Willi Castro, Yu Chang and Eric Stamets. That series of moves fills the Indians’ 40-man roster and leaves the Blue Jays’ 40-man roster at a total of 33 players.

    The 26-year-old Refsnyder split the 2017 season between the Yankees (who originally drafted him in 2012) and the Blue Jays but struggled to a composite .170/.247/.216 slash line. While Refsnyder has long turned in intriguing offensive stats in the minors, he’s batted just .233/.306/.311 in 320 big league plate appearances. At one point, Yankees fans hoped that Refsnyder could hold down the team’s second base job in the Majors, but he’s now split his time fairly equally between second, first base and left field in the Majors.

    Crockett, 25, was a fourth-round pick back in 2013 and was the first player from that draft class to reach the Majors, debuting in 2014. While he turned in a promising 1.80 ERA with 8.4 K/9 against 2.4 BB/9 in 30 innings that season, he’s struggled to a 4.84 ERA with 8.7 K/9 against 3.8 BB/9 in 35 1/3 big league innings since then. To his credit, Crockett has allowed just a minuscule three homers in 65 1/3 MLB innings and has held lefties to a .614 OPS in 167 plate appearances. Righties have knocked him around at a .280/.373/.452 clip, though.

    Baker, 25, has scarcely pitched since the 2015 season due to injuries, including Tommy John surgery. The 2012 fifth-rounder has tossed just 21 1/3 innings across three levels in the past three minor league seasons combined, though he’s posted a 3.58 ERA in 241 2/3 innings in his minor league career when healthy.

    Chang (No. 4), Castro (No. 9) and Merryweather (No. 12) each ranked within the Indians’ top 30 prospects, according to Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo of

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Blue Jays Outright Harold Ramirez, Chris Rowley]]> 2017-11-20T21:30:07Z 2017-11-20T21:12:30Z The Blue Jays announced that minor league outfielder Harold Ramirez and right-hander Chris Rowley have been outrighted off the 40-man roster after clearing waivers. The pair of moves creates some additional room on the 40-man in advance of tonight’s 8pm ET deadline to protect players from next month’s Rule 5 Draft.

    Ramirez, 23, came to the Blue Jays alongside Reese McGuire and Francisco Liriano in a trade that sent Drew Hutchison to the Pirates in 2016. The Bucs were widely panned for parting with a pair of intriguing prospects in a trade that looked largely fueled by a desire to shed Liriano’s contract, but Ramirez flopped in his first full season in the Toronto organization. Once considered to be among the game’s top 100 prospects, the 23-year-old hit just .260/.320/.358 in 489 plate appearances at the Double-A level this past season.

    The 27-year-old Rowley made his big league debut this season after working to a combined 2.24 ERA with 7.3 K/9 against 2.0 BB/9 in 116 1/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A (albeit against younger competition). Rowley tallied 18 2/3 frames for the Jays but was tagged for 14 runs on 24 hits (four homers) and 10 walks with 11 strikeouts in that time.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Blue Jays Favored To Sign Top 2018-19 Int'l Prospect]]> 2017-11-20T14:47:31Z 2017-11-20T05:58:28Z The Blue Jays are the favorites to sign 15-year-old Dominican shortstop Orelvis Martinez, who scouts expect will receive the highest bonus of any player signed in next year’s July 2 international signing market, Baseball America’s Ben Badler writes (BA subscription required and recommended).  Badler recently attended an MLB showcase for Dominican players and provides brief scouting breakdowns on some of the talents involved, plus the teams already connected to them in signing rumors.  Besides Toronto and Martinez, the Giants, Tigers, Mariners, Rays, Indians, Royals, and Cubs were also linked to the seven other prospects featured in Badler’s report.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[East Notes: O’s/Cobb, Mets, Nats, Jays, Rays]]> 2017-11-18T05:19:33Z 2017-11-18T05:19:33Z The Orioles seem to be casting a wide net in their hunt for starting pitching, as they have been cited as having interest in quite a few arms already. While the organization has become known for doing a good portion of its business later in the offseason, perhaps it’ll be more aggressive on some pitchers this time around. In any event, the latest name connected to the O’s is righty Alex Cobb, with Jon Morosi of MLB Network tweeting that the team has interest in a hurler who long tormented them in the division. Cobb won’t come cheap, but could be an option if Baltimore decides it’s able to add a more significant contract. The primary goal, though, will be to ensure there’s enough depth on hand in the rotation.

    More from the eastern divisions:

    • The Mets are the current poster child for the concept that you can never have enough pitching depth. Even on the heels of a tough season in which the club’s vaunted rotation collapsed, though, GM Sandy Alderson says he’ll consider dealing arms, as Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. While there’s still a need to “be careful” not to thin the staff out too far, Alderson is obviously also looking for ways to improve with a limited amount of payroll flexibility. Odds are that the team’s most prominent pitchers won’t be dangled, but Puma suggests Robert Gsellman, Seth Lugo, or Rafael Montero might conceivably be discussed.
    • While there’s nothing the Nationals can do to get out from under their 2018 commitment to Matt Wieters, the team will look for ways to improve behind the plate. Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post writes that the plan is to reduce the veteran’s role. Of course, that would mean relying more heavily on another player, and the team’s top internal alternatives (Pedro Severino and Raudy Read) are hardly sure things. An external acquisition will surely at least be considered; I ran through some other possibilities after the Nats were bounced from the postseason.
    • The Blue Jays are aiming for depth in their pitching staff, Ben Nicholson-Smith of writes. Lefty Robbie Ross is among the arms they are interested in, he reports. Certainly, Toronto has had a chance to see Ross up close over the past several years, which he has spent with the Red Sox. He was limited by injury in 2017 but turned in 55 1/3 innings of 3.25 ERA pitching in the prior campaign. Toronto isn’t limiting itself to lefty relievers, though; Nicholson-Smith says the club is looking at basically every type of hurler out there.
    • Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times has the latest on the Rays’ efforts to land a new ballpark. Owner Stuart Sternberg expressed optimism about a prospective site in Hillsborough County, but there are plenty of challenges still to be dealt with. Among them: the club “might only cover $150 million of the projected $800 million cost,” Topkin writes. Those interested in learning more about where things stand will want to give the link a full read.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Blue Jays Sign Deck McGuire To Minor League Deal]]> 2017-11-18T03:37:51Z 2017-11-18T03:10:16Z
  • The Blue Jays announced last night that they’ve brought back former first-round pick Deck McGuire on a minor league contract and invited him to Major League Spring Training. Toronto selected McGuire, now 28 years of age, with the 10th overall pick back in 2010. The former Georgia Tech star tore through Class-A Advanced with the Jays but began to struggle upon reaching Double-A and was ultimately traded to the A’s for cash considerations in 2014. McGuire has since pitched in the upper levels of the Dodgers and Cardinals systems, and in 2017 he made his big league debut with the Reds after turning in a terrific season in Double-A. McGuire tossed 168 innings with a 2.79 ERA, 9.1 K/9 and 3.1 BB/9 for Cincinnati’s Pensacola affiliate, and he impressed in a brief sample of MLB innings as well. Through 13 2/3 frames with the Reds, McGuire allowed four earned runs (2.63 ERA) on 10 hits and two walks with 11 strikeouts.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Blue Jays, Mets Showing Interest In Lorenzo Cain]]> 2017-11-14T22:10:03Z 2017-11-14T22:10:03Z The Blue Jays and Mets have both reached out to the representatives for free-agent center fielder Lorenzo Cain, tweets ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. Crasnick also lists the Rangers, Mariners and Giants as more speculative fits for Cain’s services.

    While both Toronto and New York already have standout defensive center fielders in Kevin Pillar and Juan Lagares, respectively, adding Cain to the outfield mix in either organization could create an elite defensive unit. The Blue Jays have a more pronounced need in the outfield, though young Teoscar Hernandez and Anthony Alford could both work their way into regular roles next year. The Mets would appear to be more set with Yoenis Cespedes and Michael Conforto both in the mix alongside Lagares, but Conforto’s status is something of a question mark following shoulder surgery. Speaking purely speculatively, acquiring Cain could also allow either club to trade from its stock of outfielders.

    Cain, 32 next April, hit .300/.363/.440 with 15 homers and 26 steals in 645 plate appearances with the Royals in 2017. While he’s never turned in a below-average season in the outfield by virtually any defensive metric, this past season was his weakest in that regard. Defensive Runs Saved pegged him at +5 runs in center field, while Ultimate Zone Rating had him at +1.6. Statcast’s new Outs Above Average metric still pegged Cain as one of baseball’s truly elite outfielders; he ranked fifth among all outfielders with a sterling mark of +15.

    Cain will reportedly reject the Royals’ $17.4MM qualifying offer, meaning he’ll cost any club that signs him some resources in next year’s draft. Specifically, the Jays and the Mets would forfeit their second-highest pick and $500K worth of next year’s international signing pool in order to sign Cain, as MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes recently explained. The Rangers would face that same penalty, while the Mariners would only need to forfeit their third-highest selection. Of the teams listed by Crasnick, the Giants would pay the steepest penalty — forfeiting their second- and fifth-highest draft selections as well as $1MM worth of international spending money. San Francisco is “juggling a lot of balls” at present, per Crasnick.

    The Royals, meanwhile, would land a compensatory draft pick after the first round so long as Cain signs a contract worth more than $50MM in total guarantees. That seems exceedingly likely to be the case, wherever he signs. In the off-chance that Cain somehow comes up shy of $50MM, Kansas City’s comp pick would come after Competitive Balance Round B in next year’s draft.