MLB Trade Rumors » » Toronto Blue Jays 2017-10-21T12:05:27Z Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Vladimir Guerrero Jr. Working To Improve At Third Base]]> 2017-10-19T05:01:14Z 2017-10-19T03:28:36Z
  • Top Blue Jays prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is tackling some goals and having fun at the Dominican winter league, as Shi Davidi of writes. In particular, the young phenom has been tasked with expanding his range and improving his footwork at the hot corner. It seems that Toronto is interested, too, in exposing Guerrero to the bright lights and relatively high stakes of playing against strong competition in his home nation.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[GM Ross Atkins On Blue Jays’ Offseason Needs]]> 2017-10-04T01:46:46Z 2017-10-04T01:46:46Z Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins met with reporters (including’s Ben Nicholson-Smith and’s Gregor Chisholm) today to discuss his team’s season and how the Jays plan to move forward going into the winter.  Some highlights…

    • The Jays will be “open to trades” and “open to any possible way we can make our team better,” Atkins said, stressing the need for added depth and versatility.  The GM reiterated that the Jays aren’t looking to trade from their Major League roster unless they find a deal that improves the big league team.
    • The Blue Jays want to “add one impact arm and one impact position player for sure,” though Atkins wasn’t necessarily sure that the position player would play right field, which is the only clear opening in the lineup.  Teoscar Hernandez has “certainly earned the right” to compete for the everyday right field job in the wake of an impressive September.  The “impact arm” also could be either a starter or a relief pitcher.
    • Lack of team speed “is a clear issue for us,” though one that Atkins admitted is “really hard to [address] in free agency” given that most of the available veterans are generally on the older side and lacking in quickness.
    • Middle infield is an area of concern, as “we can’t rely that we will have an absolutely healthy Troy Tulowitzki and Devon Travis for the entire year, and we need to build depth around them.”  Injuries limited Tulowitzki and Travis to just 116 games combined last year, and both players have exhibited a lack of durability over the last few seasons.
    • Atkins confirmed that the Jays will not be exercising their end of Jose Bautista’s mutual option for 2018.  (’s Shi Davidi recently reported that Bautista was informed of the team’s decision a few weeks ago.)  It is “very unlikely,” Atkins said, that Bautista will return to the Jays even on a smaller deal in 2018, though the door isn’t closed on the longtime slugger eventually returning to the franchise.  “When he comes back here, he will be celebrated in a very strong way,” Atkins said.
    • No changes are coming to the coaching staff, and there weren’t any strong rumblings about a possible managerial change, Atkins confirmed that John Gibbons would also return to the dugout.  “I feel strongly that he’s a part of our solution, and I love going to work with him every day,” Atkins said about the manager.
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Jose Bautista Plans To Play Next Season]]> 2017-10-02T21:47:28Z 2017-10-02T21:45:01Z The 2017 season was easily Jose Bautista’s worst since his memorable breakout campaign in 2010, but the soon-to-be 37-year-old has no plans to retire, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet reports. If the right fielder does play somewhere next season, it probably won’t be in Toronto, which informed Bautista a couple weeks ago that it will buy him out for $500K in lieu of exercising its half of his $17MM mutual option, according to Davidi. Considering Bautista’s struggles this year, the decision was an obvious one for the Blue Jays, who gave the franchise icon a hero’s sendoff during their final home series of the season from Sept. 22-24.

    A Blue Jay since August 2008, when they acquired him from Pittsburgh in a swap for catcher Robinzon Diaz (who had his last of 148 major league plate appearances in 2009), Bautista now stands as one of the greatest players in team history. Across 5,272 PAs with the Jays, Bautista slashed .253/.372/.506 with 288 home runs – second to Carlos Delgado in club history. While Bautista’s regular-season production in Toronto was outstanding, his go-ahead three-run homer and subsequent bat flip in the seventh inning of Game 5 of the 2015 ALDS against the Rangers will go down as his signature moment as a Jay.

    Unfortunately for the Jays and Bautista, his offensive output began tailing off significantly the next season. At .234/.366/.452 with 22 long balls in 517 trips to the plate, Bautista logged above-average numbers in 2016, but they paled in comparison to his previous totals.

    Thanks to his offensive decline and his inability to offer much value as either a defender or baserunner, he sat on the free agent market into last January until re-signing with the Blue Jays on a deal that guaranteed him $18MM this season and could have been worth another $37MM had he played out the options over the next two years. But Bautista sealed his fate in 2017 by hitting a mere .203/.308/.366 in 686 PAs and finishing with the majors’ seventh-worst fWAR among position players (minus-0.5). Along the way, he registered his worst strikeout and walk rates as a Jay (24.8 percent and 12.2 percent, respectively), his lowest ISO (.164), and his highest chase and swinging-strike rates (25.3 percent and 10.9 percent). Bautista also wasn’t the Statcast darling he had been in prior seasons, recording a paltry .304 expected weighted on-base average (via Baseball Savant) that nearly matched his actual wOBA (.301).

    Judging by his stark dropoff in 2017, the upcoming winter figures to be far less lucrative for Bautista than the last one. Nevertheless, it won’t stop him from seeking another contract. Should Bautista land another deal, it probably won’t come from the Jays, though he told Davidi that he’d like to stay where is.

    “All I can do is get ready for next season and be ready to contribute to the team that I’m with at that time,” Bautista said. “Right now I’m a Toronto Blue Jay, and that hasn’t changed. I’ve said it all along, this is where I want to be and finish my career. We’ll see what happens in the future. It’s out of my control now.”

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Josh Donaldson Hopes To Remain With Blue Jays]]> 2017-10-01T19:47:41Z 2017-10-01T19:47:41Z
  • Machado isn’t the only superstar third baseman in the AL East who has one year left on his contract. The Blue Jays’ Josh Donaldson is in the same situation, but if the soon-to-be 32-year-old gets his way, he’ll remain in Toronto for the long haul. Donaldson said Sunday that he’d “be tickled pink” to finish his career as a Jay, per Hazel Mae of Sportsnet (Twitter link). He also revealed, via Shi Davidi of Sportsnet, that he met with GM Ross Atkins to “let him know where I stand and where I stand is I want to be a Blue Jay.” There were no contract negotiations during the meeting, according to Donaldson, and Atkins was reluctant to share details of their discussion. “I can tell you I love Josh Donaldson as a player, he’s been a great teammate, really smart, interesting person, dynamic personality, he’s been great for this organization,” said Atkins. Check out Davidi’s piece for more quotes from Donaldson and Atkins.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Blue Jays Select Taylor Cole's Contract]]> 2017-09-29T22:56:50Z 2017-09-29T22:55:20Z
  • The Dodgers have selected the contract of infielder/outfielder Tim Locastro, as per a team announcement.  Outfielder O’Koyea Dickson was placed on the 60-day DL due to a shoulder injury to create space on the 40-man roster.  Manager Dave Roberts told Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register and other reporters that the Dodgers are evaluating Locastro as a possible pinch-running specialist for the postseason, to the point that Locastro won’t receive any at-bats during his call-up.  Locastro, a 13th-round pick for the Blue Jays in the 2013 draft, has a solid .293/.372/.402 slash line over his 2066 career minor league PA but has shown particular aptitude on the basepaths, stealing 143 bases out of 178 attempts.
  • The Blue Jays announced that they’ve selected the contract of right-hander Taylor Cole for the final series of the season, with righty Aaron Sanchez shifting from the 10-day DL to the 60-day DL to clear a spot on the 40-man roster. He’ll give the team an additional bit of bullpen depth for the final three games, though he’s already been removed from the 40-man once this season, so he’ll again be a candidate come off once the regular season ends. The 27-year-old Cole missed much of the regular season due to injury in the minors but threw 12 2/3 innings of scoreless ball across three levels before being promoted for his big league debut in early August. Cole was rocked for four runs on six hits in one inning of work in his lone big league appearance. He suffered a broken toe in that appearance and landed on the MLB 10-day DL before being released and re-signed to a new minor league deal once his DL stint was up.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Cardinals Expected To Pursue Josh Donaldson In Trade Talks]]> 2017-09-29T21:38:35Z 2017-09-29T21:38:35Z
  • The Cardinals “are expected to strongly pursue” a trade for Josh Donaldson during the offseason, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports (via Twitter).  The Cards’ internal interest in Donaldson was initially reported last July though at that time, no offers had been made.  Jedd Gyorko saw the bulk of action at third base for St. Louis last season (with Greg Garcia getting a fair amount of action as a left-handed hitting complement) and Gyorko could be a possible candidate to be headed back to the Blue Jays as part of a deal.  The Cardinals have a surplus of both outfielders and multi-positional infielders, so they’re a fit for Toronto’s needs as potential trade partners.  Of course, there hasn’t been any indication that the Jays are actually shopping their star third baseman.  Donaldson is a free agent after the 2018 season, though with the Jays planning to contend next year, it would take a massive offer to get them to part ways with the former AL MVP.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Hernandez Impressing In Bid For Everyday Role In 2018]]> 2017-09-29T01:17:14Z 2017-09-28T23:34:51Z
  • The Blue Jays aren’t expected to retain longtime right fielder Jose Bautista this offseason, writes Gregor Chisholm of, making young Teoscar Hernandez’s huge September showing all the more important. Hernandez’s biggest obstacle, to date, has been his lack of plate discipline with the Jays. However, he’s drawn a pair of walks in his past couple of games, and manager John Gibbons said he’s been encouraged by a more measured approach to Hernandez’s plate appearances. “I’ve noticed a big change in his aggression at the plate,” said the skipper. “He’s still an aggressive hitter, but he’s not up there swinging at everything, which is key.” Hernandez is Toronto’s “most realistic” internal candidate to take over an everyday corner outfield spot in 2018, per Chisholm. Hernandez is hitting .282/.313/.667 with eight homers in just 83 plate appearances for the Jays since being called up earlier this month.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Revisiting Blue Jays' Acquisition Of Jose Bautista]]> 2017-09-24T18:41:05Z 2017-09-24T18:41:05Z
  • With right fielder Jose Bautista likely playing the final home game of his Blue Jays tenure on Sunday, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet looks back on the team’s 2008 acquisition of the now-franchise icon and some of his most memorable moments in Toronto. When the Jays picked up Bautista in a trade with the Pirates in August 2008 (for catcher Robinzon Diaz), they were merely looking for a stopgap at third base to fill in for the injured Scott Rolen. “I’m not trying to send the wrong message – this guy isn’t like Mike Schmidt,” then-Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi said. “He’s not going to come out here and hit 40 home runs. But he’s a guy that can hit double-digit home runs for us in a spot where right now we need some help.” Nine years later, Bautista ranks second in Jays history in homers (287), 22 of which have come this season. Unfortunately for both team and player, the 36-year-old’s once-magnificent production began dropping off significantly last season and has cratered in 2017. As an impending free agent, Bautista will move on to a new team or retirement over the winter.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Steve Pearce Shut Down Due To Back Problems]]> 2017-09-23T21:58:45Z 2017-09-23T21:58:45Z
  • Steve Pearce has been shut down for the season due to a bad back,’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports.  Pearce will receive epidural injections next week in order to hopefully solve the back soreness that has bothered him for much of the season.  Pearce will conclude his first season with the Blue Jays with a .252/.319/.438 slash line and 13 homers in 348 PA, as he was limited to 92 games due to the back problem and a month-long DL stint due to a calf strain.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Mark Shapiro On Offseason, Donaldson, Prospects & More]]> 2017-09-23T19:00:35Z 2017-09-23T18:38:57Z
  • Blue Jays president and CEO Mark Shapiro took part in a wide-ranging interview with’s Shi Davidi (part one; part two) that included some mention of Josh Donaldson’s future in Toronto, though Shapiro said that the team wasn’t planning to publicly discuss such matters.  Shapiro wouldn’t confirm or deny if the team had already held any extension talks with the star third baseman, who is set to hit free agency after the 2018 season.
  • Shapiro said “Durability.  Athleticism. Flexibility” will be three of the Jays’ biggest lineup needs, noting that the team could address those needs via a corner outfielder or in a backup middle infield role behind Troy Tulowitzki and Devon Travis.  A large roster overhaul isn’t forthcoming, as Shapiro believes “it’s not a big leap for us” to return to postseason contention given the number of injuries and unexpected setbacks that plagued the Jays’ season.  The interview is well worth a full read, as Shapiro touches on such other subjects as player development philosophy, the team’s farm system, plans for a new Spring Training facility and renovations to Rogers Centre.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Hernandez Will Get Opportunity At Everyday Role]]> 2017-09-22T03:30:32Z 2017-09-22T03:30:32Z
  • Teoscar Hernandez’s trade from the Astros to the Blue Jays gives him the opportunity to become a potential replacement for a player he grew up idolizing, writes Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star. Jose Bautista’s 54-homer breakout came the year before Hernandez signed as an amateur with Houston, and the 24-year-old tells Griffin that his countryman and childhood idol has already been an invaluable mentor. “The day that I got here (Sept. 2), Bautista came to me and told me a lot of things,” says Hernandez, who credits Bautista with giving him advice on his hitting as well as his off-field routine. “For me, he’s one of the awesome guys that I ever met. He’s every day telling me something new.” Per Griffin, the Jays plan to give Hernandez “every opportunity to earn an everyday role” in 2018 and beyond.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Blue Jays Still Looking To Add Starters This Winter]]> 2017-09-21T00:54:59Z 2017-09-21T00:54:59Z Even after locking up righty Marco Estrada to a one-year extension, the Blue Jays are planning to pursue starters over the offseason, GM Ross Atkins tells Ben Nicholson-Smith of (via Twitter). Toronto aims to line up eight or nine hurlers capable of taking the ball in the majors, Atkins says.

    If it wasn’t clear already that the Jays won’t be entering a rebuilding phase, the move yesterday to re-up Estrada for $13MM seemingly decides the matter. Toronto already has about $90MM committed after that contract hit the books, and will zoom quickly past $100MM as it settles out some significant arbitration cases — including Josh Donaldson, Marcus Stroman, Kevin Pillar, and Roberto Osuna.

    Given the array of commitments, it makes sense that the Jays won’t stop with the return of Estrada. Four rotation jobs are locked up already, presuming health, with Estrada re-joining Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, and J.A. Happ. Beyond that, though, there are some questions.

    Joe Biagini failed to run with his rotation opportunity this year but remains an option. Toronto has received good innings of from summer acquisition Tom Koehler in a relief role, but he’d be a risky tender given his $5.75MM salary this year and struggles from the Marlins’ rotation. Brett Anderson has had some quality outings down the stretch, though he’ll be a free agent (and was bombed tonight). As Steve Adams noted in discussing the Sanchez signing, youngster Ryan Borucki has flown up the system this year, though it might be optimistic to expect him to take a job out of camp.

    It’ll be interesting to see what kind of hurler the Jays end up pursuing. The club could compete the job between in-house options and some non-guaranteed or cheaper veterans. Alternatively, it might promise the fifth slot as a means of drawing in a preferred player. If there’s more willingness to spend, perhaps Toronto could go somewhat bigger for a mid-range starter, as it did in its most recent contracts with Estrada and Happ.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Blue Jays Extend Marco Estrada Through 2018]]> 2017-09-20T18:32:25Z 2017-09-20T17:57:52Z It’s been previously reported on multiple occasions that the Blue Jays and right-hander Marco Estrada had mutual interest in a reunion, and that interest came to fruition on Wednesday. The 34-year-old Estrada, who was slated to hit free agency at season’s end, will instead forgo that opportunity in order to return to the Jays on a one-year, $13MM extension, the team announced. Estrada is represented by TWC Sports.

    Marco Estrada | Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY SportsIt’s been an up-and-down season for Estrada, who stormed out of the gates with a 3.15 ERA, 10.2 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 through his first 11 starts before falling into a prolonged slump. Estrada would go on to yield 43 earned runs over his next 40 2/3 innings (nine starts) before once again largely righting the ship. In his past 11 outings, Estrada has turned in 3.74 ERA with 7.0 K/9 against 2.8 BB/9.

    On the whole, Estrada’s ERA hasn’t fully recovered from the brutal stretch of starts spanning June to mid-July. He’s sitting on a 4.84 ERA with 8.7 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 1.48 HR/9 and a 29.7 percent ground-ball rate. That grounder rate is the lowest of his career — a dangerous pairing with his lofty HR/9 rate. However, Estrada’s 31 starts are already a career-high, and he seems likely to top his previous career-high of 181 innings in 2017 as well. That’s no small feat for a player that was slowed tremendously in 2016 by a herniated disk in his back.

    Estrada will slot back into the starting five behind Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez and J.A. Happ next season, as the Jays hope for better health from their rotation (specifically, Sanchez and Happ). There’s no clear in-house option for the fifth slot in the rotation, as righty Joe Biagini has struggled in his first chance as a big league starter. Prospect Ryan Borucki posted quality numbers across three minor league levels, and veteran Brett Anderson has looked sharp in four starts as he auditions for a 2018 job. If none of those options entice president Mark Shapiro and GM Ross Atkins, the Jays will have myriad options from which to choose on the offseason free-agent market and trade market.

    It’s been a disappointing overall year for the Jays, who opened the season with just one win in their first 10 games and never fully recovered. However, despite their poor performance, the Blue Jays never seemed intent to listen to trade offers for anyone controlled beyond the 2017 season. While Josh Donaldson and J.A. Happ drew plenty of trade speculation, the Blue Jays indicated that their intent is to field a contending team in 2018. Their lone trades involved Francisco Liriano (whose contract they ate, along with that of Nori Aoki, in order to effectively purchase young outfielder Teoscar Hernandez from the Astros) and setup man Joe Smith — both impending free agents.

    Estrada, like Liriano and Smith, was set to be a free agent following the season and was a speculative August trade candidate. However, the Jays were only three games out of the AL Wild Card race when Estrada was claimed off revocable trade waivers, and they ultimately pulled the righty back after the claiming team (reportedly the Yankees) was more interested in blocking other contending clubs from getting their hands on Estrada.

    Certainly, the team may alter its contention-oriented trajectory in 2018 if it stumbles out of the gates and finds itself similarly out of the postseason picture come July. At that point, there’d be plenty of sense in aggressively shopping Donaldson, Happ and Estrada as well, assuming each is healthy and performing reasonably well. For the time being, however, the Estrada extension serves as further proof that Toronto won’t be looking to market Donaldson this offseason and will instead try to supplement its core with an eye toward returning to the postseason for the third time in four years.

    Jon Morosi of reported that the two sides were nearing the deal and then that an agreement had been reached, as well as the terms of the contract (all links via Twitter).

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Nicholson-Smith On Jays' Bullpen]]> 2017-09-19T22:02:44Z 2017-09-19T22:02:44Z
  • There’ll be plenty of roster needs for the Blue Jays to address this offseason. As Ben Nicholson-Smith of writes, the bullpen will be no exception, though manager John Gibbons says he feels good about the unit as a whole with the season winding down. That includes some optionable arms, as Nicholson-Smith explains in ticking through the hurlers on hand. Among them is Dominic Leone, who spent fewer than 20 days in the minors this year (despite being optioned on four separate occasions) and therefore will come with another option season for the 2018 season.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Three Needs: Toronto Blue Jays]]> 2017-09-18T04:47:01Z 2017-09-18T03:41:17Z This is the latest edition in MLBTR’s Three Needs series. Click to read entries on the BravesTigers, Reds, Pirates, Giants and Mets.

    After reaching the ALCS in the previous two seasons, the 2017 Blue Jays stumbled out of the gate to a brutal 2-11 start and simply never got on track.  The team did have some good stretches and was still hanging around the wild card race in late August, so it could be tempting to write the season off as a by-product of some brutal injury luck, as several Jays regulars spent significant time on the disabled list.  It could also be argued, however, that the injuries simply exposed some underlying issues with the roster that would’ve prevented Toronto from contending even at full strength.

    A rebuild isn’t in the cards given the talent (and big contracts) still on hand, so the Jays are planning for a big rebound in 2018.  Here are a few of the areas that need to be addressed in order for the Jays to return to contention…

    [Related: Blue Jays depth chart and payroll information at Roster Resource]

    1. Make the lineup less one-dimensional.  The Jays ranked at or near the bottom of the league in just about every major offensive category except for home runs and walks, and this lack of versatility led to the third-worst offensive fWAR (9.0) of any club in baseball.  Justin Smoak’s breakout year was countered by Jose Bautista and Kendrys Morales having sub-replacement level seasons, plus the light-hitting duo of Ryan Goins and Darwin Barney getting the bulk of playing time at the middle infield spots thanks to Troy Tulowitzki and Devon Travis missing much of the year.  Lengthy DL stints for Josh Donaldson, Russell Martin and Steve Pearce also didn’t help matters.

    A general lack of speed and positional versatility is baked into the Toronto roster given the presence of so many veteran players.  If the Jays are looking to add contact hitting, defense and perhaps more stolen bases into the mix, two positions that stand out are right field (which we’ll address in the next point) and second base.  The Jays simply don’t know what they have in Travis due to his already-extensive injury history, so getting a more reliable middle infield option is necessary.  Shortstop is another question mark thanks to Tulowitzki’s own continued injury problems, though he’s probably untradeable because of his big contract.  An everyday middle infielder that could play second base but handle short in a pinch would be ideal for the Jays, as it would give them flexibility in the increasingly-likely event that Tulowitzki or Travis will again hit the DL.

    The Jays could also consider trading a veteran simply in order to create room for more versatile players, even if it wouldn’t free up any payroll space.  The Jays would have to eat money to move Tulowitzki, Morales or maybe even Pearce, but they could cut down on that financial outlay by taking on another “bad” contract in return.  Dealing one of those big contracts to add a somewhat pricey corner outfielder, starting pitcher or reliever in need of a change of scenery would allow Toronto to address a need while technically not really creating another roster hole, given how little the in-house veterans contributed in 2017.

    A bigger-picture move would be to deal Donaldson or Smoak, though such a trade doesn’t seem likely since the Jays will be counting on those two as cornerstones of next year’s lineup.  The Jays will certainly talk to Donaldson this winter about an extension as he enters his last year under contract, and even if talks don’t go anywhere, it seems much more plausible that Toronto shops Donaldson at next July’s deadline (if at all) rather than move him this winter.

    2. Add a new right fielder.  Bautista’s tenure with the club is all but certain to end, leaving a big hole in right field.  Teoscar Hernandez, acquired at the deadline for Francisco Liriano, is the most obvious in-house candidate, though he may also not be ready for an everyday role on a contending team.  Ezequiel Carrera, Anthony Alford, Dwight Smith and perhaps Dalton Pompey are other internal options if the Jays wanted to cobble together a platoon, but right field stands out as a clear opportunity to add a reliable everyday player to the lineup.

    While the Jays will have some money to spend, signing the likes of a J.D. Martinez or another top-tier free agent bat doesn’t fit with the team’s usual M.O.  A trade could also be somewhat difficult; barring the type of bad-contract swap scenario I mentioned earlier, the Jays don’t have much in the way of MLB-ready prospects to offer in deals.  This could be a situation where Toronto uses the money freed up by Bautista’s departure to acquire an outfielder from a team primarily looking to move salary rather than add prospects.

    3. Add at least one, preferably two starting pitchers.  The Jays head into 2018 with a rotation headlined by Marcus Stroman, J.A. Happ and (theoretically) Aaron Sanchez, provided that Sanchez can solve the blister and finger issues that limited him to just 36 innings.  Sanchez’s injuries have already been enough of a lingering concern that he can’t be entirely counted on until the spring, making it all the more important that the club reinforces its pitching staff.

    One spot could be filled by a familiar face, as there is mutual interest in a reunion with impending free agent Marco Estrada.  That will be a boon if Estrada returns to his 2015-16 form, though even the inconsistent 2017 version of Estrada has still delivered 176 2/3 IP and 2.7 fWAR.

    It seems like any pitching additions will have to come via signings or trades, as Toronto is lacking in MLB-ready starters at the Triple-A level.  Joe Biagini could be a candidate for a fifth starter’s role after a full Spring Training of preparing to be a full-time starting pitcher, though his up-and-down performance as a starter this year hints that his ultimate future could be in the pen.  The Blue Jays won’t be shopping at the high end of the free agent pitching market, but a mid-range signing akin to their deal with Happ two winters ago could fit.  The Jays have already been mentioned as one of the teams potentially targeting Alex Cobb this offseason.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Blue Jays A Longshot To Sign Shohei Otani]]> 2017-09-18T01:24:58Z 2017-09-18T01:24:58Z
  • The Blue Jays have put particular effort into scouting Shohei Otani but realistically,’s Shi Davidi writes that Toronto looks unlikely to sign the two-way star.  On the plus side for the Jays, Otani has worked out with former Blue Jay fan favorite Munenori Kawasaki and the team seems willing to let Otani both pitch and hit.  Beyond those positives, however, the Jays’ relative lack of history in the Japanese player market would seem to put them behind others in the running for Otani’s services.
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    Charlie Wilmoth <![CDATA[Blue Jays Will Be Interested In Alex Cobb]]> 2017-09-16T18:03:51Z 2017-09-16T18:03:51Z
  • The OriolesYankees and Blue Jays have seen Rays righty Alex Cobb up close in recent seasons, and they’ll be interested when he hits the market this winter, writes Cafardo. Cobb will also attract plenty of interest from outside the AL East as well, as he’ll be a good and more affordable alternative to a free agent ace.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[2017 Rule 5 Roundup]]> 2017-09-14T16:14:45Z 2017-09-14T14:15:17Z With just a few weeks left in the season, we have a pretty clear idea of which Rule 5 draft picks will stick with their drafting teams. At this point, having already carried the player this far and with expanded rosters easing any pressures, teams are quite likely to stay the course. Here’s how this season’s Rule 5 group has shaken out thus far:


    It isn’t official yet, but these

    • Miguel Diaz, RHP, kept by Padres (via Twins) from Brewers: As part of the Pads’ unusually bold Rule 5 strategy, the club kept three youngsters this year. Diaz, 22, has managed only a 6.21 ERA with a 31:22 K/BB ratio over 37 2/3 innings. But he is showing a 96 mph heater and will remain with the organization, quite likely heading back to the minors next season to continue his development.
    • Luis Torrens, C, kept by Padres (via Reds) from Yankees: The youthful backstop — he’s just 21 — has struggled badly on offense in limited action. Through 133 plate appearances, he’s slashing just.169/.246/.212 — with just four extra-base hits, none of them home runs.
    • Allen Cordoba, INF, kept by Padres from Cardinals: And then there’s Cordoba, who’s also just 21 years of age. He faded after a hot start at the plate, but on the whole his output — a .209/.284/.304 batting line and four home runs over 215 plate appearances — is fairly impressive given that he had never before played above Rookie ball.
    • Dylan Covey, RHP, kept by White Sox from Athletics: Technically, owing to a DL stint, Covey has only compiled 83 of the minimum 90 days of active roster time required to be kept. But he’s going to make it there before the season is up, meaning that the Sox will be able to hold onto his rights and option him back to the minors in 2018. Covey, 26, has struggled to a 7.90 ERA with 4.9 K/9 against 4.4 BB/9 over 54 2/3 innings, allowing 18 long balls in that span.
    • Stuart Turner, C, kept by Reds from Twins: Turner has seen minimal action, appearing in just 33 games and taking only 77 trips to the plate. And he’s hitting just .141/.184/.268 in that sporadic action. Clearly, though, the Reds have seen enough to believe he’s worth the trouble to hang onto.

    Still In Limbo

    • Kevin Gadea, RHP, selected by Rays from Mariners: Gadea has not pitched at any level this year owing to an elbow injury. He’ll remain with the Tampa Bay organization for the time being, but will still need to be carried on the 40-man roster over the offseason and then on the active roster for at least ninety days for his rights to permanently transfer.
    • Armando Rivero, RHP, selected by Braves from Cubs: It’s the exact same situation for Rivero as for Gadea, though he has had shoulder problems.
    • Josh Rutledge, INF, selected by Red Sox from Rockies: This was not your typical Rule 5 move. Boston snagged the veteran infielder after he signed a minors deal with Colorado. He ended up seeing minimal MLB time owing to injuries and his season ended recently with hip surgery. Rutledge is eligible for arbitration this fall and isn’t likely to be kept on the 40-man roster regardless.
    • Anthony Santander, OF, selected by Orioles from Indians: Since he only made it off of the DL late in the summer, Santander can accrue only 45 days on the active roster. If Baltimore wants to keep him, then, it’ll need to put him on the Opening Day roster next year. Santander has seen minimal playing time thus far, recording two hits in twelve trips to the plate, though he put up impressive numbers on his rehab assignment.

    Kept By Other Means

    • Daniel Stumpf, LHP, signed with Tigers after electing free agency upon return to Royals: This is another unusual situation. As a previous Rule 5 returnee, Stumpf was eligible to elect free agency upon being returned to his original organization. That’s just what happened when Detroit sent him back to Kansas City; the southpaw then turned around and re-signed a MLB deal with the Tigers. He has ended up turning in a rather productive year, posting 32 1/3 innings of 2.78 ERA ball with 8.6 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9 at the major-league level and showing even more impressive numbers during his time at Triple-A.

    Already Returned

    • Tyler Jones, RHP, returned to Yankees by Diamondbacks: Jones has thrown rather well at Triple-A since going back to the New York organization, posting 10.7 K/9 against 2.8 BB/9 in 63 2/3 innings, though he has also allowed 4.38 earned per nine.
    • Caleb Smith, LHP, returned to Yankees by Brewers: Smith ended up earning a 40-man roster spot and spending some time in the majors after showing quite well as a starter in the minors. But he has been knocked around in his 18 2/3 MLB frames on the year.
    • Justin Haley, RHP, returned to Red Sox by Twins (via Angels): The 26-year-old didn’t stick with Minnesota, allowing a dozen earned runs in 18 innings before being returned to Boston. But he has thrown well since landing back at Triple-A Pawtucket, posting a 2.66 ERA with 7.2 K/9 and 1.4 BB/9 in 44 innings over seven starts.
    • Tyler Webb, LHP, returned to Yankees by Pirates: Webb also gained a 40-man spot with the Yankees after showing some intriguing K/BB numbers at Triple-A. He was ultimately dealt to the Brewers.
    • Aneury Tavarez, OF, returned to Red Sox by Orioles: Tavarez played his way back up to Triple-A upon his return to his former organization, but has hit just .244/.292/.400 in 145 plate appearances there.
    • Glenn Sparkman, RHP, returned to Royals by Blue Jays: Sparkman was bombed in his one MLB appearance and has been limited to just 30 1/3 minor-league frames due to injury.
    • Hoby Milner, LHP, returned to Phillies by Indians: Another player who has risen to the majors with the organization that originally let them leave via the Rule 5, Milner has turned in 24 1/3 frames of 1.85 ERA ball in Philadelphia. Of course, he has also managed just 15 strikeouts against ten walks in that span.
    • Mike Hauschild, RHP, returned to Astros by Rangers: The 27-year-old righty struggled badly in his eight MLB frames. Upon returning to the rotation for Houston’s top affiliate, Hauschild has uncharacteristically struggled with free passes (5.3 per nine).
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[BLue Jays Lose Executive To Braves]]> 2017-09-12T07:00:08Z 2017-09-12T04:13:12Z
  • The Braves have made a pair of front office hires, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter). Adam Fisher will come over from the Mets to become Atlanta’s assistant GM, while Perry Minasian is moving from the Blue Jays to take a role as director of player personnel.
  • ]]>
    Charlie Wilmoth <![CDATA[Aaron Sanchez Shut Down For Season]]> 2017-09-10T23:50:57Z 2017-09-10T23:50:57Z The Blue Jays have announced that righty Aaron Sanchez will miss the rest of the season. Sanchez has dealt with blister issues throughout the year (with four separate DL stints) and hasn’t returned since being placed on the disabled list in late July. After breaking through in the Jays’ rotation in 2016, the 25-year-old will end his 2017 season with just 36 innings pitched, a 4.25 ERA, 6.0 K/9 and 5.0 BB/9. Here are more quick notes on AL injuries.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Blue Jays Notes: Prospects, Osuna, Anderson, Urena]]> 2017-09-10T18:50:23Z 2017-09-10T18:50:23Z The 2017-18 international market has only been open for a little over two months, but Baseball America’s Ben Badler already has a preview (available to BA subscribers) of 10 notable prospects who will be available in the 2018-19 int’l class, which opens next July 2.  Dominican shortstop Orelvis Martinez projects to have the largest bonus of this group, as the 15-year-old is expected to receive over $3MM from a team, with the Blue Jays reportedly favorites.  The Jays have been active on the international front in recent years, most notably landing star prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr.  Badler’s piece outlines which teams are connected to the other nine prospects, as well as details on the Rangers and Yankees potentially still lined up to sign well-regarded prospects in the current international class (or eyeing Shohei Otani this winter).

    Here’s the latest from Toronto…

    • Roberto Osuna has struggled in recent weeks, though as Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi notes, perhaps the only surprise is that Osuna went almost three full seasons into his career before hitting an extended slump.  Osuna is still 22 and he has outstanding peripherals (11.6 K/9, 8.44 K/BB rate), plus his problems could stem from incorporating a sinker and cutter into his repertoire, as opposed to his old fastball/slider mix.  The counter-argument is provided by Jonah Keri, writing for the Athletic (subscription required), who suggests that the Jays may want to consider trading Osuna while he still has value.  Osuna’s velocity drop and 10 blown saves are both concerns, and Keri raises the point that hitters may simply be starting to figure Osuna out, as it’s rare for relievers to remain consistently dominant.
    • Brett Anderson has a 3.06 ERA over his first three starts in a Jays uniform and he has yet to walk a batter over his 17 2/3 innings.  As Sportsnet’s Arden Zwelling notes, Anderson is rebuilding his value for free agency this winter and even putting himself into the Blue Jays’ rotation plans.  “I think everybody’s looking at him to see what’s available for next year,” manager John Gibbons said.  “Hey, maybe if he’s really good they want to re-sign him. He’s experienced this place, maybe he likes it here, too.”  Marcus Stroman, J.A. Happ and (health permitting) Aaron Sanchez are the only locks for the 2018 rotation, as Marco Estrada is headed for free agency and Joe Biagini’s future may be in the bullpen.
    • Richard Urena is off to a nice start in his Major League career, though the young shortstop seems likely to begin the 2018 season at Triple-A rather than on the Jays’ roster, Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi writes.  Urena was something of a surprise call-up, going directly from Double-A to the bigs without a stop at Triple-A Buffalo since the Jays were in need of middle infield help.  As such, his September playing time “is more a growth experience than audition for next year,” Davidi notes.  Urena is still just 21 years old and, at Triple-A next year, he’ll give the Blue Jays some available depth at shortstop or second base, which is necessary given the checkered injury histories of Troy Tulowitzki and Devon Travis.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Blue Jays Notes: Donaldson, Bautista, Guerrero]]> 2017-09-08T04:42:48Z 2017-09-08T04:42:48Z
  • There’s very little chance of an offseason Josh Donaldson trade, per Heyman, who writes that the Blue Jays would only move the former AL MVP if they somehow found a trade that made them better in 2018. Of course, Donaldson is controlled only for the 2018 season, making that scenario highly unlikely. There hasn’t been much to suggest that Donaldson would be moved anyhow; to the contrary, all indications this summer have been that the Jays intend to compete next year when they have better health from the likes of Donaldson, Aaron Sanchez, J.A. Happ, Devon Travis (hopefully) and others.
  •’s Gregor Chisholm tackles a host of Blue Jays questions in his latest Inbox column, ranging from Roberto Osuna’s future to the lack of a September call-up for Anthony Alford to the current outfield alignment. With regard to Jose Bautista, Chisholm writes that it’s “all but a foregone conclusion” that the former All-Star won’t return to the Blue Jays in 2018. Chisholm also opines that top prospect Vlad Guerrero Jr. is unlikely to see the Majors next season with Donaldson still in the fold and the current front office’s cautious approach to promoting prospects.
  • ]]>
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[AL Notes: Astros, Salazar, Profar, Travis]]> 2017-09-07T02:35:51Z 2017-09-07T02:13:29Z The Astros have reallocated resources away from traditional scouting roles to newer methods of assessing talent, most notably eliminating eight positions recently. It’s a move that could signal yet another stage of development in the now-ensconced analytical revolution, as Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic explores in detail through conversations with numerous key industry figures (subscription required and recommended). Houston is one of a few teams drawing back on the live-game player analysis of pro scouting. That said, per Rosenthal, other clubs have increased their staff sizes, making for a multitude of approaches around the game. The piece is essential reading for baseball fans.

    Here are some more notes from the American League:

    • Danny Salazar’s first start upon returning from the disabled list lasted just two-third of an inning and put his spot in the Indians’ postseason rotation in question, writes Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Trevor Bauer, like staff aces Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco, is pitching well right now, Hoynes observes, and right-handers Mike Clevinger and Josh Tomlin have also been throwing better (should a fourth starter be needed). Hoynes wonders if the Indians could again use Salazar as a bullpen piece in the playoffs, noting that the righty did at least display strong velocity in his otherwise ugly outing.
    • With the Rangers foregoing an opportunity to bring up Jurickson Profar this month, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News examines how the one-time uber prospect fell entirely out of the club’s plans. If Texas can’t even find a use for him with expanded rosters, it only stands to reason that the team will elect to move on over the winter — even if that means taking far less in return than once would have seemed reasonable. As Grant notes, that’s particularly true given that Profar will be out of options. Surely some other team will offer something to take a shot on a player who is still just 24 years of age and won’t command much of a raise on his $1.05MM arbitration salary. Notably, too, given his minimal MLB time this year — and the Rangers’ decision not to activate him in September — Profar will be controllable through arbitration for three more seasons.
    • While Devon Travis has mostly been excellent for the Blue Jays when healthy, he has also appeared in only 213 games over the past three years while dealing with a variety of injuries. That has led to some suggestions that he might be best off moving off of second base to the outfield, though GM Ross Atkins (via’s Gregor Chisholm, on Twitter) doesn’t sound wholly convinced of the idea. Atkins suggested some openness, but emphasized that it could be explored “more in the context of versatility” rather than that of improving durability. The GM made clear that he thinks Travis is most valuable as the team’s everyday second baseman and also stressed that there’s no real “research” showing that shifting onto the grass would really help keep Travis on the field.
    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Shapiro Discusses 2018, Farm System & More]]> 2017-09-04T03:34:13Z 2017-09-04T03:34:13Z
  • Blue Jays team president Mark Shapiro discussed his experiences in the game with’s Mark Feinsand, and the wide-ranging interview touched on the Jays’ immediate plans for 2018.  Past reports have suggested that the Jays are still looking to contend next season, and Shapiro reiterated that by suggesting that there is a priority towards retaining the increased fan support that has surfaced from the team’s recent postseason success.  “In this situation, the desire to win and to continue to give a relatively new fan base — because a lot of fans that are coming are new fans — a reason to cheer and to come to the ballpark is probably more important than just maybe pushing the express button on how to regenerate and reinvigorate the farm system,” Shapiro said.
  • ]]>
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Cafardo: Blue Jays Could Shop Josh Donaldson]]> 2017-09-02T22:40:37Z 2017-09-02T22:40:37Z
  • It won’t be a surprise if the Blue Jays shop third baseman Josh Donaldson in the offseason, per Cafardo.  Donaldson, 31, will enter a contract year in 2018, one that will see him make $17MM.  While Donaldson has missed a large chunk of time this year for a Jays team that has had a terrible 2017, he’s in the midst of yet another highly productive season, having slashed .253/.379/.515 with 23 home runs in 396 plate appearances.

    • It won’t be a surprise if the Blue Jays shop third baseman Josh Donaldson in the offseason, per Cafardo.  Donaldson, 31, will enter a contract year in 2018, one that will see him make $17MM.  While Donaldson has missed a large chunk of time this year for a Jays team that has had a terrible 2017, he’s in the midst of yet another highly productive season, having slashed .253/.379/.515 with 23 home runs in 396 plate appearances.
    Charlie Wilmoth <![CDATA[Blue Jays Designate Nick Tepesch For Assignment]]> 2017-09-02T21:47:27Z 2017-09-02T21:47:27Z The Blue Jays have announced that they’ve designated righty Nick Tepesch for assignment. The move clears space for righty Luis Santos, whose contract the team has selected from Triple-A Buffalo.

    The Blue Jays acquired the 28-year-old Tepesch from the Twins in a minor July deal, and after a brief stint at Triple-A, hhe allowed nine earned runs (and six unearned runs) in 15 2/3 innings in four starts with the big club before returning to Buffalo last week. The 28-year-old has a 4.71 ERA, 5.4 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 over 238 2/3 innings spanning parts of four seasons in the big leagues.

    The 26-year-old Santos spent time in the Pirates and Royals organizations before signing a minor-league pact with the Jays early in the 2015 season. He’s produced a 4.07 ERA, 8.1 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 in 108 1/3 innings in the rotation at Buffalo this year. It’s not immediately clear what role he’ll take with the Blue Jays, but should he stick with them, protecting him on their 40-man roster would prevent him from departing via minor-league free agency this winter. He also hasn’t pitched since last Thursday, potentially making him a useful short-term addition.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Notable September Call-Ups]]> 2017-09-02T07:02:41Z 2017-09-02T03:00:58Z September 1 marks the date on which regular-season rosters expand from 25 to 40 in Major League Baseball. While the merit of that rule and its impact on games are a source of debate — MLB games tend to increase considerably in length in September as managers can more freely make pitching changes with deeper bullpens — the fact remains that there could be more than 100 players promoted to the big leagues today as the first wave of call-ups arrives.

    Many September call-ups are players that have experience already under their belt. Journeyman big leaguers with exceptionally specific roles (e.g. pinch-running and defensive specialists) become a luxury that teams can now afford, and many teams will bring up a third catcher or additional bullpen arms for depth, even if a long-term MLB role isn’t likely for said players.

    Some promotions, though, are more notable than others. Big league teams will often use the month of September to get a look at their top organizational prospects, and in some instances September can provide a potential audition for former stars seeking to reestablish themselves. (The Orioles, for instance, were reported last night to be bringing slugger Pedro Alvarez up from Triple-A for the season’s final month.)

    All that said, here are some of this year’s more notable September promotions (we’ll update throughout the day as more moves are announced)…

    • Four new youngsters are joining the Cardinals, the team announced. Outfielder Harrison Bader and infielder Alex Mejia were already on the 40-man, but the team has also gone ahead and added righty Sandy Alcantara and backstop Alberto Rosario. Alcantara is an interesting pitcher to keep an eye on, as he reputedly comes with a big arm and could contribute from the bullpen — though he’s still ironing things out as a starter after spending the year pitching to a 4.31 ERA at Double-A.
    • The Indians announced that they’ve recalled top catching prospect Francisco Mejia from Double-A Akron and selected the contract of outfielder Greg Allen from Akron, thus adding him to the 40-man roster. The 21-year-old Mejia is commonly regarded as one of the top 25 prospects in all of Major League Baseball and was reportedly the would-be centerpiece to the Jonathan Lucroy trade that Lucroy vetoed in 2016. Allen, too, was set to be a part of that trade but has instead remained in the Indians organization and will now join Mejia in donning a big league jersey for the first time this month.
    • Right-hander Fernando Salas will return to the Angels, who announced last night that his contract has been selected from Triple-A Salt Lake. Salas spent parts of three seasons as a useful bullpen arm for the Angels before a trade to the Mets last August. While he dominated for New York down the stretch, Salas was torched for a 6.00 ERA this year after re-signing with the Mets. He tossed three scoreless innings in Salt Lake City and will hope for a strong finish to bolster offseason interest.
    • The Blue Jays, too, will be getting another look at an old friend. Outfielder Michael Saunders is joining the Jays as a September call-up, tweets’s Greg Johns. While Saunders is merely looking to show well in his return to the Majors after struggling badly with the Phillies earlier this season, another outfielder is looking to carve out a long-term role in Toronto; trade acquisition Teoscar Hernandez is also on his way to the Majors, per Johns. The 24-year-old Hernandez was acquired in the Francisco Liriano swap and has posted a combined .265/.351/.490 batting line in 456 Triple-A plate appearances this season.
    • The Mets are promoting right-handers Jacob Rhame and Jamie Callahan, tweets’s Anthony DiComo. While neither reliever is considered to be among the game’s best prospects — they rank 23rd and 30th, respectively, on’s list of the Mets’ top 30 prospects — both were recently acquired on the trade market. Rhame came to the Mets from the Dodgers as the return for Curtis Granderson, while Callahan arrived in Queens by way of the Addison Reed trade with the Red Sox. Both will be looking to make a strong impression as they seek to secure a long-term spot in the Mets’ bullpen.
    • The Tigers are getting their first look at left-handed reliever Jairo Labourt, per a team announcement. The 23-year-old was acquired alongside Daniel Norris and Matt Boyd in exchange fo David Price back in 2015. He’s turned in an excellent 2.17 ERA across three minor league levels this season and averaged better than 10 strikeouts per nine innings, albeit with some shaky control (4.5 BB/9).
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Blue Jays Pulled J.A. Happ Back From Revocable Waivers]]> 2017-08-31T02:28:59Z 2017-08-31T01:17:55Z It’s already known that the Blue Jays pulled right-hander Marco Estrada back from waivers after he was claimed (reportedly by the Yankees) earlier this month, and FanRag’s Jon Heyman reports that the Jays also pulled left-hander J.A. Happ back off revocable trade waivers at some point in August. As such, he’s ineligible to be traded before tomorrow night’s deadline for postseason eligibility. Happ, 35 in October, is in the second season of a three-year, $36MM contract and is owed the balance of a $13MM salary (about $2.2MM) plus another $13MM in 2018. Toronto’s decision to pull him back is consistent with their reluctance to listen on other assets controlled beyond ’17 (e.g. Josh Donaldson). By all accounts, the Blue Jays seem intent on fielding a contending club in 2018, and Happ is likely viewed as an important part of that. He’ll join young right-handers Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman in next year’s rotation, though the Toronto front office will likely have some work to do in the offseason.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Outrighted: Selsky, House, Scheppers]]> 2017-08-30T01:16:01Z 2017-08-30T01:16:01Z The following players have been outrighted, according to announcements from their respective teams:

    • Outfielder Steve Selsky will remain with the Red Sox organization after he cleared waivers. Unlike the other two players listed here, Selsky did not have the right to decline an assignment. He was designated recently to clear the way for the team’s acquisition of Rajai Davis. The 28-year-old was called up briefly to the majors but has mostly played at Triple-A Pawtucket this year, batting .215/.270/.360 with 11 home runs in 322 trips to the plate.
    • The Blue Jays will retain southpaw T.J. House after he accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A. He’ll instead be eligible to take free agency at season’s end. House, who’ll turn 28 in a month, appeared in two contests for Toronto but has spent most of the season at the highest level of the minors. In 130 2/3 frames at Buffalo, he owns a 4.27 ERA with 7.2 K/9 and 4.3 BB/9.
    • Thirty-year-old righty Tanner Scheppers will also remain with the Rangers organization for the time being. He has seen only minimal MLB time this year, but has thrown 183 total frames at the game’s highest level over the past six years. Far and away his most effective season came back in 2013, when he put up 76 2/3 innings of 1.88 ERA ball. Over 46 1/3 frames at Triple-A in 2017, Scheppers carries a 5.05 ERA with 6.8 strikeouts, 2.7 walks, and 1.7 home runs per nine innings.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Blue Jays Release Nori Aoki]]> 2017-08-29T19:36:30Z 2017-08-29T19:35:22Z Aug. 29: The Blue Jays announced that they’ve given Aoki his unconditional release. He’s a free agent and can sign with any team for the pro-rated league minimum through season’s end.

    Aug. 28: The Blue Jays have designated outfielder Nori Aoki for assignment and recalled right-hander Leonel Campos from Triple-A Buffalo to clear a spot on the active roster, tweets Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.

    Toronto acquired Aoki, 35, at the non-waiver trade deadline in that swap that sent lefty Francisco Liriano to the Astros. Aoki’s inclusion in the deal, however, looked to be largely a financial mechanism to provide further incentive for Houston to part with well-regarded outfield prospect Teoscar Hernandez. That looks to be even more true now, as Aoki logged just 34 plate appearances with the Jays and hit .281/.294/.594 with a double and three homers in that time.

    Even with that small power surge, Aoki’s batting line on the whole is a rather pedestrian .274/.319/.402 in 258 PAs between Houston and Toronto. He’s earning $5.5MM in 2017, and about $1.02MM of that sum is yet to be paid out. The Jays can spend the next week looking for a trade partner or can simply eat the remainder of the contract and release Aoki into free agency. He’s arbitration-eligible through the 2018 campaign, though given his lackluster offensive output and fairly sizable $5.5MM salary, he was a non-tender candidate for the Jays this winter anyhow.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Blue Jays Select Contract Of Brett Anderson]]> 2017-08-29T18:13:48Z 2017-08-29T18:13:48Z The Blue Jays announced on Tuesday that they’ve selected the contract of left-hander Brett Anderson. Right-handed reliever Leonel Campos was optioned to Triple-A Buffalo to clear a spot on the active roster for Anderson. Toronto already had an open 40-man spot, which Anderson has now filled.

    As Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet writes, the match between Anderson and the Jays has been years in the making, in some regards. Former GM Alex Anthopoulos thought he’d struck a deal to acquire Anderson from the Athletics in exchange for Sergio Santos back in the 2013-14 offseason, but medical concerns torpedoed the deal at the last minute, per Nicholson-Smith.

    Anderson’s arrival in Toronto this time around is under considerably different circumstances. The 29-year-old is now a veteran of four different teams and has demonstrated occasional flashes of excellence while otherwise struggling to stay healthy. Anderson gave the Dodgers 180 1/3 innings of 3.69 ERA ball back in 2015 — enough for Los Angeles to make him a qualifying offer that was then valued at $15.8MM. Anderson became one of the first players to accept the deal, hoping to pad his earning potential with a second consecutive healthy season. However, a back injury limited him to 11 1/3 innings in his second season with the Dodgers.

    That injury made Anderson’s decision to accept the QO look especially wise, and it also limited him to a one-year, $3.5MM contract with the Cubs in free agency this past winter. Back issues once again hindered Anderson earlier this summer, and the Cubs eventually designated the lefty for assignment and released him on the heels of an 8.18 ERA through 22 innings. Anderson has pitched 9 2/3 innings with the Blue Jays’ Triple-A affiliate since signing a minors pact and has allowed just one run; he’ll now hope to occupy a rotation spot down the stretch in hopes of improving his free-agent stock.

    As Nicholson Smith notes above, Anderson will be the 14th person to start for the Blue Jays in a 2017 season that has been punctuated by injuries to Aaron Sanchez, J.A. Happ, Josh Donaldson, Devon Travis and Troy Tulowitzki (among many others). He’ll draw a tough first task in a Blue Jays uniform, as he’s slated to start tonight against an imposing Red Sox lineup.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Blue Jays Designate T.J. House]]> 2017-08-27T14:19:49Z 2017-08-27T14:08:26Z The Blue Jays announced that they have designated left-hander T.J. House for assignment and recalled right-hander Joe Biagini from Triple-A Buffalo.

    Toronto only added House to its 40-man roster last week, and the 27-year-old went on to make a pair of appearances and allow one earned run on three hits and one walk, with one strikeout, in two innings before his designation. House has spent the majority of the season in Buffalo, where he has logged a 4.27 ERA, 7.16 K/9 and 4.27 BB/9 through 130 2/3 innings, after inking a minor league deal with Toronto over the winter. He also toiled in the minors for nearly all of the 2016 campaign as a member of the Indians, with whom he spent the first nine years of his professional career after going in the 16th round of the 2008 draft.

    House looked like a quality major league starter in the making during his best season, 2014, when he rode a 60.9 percent ground-ball rate and elite control (1.94 BB/9) to a 3.35 ERA across 102 innings in Cleveland. Unfortunately, House hasn’t come close to posting that type of production since shoulder problems knocked him off course in 2015.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Blue Jays Trade Jake Elmore To Marlins]]> 2017-08-24T02:41:22Z 2017-08-24T02:39:32Z
  • With injuries sapping their infield depth, the Marlins added a pair of new players. Grant Green joins the organization on a minors deal while Jake Elmore was acquired from the Blue Jays in exchange for cash. Green, 29, has seen at least some MLB action in each of the past five years but owns a meager.261/.300/.370 batting line this year through 258 plate appearances. The 30-year-old Elmore also has appeared in five major league campaigns; his slash at the highest level of the minors this year stands at .235/.325/.274 through 380 plate appearances.

    • With injuries sapping their infield depth, the Marlins added a pair of new players. Grant Green joins the organization on a minors deal while Jake Elmore was acquired from the Blue Jays in exchange for cash. Green, 29, has seen at least some MLB action in each of the past five years but owns a meager.261/.300/.370 batting line this year through 258 plate appearances. The 30-year-old Elmore also has appeared in five major league campaigns; his slash at the highest level of the minors this year stands at .235/.325/.274 through 380 plate appearances.
    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Blue Jays Notes: Anderson, Donaldson, Bautista, Lineup]]> 2017-08-21T03:38:34Z 2017-08-21T03:38:34Z
  • The Blue Jays started Josh Donaldson at shortstop and Jose Bautista at third base today, and while the lack of a DH for their interleague series at Wrigley Field played a role in the unusual lineup, manager John Gibbons told’s Gregor Chisholm and other media that “you may see them out there together again.”  Bautista has some past experience at the hot corner, while Donaldson’s first three career games at short all came during this three-game series with the Cubs.  This lineup shuffle, if more regularly made, would allow Nori Aoki or Ezequiel Carrera (or a September outfield callup) to see more time in Bautista’s usual spot in right field, and the Jays could then bench one of the light-hitting middle infield duo of Ryan Goins and Darwin Barney.
  • Brett Anderson is again going through the process of joining a new team and recovering from another injury, though the veteran southpaw tells Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi that he is still hopeful of becoming a healthy and productive member of a rotation.  “It’s a gift and curse that I like baseball enough to keep doing this,” the 29-year-old Anderson said.  “I’m not super old by any stretch, but I’ve been around for a while, and hopefully I’ve pushed a button and I age in reverse, got all that stuff out of the way before I’m 30, and have some healthy years going forward.”  Davidi’s piece also notes that the Blue Jays have long been intrigued by the lefty’s potential, nearly acquiring Anderson as part of a three-team deal with the A’s and Rangers in the 2013-14 offseason, though issues with Anderson’s physical scuttled Toronto’s interest.
  • ]]>
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Blue Jays Interested In Extending Marco Estrada]]> 2017-08-20T17:03:07Z 2017-08-20T15:13:46Z Blue Jays right-hander Marco Estrada is scheduled to become a free agent in the offseason, but a trip to the open market isn’t a certainty. A member of the Toronto organization informed FanRag’s Robert Murray that there’s mutual interest in keeping Estrada in a Blue Jays uniform beyond this season.

    “The player loves Toronto, the agent says publicly he doesn’t want to go anywhere,” the source said. “Frankly, we are open to extending him.”

    Estrada is on the verge of completing the two-year, $26MM contract he signed with the Blue Jays prior to the 2016 season. Given his status as an impending free agent and Toronto’s longshot playoff hopes, Estrada seemed like a plausible summer trade candidate. And while the AL East rival Yankees claimed Estrada on revocable waivers this month, they did so in a blocking maneuver, Murray reports (Twitter link). Even if New York had real interest in acquiring Estrada before his 48-hour trade window expired, the Blue Jays weren’t keen on parting with him. In fact, manager John Gibbons told reporters Tuesday that the Jays “need” Estrada.

    Despite Gibbons’ endorsement, the 34-year-old Estrada’s 5.09 ERA through 139 2/3 innings likely means his stock has dropped to some extent since the outset of the campaign. He entered the year having combined for a 3.30 ERA over 357 innings from 2015-16, his first two seasons in Toronto. Estrada did so in spite of unremarkable strikeout (7.46 K/9), walk (3.03 BB/9) and ground-ball (32.8 percent) numbers, though he overcame those figures by generating weak contact. No starter posted a better infield fly rate (14 percent) or a lower batting average on balls in play (.224) over that two-year span than Estrada, who’s third in the majors this season in the infield pop-up department (14.5 percent). However, Estrada’s BABIP allowed has skyrocketed to .312 – an increase that has come even though he has continued to do a nice job suppressing strong contact. Estrada’s expected weighted on-base average against is just .303, a far cry from his actual wOBA surrendered (.349, via Statcast and Baseball Savant).

    There is some misfortune at play with respect to Estrada’s bloated ERA, then, and it’s also worth noting that his 9.21 K/9, 23.3 strikeout percentage and 11.4 percent are all above average relative to his career numbers. While Estrada’s walk (3.87 BB/9) and grounder (30 percent) rates continue to underwhelm, he remains a capable starter – one who’d generate a decent amount of interest in free agency. Although, if both the Jays and Estrada have it their way, potential suitors among the league’s other 29 teams may not even get the opportunity to bid on him.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Teoscar Hernandez Thrilled With Trade ]]> 2017-08-20T01:09:09Z 2017-08-20T01:09:09Z There remains an outside chance that Houston will trade for Tigers right-hander Justin Verlander this month, as the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo hears from major league sources that the Astros haven’t closed the door on acquiring the fireballer. There have been a slew of reports since last month on the possibility of Verlander going to the Astros, including one from FanRag’s Jon Heyman earlier this week. A source told Heyman that negotiations between the two teams had been “put to bed.” For his part, Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow doesn’t expect to make a big acquisition before the month’s out. To land Verlander, who’s still due around $7MM this season and another $56MM from 2018-19, the Luhnow-led Astros would need to take on the majority of his contract and “give up a few prospects,” Cafardo writes. Not all prospects are created equally, of course, and the Tigers want legitimate young talent in return for the longtime ace and franchise icon, per various reports.

    More from the American League:

    • Left fielder Justin Upton, another of the Tigers’ high-priced veterans, currently doesn’t plan to opt out of his contract in the offseason, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports (via Twitter). A change of heart, which could happen given Upton’s superlative production and the Tigers’ rebuilding status, would mean walking away from the guaranteed $88MM he’s due through 2021. The soon-to-be 30-year-old Upton wasn’t great in 2016, the first season of the $132.75MM accord, but has rebounded to slash an excellent .283/.367/.542 with 25 home runs, 10 stolen bases and 4.0 fWAR through 479 plate appearances in the current campaign.
    • Right-hander Lucas Giolito will make his White Sox debut Tuesday with a start against the Twins, relays Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune (Twitter link). The Sox acquired Giolito and a pair of fellow pitching prospects, Reynaldo Lopez and Dane Dunning, from the Nationals last winter for outfielder Adam Eaton. Giolito has since turned in 128 2/3 Triple-A innings of 4.48 ERA ball, to go with 9.37 K/9, 4.13 BB/9 and a 44.4 percent ground-ball rate. Once among the game’s most celebrated prospects, the big 23-year-old has lost some luster over the past couple seasons, though he still factors into the summer top 100 lists of FanGraphs’ Eric Longenhagen (No. 35), (No. 59) and Baseball America (No. 75).
    • Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi profiles Blue Jays outfield prospect Teoscar Hernandez, whom the team acquired from the Astros for left-hander Francisco Liriano last month. Hernandez actually made his major league debut in Toronto in August 2016 and collected his first hit, a home run, against Liriano. The Dominican Republic native then called his mother and told her he’d love to play for Toronto eventually. Unsurprisingly, then, Hernandez reacted with elation when Astros assistant GM Mike Elias broke the news of the trade to him. “He told me I just got traded for Francisco Liriano and when first he told me that, I was like, ‘Really? Is this happening?’” Hernandez said. “Then I felt so happy. I don’t know why. My first reaction was like the same one when I got called up (to the majors) last year – I was so excited.” Hernandez, 24, has played with Triple-A Buffalo – not Toronto – since the deal, but rival executives Davidi polled expect him to at least serve as a quality fourth outfielder for the Jays.
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Blue Jays Acquire Tom Koehler]]> 2017-08-20T00:13:41Z 2017-08-19T23:40:30Z The Blue Jays have acquired right-hander Tom Koehler and cash considerations from the Marlins for minor league righty Osman Gutierrez, according to announcements from both teams. Gutierrez will report to Single-A Greensboro with his new organization.

    Tom Koehler

    [RELATED: Updated Blue Jays Depth Chart]

    Koehler, who’s on a $5.75MM salary and has another year of arbitration eligibility remaining, got off to a poor start this season and began surfacing in trade rumors in May. While Koehler was a competent back-end starter in Miami from 2013-16, a stretch in which he combined for a 4.14 ERA (4.30 FIP) with 6.82 K/9, 3.67 BB/9 and a 44.6 percent ground-ball rate over 698 1/3 innings, the 31-year-old has endured a miserable 2017. Across 12 starts and 55 2/3 frames, Koehler has logged a 7.92 ERA (6.89 FIP), 7.11 K/9, 4.69 BB/9 and a 38.1 percent grounder mark. However, Koehler has dominated in 37 2/3 Triple-A innings this year (1.67 ERA, 13.14 K/9, 3.11 BB/9), which could provide hope for an eventual big league turnaround.

    Whether Koehler will immediately head to Toronto or Triple-A Buffalo is unclear. Regardless, he’ll provide some depth to a 59-64 Jays club that’s 3.5 games out of a wild-card spot and currently has a couple question marks in its rotation behind the proven trio of Marco Estrada, Marcus Stroman and J.A. Happ. One of those question marks, Chris Rowley, has gotten good results over a pair of starts, while the long-struggling Nick Tepesch has turned in subpar work over three appearances from the rotation since Toronto acquired him from the Twins in late July.

    Gutierrez, 22, was not among the Blue Jays’ top 30 prospects at before the trade, though the 2011 international signing from Nicaragua was 26th on Baseball America’s list for the team after last season. BA noted at the time (subscription required and recommended) that Gutierrez features a 94-96 mph fastball that can top out at 97 mph, a “generally above-average” slider and a somewhat promising changeup. Gutierrez hasn’t fared well at the Single-A level this year, though, with a 7.88 ERA, 8.25 K/9 against 6.25 BB/9 and a 38.6 grounder rate through 72 innings.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Yankees Or Orioles Claimed Marco Estrada]]> 2017-08-19T22:33:55Z 2017-08-19T22:32:08Z
  • It was either the Yankees or the Orioles who claimed right-hander Marco Estrada off waivers from the division-rival Blue Jays earlier this week, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. Regardless, Estrada isn’t going anywhere because the Jays were unable to agree to a trade with the claiming team within the 48-hour window.
  • ]]>
    Charlie Wilmoth <![CDATA[Blue Jays Select T.J. House's Contract]]> 2017-08-19T21:31:55Z 2017-08-19T19:07:39Z
  • The Blue Jays have announced that they’ve selected the contract of lefty T.J. House, optioning lefty Tim Mayza to Triple-A Buffalo to clear space. The 27-year-old House had pitched 130 2/3 innings in Buffalo’s rotation, posting a 4.27 ERA, 7.2 K/9 and 4.3 BB/9, though he’s expected to pitch in relief in this stint in the big leagues. He appeared in the Majors with Cleveland each of the last three seasons, making 18 big-league starts in 2014.
  • The Jays also announced that they outrighted catcher Mike Ohlman to Buffalo. Ohlman was pressed into duty after a series of injuries to Jays catchers (including Russell Martin, Miguel Montero and Luke Maile) but was designated for assignment when Montero returned last week. The 26-year-old Ohlman collected 13 plate appearances with the Jays this year.
  • ]]>
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[MLBTR Mailbag: Lowrie, Bruce, Giants, Controllable Starters]]> 2017-08-19T14:50:12Z 2017-08-19T13:24:38Z Thanks as always for your questions! If yours wasn’t selected this week, you can always pose it in one of our weekly chats: Steve Adams at 2pm CST on Tuesdays, Jason Martinez at 6:30pm CST on Wednesdays, and yours truly at 2pm CST on Thursdays.

    Here are this week’s questions and answers:

    Why is it so hard for the A’s to move Jed Lowrie? — Rene H.

    Well, there has been a bit of a game of musical chairs in the second/third base market. The Red Sox went with Eduardo Nunez. The Nationals grabbed Howie Kendrick, who can also play outfield. The Brewers ended up with Neil Walker in August. Those deals filled some of the main needs out there, though there are at least a few teams that could still make a move. The Angels stand out; the Indians have looked in this area; and the Blue Jays could be a dark horse if they make a run.

    But let’s suppose a few organizations are indeed still poking around on Lowrie. Those same teams will also have other options to consider. Ian Kinsler is now off the market after his waiver claim was revoked by the Tigers. But Brandon Phillips and Zack Cozart are both pending free agents who could move. Yangervis Solarte may not clear waivers, but could be claimed and pursued. And Asdrubal Cabrera also represents a possibility.

    Cabrera, like Lowrie, comes with a club option for 2018. In Lowrie’s case, it’s just a $6MM cost to keep him (against a $1MM buyout). He has surely played well enough to make that a decent asset to move over the winter. And perhaps Oakland isn’t all that anxious to press Franklin Barreto into everyday duty in the majors just yet. After all, he’s only 21, didn’t hit much in his brief debut, and has encountered a rising strikeout rate at Triple-A. Lowrie could help stabilize the infield the rest of the way or even in 2018, or he could still be flipped if a decent offer comes along.

    How do you guys see the [free-agent] market for Jay Bruce developing? I have a hard time believing that a 30/31-year-old who has six seasons where he OPSed over .800 would have trouble locking down a fourth year at a $13MM AAV. — Alex W.

    As Alex helpfully pointed out in his email, there are indeed quite a few corner outfielders that have landed free-agent contracts in that range. Recent deals that could work as comparables run from Nick Markakis (4/$44MM) and Josh Reddick (4/$52MM) up to Nick Swisher (4/$56MM) and Curtis Granderson (4/$60MM). Bruce is a plausible candidate to land in that general realm.

    I do think Bruce is flying under the radar a bit, given the obvious appeal of his quality offensive output this year — .267/.334/.541 with 32 homers. It doesn’t hurt that he has turned things on thus far since going to the Indians, has finally reversed the abysmal defensive metrics, and is regarded as a top-shelf professional. The two lost seasons of 2014 and 2015 are hard to ignore entirely, and he has never hit lefties nearly so much as righties, but he has returned to his prior trajectory since and has been average at the plate when facing southpaws this season. Plus, there won’t be any draft compensation to contend with.

    But where exactly he falls, and whether he gets a fourth year or instead takes a higher AAV over three, will depend upon market forces. J.D. Martinez and Justin Upton (if he opts out) would be the two top corner outfielders, but both are righty bats that would require very significant contracts. Granderson and Melky Cabrera will present alternatives for teams seeking lefty pop, but neither has quite Bruce’s present power and both are much older. All things considered, Bruce should be fairly well positioned.

    I’m wondering if the Giants’ plan to re-tool, rather than rebuild, has a reasonable chance of success. Does SF have only two or three spots, like one outfielder and two pitchers, that will make the difference in being competitive? Or will the re-tooling need to involve more spots on the roster, like two outfielders, maybe an infielder (third base), and three or four pitchers? And are there players available in free-agency for them to do that? — Tim D.

    Let’s start with the presumption that Johnny Cueto opts into the remainder of his deal. That would fill one of the rotation slots but also keeps a lot of cash on the books — over $150MM total already for 2018, with more than $100MM promised in each of the next two seasons. And the club will also have to consider what it’ll cost to keep Madison Bumgarner around past 2019.

    Looking over the roster — see the current depth chart here — the Giants will face questions in a variety of areas. Third base is unresolved, the team needs at least one starting outfielder (a center-field-capable player would perhaps be preferred, bumping Denard Span to left), and several bench/platoon roles are open to question. The team will likely at least look into adding a starter, though it could choose instead to go with Matt Moore along with Ty Blach or another less-established pitcher to line up behind Cueto, Bumgarner, and Jeff Samardzija. Bullpens can always be improved, though the Giants can hope for a bounceback from Mark Melancon and continued performance from reclamation hit Sam Dyson in the late innings.

    On the whole, then, perhaps a more dramatic roster overhaul isn’t really needed. Assuming the club is willing to spend up to, but not past, the $180MM-ish payroll it carried entering the current season, that leaves some room to add. But the long-term commitments and 2017 downturns certainly also speak in favor of exercising some caution. I’d expect a focus on striking shorter-term deals with veterans.

    Possibilities at third could include Pablo Sandoval, Todd Frazier, and Yunel Escobar, or the Giants could go bigger and chase the still-youthful Mike Moustakas. In the outfield, Lorenzo Cain would be the top center-field target, though he’ll be entering his age-32 season and won’t be cheap. There are some interesting alternatives, including Carlos Gomez, Jon Jay, and Jarrod Dyson. It’s also possible the Giants could chase Bruce or another corner piece while adding a player like Austin Jackson to platoon with Span in center. And as ever, there are lots of different pitchers available at different price points should they look to add there.

    Ultimately, there ought to be decent value available in the price range the Giants will be shopping. Whether that’ll work out or not … well, that’s dependent upon quite a few other factors and is tough to predict at this point.

    Which young, controllable starters (like Chris Archer, for example) will potentially be available via trade this upcoming offseason? –Matt H.

    Archer is certainly a good example of a guy who could be available and who’ll be asked about quite a lot. Depending upon how things end up for the Rays this year — currently, it’s not trending in the right direction — they may be more or less inclined to undertake a more dramatic move such as dealing the staff ace.

    Generally, though, I’d expect the pickings to be slim. Several teams that sit in the bottom of the standings and have young arms don’t seem likely to move them. For instance, I don’t really expect the Mets (Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, etc.), Blue Jays (Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez), or Phillies (Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, Vince Velasquez) to be looking to deal young starters.

    There are a few other names to watch, though. Michael Fulmer of the Tigers would figure to draw some of the most fervent interest, and Detroit has to be thinking creatively entering an offseason full of questions. The Pirates could decide that now’s the time to move Gerrit Cole, though he’ll only have two years of control remaining so may not really meet the parameters. Julio Teheran of the Braves will surely again be a topic of speculation, at least, and the Marlins will have to consider cashing in Dan Straily.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Blue Jays Re-Sign Taylor Cole To Minors Deal]]> 2017-08-18T18:30:25Z 2017-08-18T18:30:25Z The Blue Jays announced on Friday that they’ve re-signed right-hander Taylor Cole to a minor league contract after releasing him earlier this week.

    Cole, 27, missed the first several months of the season on the disabled list but worked his way back to toss 12 2/3 scoreless innings across three minor league levels before making his Major League debut last week. Cole’s release came at the tail-end of a 10-day stint on the DL for a broken fifth toe in his right foot, and the release may have simply been a means of preventing another team from claiming him on waivers. A 29th-round pick by the Jays back in 2011, Cole will presumably return to the club’s Triple-A affiliate and hope to build on the solid results he’s posted in the minors both this year and last, perhaps with a chance for a September call-up on an injury-depleted Blue Jays staff.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Blue Jays Designate J.P. Howell, Mike Ohlman]]> 2017-08-16T20:54:04Z 2017-08-16T20:17:28Z The Blue Jays announced on Wednesday that they’ve designated veteran left-hander J.P. Howell and catcher Mike Ohlman for assignment. The moves will clear roster space for right-hander Dominic Leone (activated from the bereavement list) and catcher Miguel Montero (activated from the 10-day disabled list).

    Howell, 34, has been limited to 11 innings this year due to discomfort and tightness in his left shoulder. He returned earlier this month and has made three appearances since his activation, allowing a solo homer in an otherwise perfect 2 1/3 innings of work (with one strikeout). Overall, though, he’s posted a 7.36 ERA with six punchouts against seven walks in his short time with the Jays.

    Despite logging a 2.49 ERA with 8.1 K/9 against 3.4 BB/9 from 2013-16 with the Dodgers, Howell settled for a one-year deal worth $3MM this winter. He averaged just 85 mph on his fastball earlier this year but has added another mile or so to that total since being activated from the disabled list. Howell thrived with just an 86-87 mph average heater in L.A., so he’s had success with middling velocity in the past. He’s still owed about $754K of that $3MM guarantee through season’s end.

    As for the 26-year-old Ohlman, the former Cardinals/Orioles farmhand made his MLB debut with Toronto in 2017, appearing in seven games and collecting three base knocks in 13 trips to the plate. He’s a career .245/.339/.436 hitter in 495 plate appearances at the Triple-A level.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Marco Estrada Claimed On Revocable Waivers]]> 2017-08-15T22:25:49Z 2017-08-15T22:22:38Z 5:22pm: Toronto manager John Gibbons bluntly told reporters that he doesn’t expect Estrada to go anywhere (via’s Gregor Chisholm).

    “Yeah, but nothing is going to happen,” said the skipper. “We need him. Most guys go through that; most of them probably get claimed anyway. Nothing’s going to happen.” Gibbons went on to indicate that he hopes the front office will work out a deal to bring Estrada back to Toronto in 2018 and beyond, though that’s likely an issue that won’t be addressed until the offseason.

    Notably, Estrada is lined up to start tonight’s game, and there’s been no indication that anything has changed in that regard.

    2:52pm: Toronto is not all that interested in parting with Estrada, even via trade, per Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (via Twitter). It remains unknown what team was awarded the claim, though Chris Cotillo of SB Nation tweets that it’s “believed” an AL East competitor did so.

    2:36pm: Blue Jays righty Marco Estrada has been claimed on revocable waivers by an as-yet unidentified team, according to’s Jon Morosi (via Twitter). It is not yet known whether he will end up changing uniforms.

    The teams will have 48 hours from the point that the claim was awarded to attempt to work out a trade. If no deal can be completed, Toronto will be able to elect whether to allow the other team to take over Estrada’s contract or instead to pull him back. In the latter case, Estrada could not be traded without being exposed again to the waiver wire — this time without the right to revoke. (Click here for more on how August trades work.)

    While claims happen all the time without player movement resulting, Estrada seems a particularly plausible candidate to find a new home. Indeed, he placed first on MLBTR’s latest ranking of possible August trade chips. Toronto is still hanging around the fringes of the AL Wild Card race, but has quite a few teams to leapfrog in the standings as well as several key players on the disabled list.

    While the team has also emphasized that it wishes to continue fielding a quality product, and also that it may have interest in retaining Estrada past the present season, this waiver claim represents an opportunity to save a big chunk of change and perhaps to add some young talent.

    Estrada, 34, is owed $14MM this year before returning to the open market at season’s end. (He won’t be eligible for a qualifying offer after previously having receiving one from the Jays, which led to his current contract.) With about a quarter of the calendar still yet to be played out, there’s about $3.5MM left to pay the veteran righty.

    It has been a frustrating season for Estrada, who carries a 4.85 ERA through 135 1/3 total innings. But there are reasons to believe he could be a quality hurler down the stretch. Estrada was excellent last year, has managed 140 strikeouts against just 56 walks on the current season, and has now turned in four consecutive effective outings after a rough stretch for much of June and July. He’s carrying an 11.4% swinging-strike rate that sits above his career average and is showing typical velocity.

    Opposing hitters had managed very low batting averages on balls in play against Estrada over recent years, helping to drive his success. But that number has jumped to .305 in 2017, despite the fact that he carries a rather familiar mix of grounders versus flies (0.62), infield pops (15.2%), and hard contact (27.7%). If he can drive the BABIP back down to where it was in 2015 and 2016, Estrada could again make for a strong rotation presence.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Blue Jays Release Chris Coghlan]]> 2017-08-15T21:36:27Z 2017-08-15T21:36:27Z The Blue Jays announced that veteran infielder/outfielder Chris Coghlan has been given his unconditional release after being designated for assignment over the weekend.

    Coghlan, 32, appeared in 36 games for the Blue Jays and totaled 88 plate appearances in 2017. However, the former National League Rookie of the Year didn’t fare too well in his short time with the Jays, as he batted just .200/.299/.267 with one homer and two doubles. Coghlan had a strong run with the 2014-15 Cubs, but he flopped following a trade to the Athletics in the 2015-16 offseason. He’d later return to the Cubs and hit well (.252/.391/.388) in 128 plate appearances down the stretch.

    The versatile Coghlan is a career .259/.334/.398 hitter and has a better track record against right-handed pitching (.266/.339/.420) than he does lefties (.224/.311/.308). He’s played all three outfield spots, second base and third base in his big league career, though he hasn’t logged even a single inning in center field since 2013.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Blue Jays To Sign Brett Anderson]]> 2017-08-14T22:16:56Z 2017-08-14T21:30:29Z The Blue Jays have agreed to a minor-league pact with free-agent lefty Brett Anderson, according to Shi Davidi of (via Twitter). Anderson still must undergo a physical before the deal is finalized.

    Toronto has struggled to fill out its rotation, with injuries leaving openings and the team dealing away Francisco Liriano at the deadline. While a Wild Card run still seems generally unlikely, there’s enough of an opening that it certainly makes sense for the Jays to seek out some new options. And there could be a greater rotation need if the club ends up dealing Marco Estrada.

    Anderson will represent a free-roll for Toronto. The Cubs promised the 29-year-old a $3.5MM payday for the current season and remain on the hook for the remainder after releasing him earlier this summer. Toronto would only need to pony up the league-minimum rate of pay for any time that Anderson spends on the MLB roster.

    Both Anderson and the Jays will hope for a bounceback performance after Anderson struggled with Chicago. Back issues have again been a significant problem, and Anderson’s 22 MLB innings have not gone well. In that span, he was roughed up to the tune of 20 earned runs on 34 hits and a dozen walks.

    There have been better days in the past, of course. For most of his career, Anderson has turned in quality results when healthy. As recently as 2015, he was able to spin 180 1/3 innings of 3.69 ERA ball, though that was his first full season since 2009 and ending up giving way to an injury-shortened 2016 campaign.

    Should the southpaw earn his way back up to the majors, he ought to have enough time to showcase his form for possible winter suitors. While the injury history significantly limits his earning upside, Anderson could still conceivably score a MLB deal over the offseason if he’s able to turn in a handful of effective starts for Toronto.