Photo Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Silly season is in full swing, and rumours continue to swirl around the Toronto Blue Jays that are… frankly not all that silly. Here are some quick notes on the weekend’s developments:
Its being reported that Jose Bautista will reject the Jays’ qualifying offer and full-on hit the market. There had been some talk that he might consider accepting it, the reasoning being that he might do better for himself next winter, after a better season and with the QO process potentially being eliminated under the terms of the new collective bargaining agreement, but that was always a bit of a fanciful notion. Maybe if he wasn’t a 36-year-old it would have made more sense, but it seems like there will be money and multiple years out there for him, so his time is now. It would be awfully surprising if that money came from the Blue Jays, but I guess anything is still possible — and the club remains in need of outfielders.
We’ve heard several names ion the outfield front already. The Jays are reported to have renewed interest in trading for Jay Bruce — who they had all-but-acquired last spring in a deal for Michael Saunders. Bruce had his best season since 2013 this year, that that still amounted to just 0.9 WAR and a 111 wRC+. His defense used to be good, but is no longer, and he doesn’t bring much in the way of on-base percentage. He strikes out too much, too. Hey, but dingers! Also: his numbers against right-handed pitching are much better than in the overall — 124 wRC+ in 2016 — and his terrible August dragged down what was otherwise a pretty OK year at the plate… if you’re into another high power, low OBP type. Meh.
Josh Reddick has also been linked, which is… yet another fairly uninspiring name (unless maybe you haven’t paid attention to the A’s for a couple years). He didn’t have a great second half, with power numbers that were down — possibly due to a thumb fracture suffered in May. Like Bruce, his defence isn’t what it once was, but Kevin Pillar’s presence renders a lot of those kinds of concerns moot, so… at the right price, if you think he’ll get the power back and 2016 was just a blip, you certainly see how there can be value there.
Steve Pearce, who seemed to kill the Jays every time he played them this year, is another name they’ve been linked to. The predominant idea has been that the Jays would look to him as a platoon partner for Justin Smoak at first base, which… ugh. Miiiiiight be better to cut your losses on Smoak than to try to build around him, eh, Ross? But actually, though his reputation is as a lefty masher, Pearce would likely end up taking away a whole lot of starts against right-handers from Smoak, as he’s actually been very good in the split in two of the last three years. He can play some outfield, too. So… I kinda like this idea. And if Smoak is really just a placeholder for Rowdy Tellez, all the better.
Meanwhile, the Jays have reportedly made a three-year offer to bring back Brett Cecil, which… totally makes sense, assuming that the relief market is, indeed, completely nuts. You could do worse.
Also: Eric Longenhagen of FanGraphs has some scouting comments on Lourdes Gurriel, the 23-year-old Cuban the Jays signed last week. In essence, he’s not a star prospect, merely a solid one, but one that will bring value in his ability to play all over the diamond, and who has “fringe to average hit and game power,” which… yeah. Sean Rodriguez was a comp an executive put on him, which… yeah.
So… there’s that.