The hotstove is still sizzling… sort of. And the Jays still have moves to make, so let’s put a Jays-related spin on the latest rumblings from over at the excellent and invaluable MLB Trade Rumors (with some items of note from elsewhere thrown in for good measure)…
In a “free agent rumors” post, we’re told of the plight of Matt Wieters, who isn’t as hot a commodity as he might be because of the poor marks he gets as a pitch framer. Wieters is a Scott Boras client, and if there’s starting catcher money for him out there he’s obviously going to take that, so I understand why we never hear the Jays linked to him. But his is an intriguing name, especially if his market softens. A switch hitter who is better from the left side and can serve as Russell Martin’s backup and give you about as much as you can count on Justin Smoak for at 1B/DH? Works for me. I just don’t think it would work for Wieters and Boras.
Also in that rumour post: there’s some talk of former Cleveland starter Justin Masterson looking to rejuvenate his career and find a good fit after a not-so great season in Triple-A for Pittsburgh. Would anybody be surprised if he or Gavin Floyd (or both) ended up on the Jays come spring? I certainly wouldn’t — and with the club still needing relievers and some starting depth, I’d be hard to complain.
In that piece we’re also told that the Marlins want to hold onto lefty reliever Mike Dunn, but fear that the Brett Cecil contract may have set the market too high. Cecil’s contract, though not crazy high in terms of dollars per year, is a bit of a risky one. At ESPN.com, Keith Law points out how few reliever contracts of four or more years actually end up working out. Of course, another thing that won’t work out is going into the season without a damn reliable left-handed reliever, which is sometimes something I think straight value-in-a-vacuum analyses miss. (Speaking of Cecil, an MLBTR piece tells us that he was also pursued by the Yankees, the Mariners, and the Cubs. So… there are some teams with money out there looking for lefty relievers, which doesn’t necessarily bode well for the Blue Jays — well, except for the fact that spending a tonne to build a bullpen maybe isn’t the best idea anyway.)
Sticking with ESPN, in the non-MLBTR category, Jim Bowden wrote a post about potential trade targets, which had some interesting Jays content. I don’t think I need to say too much about his inclusion of Marcus Stroman on this list. I’ve heard his name come up a few times, and it is indeed an intriguing possibility, especially given the dearth of quality pitching options on the market, but it’s very hard to see the Jays blowing a hole in their pitching staff that way. They value depth and they know they have to make an honest go of trying to contend this year, and Stroman is under team control for three more seasons after this one. Just doesn’t seem possible they’d be offered something they can’t pass up. That said, if come July the Jays have faltered and are out of it, I think just about everybody is in play.
What was more interesting, to me, about Bowden’s piece, was his listing of the Jays (twice!) as a potential landing spot for White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu. True, he’s right-handed, but also quite good (though maybe not as spectacular as when he burst onto the scene in 2014 — which maybe drives his price down). And his salary going forward (he just opted out of the three years and $33.5 million left on his original deal and will instead be arbitration eligible for the next three seasons), doesn’t stand to be too massive. I highly doubt there’s a fit here, but maybe! You could give them Smoak back, even! He’s the perfect first baseman for a team that’s intentionally trying to be bad! (I’d rather aim for Melky, though, if we’re trading with the White Sox and being in any way realistic about it.)
And most interesting was Bowden’s suggestion that the Jays go after Carlos Gonzalez of the Rockies — a left-handed corner outfielder who is about to enter the last season of his contract, making $20-million. Colorado will want pitching prospects, Bowden says, but you’re probably not going to get anything too great for just one year of a guy. That said, if there’s maybe a pitching prospect that the new regime doesn’t quite like as much as the old one did, maybe because of makeup issues or something — *COUGH* Conner Greene *COUGH* — could there be something there? I don’t know enough about what to think of Greene’s long-term future to say I’d do it, but I’d do it. (And again, if you’re out of it come July, you’ll be able to recoup some of that value anyway). (That all said, the Rockies, per an MLBTR piece, are working on a CarGo extension, so maybe this whole idea is about to end up moot.)
Back to MLBTR, where a piece looks at the Mets’ situation with Yoenis Cespedes and Jay Bruce. This is, of course, relevant to the Jays because the front office — for some reason — seems to really like Bruce, and because they’ve been again linked to him this winter. But Bruce probably isn’t going anywhere until Cespedes signs, because the Mets will probably want to keep him if they’re unable to land their slugging free agent — or one of their fallback options, listed here as Jose Bautista (heard of him?) and Dexter Fowler. I still really like Fowler as an option for the Jays, frankly. I doubt he quite fits with the front office’s potential plans with respect to roster flexibility (i.e. their ability to strip down everything for prospects at a moment’s notice), but if he can be had for fewer than five years, there’s a lot to like there.
The rebuilding-ish Tigers are setting high asking prices, we’re told. Oh, so the Jays probably aren’t going to pay a prospect premium to nab someone like J.D. Martinez and then set Melvin Upton adrift? Because that’s not a terrible idea! Y’know, apart from the cost.
The Astros have outrighted Jon Singleton to Triple-A, meaning that the one-time top prospect has cleared waivers. Not exactly a surprise, but you could maybe have seen the Jays having a think about a lefty first baseman with some pop — even if the strikeout numbers are alarming. Then again, they have a much more promising one in Rowdy Tellez, I think, and there’s no need to put too many obstacles in his way — especially since he’s going to be the antidote for Justin Smoak unless that damn situation changes.
The Nationals acquired Jimmy Cordero from the Phillies for a player to be named later or cash. No, not the former WWE referee and all-around nice dude! But if the name does sound familiar, ther’es a reason: Cordero was one of the players that went to Philadelphia in the Ben Revere trade in 2015. I don’t remember him, either.
Speaking of the Nationals, another MLBTR piece informs us that rival executives expect them to be very aggressive. What does this have to do with the Blue Jays, you ask? Not a whole lot, except for the name Trea Turner, and the fact that I don’t think I’ve mentioned this little bit of innuendo before. The piece says that the star prospect won’t be dealt, despite the aggressiveness, which reminds me of something that was whispered to me in the wake of the departure of Brian Parker, the Jays’ former scouting director. According to this whisper, Turner was one of the names the Jays were very strong on in the 2014 draft (which I think is what we were hearing from folks like Keith Law at the time as well). However, after Parker and another staffer saw Max Pentecost in a tournament rather close to the draft, he jumped up their draft board, and they ended up taking the beleaguered catcher two spots ahead of the now-stud Turner. And the insinuation was that maybe Pentecost entered the picture so late that the club didn’t have enough time to do the proper background on things like his health — which has obviously been a problem. That seems a bit rich, frankly. And I have no idea what may or may not be true in any of that. But it’s what I was told.