Today in MLBTR: Friday, December 1st

The hot stove still feels like it’s still barely warm, but with today being the deadline for clubs to tender contracts to arbitration eligible players, and the Winter Meetings not too far around the corner (they start unusually late this year, running from December 10th to the 14th in Orlando), there’s a chance that at some point the rumblings are really going to start to come quick. And even if they’re not — even if the league is going to remain in a holding pattern until some team lands Shohei Otani or Giancarlo Stanton — there’s… um… there really isn’t a whole hell of a lot else to talk about these days. So let’s join in on the fun, create some content, and put a Jays-related spin on the latest rumblings from over at the excellent and invaluable MLB Trade Rumors (with at least one other item thrown in for good measure)…

Shohei Ohtani is the big news at the moment, as not only will he be posted today, but Jon Morosi is stirring up trouble with regard to him. Apparently “executives from multiple teams are of the belief that Ohtani’s preference is to sign in a market that does not already have an established Japanese star.” Cue Morosi showing up on radio in every single MLB city suggesting its long shot suitor really has a chance! Granted, he actually corroborates the idea with a quote from Ohtani’s former teammate, Brandon Laird, which… hey, if it’s true, bodes well for a team like the Jays. I wouldn’t get too excited, though. Judging by the questionnaire sent by Ohtani last week (which I recently wrote about for the Athletic), he’s concerned about his next club having resources for a player’s “cultural assimilation” into a city — which probably gives an edge to the team who’ve already done it.

Speaking of Ohtani, sorry Phillies! But LOL:

Obviously the other big story is Giancarlo Stanton, who had people thinking a deal to the Giants might be imminent last night. That doesn’t seem to be the case, but San Francisco seems to still be interested, though Stanton’s preferred destination — his hometown Dodgers — seem like they’re less aggressive. With it looking more and more like Stanton, who is truly driving this bus thanks to his no-trade clause, really wants to end up in California, it’s starting to feel like the stupid fucking Red Sox might genuinely not be in play. I wouldn’t put it past Derek Jeter to pull some real-ass horseshit, though, so I’m not totally through worrying yet.

A some interesting stuff from Jon Heyman’s latest “Inside Baseball” piece for Fan Rag, among them:

  • The Red Sox are considering Eduardo Núñez, though the versatile infielder would be a fit for the Jays, among others, Heyman notes.
  • The garbage Marlins might make Marcell Ozuna or perhaps even Christian Yelich available, but not until the Stanton situation is resolved, so as not to “muddy the waters” of the trade market. The Jays probably won’t feel they can move the prospects that will be required to land a Yelich, but damn, they should do whatever they can.
  • Speaking of the Marlins, Heyman doesn’t figure that ex-Yankees manager Joe Girardi is a candidate for the vacancy in their broadcast booth (Jeter was always a Posada guy, apparently) — but he figures TV might be in the future for Girardi, at least until his next managerial opportunity comes calling. If things with the Blue Jays go far enough south for John Gibbons to get the axe, Girardi would sure be an interesting candidate, wouldn’t he? I’m not sure the personality would be a fit, but for a team that’s going to have to start looking quite a bit younger over the next two or three years, I could see some appeal.
  • In a snippet about the Mets, Heyman notes several names available on the second base market, of which several would have some interest to the Jays. One that maybe doesn’t get talked about enough is Ian Kinsler. Largely that’s because of his .236/.313/.412 slash line in 2017, and the fact that he’d reportedly vetoed a trade to the Jays back in 2014. But this is a rather different Jays situation than it was then. Playing on the infield with Troy Tulowitzki and Josh Donaldson? That would have to have appeal, as would that fact that the Jays are clearly making an attempt to be competitive. With just one year and $11 million left on his deal, it probably won’t be tough to land him, either. And pushing Devon Travis into an outfield spot certainly would help that situation — plus, if/when Travis gets hurt, the Jays have some pretty interesting pieces to cover for him. How about this: go get Kinsler, go get another aging star in the last year of his deal, Andrew McCutchen, and if it doesn’t work out, prepare to own the rental market at the trade deadline. It’s usually doesn’t make as much sense as it feels to slobber over “name” players like these guys, but couldn’t that work? It would cost $25.75 million if the Jays were to take on their full salaries.
  • “It seems the Pirates could consider a deal for Andrew McCutchen, or perhaps even Gerrit Cole. But they are saying any trade would have to make ‘baseball sense’,” says Heyman in a Pirates capsule (which is really more about Cole than McCutchen).
  • I don’t even get this one from his section on our boys in blue: “Lorenzo Cain makes sense for the Jays, as does J.D. Martinez, which was mentioned here last week. As a longtime Tiger, he’s expected to like Toronto (not too far away).” Like… I mean… I guess it’s not super far away, but they’re rather different cities, and I really don’t see how Toronto’s proximity to Detroit could possibly mean anything to anybody. Nor could I possibly imagine the Jays shelling out large for Martinez. Go re-sign Josh Donaldson if you’ve got that kind of money to play with.

I’ll leave this one to Grant, who gives us a story in four panels:

Welington Castillo has signed with the White Sox, which… isn’t necessarily Jays-related, except for the fact that the Jays are in the market for a backup catching upgrade. Castillo, who put up a 113 wRC+ in 2017, might have been an interesting (albeit expensive) guy to consider in a world with huge reserves of big league catching talent, but that’s simply not the world we live in. Backup catchers are bad, and a guy like Castillo, flawed as he is, is too good to not have found starters money somewhere. I don’t think anybody would have thought the Jays were in on Castillo, but the point is: the Jays are not going to have an easy time finding a cheap, good backup for Russell Martin. Catching depth is important, it turns out.

Speaking of all backup catchers being bad, the Marlins have signed Brayan Holaday to a minor league deal. Over 158 PA the last two years, he’s slashed .233/.274/.349. Yepppp.

Ken Rosenthal tweets that Rob Thompson is the “leading candidate” to be Gabe Kapler’s bench coach in Philadelphia. Good Canadian kid, that Thompson. Not sure about that Kapler guy though, given that business with Terry Francona’s son.

Hishashi Iwakuma has signed a minor league deal with the Mariners. I don’t think the Jays would have had too much interest in him at this point, but in the past they surely would have. Not sure Iwakuma ever wanted to play anywhere but the Pacific coast, though.

Early on Friday it was announced that the Brewers and Stephen Vogt had agreed on a contract, avoiding arbitration. Vogt was one of several flawed-but-intriguing potential non-tender candidates I wrote about earlier this week. Guess you can cross his name off that list.

For those interested in looking over your shoulders, here’s a piece on what Dan Duquette is saying about his offseason plans for the Orioles. Who gives a fuck, amiright?

In a minor league transactions post we’re told that Anthony Gose has signed on with the Rangers, where “he’s expected both to function as a left-handed reliever — as he did last year in the minors — and to play the outfield — as he long did previously, including at the major-league level.” I mean, why have him be bad at one position when you can have him be bad at both, right? Good job as usual, Texas!

What do we all think of Brad Miller? I don’t think the Jays should give up their pursuit of top, top utility option this soon in the game, but in a piece about some tidbits from Jerry Crasnick, we’re told this: “if the Rays don’t find a trade partner for infielder Brad Miller, they expect to tender him a contract at tomorrow evening’s 8pm ET deadline. Miller broke out with a 30-homer campaign in 2016 but was plagued by core muscle injury in 2017 and slumped to a .201/.327/.337 slash in 407 plate appearances. Crasnick’s tweet implies, of course, that the Rays do intend to shop Miller around to see if anyone has interest in the slugging utilityman, whom MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects to earn $4.4MM in arbitration this offseason.” I suppose that the Jays could still circle back at some point. Y’know, if for some reason they wanted to. The former 2nd overall pick has played a bunch of shortstop in his career, but has never produced a positive DRS (his mark of -14 in 854 innings in 2016, the last time he spent time there, is… not good, nor is his career -9.3 UZR at the position, including a -11.3 mark in 2016), so he’s maybe not a fit anyway.

Hey, look, it’s a Jay Bruce rumour that doesn’t involve the Jays! And thank fuck for that, as we’re being told in this item that the Mets would be interested in offering him a three-year contract, but that Bruce and his camp are still aiming for five. WHO THE FUCK IS GOING TO GIVE JAY BRUCE FIVE YEARS? It sure as hell better not be the Jays. I mean, .254/.324/.508 in 2017 is pretty good — good enough for 2.7 WAR, with decent (or at least passable) outfield defence. But his previous three OBPs are .281, .294, and .309, while his previous three WAR totals are -0.8, 0.2, and 0.9. I’d give him a two year deal. I might even give him a three year deal. But five seems completely absurd.

According to a tweet from his agent, Jo-Jo Reyes has called it a career, announcing his retirement. I think some Jays fans still wish he would have done so in the middle of 2011, when he made 20 starts for the clubs (ERA: 5.40) after coming over from Atlanta in the Yunel Escobar trade.

Lastly, FanGraphs has their ZiPS projections piece on the Jays up, which is worth a deep look at. Though I warn you, the rounded numbers of the header graphic, seen below, make things look decidedly less grim than some of the actual numbers say. Still, though, there are real opportunities on the roster, too. If the Jays bump up their corner outfield projections, as well as their fifth starter’s projection, and now you’re talking! American League upper-middle tier here we come!