We’re nearing December and nothing has happened. At this point, we can pretty safely assume that nothing will happen until the Digital Winter Meetings, which are scheduled for Dec. 7-10.
Until then? Speculation! Checking in! Showing interest!
Over at The Athletic, Ken Rosenthal put out a news and notes post that featured a few interesting Blue Jays-related nuggets.
First, he confirmed that the mystery free agent from a few weeks back (the one that Ross Atkins mentioned as somebody the Blue Jays were close to a deal with) was, as expected, Kevin Gausman. According to Rosenthal, the Jays offered Gausman a three-year deal in the $40 million range, which he declined in favour of the Giants’ one-year, $18.9 million qualifying offer.
Gausman, the former fourth-overall pick of the Baltimore Orioles, had a nice rebound season in 2020 pitching for San Francisco. Over 12 appearances, he posted a 3.62 ERA (his best since 2016) and had excellent peripheral numbers (a career-high 11.9 strikeouts-per-nine).
A three-year, $40 million offer for Gausman is reminiscent of the deal that the team gave J.A. Happ a few years ago. Happ had some ugly seasons but managed to put it all together when he got traded to the Pirates mid-way through the 2015 season. That excellent showing in a fairly small sample size got Happ a three-year, $36 million deal with the Jays. The deal wasn’t met with all too much excitement at the time but it ended up being quite the bargain, I think.
All things considered, it isn’t surprising Gausman chose to bet on himself and give free agency another go next winter. If he puts together another solid season, he’ll net more than $40 million.
As a side note, I wonder what this offer says about Taijuan Walker’s market. Walker, like Gausman, was once a highly-touted prospect who, after a few up-and-down years, had himself a nice season in 2020. Walker, of course, doesn’t have a qualifying offer to fall back on, but that three-year deal in the $40 range might be what he ends up getting offered.
And then there’s Rosenthal’s second note, which says that the Blue Jays, who ” continue to pursue free agents at a breakneck pace,” have been in contact with veterans Justin Turner and Michael Brantley, beyond the names we already know like George Springer and DJ LeMahieu.
Turner makes quite a bit of sense as a stop-gap at third base while the team works to internally develop somebody long-term for the position. Neither Jordan Groshans nor Austin Martin will be big-league ready in 2021 so finding a good third baseman to fill the gap would be ideal. Travis Shaw was that guy in 2019, but Turner, who slashed a .307/.400/.460 line for the Dodgers in 2020, would be a significant upgrade offensively.
Brantley is a bit more difficult of a fit. He’s one of the best contact hitters around and would be a nice veteran addition to the Blue Jays’ lineup, but going out and adding a left field/designated hitter type isn’t a huge priority given the team’s current roster composition. I mean, you can always find a way to get good hitters into your lineup, but there isn’t the same natural fit here as there is with Turner.
NEWS: Ha-seong Kim, one of the top position players in Korea, will be posted tomorrow, according to my friend @Jeeho_1. The #BlueJays are among the teams that have evaluated him closely prior to the posting process, source says. @MLB @MLBNetwork https://t.co/UYHZeOUJmY
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) November 24, 2020
Elsewhere, Jon Morosi reports that the Blue Jays are among the teams who have done their homework on KBO star Ha-Seong Kim, who will be posted by the Kiwoom Heroes on Wednesday.
I wrote about Kim as a possible fit for the Blue Jays back in October. He put up monster numbers in Korea this season (.306/.397/.523), and, while there’s no guarantee that it’ll translate in the big-leagues, Kim represents a unique opportunity for the Blue Jays to add a quality infielder in his mid-20s on the free-agent market.
The Toronto Blue Jays are one of the teams that will be vying for free agent All Star Catcher JT Realmuto this Winter. I would expect them to be involved throughout the process. Per sources.
— Craig Mish (@CraigMish) November 24, 2020
And then we also have this update from Craig Mish, which says that the Blue Jays are apparently going to be one of the teams vying for J.T. Realmuto.
Realmuto is the best catcher and, arguably, the best overall player on the free-agent market this winter. Over his last two seasons with the Phillies, Realmuto has slashed a .273/.333/.492 line. He also provides a good glove behind the plate and the ability to play first base.
The Jays have five catchers on their 40-man roster so it doesn’t seem like this is really the place the team needs to upgrade, but you can obviously always make room for an elite player anywhere on the diamond. Signing Realmuto would give the team an elite catcher and would also give them the ability to use Danny Jansen or Alejandro Kirk in a trade to fill a need elsewhere. If they strike out on adding Springer, a very good player at a position of need, Realmuto is quite the fall-back net.
As I explored the other day, sending a catcher to Tampa Bay for a pitcher would make all kinds of sense for both teams, though we don’t often see the Rays and Jays make deals.
Sources: Rays open to trading Blake Snell https://t.co/xdHhGsT8NA
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) November 23, 2020
Speaking of the Rays, predictably, former Cy Young winner Blake Snell could be available this winter.
The Rays aren’t actively shopping Snell, the report says, but, given the fact this organization is cheap as fuck and Snell has three years and $39 million remaining on his contract, anything is possible.