Toronto Blue Jays Off-Season Rumours Update
In two days Major League Baseball’s hot stove of rumours will be all the rage, with the Toronto Blue Jays participating in the annual speculation fest known as the winter meetings. Taking place in San Diego, California, the winter meetings are shaping up to be a busy time for the Blue Jays, as the team has needs to fill at both second base and within their bullpen.
Given how active general manager Alex Anthopoulos has already been this off-season, the Blue Jays figure to be a team that will frequently come up in trade rumours and speculation during the upcoming week of meetings. With just over 48 hours to go until the meetings begin, let’s take a look at the latest off-season rumours involving Toronto.
The Search for a Second Basemen
Jul 31, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics second baseman Alberto Callaspo (18) strikes out against the Toronto Blue Jays during the ninth inning at O.co Coliseum. The Toronto Blue Jays defeated the Oakland Athletics 5-2. Mandatory Credit: L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
After acquiring Josh Donaldson for Brett Lawrie in a blockbuster deal, the Blue Jays have solidified third base for the foreseeable future. But at the same time, by trading Lawrie, the Blue Jays have also departed with a potential answer to their hole at second base.
As of today, the Blue Jays would enter the season with Maicer Izturis, Ryan Goins and possibly Munenori Kawasaki battling for the starting second base job. Needless to say, there is no doubt the Blue Jays would like an upgrade at the position.
Although not a household name to most fans, Paul Taylor pointed out earlier this week that free agent second basemen Alberto Callaspo is reported to be on the Blue Jays’ radar. According to Fox Sports Ken Rosenthal, the Blue Jays see Callaspo as a potential buy-low, bounce-back candidate, making him an intriguing option.
While Callaspo seems like a viable option at a reasonable price, another name to keep an eye on is Gordon Beckham.
After not being tendered by the Los Angeles Angels, the 28-year-old second basemen enters the open market as another potential buy-low type player. After he a posted an unimpressive .226 batting average last season, to go along with a .618 OPS and 9 home runs, Beckham is not going to be one of the highly sought after free agents this winter.
Even though his numbers are significantly down from what they once were, the former first-round pick has long been rumoured to the Blue Jays, and is once again being discussed as somebody who can fill the role of second base. But as Shaun Doyle of Jays Journal points out, the Blue Jays might want to avoid Beckham because he is not that much of an upgrade over what they already have.
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Another name to keep an eye on is Asdrubal Cabrera. After being rumoured to the Blue Jays this past trade deadline, Cabrera is a player that could resurface in the Blue Jays’ rumour mill.
Cabrera is a switch-hitter that can play both second base and shortstop, which would give the Blue Jays flexibility up the middle. Considering that the team has said they would like to rest shortstop Jose Reyes more often this upcoming season, Cabrera would be an ideal player fit to appease their wishes of resting Reyes more.
The bullpen will probably be the Blue Jays biggest focus for the remainder of the off-season, as the team could use a few more arms, including a closer.
Oct 5, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Baltimore Orioles relief pitcher Andrew Miller (48) pitches against the Detroit Tigers during the seventh inning in game three of the 2014 ALDS baseball playoff game at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
While the idea of landing David Robertson or Andrew Miller sounds great, it seems to be highly unlikely as the market for both players looks to be a fierce competition that should see either player net upwards of $10 million a season, over anywhere from a three to five-year period.
Is that something the Blue Jays are willing to pay for a closer?
When you consider Anthopoulos’ comments from earlier in the week, probably not.
However, another option out there is veteran relief pitcher Francisco Rodriguez. Coming off a 44 save season, K-Rod has been linked to numerous teams, but probably won’t sign until after Miller and Robertson sign.
A once reliable, but forgotten option, is the idea of bringing back Casey Janssen. Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star explored this idea in detail earlier in the week, and to be honest, it could make a lot of sense for the Blue Jays.
Janssen would be an affordable closer who has the ceiling of a 30-save reliever, or the floor of a seventh inning transition guy. Either way, the risk/reward of bringing Janssen back is worth it in my opinion.
Is Another “Mega-Deal” Possible?
We all know Anthopoulos is not shy about pulling the trigger on a blockbuster deal. But is there another one out there for him to sign or trade for?
The first name that comes to mind for most Blue Jays fans is Jon Lester. Lester is a bona fide ace and will more than likely dictate what direction the pitching market will go after he signs.
Signing with the Blue Jays though? Not so likely.
Sep 1, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels (35) the ball against the Atlanta Braves in the first inning at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
According to ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark, the Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals are all in hot pursuit of Lester. Add in the Los Angeles Dodgers, according to multiple reports, and you can see how the Blue Jays are more than a long shot to land the 30-year-old south paw.
But what about the Philadelphia Phillies? They have a ton of assets and look to be prime candidates for a full-blown rebuild.
Could former Blue Jays general manager, now interim president of baseball operations for the Phillies, Pat Gillick possibly work out some sort of deal to send the likes of Cole Hamels, Chase Utley or Antonio Bastardo north of the border?
Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun reported in mid-November that the Blue Jays did indeed inquire about the Phillies’ trio of players.
But trying to acquire Hamels or Utley is a difficult task, as both players hold limited no-trade clauses. In the case of Hamels, Toronto is one of the 20-teams on his no-trade list. Making him a near impossible acquisition for the Jays.
Add in the fact that Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has made it clear that he is in no rush to trade Hamels, and you can see why the idea of acquiring the 31-year-old left-hander is a complicated matter for any team.
But hey, given Anthopoulos’ history of pulling trades from way out in left field, we can’t rule out the idea of a trade with the Phillies – whether it includes Hamels or not.
Adding a Left Fielder Seems Less Likely After Acquiring Michael Saunders:
After trading for Canadian left fielder Michael Saunders, the possibility of acquiring another outfielder seems unlikely for the Blue Jays.
Aug 2, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Toronto Blue Jays left fielder Melky Cabrera (53) during the game against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. The Astros defeated the Blue Jays 8-2. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Prior to the trade, there was rumours of the Blue Jays being interested in acquiring Houston Astros outfielder Dexter Fowler, or even Atlanta Braves outfielder Justin Upton, who according to Fox Sports Jon Morosi, does have Toronto on his no-trade list. But after the recent acquisition of Saunders, the rumours involving both Fowler and Upton look to be just that – rumours.
Of course, the real outfielder every Blue Jays’ fans is curious about is Melky Cabrera. Well, according to Barry Davis of Sportsnet, the Blue Jays are no longer looking at bringing Cabrera back, and are comfortable using Saunders as their everyday left fielder.
An Everyday DH?
But after signing Justin Smoak to a one-year, $1 million deal, the idea of signing Morales seems unlikely. Particularly when you consider that Smoak left money on the table to to sign with Toronto so he could have a shot at becoming an everyday starter at first base or DH. With Edwin Encarnacion filling the designated hitters role while not playing first base, the Jays really don’t have room for Morales.
After regressing the past two seasons and looking for a mid-level contract, Morales seems very unlikely for the Blue Jays.
What do you make of all the rumours Blue Jays’ fans? Will the team continue to be active at the winter meetings? Or will they stay quiet? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.