While I wish the Blue Jays brass would dive into the free agent madness, I felt this song was appropriate looking at some of the rich deals being given out.
Tags: blue jays add erik kratz 2013, blue jays catcher erik kratz 2013, blue jays free agent rumours december 2013, blue jays trade brad lincoln 2013
Brad Lincoln has been a plug, there is no other way to put it. In 22 games for Toronto last season he had a 7.1 K/9 and a shoddy 6.3 BB/9. He was essentially worthless to the organization until tonight when Alex Anthopoulos turned him into backup catcher Erik Kratz and reliever Rob Rasmussen. Kratz was a former long time Blue Jays farmhand and rejoins the team that originally drafted him.
Only a day after appeasing a Blue Jays fan base that had grown increasingly frustrated with catcher JP Arencibia by signing Dioner Navarro the team now adds another useful backstop in Kratz. Kratz, who will turn 34 in June was actually very underrated in 2012 as he posted a 248/306/504 slash line and 1.3 WAR in only 50 games. He is known as a solid defender and will be a great compliment to Navarro and a guy who can hit lefties off the bench as a pinch-hitter.
Kratz slipped in 2013 as injuries took their toll but Steamer still projects a .312 wOBA and 95 wRC+ over 165 PAs next season s – probably conservative projections. It cost us nothing and will definitely help our overall depth and bench. Two areas that were in dire need of improvement.
Rob Rasmussen is turning 25 years old and has shown some promise in the past however it is doubtful he contributes anything to the major league roster at any point. He was a starter last season during stints in AA/AAA with mixed results. Rasmussen combined to post a 4.11 ERA with 7.5 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9 in 28 games (24 starts) for the Dodgers Triple-A and Double-A affiliates.
I think this was a solid addition for the Blue Jays at basically no cost. Kratz has shown the ability to mash (in small sample sizes) in the past and will compete with Josh Thole for the backup catcher spot.
Tags: ellsbury signs with new york yankees, ellsbury yankees 2013, jacoby ellsbury, jacoby ellsbury new york yankees 2013, jacoby ellsbury sign with new york yankees, jacoby ellsbury signs with new york 2013, jacoby ellsbury yankees 2013, new york yankees sign jacoby ellsbury 2013
Well I think Ellsbury can expect some massive booing upon his return to Fenway Park for the foreseeable future as he has agreed to join the New York Yankees – a bitter rival. While it would have been nice if Ellsbury signed in the National League from a Blue Jays perspective this is essentially neutral. He strengthens a rival and weakens one at the same time. If it limits the Yankees ability to sign Robinson Cano perhaps it is even detrimental long term for the Yanks.
As per MLBTR:
The Yankees have agreed to sign Jacoby Ellsbury, according to Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News (via Twitter). Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com first reported that the two sides were closing in on a seven-year pact. It is believed the deal will top Carl Crawford‘s $142MM, seven-year deal with one estimate pegging the deal at about $150MM, according to Heyman.
Ellsbury offers more pop than the typical center fielder, with a career slugging percentage of .439 and isolated power of .141. While his power is more of the doubles and triples variety, which is aided by his speed, he did hit 32 home runs in his stellar 2011 campaign. In that year, Ellsbury led all of baseball with 9.1 wins above replacement, finished second in the AL MVP voting, won a Silver Slugger and a Gold Glove, and made the All-Star team.
The 30-year-old has also consistently posted above average UZR and DRS numbers in center field. While he has come back to earth somewhat since ’11, he checked in with 5.8 wins above replacement in 2013, which is second only to Robinson Cano among free agents.
Yankees people envision Ellsbury in center with Brett Gardner moving to left.
Tags: blue jays sign Dioner Navarro
The Blue Jays signed a catcher and JP Arencibia will not be returning to Toronto. Does anything need to be said? Well actually yes because the new catcher is actually fairly useful as well, both offensively and defensively.
A rumoured acquisition target has actually come true today when the Toronto Blue Jays announced the signing of catcher Dioner Navarro to a 2-year $8MM dollar contract. Fans of the team have grown disenchanted with the body of work from former starting catcher JP Arencibia and are glad there is a new sheriff in town so to speak.
My initial reaction was “alright I like this signing” and after looking at the thin free agent market and alternatives I am happy the Blue Jays brought in a serviceable backstop at a reasonable rate. Navarro, who will turn 30 at the beginning of the season is expected to be the starting catcher in 2014. Steamer projects a pedestrian 2014 slash line of 254/321/398 in 334 PAs – good for a .316 wOBA.
That isn’t amazing however do not forget he is replacing JP Arencibia who managed to post a horrendous .259 wOBA & 57 wRC+ in a full season of games last year. I think the projection systems will punish Navarro, deservedly so, for a few putrid offensive seasons prior to last.
Last season Navarro slashed a very fine 300/365/492 in about a half seasons worth of plate appearances (266 PAs) for the Chicago Cubs. He cracked 13 HRs and walked at an 8.6% clip while only striking out in 13.5% of his at-bats.
Defensively UZR has pegged him as above average every season in the bigs. Any way you slice it this is a huge upgrade for the Blue Jays. Hopefully he will have a shiny new starting pitcher joining him over the next few weeks. Oh and in case were wondering about the future of JP Arencibia, he will not be a Toronto Blue Jay next year according to MLBTR.
Sadly, in the end I think this signing is more about who is not coming back than who was added. That is just how pathetic JP Arencibia was in 2013.
Tags: Aaron Sanchez, adam lind, alex anthopoulos, Brandon Morrow, brett cecil, casey janssen, catcher, chiacgo cubs, colby rasmus, dan haren, edwin encarnacion, free agency, ja happ, jeff samardzija, jhonny peralta, Jose Bautista, jose reyes, josh beckett, josh thole, JP Arencibia, la angels, Los Angeles Dodgers, marcus stroman, mark buehrle, offseason rumours, pitcher, pittsburgh pirates, ra dickey, ricky nolasco, rogers corporation, rumours, seattle mariners, second base, st. louis cardinals, stephen drew, steve delabar, Toronto Blue Jays
The Jays-related rumours continue as the offseason market heats up. The market was slow to develop but has picked up speed recently as there have been several significant free agent signings and one blockbuster trade. Of particular note to Jays’ fans was Josh Johnson signing an incentive-laden deal with the San Diego Padres.
The free agent market for pitching, catching, and middle infield is pretty thin right now, making upgrades difficult, if not impossible. That leaves 2 main options: the farm and trades. The farm isn’t deep enough to provide an answer for any of those positions, leaving trades as the primary means of improvement. Is gutting the farm even more than they have already–in exchange for a 74-88 record, no less–the answer?
The Latest Rumours
No one knows yet what form any moves will take, of course, but it needs to be considered. The latest rumours to hit the fan in Toronto are instructive. Apparently, the Jays have varying degrees of interest in OF Matt Kemp of the Dodgers, free agent starter Ricky Nolasco, and starter Jeff Samardzija of the Cubs.
The rumours swirling around the Blue Jays’ interest in Jeff Samardzija focus on the Cubs receiving one or both of Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman, the Jays’ top 2 prospects, in the deal.
Jeff Samardzija is a good pitcher (good K-rate, K/BB ratio, ground ball ratio) who struggles somewhat to keep runners off base (higher walk rate) and to keep the ball in the park (HR/9 rate north of 1). An average 9-inning start will yield 3 walks and 9 hits, one of which will leave the park. He’s 28 and under team control for 2 more seasons. His WAR over the last 2 seasons–his only 2 seasons as a starter–is unimpressive. That the kind of market the Jays are scouring to find the hidden gem: a market that sees Jeff Samardzija as being worth at least one top pitching prospect plus other valuable young players.
At A Glance: Some Completed/Pending Deals
Jason Vargas signed with the Royals for 4 years/$32MM, 38-year old Tim Hudson signed with the Giants for 2 yrs/$23MM, and Dan Haren received a 1 yr/$10MM deal from the Dodgers. These are mid-to-back-end-of-the-rotation guys. The Giants also signed Tim Lincecum to a 2 yr/$35MM deal.
The St. Louis Cardinals just addressed their middle infield need by signing PED abuser Jhonny Peralta to a 4 yr/$53MM contract. Apparently his 50-game suspension (Biogenesis) didn’t deter the Cards one bit. He replaces Pete Kozma because someone should.
The best remaining shortstop on the market is Stephen Drew, who was given a Qualifying Offer by the Boston Red Sox. He declined it. I mention this because the Jays would like a shortstop to play 2B.
The Phillies, under the inspired direction of Ruben Amaro, Jr., re-upped with catcher Carlos Ruiz for 3 yrs/$26MM, and the Yankees locked up Brian McCann for 5 yrs/$85MM. The best catcher remaining on the free agent market is Jarrod freakin’ Saltalamacchia.
What about the other option? What about hitting the reset button and blowing it up? The Jays, given their situation and their needs, seem desperate: do they have to make a bad move? Why not sell between now and July 31? Let’s think about it for a bit.
The emotional position against selling is powerful, but not particularly compelling. Who cares if people cry and wail and gnash their teeth if the Jays blow it up. Also lacking teeth is the AA-is-trying-to-save-his-job argument. As a matter of fact, it works in favour of blowing it up. No, there are too many unknown variables in this option. We don’t know what his relationship with Paul Beeston is like, we have no idea what the new guy will do when he starts in January, etc., etc.
Toronto Has Players with Value
In a market where the value of the positions that the Jays are trying to fill is ridiculously bloated, why not turn the tables on the game and find a loophole or inefficiency? Alex Anthopoulos actually has a history of doing this and he has some (very) valuable chips to play in this game.
- RA’s a top-end starter with a good contract and a history of overcoming adversity;
- To Chavez Ravine if they lose Nolasco and Beckett continues to decline? How about Dickey and Thole to PIT?
- He has good ‘stuff’ and a nice contract, but is durability driving down his value?
- His skills play in almost any venue in either league;
- His contract isn’t bad in this market, not for a guy who offers 2+ WAR and 200+ IP;
- Could TEX use his durability and reliability?
- He’s a serviceable starter and he’s left-handed: his value is similar to Jason Vargas, whom the Royals are now paying $32MM until 2017–Happ doesn’t cost near that much;
- The Angels want pitching and have a pitcher-friendly park–Happ’s also better than the pitchers they acquired last year;
- His numbers and that contract? The line forms at the rear…;
- DET? Nah, re-unite him with Jason Frasor in TEX;
- Some contending teams need his swing-and-miss stuff desperately;
- DET is calling;
- An All Star season highlighted by several substantial improvements mean Cecil has value as the #1 LHRP out of the ‘pen, LOOGY, or possibly even as a CL;
- Package him together with Delabar to DET and see what shakes loose.
- Similar to Buehrle‘s, Reyes’ contract isn’t nearly so bad in this market;
- With money to spend, a hole to fill and Peralta in STL, Reyes could return to a place where they lamented his departure and he’s still popular: the Mets;
- A LH veteran hitter who torches RHP with a pretty friendly contract who returned to form in 2013;
- SEA? PIT? NYY? Is Mark Teixeira still injured? The short porch beckons…;
- A premier slugger who’s become a student of hitting, has versatility (DH/3B/1B), and has one of the most team-friendly contracts in all of MLB: who wouldn’t want this guy?
- Another premier slugger with a terrific contract, versatility, but who is one of the top RF in MLB when healthy;
- SEA is looking for a real OF, and they have pitching prospects;
- A young player with team control remaining who provided >4 WAR for the Jays in 2013;
- I bet the Jays could have their pick of PHI‘s prospects if they wanted to move him;
- I also wonder if the Mets’ interest could be piqued…
- There are rumours that teams are interested in his services–I know, I didn’t believe it either, but the rumours persist;
- Find one of those teams and deal him, pronto;
- His value is linked to RA Dickey, dictating any prospective destination.
So keep Edwin Encarnacion and Brandon Morrow, but the rest of these guys help to re-stock the farm pretty well with enough surplus value to get decent roster players too. Filling out the remaining positions would be relatively simple, as there are plenty of mid-to-low-end FA’s available. Heck, James Loney can play 1B…
Who cares what Joe Schmo in the 5th level or Billy Blogger say on their mobile? Sure, it’s probably a PR nightmare and an on-field disaster in the making but, seriously, they’ve won 73 and 74 games in each of the last 2 seasons and missed the playoffs 20 years running. Would we even notice the difference? We’re used to it. Besides, it’s an opportunity to get some reasonable value out of this market rather than giving up your 2 top pitching prospects for Jeff Samardzija, and then hoping to make more trades to fill other needs with prospects you no longer have.
A few tidbits including an absolutely massive AL East signing by a Blue Jays rival.
-The Yankees and Brian McCann have agreed to terms on a five-year, $85MM deal with a sixth-year vesting option, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. The sixth year option could boost the value of the deal to $100MM, Rosenthal says, adding in a second tweet that the deal is simply pending a physical. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports tweets that the contract includes a full no-trade clause. McCann is represented by B.B. Abbott.
As Rosenthal notes in his article on the deal, the average yearly salary McCann will receive, $17MM, is the highest ever given to a catcher in free agency. While Joe Mauer‘s average yearly rate of $24MM remains the record for catchers overall, the Twins have said that Mauer will transition to first base on a full-time basis beginning next season, meaning McCann is set to become the game’s highest-paid backstop.
QUICK TAKE: While I was pretty much resigned to the fact the top free agent catcher wasn’t coming to Toronto my initial reaction is disappointment. McCann would have been a massive upgrade for the Blue Jays and the fact he joins an AL East rival is doubly hard to take.
-As the Red Sox survey their options for alternatives to free agent Jacoby Ellsbury, an interesting name has popped up on their radar. The Red Sox are one of several teams who have made inquiries on Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp, a major league source tells Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.
- Jhonny Peralta‘s asking price has been said to be significant, but to this point, reports have only indicated that he’s seeking “much more than $45MM.” Joel Sherman of the New York Post sheds some light on his demands, reporting that he’s seeking something in the four-year $56MM to five-year, $75MM range.
-The Angels and Cardinals have officially announced a trade that will send center fielder Peter Bourjos and outfield prospect Randal Grichuk to the Cardinals in exchange for third baseman David Freese and right-hander Fernando Salas.
-The Blue Jays discussed a trade for Matt Kemp with the Dodgers at the GM meetings,reports Shi Davidi of SportsNet.ca. Those discussions appear to have gone nowhere, but Davidi says they are indicative of a trend throughout MLB — teams are entertaining ideas of big trades (like the recent Prince Fielder / Ian Kinsler blockbuster) rather than diving into a free agent market that’s become increasingly expensive. Here are more notes from around the East divisions.
A few notable items from around the majors according to MLBTR:
-Josh Johnson has narrowed his decision down to three or four teams, agent Matt Sosnick tells Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and the Pirates are among the finalists. A deal could be done “in the short-term,” Sawchik adds, reminding that Johnson is seeking to rebuild his value on a one-year deal (Twitter links). Last night, Hank Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Johnson reached out to the Padres and Giants early in the offseason to inform the teams that they were his first choice.
Johnson, 30 in January, posted a bloated 6.20 ERA with 9.2 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 81 1/3 innings. Sabermetric stats such as xFIP (3.58) and SIERA (3.73) feel that Johnson was victim to some bad luck, and his .356 BABIP and 18.5 percent homer-to-flyball ratio would back that line of thinking up.
QUICK TAKE: Well what a bust for the Blue Jays. They got absolutely zero value out of Josh Johnson. I wouldn’t have offered him the qualifying offer but I really thought he would feel some obligation to give the Blue Jays at least one decent season. My guess is he bounces back in San Diego in a much better league and ball park.
-The Red Sox have had “serious dialogue” with free agent oufielder Carlos Beltran, hears Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald (Twitter link). Boston has been said to have interest in the veteran, but the Yankees, Orioles, Royals, Indians, and Mariners are also said to have interest.
QUICK TAKE: Beltran is a player I really wished the Blue Jays were able to sign two years ago however the turf at Rogers Centre played a factor apparently in his refusal to sign with Toronto. I would still like him as a DH type but probably not for the money he will eventually settle for.
-The Orioles have some interest in free agent right-hander Gavin Floyd and have been monitoring his progress as he recovers from elbow surgery, industry sources tell Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun.
-Corey Hart told Jim Bowden of SiriusXM (Twitter link) that his agent has talked with the Brewers, Red Sox, Rays, and Rockies amongst other interested teams. Hart added that he won’t officially get 100% medical clearance until December 3rd when he visits his doctor in Los Angeles, but he’s fully healthy (link).