The Blue Jays were busy Friday morning ahead of the 1 pm deadline to exchange arbitration figures signing six players.
The Blue Jays came to terms on one-year deals with Brett Cecil ($3.8million), Steve Delebar ($850,000), Drew Storen ($8.375 million), Aaron Loup ($1.05 million), Drew Hutchison ($2.2 million) and Michael Saunders ($2.9 million).
The Blue Jays were unable to come to terms with Jesse Chavez and American League MVP Josh Donaldson. The Blue Jays offered Chavez $3.6 million while he asked for $4 million. Donaldson asked for $11.8 million while the Blue Jays offered $11.375 million.
In Donaldson’s case, I know it is part of the process of the arbitration system, but to the fans that have endured a disappointing off-season going to arbitration over $450, 000 to the American League MVP just reeks of pettiness from an ownership that have been accused of being cheap. Realistically Donaldson should win his arbitration case so in the end he will most likely will get his $11.8 million dollars.
The Blue Jays are still a File and trial team so there won’t be any deals announced with Donaldson or Chavez before their arbitration cases.
This is the last year of arbitration for Cecil, Storen, Saunders and Chavez who will all be Free Agents at the end of the 2016 season.
As some of you may or may not know, this site Blue Jay Musings is a member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, every spring the site Cards Conclave send around what they call Playing Pepper, a questionnaire to bloggers of every team in Baseball about their view on the off-season and questions about the upcoming season.
So without further ado here is our version of Playing Pepper.
1) What are your thoughts on the team’s off-season? Did they do what they needed to do?
The biggest question marks going into the off-season where second base and the bullpen. They didn’t necessarily address those needs quite the way most Blue Jays fans wanted too. At second base they acquired Devon Travis who was a highly thought of prospect with the Tigers, but, he’s still just a prospect who will likely start the year in Buffalo. Maicer Izturis is looking to bounce back from missing almost all of last season with a knee injury and if he can show that 2013 was a fluke then he should bring some offence to that position. As for Ryan Goins, sure he’s a plus defender at second, his bat still hasn’t developed to the point where he deserves Major League At Bats.
Alex Anthopoulos passed on the bullpen arms in Free Agency this winter and I like the fact that they didn’t bite on the asking price for some free agent arms. Don’t forget, the Blue Jays’ pen was one of the better one’s in 2013 and bullpens are one of the more trickier positions to fill on a team because of the uncertainty year to year. I would expect the Blue Jays to be able to build the bullpen in house and probably the best thing for the pen would be if Aaron Sanchez is in it.
Did they do what they needed to do? in some ways yes and in some ways no. The Russell Martin signing is a huge upgrade behind the plate and he will do wonders working with the young arms in the Blue Jays rotation. Josh Donaldson was also a huge acquisition, nothing against Brett Lawrie who was a great defender, but having a guy that has proven he can stay healthy and that has hit for power playing most of his games in pitcher friendly parks in Oakland and Safeco and is also a plus defender and has playoff experience is huge for a team like the Blue Jays that have play-off aspirations this year.
2) So how will the off-season GM drama affect the team, if at all?
The Dan Duquette-Ed Rogers-Paul Beeston drama from this past winter won’t have any affect on the team on the field. We probably won’t hear anything about a new president until November which is after Beeston’s contract is set to expire and he will head off into retirement.
3) What’s the strength of this team?
Easily the offence, with a 3-4-5 combination like Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Josh Donaldson they have arguably one of the best 3-4-5 combinations in all of baseball. Russell Martin should be able to put up similar numbers to what Melky Cabrera put up last season and I think Michael Saunders could be a nice addition to the line-up. Lets also not forget about Dioner Navarro who will be a nice bat off the bench and can fill in at DH and catch when Martin is not in the line-up.
4) What player do you expect to make the greatest strides this year?
Marcus Stroman, I know he had a helluva of a rookie season with the Blue Jays, but I believe that he will only get better this year. Another year under the tutelage of Mark Buehrle will help as well. It should be interesting to watch Stroman develop this year and see his sinker that he worked on when he entered the rotation last year get even better. I honestly think that Stroman has ace potential and will be a stud for years to come.
5) What’s your projection of the team’s record and where will they finish in the division?
I think the Blue Jays will finish anywhere between 85-90 wins and with all the question marks with every other team in the AL East I think they have a really good chance to win the division. I do believe that this will be the year that they end their 21 year postseason drought this October.
We are looking at doing a Mailbag feature every couple of weeks here. Send your Blue Jay related questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
The Blue Jays haven’t even had their full squad report for Spring Training yet and the injury bug had bitten already as Michael Saunders tore his meniscus and is reportedly out until All-Star Break. Saunders did talk to the media on Thursday morning and said that his goal is to be back before the Break. The worst part is just how freak the injury is. Saunders hurt his knee taking fly balls on one of the back fields at the Blue Jays Bobby Mattick Complex when he ran into a sprinkler.
For those keeping score at home that is the third freak injury in as many years to happen to a Blue Jay, in 2013 Melky Cabrera suffered a tumour in his back which made him look like an old man, last season Maicer Izturis completely tore his lateral collateral ligament in his knee when he stumbled down the dugout steps in Baltimore and now Saunders inadvertent run in with a sprinkler. Some one should tell the Baseball Gods it’s time to lay off of the Blue Jays, they’ve dealt with enough injuries in the last three seasons regardless of whether they were of the freaky variety or not.
As for who the Blue Jays plan on putting in Left field until Saunders comes back? Alex Anthopoulos said for now they will look internally at the outfielders they have, my guess is that Kevin Pillar is the most likely to be in left on Opening Day, but that they could also make a move at the end of Spring Training. Shi Davidi also dropped an interesting name into the mix when he appeared on the MLB Network tonight saying that Danny Valencia who has played some outfield in his career could get some playing time in left as well. I guess it’s a better option than trying Edwin Encarnacion in left like the Blue Jays did last year when Jose Bautista was hurt.
BLUE JAYS SIGN SANTANA
The Blue Jays also announced Thursday night that they had came to terms with former Cy Young winner Johan Santana to a minor league deal. Santana will make his appearance at camp tomorrow according to reports. It’s yet another low risk, high reward signing for the Blue Jays who have been making a habit of doing these type of signings this winter. Santana, 35, hasn’t pitched in the Big Leagues since 2012 when he pitched with the Mets. He has missed the past two years rehabbing a shoulder injury, which happened to be his second in three years.
On the positive side of things if Santana can prove that he’s healthy and that he could contribute would give the Blue Jays another option for their starting rotation, most likely he will start the season in Buffalo and add more pitching depth for the Jays’ which in the past has been proven that you can never have enough depth.
Of interest to note, Current Blue Jay Josh Thole was the catcher that caught Johan Santana’s no-hitter when he was with the Mets in 2012. It was the first in Mets history.
GIBBY MUM ON OPENING DAY STARTER
This came as a surprise to me when Scott MacArthur tweeted out that John Gibbons wouldn’t commit to starting R.A Dickey on Opening Day, saying that when they knew, we would know. Not that it really matters and we really shouldn’t read much into it. MacArthur later tweeted out that if Dickey were to start the second game of the season in New York he would avoid facing the Orioles, who Dickey doesn’t fare well against, and that it would give Dickey three starts under the Dome in the Jays first homestand of the season. That makes sense and Dickey is a guy who has said he prefers to pitch in a controlled environment so making three of his first four starts inside the Dome rather than unpredictable outdoor weather in April is probably a good thing.
As for who starts the Grapefruit League opener next week, according to MacArthur Gibby is leaning towards starting Aaron Sanchez.
The Blue Jays held their annual State of the Franchise for Season ticket holders Thursday night. In all honesty not much new came from the event. It was a lot of stuff that had been discussed and brought up earlier in the winter.
Perhaps the best part of the night was When Gibbons was asked “Who’s gonna compete for the final rotation spot?” A fan yelled “James Shields” Gibby responded “That’s a good name” and Anthopoulos blurted out “Show me the money!” Hopefully someone at Rogers was listening.
As for Beeston, who received a standing ovation from the crowd when he was introduced, said that they are dedicating 2015 to winning and that he would like to go out with a World Series championship. Beeston also added that they have every intention of playing in October. He also confirmed that he is leaving when his contract expires on October 31st.
Beeston did say that they plan on putting together a proposal to host another All-Star game saying, “sooner rather than later.” It probably won’t happen until grass is installed at the Rogers Centre which according to Beeston is still being targeted for 2018 and that the University of Guelph has been contracted to work on the project. Beeston did add that once the cement is out that there is no turning back on the project. I don’t know, call me cynical about this whole thing, but maybe a new ballpark would be a better option, although The Fan’s Bob McCown had gone into many reasons on why it isn’t likely to happen with Rogers owing the Dome.
The new turf was on full display tonight, some said that it looked thicker than the older turf which is a good thing, gotta say though, the colour looks so much better than the old turf. Lets hope it’s much better for the players health than it’s previous predecessor.
AA was asked about Melky Cabrera and said that they talked about an extension in June but the talks didn’t get real serious. AA did add that the market for Melky changed after the Michael Saunders trade was done. AA also admitted that the Blue Jays had been trying to get Saunders for the past three years. AA also said that the Mariners, who earlier this winter traded for J.A Happ, had put in a waiver claim for Happ in August. Interesting indeed.
AA also mentioned that he is opening to extending Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion before their deals expire at the end of 2016, he also said that both have said they want to stay in Toronto. Of course this shouldn’t really be anything new as AA had said as much last year when the topic was breached.
MARTIN MLB SHOW COVER
It was announced earlier today that new Blue Jays’ catcher Russell Martin will be featured on the cover of “MLB 15” This will be Martin’s first appearance on the cover. Former Blue Jay Brett Lawrie was on the cover last year and Jose Bautista had been the cover boy for 2012 and 2013 when “MLB The Show” started doing separate covers for Canada. It really doesn’t surprise me that Martin was the player that was decided on for this season, it seemed almost a given once he signed in Toronto that it would happen considering all the fanfare the deal received.
PROMOTIONAL GIVE-AWAY CHANGED
The Blue Jays changed their May 10th giveaway to a Josh Donaldson white replica jersey giveaway day. It was originally scheduled to be a Brett Lawrie jersey but we all know what happened there.