I recently posted an article about the interest the Jays have in Jose Julio Ruiz and have an update on the issue with his agent stating that he is close to signing. The quotes from his agent are these, as listed on MLBTR:
“In the coming week he should be signed. Perhaps we’ll be announcing something on Wednesday.” “Toronto, Texas, Boston, San Francisco, Tampa Bay and Colorado are the ones who have shown the most interest. We are also expecting an offer from the Yankees.” “The idea is to find a team where there is the most opportunity to rise quickly.”
I though that since he listed the teams above as the most likely signing candidates, we should look at the “road to The Show” and ability to sign in terms of money as ideas about where he’ll wind up.
- San Francisco: They signed Aubrey Huff to play 1B in 2010 (on a 1 year deal) and have Travis Ishikawa, Mark DeRosa, and even Pablo Sandoval as his main backups. However, they entirely lack the major up-and-coming 1B prospect that could fit into the middle of their lineup, so they may be the “best” scenario for Ruiz if he wants a #1 role at the position with very little opposition. The disadvantages for SF is the fact that they have players coming into major raises (Tim Lincecum just signed a huge 2 year contract and Matt Cain‘s contract is up after SF picks up his 2011 option for 6.25 million), so their funds could be limited.
- Tampa Bay: Tampa Bay has Carlos Pena playing 1B, but he is due a pretty hefty raise after the 2010 season, when he’ll be making $10.125 million. Everyone keeps talking about them trading some of the OFers, but I believe they’re more likely to move Pena since 1B is more easily filled than acquiring a 5 tool OFer. If they sign Ruiz and deal Pena for 3-4 pieces before the deadline, they could free up some money to be active in other areas. They have Sean Rodriguez and Ben Zobrist who could fill the hole at 1B until Ruiz is ready, which shouldn’t be too long according to scouts. Since TB was not ready to hand BJ Upton $3.3 million and went to arbitration for the $300,000 difference, I can’t see them outbidding others for Ruiz, I just can’t.
- Colorado: Although they don’t seem like obvious candidates for Ruiz, the Rockies have a need at 1B in the long term once Todd Helton decides to step away from the game. Helton‘s horrible contract will end when the Rockies buy out his last year before 2012 for $4.6 million instead of paying him $23 million. Therefore, their timetable is more towards 2012 than before, making Ruiz a less likely candidate for the Rockies. They also have some pretty decent 1B prospects in Kiel Roling and Mike Zuanich who may be ready for that role by 2012. Cash could also be an issue for the Rockies.
- Boston: Makes no sense whatsoever. Not only do they have Vmart in that role part-time and Kevin Youkilis there until 2013, but they also have big prospect Lars Anderson pretty close to being ready to audition for the role and another decent prospect in Anthony Rizzo as his backup. ‘Nough said. They were probably brought in by the agent to hike up the price a little bit due to their big wallet.
- New York: They have Mark Texeira signed at $22.5 million per season through 2016 and Jesus Montero coming up. Let’s move on shall we?
- Texas: They have Justin Smoak and Chris Davis vying for the spot for the very long term, so they don’t seem like the best candidates. However, they could use either one as a trade candidate and alternate the other 2 kept as platoon candidates. Davis in particular may be a trade candidate since he fell out of favor last season. They may have some money issues in making a deal, however.
- Toronto: The last team on this list, but the first team brought up by Ruiz‘s agent, Toronto makes sense in the fact that they can hold Brett Wallace at 3B, sacrificing a little bit of defense in return for outstanding offense, and can offer Ruiz a starting role in 2010-2011 once they deal their incumbent 1B Lyle Overbay. They definitely have the cash, and they desperately want to add offense to the talented arms that are in the system. Sure, Brian Dopirak and Randy Ruiz can take on the 1B role effectively (I’m a big fan of using both in platoon) and provide the pop the Jays have been looking for from their 1B, but what’s the motto Alex Anthopolous lives by for each position? Competition and a battle will exist for every spot in order to drive players to be the best they can be. Can you ever have too much depth? Never. However, will Ruiz and his agent see the presence of Dopriak and R.Ruiz as a threat to his road to MLB? Perhaps, but there are such possibilities on most other teams, and none of those may pay as much as Toronto for his services.
Due to the issues listed above, I would list the most likely candidates as follows: 1) San Francisco Giants 2) Toronto Blue Jays 3) Tampa Bay Rays 4) Texas Rangers 5) Colorado Rockies. The others are just fodder to drive up the price.