Dec 6, 2011; Dallas, TX, USA; Toronto Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos answers questions during the MLB winter meetings at Hilton Anatole. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Major League Baseball’s General Manager and Owners Meetings get underway Monday morning in Orlando, FL and the eyes of the baseball world will be turned toward the Sunshine State. The meetings run through Wednesday and are the first signs of how hot the Hot Stove season will be.
Trades will be seeded here, some will be executed, and free agents are sure to be setting up a few meetings. That will lead to lots of talk about who is trying to accomplish what, and what big deals may be going down. With the Toronto Blue Jays and other teams all fully engaged this winter, we’ll be here to watch the action, trying to keep you up to date on the latest breaking news.
8:38pm: The afternoon quieted down quite a bit, as the big news turned out to be all of the players receiving qualifying offers turned them down as expected. However, there was one tidbit that may have some outcome on the Blue Jays.
Jon Morosi posted, via Twitter, that there is “mutual interest” between the Tigers and free agent closer Joe Nathan. This spells trouble for the Blue Jays, who were looking to turn their bullpen depth into a trade bait this winter. However, the deep free agent market in that department is going to hamper Toronto’s desire to use that depth. On paper, the Tigers would have looked like a solid trade partner (umm, Rick Porcello maybe), but if they are serious of taking on a free agent option instead, that pushes the Jays out.
1:46pm: The Orioles are said to be getting into the mix for Tim Hudson and Scott Kazmir, as indicated by Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports. Hudson will find a ton of suitors this winter, both due to his pedigree and his short-term commitment needs. He’ll likely look for a team that can promise him contention to close out his career. The Orioles are one of those teams fluttering in the middle and could make an intriguing match-up there.
Kazmir makes a lot more sense in Baltimore though, as he’ll be more cost effective for the Orioles. The Blue Jays may be in the mix on Kazmir this winter as well, but likely view him as more of a fallback option.
1:42pm: The Qualifying Offers keep falling, as another pair have declined their offers. Jon Morosi has tweeted that Ervin Santana will decline his QO, as has Brian McCann (h/t Mark Bowman of MLB.com). Neither decision comes as a surprise as both are looking at large multi-year deals on the open market. Blue Jays will kick the tires on both, but there isn’t likely to be a deal made here.
11:23am: Add the Minnesota Twins to the long list of teams that will be involved in the catching market this winter. The team just announced that they will be moving Joe Mauer to first base full time. According to the following tweet by Jon Morosi, the move was made after a medical consultation.
Looks like the Twins missed the boat on moving Mauer last winter when he was still valued as a catcher. The 30-year-old is a professional hitter, with a .323/.405/.468 career slash line, but lacks the typical power for a corner infielder.
11:09am: A couple of tidbits coming from Jon Heyman at CBSSports. First, Red Sox first baseman and bearded legend Mike Napoli is expected to reject the qualifying offer and test the free agent market. This is no shock, as Napoli wants the multi-year deal after proving his health concerns are behind him with a season that saw him hit .259 with a .842 OPS, 23 home runs, and 92 RBI. I know Blue Jays fans would love to see Napoli return to the Blue Jays (ever, ever so brief), but all indication is that he will return to Boston.
The second item comes out of Kansas City. Ever resourceful, the Royals are among the contenders to pursue former Yankees starter Phil Hughes. The 27-year-old right-hander is coming off a horrible season in the Bronx, where he went 4-14 with a 5.19 ERA. The Royals are hoping that moving him away from Yankee Stadium, where he has surrendered 71 home runs over the course of 85 career appearances, will help him sort out his problems and reach his potential. Don’t worry Jays fans, Toronto will not be among those in on Hughes.
10:29am: The Nationals are expected to pursue Cubs’ starter Jeff Samardzija this winter, according to the Washington Post. Samardzija could also be an intriguing target for the Blue Jays, and the Diamondbacks have been tied to him as well. The 28-year-old right-hander was 8-13 over 33 starts last season, with a 4.34 ERA and a 9.0 K/9 ratio. He’s controllable for two more seasons, peering downing the barrel of his second arbitration year this winter.
10:12am: Nelson Cruz has informed the Rangers that he will reject the Qualifying Offer, according to Jeff Wilson of the Star-Telegram. This is really of no surprise, although there was some talk that he might accept to prove he isn’t a product of PEDs. Again, this is not Jays related and Toronto won’t be looking to make another Melky Cabrera-type splash this winter.
9:55am: Just a reminder here, but all free agents that received qualifying offers must either accept or decline those offers by 5:00pm EST on Monday. That doesn’t directly impact the Blue Jays, as they handed none out, but there are 13 players who received a qualifying offer this winter; Jacoby Ellsbury, Robinson Cano, Mike Napoli, Stephen Drew, Hiroki Kuroda, Curtis Granderson, Nelson Cruz, Ubaldo Jimenez, Carlos Beltran, Shin-Soo Choo, Brian McCann, Kendrys Morales, and Ervin Santana.
Toronto will kick the tires on Jimenez, Santana, and McCann, but will likely not be a serious player for the Braves catcher. Toronto has two protected picks in the first round, so signing any QO’d player would only result in the surrender of a second round pick in the 2014 MLB Draft.
8:41am: This one may be a bit of old news, as it made the rounds yesterday, but old friend Nick Cafardo at the Boston Globe surmised that the Blue Jays may look to move Adam Lind this winter. The reasons behind the move, according to Cafardo, have nothing to do with his bounce-back season, but more to do with his presence in the clubhouse.
That seems like a reach, as it harkens back to his criticism of manager John Farrell a year ago (who is now in Cafardo’s stomping ground in Boston). There were seemingly no indications of similar issues this season, but it may bear watching throughout the winter. That said, the Blue Jays have many other needs to explore than to try and fill Lind’s spot in the line-up.
7:53am: The St. Louis Cardinals and Colorado Rockies are getting the early publicity with talks surrounding Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, according to Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan. The Cardinals are said to be looking for a game-changing shortstop and have the right component in which to make a deal happen; young starting pitching.
Of course, there are two sticking points in any deal for Tulo. The first issue will always be his health and the Cardinals will want to ensure that he’s not damaged goods. Second, the monster money on Tulo’s contract ($130 million, 7-years guaranteed) may require the Rockies cover a certain amount of it if they want to get a substantial package of players in return.
If the Cardinals do not find a deal to their liking, they could turn to Texas and pursue Elvis Andrus instead.