Toronto Blue Jays News

Blue Jays news and rumours: Fowler offer, Feliz, Martin WBC

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Jun 7, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Neftali Feliz (30) pitches against the New York Mets during the eighth inning in game two of a double header at PNC Park. The Pirates won 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 7, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates relief pitcher Neftali Feliz (30) pitches against the New York Mets during the eighth inning in game two of a double header at PNC Park. The Pirates won 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /
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Toronto Blue Jays news and rumours for Tuesday, December 6th

The MLB winter meetings are still young, but the Blue Jays are already creating plenty of buzz.

Monday’s signing of Steve Pearce addresses a positional need for the Blue Jays — though it’s unclear exactly which position or combination that will be — and the club continues to be linked to other free agents at the high and low ends of the market.

An offer to Fowler

The Blue Jays have offered Dexter Fowler a contract believed to be in the neighbourhood of four years and $60 million according to Jon Heyman.

He adds that Fowler’s camp is still looking for something in the $18 million range (over four years that would equal $72 million). Fowler does check off all of the boxes for the Blue Jays as a left-handed bat capable of batting leadoff and playing a strong corner outfield, so it will be worth tracking whether Toronto pushes any further.

A reported difference of $3 million annually is not an insurmountable gap, but at the same time, this all depends on how the Blue Jays framed their offer (and when). In Edwin Encarnacion’s case, the four-year, $80 million offer seemed to come with an expiry date and little upward flexibility.

These reported offers, though, combined with the signings of Kendrys Morales and Lourdes Gurriel Jr., show that the Blue Jays are not hesitant to spend money if it is on their terms.

Martin in the middle

It appears that Russell Martin will be playing for Team Canada at the upcoming World Baseball Classic in March… But not behind the plate.

There are two ways to look at this. On one hand, playing the field puts (potentially) less stress on Martin’s legs and keeps him fresh at another position — possibly second base — where he was needed once in 2016 (he also saw a brief cameo at third).

On the other hand, having a 34-year-old catcher on a $20 million salary running down ground balls prior to the season might not be ideal for the Blue Jays. The risk of injury is always present with this event, but a player of Martin’s calibre at the catching position is particularly valuable.

Checking in on Feliz

On the relief market, the Blue Jays have kicked the tires on right-handed reliever Neftali Feliz according to Jon Morosi.

Feliz has experienced quite the career at just 28, going from one of the top young closers in all of baseball — the Roberto Osuna of 2009 to 2011, if you will — to Tommy John surgery in 2012 that quickly forced him to start all over.

The right-hander finally re-established himself to some extent this past season in Pittsburgh with a 3.52 ERA over 53.2 innings with 10.2 strikeouts per nine innings. He also took some very positive steps with his velocity, getting back to an average of 96.0 MPH on his fastball.

Next: Looking back: What we can learn from the Roy Halladay haul

With Brett Cecil off the market to St. Louis earlier in free agency, Feliz and Brad Ziegler are among several names that should soon see an uptick in their interest. This will become especially true when Kenley Jansen and Aroldis Chapman leave the market.

At this point, though, any team with an empty seat in their bullpen will “check in” on someone like Feliz.

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