The hot stove will warm up some this week. Both the team owners and general managers hold meetings this week in Milwaukee, I am sure the trade talk will heat up. I assume major media will be in attendance giving us updates on the latest rumours.
In addition award season starts today with the AL and NL rookies of the year. JP Arencibia is not expected to win the AL rookie of the year but he might get some votes.
We do also have some Blue Jay news, through Bob Elliott.
The major item on the agenda for the owners and GM meetings is an update on the status of the negotiations with the players on a new agreement. MLB and the union have been meeting but the updates back to the teams have been limited. With the owners and GM's getting briefed tomorrow, expect a lot of leaked information over the next few days. The major items under discussion include:
- Free agent compensation. Will teams still get draft picks to compensate them for losing type A and B free agents? The union is opposed to the type A category as it lowers the value of those type A free agents who are not in the top tier. Based on information leaking out, it appears that teams will no longer lose a pick for signing a type A player. Also the compensation for these losses might be pushed back in the draft from the first round. This might change how the Blue Jays approach signing players in the off-season. Alex A has targetted players who could turn into type A or B free agents.
- Realignment. The new owner of the Houston Astros could get approved in the owners meetings. Media stories suggest that a condition of his acceptance as an owner is that MLB can move the Astros to the AL. This would allow MLB to have 15 teams in both the AL and NL. If the Astros moved into the AL West, each division would have 5 teams. Also it would lead to year-round inter-league play. The players have a veto over realignment and there had been stories that they wanted two 15 team leagues with no divisions. However talk of that option has died down recently.
- Playoffs. Tied into the realignement discussion is an expansion of the playoffs. An extra wild card in each league appears to be the most likely and the debate is whether the wild card playoff is one or three games.
- Draft. MLB wants to restrict the amount teams spend on the draft. Draft slotting hasn't worked so the latest leaks suggest teams will get a budget for the draft, or for the first 10 rounds. Consider it a draft salary cap. Teams that exceed the cap will pay a penalty either in cash or in the loss of a future draft pick. Depending on the specifics this could limit the Jays who have been big spenders on the draft in recent years. However the cost to sign a pick is heavily skewed to the top of the draft, hopefully the Jays will not be picking there for a while.
The AL rookie of the year is a wide open race. Jeremy Hellickson is favoured by some; Michael Pineda by others. Eric Hosmer arrived late but impressed, as did Dustin Ackley. Mark Trumbo got in the news with his 29 home runs and Ivan Nova had an impressive season with the Yankees. The Jays JP Arencibia won't win but he could be in the conversation.
In the NL Craig Kimbrel is the hot favourite. His teammate Freddie Freeman should be his closest challenger.
The CY Young winners will be announced Tuesday and Thursday with the managers of the year stuck in between. Roy Halladay could get the nod in the NL, Clayton Kershaw is his major challenger. Justin Verlander could be a unanimous choice in the AL. Kirk Gibson and Joe Maddon are favoured for managers of the year.
Bob Elliott talked with AA in advance of the GM meetings and came away with a few nuggets.
First, the price for closers is very high, high enough to drop the Jays out of contention for the premium guys. Elliott suggests the Jays will trade for a closer. When he asked AA what the Jays have to trade, the answer was prospects.
AA acknowledged that he isn't a fan of long term deals for closers:
As an assistant GM when the Jays were chasing free-agent B.J. Ryan, Anthopoulos researched free-agent closers who signed five-year deals. The only two he found were Jason Isringhausen, who signed a $33.5-million deal with the St. Louis Cardinals, and Trevor Hoffman, signing a $32-million contract extension with the San Diego Padres.
Both spent at least a year on the disabled list.
“So basically if you were giving out a five-year deal you were only going to get a player for four seasons,” Anthopoulos said.
I know some readers here would like the Jays to sign a big name closer but it seems as though the jays will not be doing that.
Secondly, the Jays will not trade Arencibia and will not rush d'Arnaud or Hechavarria.
Catcher J.P. Arencibia is not on the market as we suggested at the end of the season, since Travis d’Arnaud was player of the year at double-A New Hampshire and the Jays would be dealing from strength.
“Travis had a big year, like J.P. did when people were discussing if he was ready for us the next year,” Anthopoulos said.
“J.P. didn’t have success until his second year at Las Vegas. We’re a minimum of a year away from discussing d’Arnaud in the majors. He’s not on the radar for next season.”
Same with shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria.
This makes sense, at least until August. If d'Arnaud is raking then bring him up and if Arencibia plays better on his second trip through the league then his value would increase.
AA says he is happy with Rasmus in centre, I am sure he is but there is a lot of hope that he plays better in that happiness.
Finally, the Jays have a shopping list for trades, Alex might have a sore throat by the time Thursday comes around.
“I don’t get to see the Colorado Rockies or the San Diego Padres that often,” he said. “Everyone knows our holes. We discussed other teams, how many years of control does a player have, what a team will do if a free agent leaves, what are a team’s needs. We’re got a lot of balls in the air.”
Aaron Hill will not be back with the Jays anytime soon. He has re-upped with the D'Backs. Who will play second base?
Mike Matheny is the new manager of the Cardinals. It looks like Terry Francona will have a year off.
What else is going on?