Japanese Media Not Saying Jays Have Signed Toritani, But They Are Saying Something

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My Japanese is… nonexistent. But Jays fan @Daisy_child‘s isn’t, and she passes along this Yahoo! Japan report (translated) that suggests to us that the Jays are getting close (or something) to being serious about adding a second baseman. And not just any second baseman, but Takashi Toritani, the supremely-durable, high on-base shortstop (who will shift to second in North America) of the Hanshin Tigers.

I gave as much background as I could on him yesterday, after reports first surfaced — and after his agent, Scott Boras, said that there had been discussions about the player between him and the Jays. Shi Davidi confirmed at Sportsnet something that was in the original Japanese report, telling us that “Dan Evans, who covers the Pacific Rim for the Blue Jays, was seen scouting him during the Japan Series, so they’ve done some work on him.”

But don’t let the splashy translated headline fool you. If you read the report — even the translated one — it’s clear that this is far from a done deal as yet.

To wit:

Boras said about the time limit “after the winter meetings, to some relationship with the Hanshin. That will talks with birds, you want to decide during December,” he said. If consideration of the Christmas holiday, the rest but about two weeks, and was confident by the end of the year settled, it’s evidence that feels the response to negotiations under the surface of the water. Boras said was to have a also includes the residual as “there is a possibility that remains to Hanshin”, even during this month, tiger of captain is likely to be across the sea.

Well that totally clears it up!

Oh, OK. This helps a little more, I suppose:

So… there’s that.

A Flurry Of Transactions As The Winter Meetings Come To A Close (But None For The Jays)

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Smarf magically making transactions appear (or something)

Pitchers for everyone!

The Winter Meetings have essentially come to a close — the Rule 5 draft is over, and clubs are getting ready for their flights home, if they’re not already on them — but not before a flurry of activity that saw a bunch of teams fill a bunch of needs, a couple teams finally face the reality that is rebuilding, and the Red Sox cobble together a big chunk of a rotation that still doesn’t necessarily look great, but probably will once they add a James Shields or Max Scherzer to the mix.

Ugh.

Let’s review just what the hell has happened in the last twelve hours (with the help of the invaluable MLB Trade Rumours, which has all the relevant links for every move in one tidy place).

The Dodgers added Brandon McCarthy, signing him to a four-year, $48-million deal on the basis of the half season in which he wasn’t terrible in the first season in who-knows-how-long that he was healthy. And I kind of like McCarthy! But I get why the Jays didn’t go there — 4/48 just isn’t nearly the same to the Dodgers as it is to them.

The Dodgers and Marlins made a big trade, sending Dee Gordon to Miami, and Andrew Heaney to L.A. (temporarily). Plus some other guys. Lots of Jays fans had big dreams of Gordon, but the centrepiece going the other way was the Norris-esque Heaney, so you understand why they didn’t. That is, if you didn’t already understand that Gordon was as bad as ever after a torrid start to 2014, and the Dodgers did well selling high.

Heaney was then flipped for Howie Kendrick, again making us think about Dan Norris (or maybe Sean Nolin, though I’d figure Heaney is between the two, closer to the former — unless I’m overvaluing Norris here). One year of Kendrick? That’s a high cost. I wonder what the Jays were going to get him for, before the whole no-trade thing came into play (or so I choose to believe)?

The Red Sox dealt for Wade Miley, which I wrote about at the time, because you know what they say: you can never have too much Wade Miley content.

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Reliving And Making Sense Of A.A.’s Wednesday Afternoon Scrum

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Alex Anthopoulos had a scrum this afternoon with reporters at the Winter Meetings in San Diego, as is tradition, and while some of the most important stuff has already been covered in my post about payroll parameters once again potentially rearing their ugly head, there are still many more things he spoke about worth noting. So… um… let’s note some of them, by reliving the scrum chronologically through tweets from the local media…

  • Ben Nicholson-Smith was first out of the gate, tweeting what we’ve all surely heard by now: that Anthopoulos figures he’ll be looking to make trades to get relief help, rather than looking at the free agent market, with Barry Davis adding that the G.M. doesn’t anticipate any moves getting done while in San Diego.

The second part is unsurprising — Alex prepared us well in advance for the fact that it’s his preference to make his moves before or after the event, but not during, though he later added that it’s possible something could come together quickly, so we can’t quite yet rule anything out.

As for the first part, maybe it’s true. Or maybe it’s posturing for the benefit of some agent. Whatever the case, it definitely doesn’t make sense — at least not if taken literally. Maybe if he means to get bona fide late inning help, sure. But there are going to be a tonne of arms out there for cheap and for minor league deals with invites.

Maybe not what we want to hear on the matter, but building a bullpen that way couldn’t hurt. I mean, look at the 2013 bullpen that worked so well for this club. The eight guys with the most innings without a start that year for the Jays? Janssen, Loup, Cecil, Delabar, Oliver, Wagner, Perez, and Lincoln.

Not exactly a who’s who.

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Gregor Chisholm Lays Down An Excellent, Deflating Point About Payroll

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Where’s the money, Anthopoulos?

Alex Anthopoulos spoke to reporters this afternoon, discussing things like the relievers signings made by the Astros — Luke Gregerson and Pat Neshek both went to Houston, in part, perhaps, because of Texas’s lack of a state income tax — which has all been excellently recapped in a piece at BlueJays.com by Gregor Chisholm.

But it’s when he goes beyond the quotes, and starts talking about payroll, what might be available, and why, that Gregor’s piece really gets ones wheels turning. And not necessarily in a good way.

To wit:

The Blue Jays are expected to have an increased payroll in 2015, but there are a number of factors that will be a concern for the organization. Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, R.A. Dickey and Ricky Romero can be bought out of their contracts at the end of the ’15 season for a combined $4.6 million. Romero is the only one of that group that’s expected to have his option terminated, but there is still time for that to change.

If Bautista, Encarnacion or Dickey suffered a serious injury that jeopardized the 2016 season, the options could be bought out. Even if that’s unlikely it’s something the organization will have to take into consideration for accounting purposes. In other words, the buyout would have to be paid immediately and could not be deferred to the following season.

The Jays, he’s surmising, can’t plan on a gift from ownership if they’re tight against their budget number come next November, so whatever that limit is, they need to be sure the money to pay those buyouts is there. They can’t spend quite to their full budget, they have to be $4.6-million under, just to be safe.

Of course, that was the situation last season, too. There were $1-million buyouts for Adam Lind and Brandon Morrow, $750K for Sergio Santos, $500K for Dustin McGowan, and $200K for J.A. Happ. So that’s almost $3.5-million there. But I think the point is that we maybe can’t just look at last year’s $137.2-million payroll figure and assume to get to there from where they are now is entirely simple.

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Red Sox Land Wade Miley (Possibly?)

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Ken Rosenthal tweets that Diamondbacks starter Wade Miley is on his way to Boston in exchange for Allan Webster and Rubby de la Rosa (though according to a tweet from Bob Nightengale, Dave Stewart — who is suddenly all reluctant to talk — says there’s no deal in place). Both prospects have struggled to find their feet in the big leagues, but perhaps especially intrigued Arizona because they came from the Dodgers, where Diamondbacks’ Senior VP De Jon Watson had them, as Jon Morosi points out.

They were nice pieces of depth for the Red Sox, but you can understand their moving them for a guy with a better track record. I mean, as much as talent and potential and projections mean a whole lot, when it’s your job on the line, and you truly expect results — as opposed than just hoping for them — there is value in knowing that someone has done it before. That’s something I think the Jays are thinking about in their quest for relief help too — they certainly could just collect cheap arms and hope for the best, but you understand the temptation to feel that much more comfortable.

But… um… exactly how much more comfortable is Boston going to be with Miley? I guess quite a bit — enough to part with the two arms, plus a third as-yet-unnamed prospect — but should they be?

I said on Twitter when this trade broke that I’ve learned my lesson about laughing at the Red Sox, so I’ll refrain from that, but… well… I can’t say I’m particularly nervous that, instead of Jon Lester, the durable left-hander who is now a member of Boston’s rotation is the guy who has been hit to the tune of .263/.324/.422 by right-handed hitters in his career (albeit while playing in a hitter-friendly home park).

I suspect Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, and Josh Donaldson aren’t particularly nervous about it either.

Which isn’t to say that Miley isn’t a nice piece — I wrote about Miley and the Jays this morning (and, for what it’s worth, didn’t see a fit if the starting point was going to be Dioner Navarro) and definitely highlighted some positive — It’s just… this could be fun.

And now Arizona has an extra arm, too — possibly making one of their relievers available (like Ziegler, who I wrote about earlier, or Addison Reed, who some readers pointed out).

So… there’s that.

Image via sec116pix/Flickr