Man, everything is such a stretch to be called news at this time of year. Most teams are all set, with the odd exception of a position battle or minor league depth, and the major free agents that are still out there have already been written about so much that it's too hard to believe anything that we hear is true. Nobody seems to be jumping out to sign Roy Oswalt, despite the fact that he's too perfect a fit for the Blue Jays for it not to happen, especially now that he's only looking for a 1-year deal. I might make a full post out of that in a day or two if nothing newsworthy happens, otherwise you'll have to figure it out yourselves. Speaking of Oswalt, the Red Sox are interested, but would apparently have to move payroll around to get him signed at that price, which should make him even more attractive to the Jays, in my opinion.
The only thing that ever really happens at this time of year, and it's not all that important to be quite honest, is a bunch of guys across the league agreeing to 1-year deals in order to avoid going to arbitration. Colby Rasmus agreed to a 1-year deal worth $2.7MM yesterday, for example. It's probably a slight overpay, based on MLBTR's projection model, which had Rasmus pegged at $2.3MM, but meh. The Jays haven't gone to arbitration since like 1997 or something, when Bill Risley decided to be a dick about it. Ben Francisco, Casey Janssen, Kelly Johnson, Brandon Morrow, and Carlos Villanueva remain as arbitration-eligible players without contracts. Morrow projects at $4.2MM and is an extension candidate, and Kelly Johnson will probably earn a raise from his $6MM salary from last year. Everybody else is looking at less than $2MM.
A few other guys around the league also avoided arbitration, such as Rick Porcello, Joel Hanrahan, and Jarred Saltalamacchia. Once again, this isn't big news, so we'll just move right along, but expect to hear about a million of these little signings over the next week or so. Players have until Wednesday at 11:59PM ET to file for arbitration. Players and teams will then exchange figures with the MLBPA and the arbiters, and any necessary hearings will take place between Feb 1-21. Expect a few extensions before and during that time period.
Sportsnet's Shi Davidi has a piece about Jays prospect Drew Hutchison, explaining how he fell to the Jays in the 15th round, due to signability concerns. The new CBA is looking to crush this type of occurrence in the future, with strict penalties for any team who goes significantly over the intended slot, which the Jays did, offering $400k to the 460th overall selection. In the future, the hope is that such harsh penalties will discourage players from using college as a leveraging chip, and should ensure that the best player available at the time is chosen. Expect Hutch at some point in 2012.
RotoAuthority is back up and running. If you're unfamiliar with rotoauthority but play fantasy baseball, I can give you a hint about why you lose at fantasy baseball every year. RA is the fantasy baseball info site that was run by MLBTR's Tim Dierkes for a while, before MLBTR blew up. He's hired some people to write on it consistently again, and has started with a look at the Jays LF situation. We'll get an eyeintheskydome fantasy baseball league going at some point over the next little while I'm sure.
Finally, Fangraphs uses the Michael Pineda/Jesus Montero trade, and by extension, the Oakland A's and San Diego Padres deals this offseason, as an excuse to evaluate the relationship between trades of young MLB-ready pitchers and the park factors. Pineda, just like Gio, Latos, and Cahill, was probably helped a fair amount by a spacious ballpark that inflates (deflates?) pitching numbers when compared with similar pitchers in neutral or hitter-friendly environments. Since it's so hard for teams in pitcher-friendly environments to sign power hitters, they need to trade for them.