Thursday, 1 November 2012

Offseason Plans: Part Two

Here's part one, examining the offseason contract issues that AA and his staff are going to have to deal with. Part two will look at the areas of need, and who might be able to fill those areas.

Starting Pitching
The current mix includes Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow, and not a whole lot else right now.  Henderson Alvarez could probably use time in the minors to develop, and it looks like Brett Cecil's days as a starter are finished.  Carlos Villanueva is probably gone via free agency, and guys like Drabek and Hutchison probably won't be ready to go to begin the season.  The Jays do have a number of prospects in their minor league system, but there doesn't appear to be a lot of depth in the upper minor leagues, as most of their highly regarded prospects played in A-ball this past season.  Chad Jenkins is certainly an option to fill out the back-end, as is JA Happ, but I'm sure AA would like to add another sure thing or two.

James Shields and David Price have both come up in trade rumors in the last while, but I doubt AA and Andrew Friedman will be able to work anything out in a trade, considering the division thing.  Arizona and Atlanta both have deep rotations, so there may be a couple of trade partners there, and the Mets should probably be thinking about trading Jon Niese.  The Angels will probably trade Dan Haren in the next 24 hours, so anybody who would be willing to pay Haren somewhere in the range of $13MM (assuming the Angels eat some cash the way they did with Santana) should place a call.  Texas has been rumored to be willing to move a pitcher as well.

As far as free agents, Zach Greinke is the only real beast out there.  His most likely landing spot is back in LA with the Angels, but money talks.  I expect Greinke to get at least 5 years and $20MM+ per season.

Behind Greinke, the best pitcher on the market is probably either Brandon McCarthy or Kyle Lohse.  Lohse is a little bit higher-profile, and is probably in the market for a $12MM salary over a multi-year deal.  McCarthy will probably be a bit cheaper, but he has a history of injuries, has only been good at pitching for two years, and just had brain surgery.  Couple red flags.

Anibal Sanchez will probably cost you 4/50 or 5/60, despite being slightly above average. Edwin Jackson is similar, but less effective option, and is probably looking for something in the 3/30 mold.  He's a league average pitcher (who throws a lot of innings, mind you).

There are obviously a lot more names that could be added to this list, but I won't waste a lot of time on them.  Hiroki Kuroda will probably limit his market again,   Joe Blanton, Ryan Dempster, and Dice-K are all free agents as well.

Second Base
The Jays do have internal options at 2b, with Mike Aviles, Yunel Escobar and Adeiny Hechavarria all being shortstops that could contribute to the team as is.  Obviously someone would have to shift over (Aviles has the most experience at 2b), but the team could explore some trades to bring someone in, or find an option in free agency.

Rumors have been circulating around Texas' middle infield situation, with Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus, and Jurickson Profar all being viable middle infield options, with only two spots between the three.  Profar is still very young, and could certainly start the year in the minors, but if Kinsler is available, I'd listen. The Twins could consider moving Jamie Carroll if they don't plan on contending this year.

Free agency is pretty light as far as 2B's go.  My personal wish-list item is, and has been for a while, Jeff Keppinger, who had a great season.  I think he's naturally a shortstop, but that didn't stop him from playing quite a bit of 2B this year.  The only other real option I see is Marco Scutaro, and he's probably going to return to SF.  Kelly Johnson could be a contingency plan.

Left Field or First Base
I wrote it this way here since there's room for another 1B, but they're just a little more scarce, so an outfielder might have to do.  Basically, it's either Rajai Davis in LF and find someone to split time with Edwin (i.e. alternate DH days), or find a LF with a big bat and relegate Rajai to the bench, and kind of platoon your DH situation.

I'm looking at a guy like Billy Butler or Josh Willingham, depending on their availability.  Butler slots in as the everyday DH, getting Edwin the odd half-day off at 1B, giving Rajai the LF job until something better comes along (platoon Gose?).  Willingham, on the other hand, could get LF duties, sending Davis to the bench and having Edwin play 1B most days.  Something like that anyway.

Alfonso Soriano or Justin Morneau could be available in trades as well, along those same lines.

Free agents could include Nick Swisher, depending on a price tag and willingness to play LF/1B/DH instead of RF, Cody Ross, Melky Cabrera, and Andruw Jones.

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