Bird Seed: Jays Window Shopping, Young Retires, Law Ranks Prospects
Bird Seed is your regular recap of recent baseball happenings, information, rumours, and how it all affects the Blue Jays.
Merry Monday, everyone! Congratulations to the [team name redacted for spoilers] for winning the Super Bowl! The fans in [city name redacted for spoilers] must be so happy!
Starting us off is a name that’s going to set off alarm bells in the heads of fans who only really pay attention to the AL East. A.J. Burnett has announced his intention to pitch in the 2014 MLB season, according to Travis Sawchik. The 37 year old has had a rather indecisive offseason up to this point, with uncertainty looming large over his status for 2014.
Burnett, who provided a cumulative 10.7 fWAR for the Toronto Blue Jays from the 2006-2008 seasons, is coming off of a two-year stint with the Pittsburgh Pirates in which he provided exactly 7.0 fWAR, over a remarkable 393.1 IP in the two seasons. Burnett has had his ups and downs over his career, ranging from 2 World Series championships to a 5.26 ERA with the Yankees in 2010, with a 4.49 xFIP, or from a 5.3 fWAR 2008 to… well, this.
Burnett already has suitors lining up for him as he may just be the best remaining starting pitcher on the market. The Rangers reportedly have some interest in Burnett, but a potential problem is Burnett’s wife’s fear of flying; in 2012, Burnett used his no-trade clause to veto a trade to Los Angeles (the Angels). This likely restricts his options to the East Coast, but Burnett has plenty of viable options; Nick Cafardo says that the Phillies, Pirates and Orioles are in on Burnett, and that the Yankees could be in on him as well, whereas your very own Blue Jays have been linked to Burnett, and the Rays have some interest too.
According to a report from Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet, the Blue Jays are in the mix for infielder Stephen Drew.
Drew, the younger brother of J.D. Drew, is coming off of a season in which he proved he’s still a valuable commodity, following up seasons of 1.7 and -0.3 fWAR with a big 3.4 fWAR 2013. A .337 wOBA and a 6.7 UZR/150 from Drew made up a year in which he was valuable on not only defense, but offense as well.
If Drew wants to expand his market to teams like the Blue Jays, or the Yankees – who are also reportedly in on Drew- he could show a willingness to play second or third base. A move to the keystone would benefit the Jays more than a starting pitching upgrade could if WAR is to be believed, replacing Ryan Goins at second, and Drew could have use in replacing Robinson Cano at second or getting some reps at the hot corner for the Yankees, who lost superstar third baseman… Vernon Wells?
Official member of the Regrettable Decisions Made By Gord Ash club (and pretty gosh darn good baseball player) Michael Young has decided to retire, despite three offers on the table.
Traded by the Blue Jays to the Rangers for Esteban Loaiza in the summer of 2000, Young broke in with two games that season for the Rangers. He made a statement in his third full season in the MLB, however, posting 2.8 fWAR over 713 PA. His best year likely came in 2005, in which he posted 4.4 fWAR with a 136 wRC+ and a pretty painful -23.2 UZR. After shifting to third base to accommodate Elvis Andrus in 2009, Young posted three more above average seasons for the Rangers. Then, 2012 happened.
He forgot how to hit. His 127 wRC+ of the previous year went down to just 79. He couldn’t field, either, costing his team 8.4 runs in the field. In all, he combined for -1.6 fWAR, a horrible year. It didn’t get much better in 2013, playing for mainly the Phllies but the Dodgers as well, posting -0.2 fWAR.
In all, Young posted 2,375 hits, 1,030 RBI, 185 dingers, 26.9 fWAR, a .300 average (.299949 actually, but hey, let’s let this one slide), 7 all star appearances, a batting title, and thousands of Jays fans wondering what could have been.
Keith Law, noted fan of Jays prospect Aaron Sanchez, posted his Top 10 Blue Jays prospects on the 29th. The top 10, in order, are:
- Aaron Sanchez (#30 in Law’s top 100)
- Marcus Stroman (#58 in Law’s top 100)
- Roberto Osuna
- Daniel Norris
- Adonys Cardona
- Jairo Labourt
- Alberto Tirado
- Franklin Barreto
- Dawel Lugo
- D.J. Davis
Law is a big fan of Aaron Sanchez, and appears to really like Adonys Cardona, who isn’t even listed among most Top 10 lists for the Jays. The young fireballer dealt with elbow issues and didn’t pitch much last year. Law also mentions Robson, DeJong and Pillar as players who just missed the cut.
Brace yourself for this next part. Law has former Jays prospects ranked rather high, with Noah Syndergaard at #24, Travis d’Arnaud at #36, Jake Marisnick at #84, and Justin Nicolino at #93. Ouch.
In other Blue Jays prospecting news, the Blue Jays signed seven players out of the Dominican Republic: RHP Jose Diaz, RHP Luis Gomez, RHP Jeffry Martinez, OF Francisco Rodriguez, RHP Luis Sanchez, SS Junior Vasquez, and RHP Thony Vinicio.
The Chicago Cubs have signed Jason Hammel to a one year, $6 million deal, with the potential for $1 million in incentives. The 31 year old posted an unsightly 4.97 ERA in 23 starts and 3 bullpen appearances with the Orioles last year, and owns a 4.80 ERA for his career.
The Seattle Mariners have signed Scott Baker to a one year, incentive-laden deal that can be worth a maximum of $4.25 million with a $1 million base salary. Baker has only started 3 games over the last two seasons as he continues a lengthy rehab from Tommy John surgery, but posted a 2.8 fWAR in 2011 with the Twins, and was a reliable option in the rotation prior to that, totaling 17.6 fWAR from 2005-2011 with Minnesota. Baker owns a career 4.14 ERA and 4.10 xFIP, and has averaged 3.2 fWAR per 180 innings pitched. The deal has the potential to be a massive bargain for the Mariners, and he will hopefully slot into the rotation with plenty of options such as Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakumi, Erasmo Ramirez, James Paxton, Taijuan Walker, Brandon Maurer, and maybe even Danny Hultzen.
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