Bird Seed: Burnett Narrows Options, Freeman Signs Huge Deal, Several Jays Announcements

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Bird Seed is your regular recap of recent baseball happenings, information, rumours, and how it all affects the Blue Jays.

Merry Monday! Yeah, yeah, I hate it too.

We begin with possibly the best pitcher on the market. A.J. Burnett, coming off of two seasons in which he accumulated 7.0 fWAR with the Pirates, has reportedly begun to narrow down his market. According to this tweet from Roch Kubatko of MASNsports, the outlook on the Orioles signing Burnett “doesn’t look good,” and that he’d rather pitch in the NL.

The prognosis on Burnett’s possible future as a Philly isn’t great either, with Ruben Amaro Jr. being quoted with the following:

“I don’t suspect we’ll be doing anything,” Amaro said. “I think we’ve got what we’ve got… We’re always looking, always trolling. I know there are guys out there, but I don’t suspect us having anything major coming through.”

It’s not all bad news for Burnett, though, as a new team may have joined the fray; the Washington Nationals. According to Jon Heyman, there is speculation inside the game that Burnett might end up in Washington. Last week, I outlined how Burnett has multiple teams in pursuit for him, as the 37 year old comes off of two excellent years with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

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Freddie Freeman, the 24 year old first baseman, has signed a gargantuan extension with the Atlanta Braves.

The hulking 6’5″ 225 first baseman agreed to an eight year, $135 million contract, coming off of a season in which he posted a 150 wRC+ to go along with 4.8 fWAR, accompanied by a .319/.396/.501 slash line and 23 dingers. Freeman has consistently been a big threat in the lineup, with a 127 career wRC+, but not only blew away his previous offensive performances, his defense stepped up as well, progressing from a -11.8 UZR in 2011 to a +2.4 UZR in 2013.

Freeman’s deal not only buys out his three years of arbitration, but his first five years of free agency. With an AAV of $16.875 million, the deal will expire in Freeman’s age 32 season. Freeman made his very first all star team last year, and finished second in the voting for Rookie of the Year in 2012.

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Your very own Toronto Blue Jays have a bunch of news to announce. First and foremost, the Blue Jays have signed Hansel Rodriguez, a 16 year old fireballer out of the DR, to a deal with a $300,000 signing bonus. According to BA, Rodriguez “is around 6-foot-2, 180 pounds with a fastball that sits in the low-90s and touches 95. Rodriguez also throws an above-average curveball, which had made him one of the top arms available in Latin America after going unsigned last year on July 2.” The deal was made possible by the Jays’ selection of Brian Moran in the Rule V draft and following trade of Moran to the Angels for a$243,500 in international bonus money.

Some extremely recent Jays news – today, actually- has the Jays as one of the teams to place a bid on South Korean righty Suk Min Yoon, according to Nick Cafardo:

We seem to be about a week away from a decision on where the South Korean will land. When Masahiro Tanaka was out there, teams considered him the best free agent pitcher, and now Yoon could be that guy. Concerns about an injury to his elbow have subsided, as medical reports have been studied closely by teams. There’s lots of competition for him. The Red Sox, Blue Jays, and Orioles in the AL East have made bids. The Diamondbacks also remain interested, but at this stage “it could be anybody,” according to a National League general manager.

Yoon, 27, has not pitched since his 2010 season, according to his Baseball Reference page. When he did pitch, however, he was very good, striking out 8.6 batters per 9 innings, accompanied by a 3.63 ERA in 50 games, 29 of which were starts. In the MLB, he profiles as anywhere between a back-end starter to a quality reliever, and certainly lacks the star power of Darvish.

The Blue Jays have also released their new batting practice cap, and it’s, well, ah.. it’s something alright. The cap hasn’t exactly drawn rave reviews as of yet, and I must say I understand, as I’m not particularly fond of the cap either. At least it’s not this.

And finally, the Blue Jays have announced that a new set of artificial turf will be installed for the final time at the Rogers Centre in 2015, and that for 2014, the Blue Jays will play on refurbished turf. This will be the final time turf is installed before natural grass is implemented in 2018, around when the Argonauts are forced to pack up and leave. As BlueBird Banter reports:

…Rogers Centre groundskeepers have been working on making improvements to the current AstroTurf GameDay Grass 3D turf this offseason. That turf is composed of five principal layers—as shown on the diagram on the AstroTurf website—a base layer, several backing layers, the infill layer, a “RootZone” layer which keeps the infill from splashing up, and the polyethylene “blades” layer.

seedFinally, we’ll end off with a few tidbits from around the league.

The Los Angeles Dodgers added Paul Maholm today. Maholm, 32, is coming off of a season in which his ERA of 4.41 was more than half a run higher than his xFIP of 3.89. The signing has lots of potential value for the Dodgers, who pitch in a very pitcher friendly park, and could also spell the end of Chris Capuano’s time in LA. Maholm’s deal could be worth as much as $6.5 million with incentives.

The Oakland Athletics have resigned Coco “Best Name In Modern History” Crisp to a two year pact worth I’m sorry please look at his hair. Regardless of his hair, which must be worth at least 3 fWAR, Crisp’s extension is worth $22.75 million including a $750k buyout if his vesting option is not triggered. Crisp is now under contract for three years and $29.75 million with a $12.25 million vesting option for 2017. Crisp is coming off of a 3.9 fWAR season in which he saw an uptick in home run power and offensive output in general, with a 117 wRC+.

Have a link that you think should be in Bird Seed? Tweet me @JacobDanovitch and let me know.

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Author: Jacob Danovitch

Jacob has been following baseball since he fell in love with it going to a baseball game at the age of four. He's played baseball from the age of six and plays competitive basketball as well. He fell in love with the sabermetric side of baseball after arguing about Yunel Escobar with a friend and using advanced stats to prove his case. Jacob enjoys music and reading in his little free time as well. He is a fan of the Maple Leafs, Raptors and Bills.

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