Jays Care Foundation spreads holiday cheer in Toronto
By Gregor Chisholm
TORONTO -- The Jays Care Foundation made an impact this holiday season with contributions of more than $40,000 toward special programming throughout the Greater Toronto Area.
Jays Care is the charitable arm of the Blue Jays that focuses on improving the lives of children and youth in need across Canada. This year partnerships were reached with Eva's Initiatives, Youth Without Shelter and Moorelands Community Services.
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays' bullpen remains a work in progress as the club continues to search for ways to improve what became a noticeable area of weakness throughout the 2014 season.
Toronto is expected to add at least a couple of relievers in the coming weeks and one of those will have to be a closer if -- as expected -- free agent Casey Janssen doesn't return to the organization.
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays added pitching depth Friday by claiming left-hander Juan Oramas off waivers from the Padres and signing left-hander Andrew Albers to a Minor League contract.
Oramas was in San Diego's system for eight seasons and compiled a 47-29 record with a 3.40 ERA in 158 games, including 111 starts. He spent most of 2014 at Triple-A El Paso and posted a 5.61 ERA in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League.
TORONTO -- Baseball has taken Blue Jays first-base coach Tim Leiper all over the world, and this offseason an opportunity to help grow the game even more brought him to the unlikely destination of Johannesburg, South Africa.
South Africa isn't exactly known for its love of baseball, but for the past four years, it has served as the host country for the African Elite Camp. The annual event is the largest baseball development project in Africa and brings the continent's top players together with Major League coaches and instructors.
It's the middle of the offseason, and Josh Donaldson is neither in his new city (Toronto) or his old one (Oakland). Instead, he's in Cincinnati, taking in the Monday Night Football matchup between the Bengals and Broncos. And if you're wondering who Donaldson is rooting for, well:
Melky Cabrera didn't end up getting the five-year deal he was looking for, so why didn't the Blue Jays make more of an effort to bring him back? He was a great fit and it seemed like he really enjoyed Toronto.
-- Robert W., Waterloo, Ontario
Cabrera's market never really developed as expected, but perhaps that shouldn't be surprising. His value took a hit when he received a qualifying offer from the Blue Jays, because there are a lot of teams that balk at parting with a first-round Draft pick to sign a free agent. Combine that with the fact that Cabrera was suspended in 2012 for elevated levels of testosterone, as well as his somewhat inconsistent track record, and it was enough to keep some organizations away.
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays signed first baseman Daric Barton to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training on Tuesday afternoon.
Barton has spent most of the past three seasons in Oakland's organization at Triple-A Sacramento. The 29-year-old has appeared in parts of eight years at the big league level, but he hasn't been a regular starter since 2010.
At MLBPipeline.com, we've been busy making our lists and checking them twice. There was a lot of trade activity at the Winter Meetings, and every time a deal happens, we adjust the appropriate team Top 20 lists at Prospect Watch. We're still waiting for the Dodgers' moves to send Matt Kemp to the Padres and acquire Jimmy Rollins from the Phillies to become official, and then we'll update those Top 20s as well.
Our next big project is to determine our Top 100 Prospects list for 2015. We're in the preliminary stages of putting those rankings together and will unveil them in the second half of January. This is my last Pipeline Inbox before Hanukkah and Christmas, so happy holidays to everyone!
SAN DIEGO -- The Blue Jays' contingent departed the Winter Meetings on Thursday morning without anything to show for the trip to the West Coast, but the hope is that there's more clarity about how to move forward.
Toronto is clearly focused on upgrading its bullpen, but when a number of relievers went off the board this week -- David Robertson signed with the White Sox, while Pat Neshek and Luke Gregerson joined the Astros -- the Blue Jays declined to get involved.
The Blue Jays signed three players -- right-handed pitcher Wilton Lopez, outfielder Caleb Gindl and infielder Jake Fox -- to Minor League contracts Friday, with each receiving invites to Major League Spring Training.
Fox, 32, spent parts of four seasons in the Majors from 2007-11 with the Cubs, A's and Orioles. His best season came in 2009 with Chicago, where he played in 82 games and hit .259/.311/.468 with 11 homers and 44 RBIs.
Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
2014 Rule 5 Draft results
The final day of the Winter Meetings began with the annual Rule 5 Draft. Teams were only able to make a selection if it had space on its 40-man roster.
ROUND 1 1. Arizona Diamondbacks: C Oscar Hernandez, Rays 2. Colorado Rockies: IF Mark Canha, Marlins 3. Texas Rangers: OF Delino DeShields Jr., Astros 4. Houston Astros: RHP Jason Garcia, Red Sox 5. Minnesota Twins: RHP J.R. Graham, Braves 6. Boston Red Sox: RHP Jandel Gustave, Astros 7. Chicago Cubs: SS Taylor Featherston, Rockies 8. Philadelphia Phillies: IF David Herrera, Rangers 9. Miami Marlins: LHP Andrew McKirahan, Cubs 10. New York Mets: LHP Sean Gilmartin, Twins 11. Atlanta Braves: RHP Daniel Winkler, Rockies 12. Seattle Mariners: LHP David Rollins, Astros 13. Baltimore Orioles: RHP Logan Verrett, Mets
SAN DIEGO -- The Blue Jays appear more inclined to improve their bullpen through trades as opposed to free agency after spending the past several weeks closely monitoring each market.
Toronto needs to make at least a pair of additions to a bullpen that struggled throughout the 2014 season. When the offseason began, the club spent an equal amount of time exploring both options but the focus has since changed and trades now seem like a more plausible scenario.
SAN DIEGO -- The Blue Jays' Winter Tour is set to make its annual return in January, with stops in Toronto, Calgary, Banff and Vancouver.
The cross-country tour was created in 2011 under the guidance of president Paul Beeston and senior vice president of business operations Stephen Brooks. It was based on the caravan tour that Toronto did throughout the late 1970s and early '80s.
SAN DIEGO -- Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos arrived at the Winter Meetings earlier this week with the goal of improving his bullpen, and that remained the focus as the annual event hit the midway point on Tuesday.
Toronto has yet to make any major moves while visiting Southern California. The Blue Jays claimed first baseman Chris Colabello off waivers from the Twins and reportedly hired Dane Johnson as the new bullpen coach, but upgrades in the bullpen have been lacking.
SAN DIEGO -- Blue Jays manager John Gibbons believes that the recently signed Russell Martin will be an "ideal fit" for the second spot of Toronto's batting order.
Martin joined the club earlier this offseason on a five-year contract worth $82 million. Even though Spring Training is still a couple of months away, it appears as though Gibbons is set on using Martin near the top of the order.
SAN DIEGO -- The Blue Jays have been very open about the fact that Dioner Navarro is available through trade, but Alex Anthopoulos insists he won't make a deal that weakens his team.
Toronto's general manager said "clubs have asked" about Navarro, but Anthopoulos declined to get into specifics about the nature of those talks. A trade remains preferable for all parties, but unless a suitable offer surfaces, there's a chance that Navarro could return in 2015.
SAN DIEGO -- Rumors have been swirling this week about the future of longtime Blue Jays president and CEO Paul Beeston, but when it comes to the Winter Meetings, general manager Alex Anthopoulos claims it has been business as normal.
Beeston was one of the biggest storylines on the eve of the annual meetings in San Diego. Multiple reports suggested Toronto asked for permission to speak with Baltimore's Dan Duquette and Chicago's Ken Williams while another article by the Toronto Sun claimed Beeston would remain in the fold for another year.
24 years ago, the Blue Jays acquired Roberto Alomar
By Gemma Kaneko |
The year was 1990. Everyone's favorite movie was Home Alone, Iggy Azalea was just a string of nonsense words, and Pat Gillick was the general manager of the Blue Jays. Just before the Winter Meetings, he called his wife to tell her that he'd traded Tony Fernandez and her favorite player, Fred McGriff, to the Padres.
SEATTLE -- Michael Saunders is leaving the only professional baseball club he's ever known, but not without wanting to make one thing clear after being traded on Wednesday for Toronto left-hander J.A. Happ.
Although there has been talk this offseason of unhappiness between Saunders and the Mariners, the 27-year-old outfielder said it won't be easy leaving Seattle despite joining a club that plans to play him every day in left field and figures to be a strong contender in the American League East.
SAN DIEGO -- The Blue Jays reportedly are actively seeking a replacement for longtime president and CEO Paul Beeston.
According to a report from ESPN, Toronto's search has progressed to the point where it is identifying possible candidates. The report also suggests that the Blue Jays have asked for permission to talk with Baltimore's Dan Duquette and Chicago's Ken Williams, though both men downplayed any potential match on Sunday.
New addition is expected to assume starting job in left field
By Gregor Chisholm
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays filled their hole in left field on Wednesday by acquiring Michael Saunders from Seattle in a deal for left-hander J.A. Happ.
The trade all but officially guarantees that free agent Melky Cabrera will not be retained by the club. Toronto had interest in re-signing Cabrera, but it does not appear as though the two sides ever got close to agreeing on a lucrative multi-year contract.
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays haven't parted ways with Justin Smoak after all, as they instead signed the first baseman to a one-year contract worth $1 million on Wednesday.
Toronto non-tendered Smoak prior to Tuesday night's deadline because he was projected to earn approximately $3 million through arbitration. That was too much for the Blue Jays' liking, but they still had interest at lower terms.
Duke's Matuella, 2014 top pick Aiken follow Florida high school infielder on Top 50 list
By Jim Callis
For the second time in their history, the Arizona Diamondbacks own the top pick in the First-Year Player Draft. The first time that happened, in 2005, they took a high school shortstop with a potent bat.
Ten years after grabbing Justin Upton, the D-backs could follow a similar path. Lake Mary (Fla.) High School shortstop Brendan Rodgers sits atop MLBPipeline.com's initial Draft Top 50 rankings, thanks to his three plus tools (bat, power, arm) complemented by two solid ones (speed, defense). Unlike Upton, who immediately moved to the outfield as a professional, Rodgers should remain at shortstop.
TORONTO -- Jose Bautista was named the Blue Jays' Player of the Year on Wednesday afternoon by the Toronto chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.
Bautista received all 13 first-place votes en route to becoming a unanimous winner. Edwin Encarnacion finished second in the voting, while Melky Cabrera and Jose Reyes were third and fourth, respectively.
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays did not tender contracts to outfielders John Mayberry Jr. and Andy Dirks or first baseman Justin Smoak prior to Tuesday night's deadline. However, the club reached an agreement on a one-year, $1 million contract with Smoak on Wednesday.
Mayberry and Dirks were eligible for salary arbitration but now are free agents.