I'm just going to take a moment to review some of the transactions, reports, interviews and rumors that have floated over the wire in the last month or so where I have some thought or comment.
NEW item: Darren Oliver WILL return for 2013 for his 20th season in pursuit of his first ring. Following items edited to reflect new info.
Item: Colby Rasmus avoids arbitration, signed for one year at $4.675 mil. That brings the total of guaranteed contracts to $112.575 million for 17 players, including Dustin McGowan.. There are three other players still arb eligible (Thole, Bonifacio, Happ) and my estimate is that they will combine to make about 7.5 million. We'll assume for the purpose of this exercise that McGowan will be on the DL, since we need one more hitter for the proper ratio. Among the 12 non-pitchers who can confidently be assumed to the major league roster, only two - Lawrie and Arencibia - are pre-arb. Among the pitchers, you have the rotation set and under contract, and potentially 3 pre-arb players - Delenbar, Cecil, and one from among Lincoln, Rogers (out of options) and Jefress (ditto) - filing out the bullpen. Five pre-arb players at no more than half a mil apiece adds another $2.5 mil to the total. Plus the unknown 13th hitter who will make at least half a mil.
NEW item the second: All arbitration cases settled. Thole signs for 2 years, 1.25 mil per; Bonifacio comes in at 2.6; Happ at 3.7 - for a total, in 2013, of $7.55 mil. See my estimate above.
s here's the latest revision:
Under contract: $120.125 (20 players out of 26 - given McGowan)
Six pre-arb spots: $3 mil at least
Three injured players who will be on 60 day DL (whom i neglected to include before): $1.5 mil (roughly)
That adds up to right around $124.625 million.
(subject to the potential salary of the unknown "13th hitter"
Item: The Oliver announcement likely puts an end to the whole "I wouldn't mind adding one more reliever" meme from Alex. In the highly unlikely event that it doesn't, i move they sign Brandon Lyon already. The market has been stone silent in terms of rumors about Brandon Lyon. He was here last year, pitched well here, apparently likes it, surely can see that he's dealing with a contender...and if the Jays are going to sign some veteran guy, I can't see a good argument for looking elsewhere.
Item: Henry Blanco? lest you be confused - Blanco is insurance. There's a reason his contract is non-guaranteed. He's a Plan B if Thole has injury issues (or JP for that matter) and that particularly in Spring Training. Odds are that he'll serve as a sort of player coach in the spring helping school JP and others in the fine art of catching the knuckler. Then he'll shuffle off to Buffalo and be ready in case of an in-season emergency. Yes technically he can walk away if they try to send him down, but the odds of a 41 year old catcher finding work on the first of April would not be promising.
Item: Minor league maneuvers and the Buffalo roster.While there are still likely more signings, waiver claims, and such like to come, a preliminary look won't hurt. We learned yesterday that Adam Loewen is back in the system and while I no longer harbor high hopes of his eventually making his way to a regular major league job, I still have a soft spot for him and his story. So with that in mind I'll look at the hitters in AAA since there's less maneuvering there anyway. So barring further acquisitions:
If Blanco accepts a demotion, he and Mike Nicaks are easily identifiable as the catching crew. Neither ofthe guys on the prospect list needs to be here yet. David Cooper, unless he takes Lind's job from him in the Spring, will be at 1B, Ryan Goins will certainly move up to take over at SS, and the rest of the infield will be populated with journeyman and filler, no better than Mike McCoy (who may be the default third baseman).. In the outfield, Anthony Gose and Moises Sierra own CF and RF respectively, while LF will be a competition between Keenen Bailli, Richardo Nanita, and Loewen, with one of those likely being the primary DH as well. Ryan Langerhans will surely make the team as a valuable backup as well.
Among the pitchers, the story is much more complex. Starting with the rotation, some assumptions are in order about who makes the cut for the Blue Jays.For the purpose of this exercise, I'm going to assume that in Oliver's absence, that Cecil (who's out of options) and JA Happ (who's not) are the bullpen lefties. There's a non-zero possibility that Happ is sent to Buffalo to stay stretched out in the rotation but he would be rightfully very unhappy about that. Beyond that, I assume Janssen, Santos, Delenbar, Lincoln, and Rogers (also out of options) make it in the absence of any additions. That means the Buffalo staff begins to shape up like this:
Starters - Chad Jenkins (will surely start in the minors no matter his major league future; Jeremy Jefress (in the unlikely event that he clears waivers, he's out of options too); John Stilson (speculative, he might go back to New Hampshire); Brad Lincoln (if he doesn't make the major league bullpen, he'd likely start in the minors just to provide an emergency alternative);David Bush, Greg Smith. Justin Germano and Ramon Ortiz are the fallbacks for Jefress departing or any other setback, as well as being bullpen candidates.
Relievers - prospects Evan Crawford and Aaron Loup, assuming they are not in Toronto, head this group. Sam Dyson might be here, or might get started at AA in April. Alan Farina has an outside shot. The balance will be made up from the following group, in rough order of quality: Tommy Hottovy, Mickey Storey, Chad Beck, Trystan Magnuson, Justin Germano (needed as an emergency starter at least) Rich Thompson,
That's 8-10 possibilities, other, less qualified IMO, sgniees include Niel Wagner, Alex Hinshaw, Juan Perez, Claudio Vargas, Mike Banaka, Bobby Korecky, and Buddy Carlyle. Some of the overflow will go to AA, a lot of it will be released. By necessity, there's no point in trying to project whether, in August, Kyle Drabek, Drew Hutchison and/or Luis Perez push some of these guys aside.
Item: Justin Jackson, pitcher. According to a tweet from the no-hit shortstop (nee center fielder) the player and team have decided he's never going to hit and they are going to see if he can learn to pitch. He's always had a heckuva arm so don't rule it out.
Item: World Baseball Classic. RA Dickey and JP Arencibia are on the U.S. squad and may not be the only ones. The should get valuable bonding time out of the experience. Brett Lawrie will play for the Canadian squad. Encarnacion and Jose Reyes will suit up for the Dominican. All this takes place in March so there will be some interesting adjustments necessary for the Blue Jays. One thing you can count on, guys like Coper and Gose will get a lot of playing time, and with Izturus at SS on many occasions, Bonifacio should get a lot of work too. We must hope that this team, which needs time to "gel" won't get off to a slower start than they would like to because of the disruption.