First off, congratulations to the New York Yankees on becoming the 2009 World Series champions (and for making me look smart by coming through on my prediction of them earning baseball’s biggest crown in six games).
That was a great Fall Classic. Cliff Lee’s mastery in Game 1. Chase Utley’s power surge, tying Reggie Jackson’s 1977 mark of five World Series homers. Johnny Damon pulling off a solo double steal to ignite a late rally and help the Yankees take a critical Game 4. Godzilla going off for six RBIs in the clincher in the Bronx.
Now, it’s officially the offseason. With the baseball season in the books, it’s time to look ahead. In 15 days, teams can begin offering contracts to any free agent they choose. Until then, teams have an exclusive negotiating window with their own free agents.
For your Toronto Blue Jays, they list of free agents include catcher Rod Barajas, shortstop Marco Scutaro, shortstop John McDonald, first baseman Kevin Millar and catcher Michael Barrett. Millar will not be back in 2010 and it’s a safe assumption that Barrett will also follow him to the open market.
Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos has maintained that the team has interest in retaining Barajas, Scutaro and McDonald. Will Toronto bring all three back? My educated guess is no. A lot depends on what direction the Jays take this year, and Anthopoulos will likely shed light on that this weekend.
Scutaro is coming off a career year and is eligible as a Type A free agent — something the Jays did not count on. That means Toronto would receive a pair of compensation picks if he signs with another club. Barajas is a Type B free agent, meaning the Jays would receive one sandwich compensation pick if he signs elsewhere.
As for McDonald, he rarely saw action in 2009 until the end of the year, when Scutaro was sidelined with a foot issue. It made sense to keep McDonald on the bench — given the season’s turned in by Scutaro and second baseman Aaron Hill — but he might want to see if there is a team out there willing to offer more playing time.
There are a number of other issues still unsettled — the future of ace Roy Halladay being front and center in the direction of the Blue Jays. Toronto will also likely be looking to upgrade its offense this winter and some rotation and bullpen help might not be a bad idea, either. It all depends on how much cash the Jays decide to spend.