December 2009

Accardo hoping to move on

accardo.jpgJeremy Accardo is one pitcher who wants to hit the free-agent market after Saturday’s tender deadline passes. The right-handed reliever is hoping the Blue Jays decide against offering him a contract for 2010, providing him with a fresh start.

“We’ve had no discussion with the club nor do we intend to,” Damon Lapa, Accardo’s agent, said in an e-mail on Friday night. “It is our hope that Jeremy is non tendered by the Jays.”

Clubs have until 11:59 p.m. ET on Saturday night to offer contracts to each of their arbitration-eligible players. Accardo is among a handful players who fit into that category for the Blue Jays, who are most likely trying to trade the pitcher before deciding whether to tender him a contract.

Last season, the Blue Jays took advantage of the fact that Accardo still had a player option, sending him back and forth between Triple-A Las Vegas and Toronto throughout the year. As a result, Accardo’s service time remains just shy of four years, meaning it will take an extra year for him to be eligible for free agency.

In the 26 games Accardo appeared in for the Blue Jays in 2009, the 27-year-old posted a 2.55 ERA with 18 strikeouts and 17 walks over 24 2/3 innings. Two years earlier, Accardo found himself in the closer’s role for Toronto after B.J. Ryan suffered an elbow injury, and the reliever saved 30 games and fashioned a 2.14 ERA over 64 appearances.

Accardo — acquired from the Giants in a three-player trade in July of 2006 — was under contract for $900,000 last season and could face a pay cut by hitting the open market. That is a risk the pitcher is ready to take.

Beyond Accardo, the Blue Jays have arbitration-eligible players in utlity man Jose Bautista, catcher Raul Chavez, as well as pitchers Shawn Camp, Jason Frasor, Brandon League, Shaun Marcum, Dustin McGowan and Brian Taller. Bautista, who posted a .235 average while earning $2.4 million, is the most likely non-tender candidate among that group.

ALSO: According to a report on FOXSports.com, the Blue Jays have some interest in free-agent outfielder Marcus Thames. A Jays source declined comment, but GM Alex Anthopoulos already saw his policy of not talking about reports or rumors when it was publicly confirmed on Thursday that the team has interest in outfielder Joey Gathright. Thames’ agent was not immediately available for comment, either. What is clear is that the Jays are looking for short-term solutions in the outfield, and Gathright and Thames fit that description.

–JB

Goodbye, Indianapolis

WMindy.gifMuch like previous Winter Meetings, I am now know the layout of this hotel like the back of my hand. For all the walking and talking, though, there was not much noise to be made here in Indianapolis. The Yankees made the biggest move with the three-team swap to land Curtis Granderson. The righ get richer.

Your Blue Jays?

Well, Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos — hoarse voice and all — did a ton of talking without revealing much of what is going on behind the scenes. The Jays bolted town with no moves completed with the exception of grabbing righty Zech Zinicola from the Nationals in the Rule 5 Draft.

Anthopoulos did at least acknowledge that there is indeed a  big “elephant in the room.” That, of course, is the future of ace Roy Halladay. Over the course of four days here, Anthopoulos began to open up slightly when asked about trade talks involving Doc. The young GM still made sure never to refer to Halladay by name in his answer, sticking to generalities.

What have we learned? Dending on who you talk to or which story you read, he Angels might have made an offer for Halladay that includes Joe Saunders, Erick Aybar and Pter Bourjos. Along with the Halos, the Phillies, even after the big Cliff Lee deal, appear to be the favorites now to land Halladay.

The Yankees and Red Sox are monitoring the situation, but are basically holding off until the Jays lower their asking price. New York might be hesitant to move more prospects after just pulling off the Granderson deal and Boston does not want to part with prized pitching prospect Casey Kelly, making a match with Toronto unlikely right now.

The Rays? They are very unlikely to land Doc, but they have the pieces to pull off such a move and the pitcher would likely approve a one-year stop in Tampa Bay before hitting free agency next winter. The Dodgers have talked to the Jays, but they don’t seem to be a fit. The Cubs have payroll issues and think Toronto’s asking price is a bit steep as well.

Will Halladay be moved? It never seemed likely that he was going to be shipped off during these Meetings and he’s still a Jay. It is still highly probable that he is dealt this winter, and the club knows it is in Doc’s best interest to swing a trade before Spring Training, if one is going to be completed.

Beyond Halladay, there’s still the search for a starting catcher and maybe some outfield and mound help. Free agency might net some short-term solutions for 2010 and 2011, but Anthopoulos is also poring over a pile of trade proposals and scenarios in order to potentially obtain some long-term pieces.

Not much was accomplished on the surface here in Indy. Behind closed doors, talks are definitely gainin in momentum.

I’ll leave you with some links from today before I hit the road…

Phils, Angels said to lead pack for Doc

More work for Anthopoulos after Meetings

Blue Jays pluck Zinicola in Rule 5 Draft

Gathright catches Blue Jays’ interest

–JB

Day 3 developments


DocWalk.jpgSome items of note from today:

1. According to Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun, the Angels are making a push for ace right-hander Roy Halladay and have offered LHP Joe Saunders, SS Erick Aybar and Minor League CF Peter Bourjos.

If the Jays agreed, Elliott says the team would then try to trade recently-signed SS Alex Gonzalez. Halladay prefers to pitch for a team that trains in Florida, but a source told MLB.com that hemight approve a move to the West Coast for 2010, considering he is a free-agent next winter.

2. Anthopoulos said the Tigers’ haul in the Detroit-Arizona-New York trade that sent Curtis Granderson is similar to what he is seeking in trade talks. The Tigers acquired outfield prospect Austin Jackson, as well as pitchers Max Scherzer, Daniel Schlereth and Phil Coke — all players under Detroit’s control for the next few years.

“It’s definitely similar,” Anthopoulos said. “I think the Orioles have definitely been similar with some of the things they’ve been trying to do — some of the trades that they’ve made. So, I think a lot of clubs obviously look at one of the greatest currencies in baseball is young, cheap controllable players. That’s why they’re so hard to acquire.”

3. It does not look like the Blue Jays will make any deals before leaving the Winter Meetings. Jays are “intrigued” by some players in the Rule 5 Draft, but that does not mean the club will use its pick on anyone.

“I wouldn’t expect to have anything done. Again, things can change so fast — we still have tonight and tomorrow morning. But, once the Rule 5 hits, everyone’s getting on planes.”

4. Anthopoulos is not losing sleep over having to explain to Blue Jays fans why he traded Roy Halladay, if he does indeed pull the trigger this winter.

“Any trades that we make, you make the evaluation based on, I know it’s cliche to say, but ‘What’s best for this organization?’ I think if you’re doing that then you will have a checklist and a list of reasons why things make sense for you. If you’re honest and you’re transparent, and you convey those reasons to the fan base, I think fans don’t necessarily get enough credit. They’re more educated than they were, I believe, when I was a fan. They understand rules. The understand contracts. They understand options. They understand finances. They understand more of the landscape.

“The information that is out there is incredible. I think the media outlets and the information that they can get is incredible. The reasons that we do things, again, I don’t expect everybody to agree with everything we do. That just goes without saying, but I think that everyone is going to understand that the reasons that we do things are going to be well-thought out. There will be a process in place and obviously everything that we are doing is what we feel is best for this organization.”

5. Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said Anthopoulos has kept him in the loop on all the offseason talks, even asking for his input on potential deals and moves. Gaston said once again that he believes Halladay will be moved.

“I don’t know when he’s going to leave, if he’s going to leave,” Gaston said. “I think he’s probably going to leave, but I’m just not sure when.”

6. Gaston plans on saying “Rzepczynski” every five days in 2010:

“Rzepczynski, if he can come back and pitch like he did, I mean, his record might not show how well he pitched, but if you go look at what guys hit off him, he had a great year for us as far as I’m concerned, and hopefully he’s going to be part of our rotation coming up this year.”

7. Gaston asked Dusty Baker about shortstop Alex Gonzalez and and the Reds manager had good things to say:

“Well, you know what, I was talking to Dusty earlier today, and Dusty likes him a lot. He says he’s a good player, plays hard, likes to play,” said Gaston, who then smiled. “We can always fall back to Johnny Mac.”

8. Leadoff off for your Toronto Blue Jays, as things currently stand: Jose Bautista.

“Unless we get some guys back that can fill that role, then you’re probably looking at Bautista there if you get him back,” Gaston said. “So once again, I mean, we really don’t know which way we’re going as far as players and things like that. I mean, if depends on a lot of what we get back.”

9. Marco Scutaro phoned Gaston today.

“Scutaro is gone, did a great job for us,” Gaston said. “I got a call from him today, and he just called to thank me for everything that we did for him, but I wanted to thank him for everything he did for us. I wish him the best.”

10. Gaston plans on trying Aaron Hill and Adam Lind in the third and fourth spots of the lineup, respectively, during Spring Training. But Lind has expressed that he has had a rough time over the years as a cleanup hitter.

“I’m going to try that in Spring Training and see if that works out for them,” Gaston said. “I don’t think it’s going to bother Hill too much, but I know Lind, even in high school and even in college, he said he’s just never really hit well in the fourth spot. If that’s in his head, then it’s not a good place to put him. We would have to find somewhere else to put him.”

“Maybe I might have to put Aaron back two and put Lind back three, but we’ll see. We’ll experiment with it and see what we have in Spring Training, see if they’re comfortable with it. Like I said, I don’t think it’s going to bother Aaron too much, but Lind, it’s kind of in his head a little bit — that spot is not too good for him. So, I don’t want to leave him in that spot if he feels that way.”

Would Gaston try Lind in the three spot and Hill fourth?

“Well, I’ve thought about that, too, and it would be something I would try. I just don’t want to put that much heat on him either, you know, going from second all the way to fourth. He might feel like he’s got to hit more home runs than he hit last year, which would be nice if that happen. That’s something to think about. Anything is possible.”

–JB

 

Day 3: Winter Meetings

CitoDoc.jpgHello from Day 3 of the Winter Meetings in Indianapolis. Day 2 saw a big three-team, seven-player trade between the Yankees, Tigers and D-backs, with the centerpiece of the deal being Curtis Granderson donning pinstripes.

All was quiet on the Roy Halladay front for the most part, with the exception of knowing that the Yanks’ move does not necessarily mean they are out of the running to acquire the ace. The Angels, Red Sox and Dodgers are all still involved as well.

Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston arrived yesterday as well and general manager Alex Anthopoulos noted that the skipper will be consulted on some player moves that impact the 2010 season. We’re scheduled to sit down with Gaston today to get his thoughts on all the offseason happenings and about his final season on the bench.

Behind the scenes, Anthopoulos is busy beyond just the ongoing Halladay talks, which are still in the early stages. It would be very surprising if the Jays dealt Doc here in Indianapolis. If Toronto does make a move, it’s more likely to be one that addressed one of the many other needs for the club.

Anthopoulos has noted that he has told rival GMs that every player on the Jays is available, just to initiate some creative conversations and to gauge what type of offers are out there — not to necessarily move the players. The Jays rookie GM is also working on three- and perhaps four-team scenarios to help the process.

“We have so many needs and we do want to add a lot of quality players,” Anthopoulos said on Tuesday. “I’m actively working on as many things as I can, to be honest with you. Most deals, in my mind … you may get five pieces back and four of the five really fit for you, and the fifth one might be a better fit for somebody else.

“If you can maximize your return moving that fifth piece to get something else, those are the type of things you try to do. The other scenarios are obviously if you like a player on a certain team and your roster doesn’t have a fit with that team. Well, maybe with your trade talks with other teams you can get something.”

In Halladay, Anthopoulos has a player who could help speed the process of stengthening the core of Toronto’s roster. The Jays want Major League-ready talent and young, controllable players to build around in order to improve the team’s long-term chances of contending. Free agency does not factor into that part of Anthopoulos’ plan.

“Free agency is something that’s going to fill the big league team for 2010,” Anthopoulos said. “We have some immediate needs — the first being behind the plate more than anything. It’s definitely there. Right now, the market just isn’t there for us — the values don’t line up with us and agents. But, there’s a lot of players out there that we like. I’ve certainly contacted a lot of the agents to try to get a sense of what their asking prices might be. Right now, I don’t see a fit.

“I’ve also contacted some agents for players that I felt we might go after should we trade a player and open up a spot. I’ve wanted to just touch base and know that, should we trade Player X, if we wanted to get a replacement, what might that expense be? So, when I’m looking at what the net return on the trade is and what the cost might be in signing a player, I can evaluate it before making that trade.”

On the catching front, the Blue Jays continue to be linked to Ryan Doumit of the Pirates. Toronto has inquired about the catcher with Pittsburgh and the teams are rumored to be discussing a potential deal — one that could include a third team. Anthopoulos reiterated on Tuesday that nothing was imminent or close in any of his trade talks.

Beyond finding a new starting catcher, the Blue Jays are also in the market for a corner outfielder and perhaps some help in the rotation and bullpen. As Toronto looks to address those needs, the club is interested to see which arbitration-eligible players might join the free-agent pool if they are not tendered contracts before Saturday’s deadline.

“Our conversations are moving along at the right pace,” Anthopoulos said. “We know that there are some dates that are going to fast approach and impact things — like the tender deadline — and that may impact things a little bit with respect to players becoming available and players we might go after. That may change things for us a little bit.”

Check back here later for more and don’t forget to follow me on twitter (@MLBastian).

–JB

 

Day 2: Winter Meetings



Thumbnail image for AA2.jpgFor the Blue Jays, there was a lot of talking and idea floating on the first day of these Winter Meetings in Indianapolis. Toronto is keying in on possible trades right now and that will likely remain the focus as we head into Day 2 today.

Obviously, when the words “trades” and “Blue Jays” are in the same sentence today, the first thing that comes to mind is this whole Roy Halladay situation. It’s not going away and the rumors will continue to pop up this week.

The one interesting rumor from Day 1 was the possible emergence of the Rays as a suitor for Halladay — perhaps as part of a three-team trade, but not necessarily. Names involved in the rumor from the Rays’ end were pitcher Wade Davis and outfielder B.J. Upton. In reality, if there is any merit to this, Toronto would have more interest in Davis than Upton, and another Rays prospect would likely be involved.

Looking closer at a potential Rays-Jays matchup, it seems like it could be a fit. Think about it. As a general philosophy, Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos is willing to consider offering a window for teams to discuss a contract extension with his players, but he has said on the record that he would prefer to avoid over-complicating any deals.

The Yankees, Red Sox and Angels will likely want to have a contract extension involved in any potential Halladay swap, especially if the Jays’ asking price remains steep. The same can’t be said for the Rays. A) Tampa Bay doesn’t have that kind of cash and B) Halladay might not want to talk about a long-term deal with a team coming off a third-place finish.

Halladay wants to pitch for a perennial contender for the World Series and he reportedly has a preference to be with a club that trains near his Florida home. Tampa Bay — two years removed from a World Series berth – would represent a one-year solution before Halladay hits the open market.

If the Jays do trade Doc, Anthopoulos also has to explain to the fanbase why he pulled the trigger. A trade to the rival Yankees and Red Sox — while still a realistic conclusion to all of this — would be a harder sell to Jays fans than a swap with Tampa Bay. It would also take the heat off the Jays if Halladay decides to sign with New York or Boston next winter.

Just a thought…

Here are some links from Day 1:

In Halladay talks, secrecy is critical

With ace in the hole, Jays target long-term gains

Barajas declines Blue Jays’ offer

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter (@MLBastian) for all the latest Jays updates and check back here later for more on the day’s happenings.

–JB

UPDATE: 7:55 pm

The Yankees stole the stage on Day 2 of the Winter Meetings, agreeing in principle to a three-team trade with the Tigers and Diamondbacks that will send center fielder Curtis Granderson to the Bronx.

That move does not necessarily mean that New York is about to pull itself out of the running for Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay — the hottest commodity on the open market. Speaking to Toronto, Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos acknowledged that no teams have ended any trade discussions on any of his players.

“I haven’t been told by any team, from discussions and conversations we’ve had, that they are not involved and don’t want to continue dialogue,” Anthopoulos said. “I have not had a club approach me yet and say, ‘That trade scenario we talked about, we’re no longer involved. We don’t want to be involved.’”

As part of the Yankees’ latest blockbuster deal, New York outfield prospect Austin Jackson would head to the Tigers. The Jays had reportedly expressed interest in Jackson in talks about a potential Halladay deal. Anthopoulos indicated that the trade was not likely to impact the Jays’ offseason plans.

“I don’t think it will really change a whole lot,” Anthopoulos said. “We’re very specific in what our wants are and what our needs are, and New York’s needs and ours aren’t necessarily the same — the positions we want to fill, the long-term players that we want to put in certain spots.”

The Yankees might not have informed the Blue Jays that they can no longer pursue Halladay, but the trade will likely lessen the chances of the star right-hander winding up in pinstripes. Halladay also has suitors in the Red Sox and Angels, perhaps the Phillies, and the Rays emerged on Monday as a possible darkhorse to land the pitcher.

ALSO OF NOTE: The Jays have called on Pirates catcher Ryan Doumit. Not huge news, since they’ve been linked to Doumit in rumors for a while. … Pitcher Brian Wolfe has elected for free agency. … Anthopoulos still has numerous talks going on the trade front, looking for young controllable players to help rebuild the Jays’ core. Anthopoulos noted that he is also floating some three-team trades to help the process. … Anthopoulos met with Doc’s reps at dinner on Monday night. … He has some trade offers currently on the table and has had a few free agents turn down offers.   

–JB

Rays interested in Halladay?

The Blue Jays are not against trading any player within the American League East, and the assumption has been that the Yankees and Red Sox will be the main suitors for ace pitcher Roy Halladay. It appears as though the Rays could also be in the mix.

On Monday, Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos told Toronto reporters that he has discussed a potential three-way trade with at least one rival GM, saying, “It’s very rare that two teams line up exactly with what the needs are.”

A report on FOXSports.com noted that the Rays have talked to the Jays about Halladay, and the clubs have discussed including a third team. Tampa Bay could reportedly offer pitcher Wade Davis and outfielder B.J. Upton, and Toronto might consider flipping Upton to another club as part of the trade.

The Yankees, Red Sox and Rays all train in Florida for spring, which is believed to be a requirement for Halladay when it comes to waiving his no-trade clause. The Phillies also fit into that category. The Angels have also been linked to the Halladay sweepstakes, but would likely only pursue the pitcher if he agreed to an extension as part of the trade.

With a desire to be on a team that has a chance to be a perennial World Series contender, as well as a preference to be with a club that trains near his Florida home, Halladay might be more open to talking about an extension with New York, Boston and Philadelphia than with the Angels or Rays.

–JB

Welcome to the Winter Meetings

indianapolis.jpgI’m in lovely Indianapolis for Day 1 of baseball’s Winter Meetings. Indy looks like that picture on the right — just with more clouds, no sun and about layer of snow right now.

Keep checking back here on the blog, on bluejays.com and on my Twitter feed (@MLBastian) to get the latest news and rumors for the Blue Jays.

Obviously, the big story surrounding Toronto is the future of ace pitcher Roy Halladay. The Jays will continue to listen to trade offers, with the Yankees and Red Sox, among others, in the mix to land Doc this winter.

Beyond Halladay’s situation, the Blue Jays are looking for a starting catcher, some outfield help and maybe some additional arms. Today is the deadline for free agents who have been offered arbitration to accept or decline. For Toronto, that now only applies to catcher Rod Barajas, and it seems highly unlikely that he’ll accept.

I’ll keep you posted on any developments with the Jays. Stay tuned for more…

–JB

Scutaro headed to Beantown

scutarocard.jpgAs soon as Marco Scutaro qualified as a Type A free agent, it appeared extremely unlikely that he would return to the Blue Jays this offseason. On Thursday night, Scutaro agree to terms on a two-year contract with the Red Sox, according to an industry source.

With Scutaro headed to Toronto’s American League East rivals in Boston, the Jays are now in line to receive a pair of compensatory picks in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft. Toronto gains a sandwich pick between the first and second rounds and — unless the Red Sox sign a higher-ranking free agent this winter — the Jays also gain a first-round pick from Boston.

It is fair to assume that the Blue Jays did not anticipate Scutaro developing into a Type A free agent when the club acquired him in a trade with Oakland in November of 2007. Toronto sent Minor League pitchers Graham Godfrey and Kristian Bell to the A’s for Scutaro, who was intended to be a super sub off the bench for the Jays.

Scutaro wound up playing 289 games in his two season with the Jays. Last winter, Toronto went looking for a shortstop, trying to land Rafael Furcal. When the hunt came up empty, the Jays handed the full-time role to Scutaro not knowing what to expect. In the first full-time role of his career, Scutaro thrived.

He drew 90 walks against 75 strikeouts in 2009, posting a .282 average with a .379 on-base while playing on a sore right heel for two months toward the end of the year. Scutaro belted 12 homers, swiped 14 bases, drove in 60 RBIs and crossed home plate 100 times — all while playing Gold Glove-caliber defense.

The Blue Jays discussed a two-year contract extension with Scutaro, but he wanted to test the waters this winter. It’s a thin market for shortstops, so coming off a career year, he was in a prime position to capitalize. Toronto signed shortstops Alex Gonzalez and John McDonald, knowing Scutaro’s departure was pretty much a given.

But, the Jays get two picks for Scutaro and will likely get another sandwich pick if Rod Barajas declines arbitration and signs with a new team as expected. That would give Toronto nine picks within the first three rounds, and that’s not something new GM Alex Anthopoulos is going to complain about.

–JB

Wells staying in center, Marcum ready to go

WellsCF2.jpgAs much as Blue Jays fans were rightly concerned about the decline in offensive production from Vernon Wells in 2009, it was also troubling to witness a subpar season from him in center field.

Earlier this week, Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos was asked if there was any thought of shifting Wells out of center and into one of the corners. Anthopoulos said that is not something being considered now and it is not likely to be discussed in the near future.

“We don’t have any plans of that at all. We consider him a mainstay in center field,” Anthopoulos said. “If Vernon was older, it might be more of a concern. He’s still a young guy and he also made some treemendous plays as well. There’s time he didn’t make great plays, but he also made a lot of tremendous plays. It’s just to the point that we expect it, so if he doesn’t come up with a ball or comes close, those are the ones that stick out like a sore thumb, because it’s rare.”

According to Fan Graphs, Wells has been declining steadily on defense in each of the past four seasons. Since 2006, his yearly UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) has gone from 7.5 to -1.1 to -14.3 to -18.2 last season. That last figure rated 17th among 18 qualified center fielders in baseball. Sure, Wells only made one error, but that is hardly an accurate way to gauge his performance with the glove.

Anthopoulos said the Blue Jays do look at defensive statistics, but he does not believe the raw data always tells the whole story.

“We do some defensive analysis from a statistical standpoint, but those are certainly not fullproof at all,” Anthopoulos said. “It’s just one tool. We certainly use our eyes as well. Some of the things we look at are just jumps and guys getting ready between each pitch. Those are little things that can make all the difference in the world. It’s not footspeed. It’s not routes. It’s not instincts. It might just be getting ready between each pitch. A split second one way or the other can really impact things.”

So, Toronto is looking for some help in the outfield this offseason, but don’t count on them looking for a new center fielder, even though such a search might also help in the hunt for a new leadoff man. The Jays need help in the corners, considering Adam Lind figures to split time between left and DH, and it’s not a given Travis Snider makes the Opening Day roster.

With the signings of shortstops Alex Gonzalez and John McDonald, Anthopoulos did note that Marco Scutaro could help out in the outfield if he accepted the club’s one-year arbitration offer. Scutaro would also solve the vacancy in the leadoff spot. If Lind is a regular in left, Anthopoulos noted that Randy Ruiz is currently the next option for the DH role.

INJURY UPDATES: Anthopoulos also addressed the status of injured pitchers Shaun Marcum, Dustin McGowan and Jesse Litsch. Beginning with Litsch (right elbow), the Jays want to be conservative and aren’t counting on him returning until July. As for Marcum, the news is very optimistic.

“What the expectation is, talking to our trainers and doctors, Shaun Marcum is fully recovered,” Anthopoulos said. “We’ll see him in Spring Training. He’s not going to have any limitations at all. But again, we have to continue to monitor, knowing he’s coming off Tommy John. Hopefully, there’s no setbacks at all. Right now, we expect him to have a full recovery and be ready for Opening Day. Again, we understand it’s a long spring. Things can happen, so we’re still going to be careful with him.”

Does that mean Marcum, who underwent Tommy John surgery on his right elbow in September of 2008, won’t have an innings limit in 2010?

“We’ve talked about that,” Anthopoulos said. “It’s one of those things we’re going to have to monitor. We haven’t put a number on it. That’s one of the first questions I asked our trainer, ‘Can we count on him for 200 innings?’ He said, ‘Right now, we expect him to be able to carry the workload.’ But, again, we have to just monitor how he feels throughout the season.”

McGowan — out with a right shoulder injury since July of 2008 — is another story.

“He was doing great before we shut him down for the season,” Anthopoulos said. “He was rehabbing, but like you saw in the summer, he was doing very well with his rehab and then when he got to the mound throwing [in the middle of October], he had some tightness in his shoulder again and we had to shut it down. It’s one of those things that we’re going to have to continue to evaluate and continue to talk to our doctors and so on. We’ll see how he does. Right now, it’s more of an unknown.”

ARBITRATION: The Blue Jays have nine players eligible for arbitration: Jeremy Accardo, RHP; Jose Bautista, UTIL; Shawn Camp, RHP; Raul Chavez, C;  Jason Frasor, RHP; Brandon League, RHP; Marcum, RHP; McGowan, RHP; and Brian Tallet, LHP. The deadline to exchange salary figures is Jan. 19, but Anthopoulos does not plan negotiating after that date. If the contracts aren’t settled by then, the players will likely face an arbitration hearing.

“Really, after the 19th, for us, there’s not going to be any more negotiations if we haven’t settled any arbitration deals,” Anthopoulos said.

RULE 5: Anthopoulos also noted that the Blue Jays have targeted some potential Rule 5 guys. Toronto picks 11th in the annual draft, which is held on the final day of the Winter Meetings. If a player is selected, he would need to remain on the 25-man roster for the entire season, or be offered back to the original team. Recent Rule 5 selections by the Jays included Randy Wells (2008) and Jason Smith (2007). Toronto’s 40-man roster is currently full, so the team would need to vacate a spot for a Rule 5 addition.

–JB

Jays interested in Doumit?

Thumbnail image for Ryan_Doumit.jpgAccording to FOXSports.com, citing a Major League source, the Blue Jays have “mild” interest in Pirates catcher Ryan Doumit. The talks have not reached a serious stage according to the report.

Pittsburgh has made it known that they will listen to offers for the switch-hitting Doumit, who also has experience as a first baseman and right fielder. Doumit, 28, is under contract for two more seasons and has a two-year club option for 2012-13.

On Tuesday, Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos noted that he still had his “toes in the water” on a few trades in his search for a catcher. Toronto needs help behind the plate now that it appears highly unlikely that catcher Rod Barajas re-signs with the team.

–JB

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