I’m back from vacation and baseball’s Hot Stove is starting to get cooking. Today is the final day in which Toronto has exclusive negotiating rights with its five free agents, but it’s highly doubtful that any of them will re-sign this quickly. As I hear rumors or reads reports, I’ll be posting on the blog to keep all you Jays fans informed.
- According to the Kansas City Star, the Royals have interest in signing catcher Gregg Zaun, who is acting as his own agent this winter. Toronto would like to bring either Zaun or Molina back in ’07 and Zaun is the more realistic option.
- The Detroit Free Press recently reported that the Tigers are interested in pursuing Frank Catalanotto. I don’t see this as a good fit. They have Gary Sheffield now, plus Craig Monroe in left field and Catalanotto would prefer to have regular time in the outfield. That’s one thing he said will play a role in where he signs. He didn’t mind being used in a platoon with Reed Johnson, but Cat preferred not to spend a lot of time as the DH, which would probably be his primary role in Toronto in ’07.
- According to ESPN, free-agent pitcher Vicente Padilla — one of a few starters who the Blue Jays are likely targeting — wants a four-year deal worth $40 million per year. In a weaker crop of available starters, he just might get it, too — just probably not from the Blue Jays. Toronto GM J.P. Ricciardi said that paying upwards of $8 million per year would probably be too high to re-sign Ted Lilly and the same can probably be said for pursuing Padilla.
- On Tuesday, CNNSI’s Tom Verducci wrote that the Blue Jays have interest in free-agent lefty Randy Wolf. He went 4-0 with a 5.56 ERA for the Phillies last year after coming back from Tommy John surgery. Verducci also wrote that Toronto was interested in Sheffield, but we saw how that turned out.
- Jeff Blair of the Toronto Globe and Mail wrote on his blog yesterday that "Eric Goldschmidt, the agent for [Alex] Gonzalez, said that the Blue Jays were one of five teams with what he described as ‘serious interest,’ in his client…"
- Blair also reported that Ricciardi is considering using Aaron Hill as Toronto’s shortstop instead of its second baseman. Many within the organization feel Hill is better suited for second, but the free-agent crop of shortstops is lighter than that for second baseman. “We’d like to leave Aaron at second base, but this might be a matter of necessity,” Ricciardi told the newspaper. “David Eckstein has played shortstop for a couple of World Series winners. Sometimes, I think we all have a tendency to over-rate some things when we look at these guys. Aaron is a solid ballplayer, period.” Mark Loretta, Ray Durham, Ronnie Belliard, Mark DeRosa and Adam Kennedy are among the available second baseman. Gonzalez and Julio Lugo — rumored to be a primary target of the Red Sox — are at the top of the list of free-agent shortstops.
- On Friday, the Jays signed Geremi Gonzalez, Blaine Neal, Jeff Duncan, Beau Kemp, Kevin Barker, Chad Mottola, and Brian Wolfe to Minor League contracts with invites to Spring Training.