In this stove, you’ll find a hodgepodge of Blue Jays-adjacent rumors that are all intertwined with each other and changing rapidly. Such is life when you sign George Springer to a massive deal (and then almost sign Michael Brantley … before things get fuddled at the last minute and he re-signs with the Astros instead).
Because that’s the latest:
MLB source: #Astros reach an agreement with Michael Brantley on a two-year deal worth $32 million.
— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) January 20, 2021
I wonder what happened there. Buster Olney says the Blue Jays and Brantley were never close, but … come on. When Jeff Passan and Ken Rosenthal both say it’s done – and at three years, no less – but then something changes at the last minute and he winds up re-signing with his former team for two years, I think it’s pretty easy to connect some dots. Something popped up at the last minute (medicals? miscommunication?), the Jays offer was reduced, he shopped it around, and got more (or was more comfortable) returning to Houston. Something like that seems like a fair guess.
In any case, Olney says the Blue Jays have been very aggressive lately and still “have more to do.”
Let’s start there.
So what now? Well, on the one hand, I can see Kris Bryant becoming a more realistic option for the Blue Jays, who apparently just whiffed on Brantley, but that’s most speculative. They are likely still interested in adding another big bat to their lineup, and an infielder was always a possibility, but Brantley is more of a DH and is left-handed, and was probably going to cost a few million (and several prospects) less in 2021 dollars. That’s not exactly the same fit as Bryant. Though when you’re talking about this quality of hitter, perhaps the fit doesn’t quite matter as much – especially to an AL team, where things can be shuffled around more easily.
But if not Bryant, there’s still MUCH more they can do. For example, signing Springer doesn’t take them out of the running for Trevor Bauer, evidently:
Toronto's signing of George Springer would seemingly take the Blue Jays out of the market for Trevor Bauer, but I'm told that might not necessarily be true. If Toronto gets Bauer to lead its rotation, the Jays would be a tough team for the AL to deal with in 2021.
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) January 20, 2021
Of course, now that the Mets are most likely out of the picture for Bauer, you know Bauer’s camp is likely desperate to keep teams like the Dodgers and Blue Jays in the conversation. So we probably should keep that in mind as rumors like this pop up. Then again, beyond the Dodgers, Blue Jays, and maybe the Angels, I’m not sure where else Bauer will get the kind of money he’s seeking. So … those are probably the realistic finalists? I think that’s where I land, yeah.
And while it may be smaller potatoes, Bauer is hardly the only next option for the Blue Jays. According to both Jon Heyman and Robert Murray, the Blue Jays have an offer out there for reliever Brad Hand, who could’ve been had for just $10M when he was placed on waivers earlier this offseason. Darn.
But they’re not alone in that pursuit. In fact, it’s a very familiar trio of the Dodgers, Blue Jays, and Angels in on the free agent closer:
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 20, 2021
Clearly, these three teams have a lot of overlap in the market. Fortunately, things seem to be moving very quickly and that could shake things loose sooner than later.
Now let’s turn our attention away from Canada, and back to the nation’s capital … Hollywood.
The Cubs offseason thread with the Dodgers has been pretty straight-forward this winter: If L.A. does not manage to sign D.J. LeMahieu (they did not), they could turn their attention to re-signing Justin Turner, who’s reportedly seeking a four-year deal (two years longer than the Dodgers are apparently willing to go). If that gap can’t be bridged, the story goes, Kris Bryant would become the obvious trade target and 2021 alternative for third base.
And for what it’s worth, Jeff Passan just today reaffirmed that the Dodgers are still seeking a right-handed infield bat, which could obviously mean Turner or Bryant (…or someone else entirely, I guess).
The Los Angeles Dodgers are monitoring the market for right-hander Trevor Bauer and could be a player depending on the price, sources tell ESPN. Focus for the Dodgers now remains on a right-handed infield bat, but Bauer and the Dodgers remain a possibility as his market develops.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 20, 2021
Point being, they want a right-handed infield bat. That’s still a thing. And that still carries weight for the Cubs.
Meanwhile, as the first-half of that tweet reveals, the Dodgers are still “monitoring the market” for Trevor Bauer. And that certainly makes sense, given (1) how much they are capable of spending, (2) how seriously they intend to contend this season, and (3) the fact that the Padres are finally and legitimately nipping at their heels in the NL West. The Cubs are no threat to sign Bauer, themselves (despite how desperately they still need to add two … or maybe three starting pitchers before the spring), but his decision could impact them indirectly.
For example, if the Blue Jays, who are still in on Bauer, end up with the high-priced pitcher after adding Springer and (maybe) Hand, you could probably count them out for someone like Bryant, given how much he’s going to cost next year ($19.5M) *and* how little of that salary the Cubs are willing to eat. That’s just one example, of course, but you get the idea:
As it relates to a Bryant trade, the available payroll space of other teams matters.
Odds and Ends:
• Old friend alert (Also, I wish the Cubs were having spending half as much as the Royals … is not something I thought I’d ever say. Ever.):
Wade Davis' deal with the #Royals will pay him $1.25 million if he's on their big-league roster with $925,000 in incentives. He also has an opt-out if he doesn't make their opening-day roster.
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) January 20, 2021
• Another buy-low starter is off the board:
Left-hander J.A. Happ and the Minnesota Twins are in agreement on a one-year deal, pending physical, sources tell ESPN.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) January 20, 2021