Angels not counting on Escobar, may go after Halladay

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Kelvim Escobar went from the disabled list to the rotation to the
bullpen and then back to the DL in the span of about a week last month,
and now Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register reports that he “hasn’t picked up a baseball in weeks and has to be considered a long shot to pitch again this season.”

General manager Tony Reagins said yesterday that Escobar is still
experiencing “a deep ache” in his surgically repaired shoulder, adding:
“We wanted him to back off and that’s what he’s doing. We’re not
writing him off, by any means. We’re going to move forward cautiously.
If we get him back, great. If we don’t get him back, then we don’t get
him back.”

On a related note, Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports
that the Angels “are looking for late-inning relief help” and have
targeted Scott Downs and Brandon League of the Blue Jays, Chad Qualls
of the Diamondbacks, and Rafael Betancourt of the Indians. And of
course DiGiovanna also notes that the Angels would be interested in a
front-of-the-rotation starter like … drum roll please! … Roy

In laying out potential deals for Halladay yesterday Matthew Pouliot speculated
that the Angels could give up Jordan Walden, Brandon Wood, Trevor
Reckling, and Matt Sweeney. On the other hand, DiGiovanna writes that
“Halladay would probably cost the Angels pitcher Jered Weaver, a top
pitching prospect such as Trevor Reckling or Jordan Walden, top hitting
prospect Brandon Wood and a young big leaguer such as Erick Aybar or
Howie Kendrick.”

Halladay is an exceptionally good pitcher and the Blue Jays should
be holding out for an exceptionally good package of players in return
for him, but there’s just no way that their asking price is anything
close to Weaver, Reckling/Walden, Wood, and Kendrick/Aybar if they
actually want to make a deal. For one thing, Weaver is 26 years old,
has a 3.60 career ERA, makes the MLB minimum, and is under the Angels’
control through 2012.

Does anyone think that upgrading from Weaver to Halladay–who’s 32
years old, makes about 40 times as much money, and becomes a free agent
after next season–is worth Wood, Walden, and
Kendrick? If the Blue Jays want prospects like Walden or Wood, they can
get them. If the Blue Jays want young major leaguers like Weaver or
Kendrick, they can get them.

But as the deals for Dan Haren, Johan Santana, CC Sabathia, Josh
Beckett, and various other top starters and the rumored offers for Jake
Peavy have shown in recent years asking for a couple of choice names
from Column A and a couple of choice names from Column B just isn’t how
these things tend to work.

Orioles interested in Denard Span

Denard Span
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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MASN’s Roch Kubatko is reporting that the Orioles have “some level” of interest in free agent outfielder Denard Span. The Nationals did not make a $15.8 million qualifying offer to Span, which means he doesn’t come attached with draft pick compensation unlike other free agents such as Alex Gordon and Dexter Fowler.

Span, who turns 32 in February, hit a solid .301/.365/.431 with five home runs, 22 RBI, 38 runs scored, and 11 stolen bases, but took only 275 plate appearances due to back and hip injuries. He underwent season-ending hip surgery in September but is expected to be ready to participate in spring training.

The Mets and Royals have also reportedly shown interest in Span’s services.

Blue Jays showing interest in Ryan Madson

Ryan Madson
AP Photo/Orlin Wagner
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ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that the Blue Jays are on the prowl for relievers with closing experience. Ryan Madson is one of the names on their list.

Madson, 35, had a career rebirth with the Royals in 2015. He signed a minor league deal with the club that paid him a salary of $850,000 if he made it back to the majors. Due to a plethora of arm injuries, Madson hadn’t pitched in the majors since Game 5 of the 2011 NLDS against the Cardinals as a member of the Phillies. For the Royals, he wound up becoming a crucial member of the bullpen, finishing with a 2.13 ERA and a 58/14 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings.

While Madson allowed five runs in 8 1/3 post-season innings, he pitched well when it mattered most, as he hurled three scoreless frames in three appearances in the World Series against the Mets.

Madson has closing experience, with 55 career saves. 32 of them came in 2011 when he took over the closer’s role from Brad Lidge.

After signing Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ, and trading for Jesse Chavez, the Jays have bolstered their rotation but it was reported on Saturday that interim GM Tony LaCava is still focused on upgrading the pitching staff.

Trevor Cahill considering the Pirates as a potential destination

Trevor Cahill
AP Photo/Paul Beaty

ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that free agent pitcher Trevor Cahill is looking for a one-year, bounce-back deal. The Pirates are one of the potential teams he is considering.

It’s no surprise that the Pirates are on Cahill’s list. Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage has garnered a reputation as a miracle worker after turning around the careers of a handful of pitchers, including Edinson Volquez, Francisco Liriano, and J.A. Happ. Volquez parlayed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Pirates into a two-year, $20 million deal with the Royals last December. Liriano signed with the Pirates on a one-year, $1 million contract and turned that into a three-year, $39 million deal. Happ, dealt to the Pirates from the Mariners at the most recent trade deadline, just signed a three-year, $39 million contract with the Blue Jays.

Cahill, once a highly-regarded pitching prospect, has scuffled over parts of seven seasons in the majors. The 27-year-old owns a career 4.13 ERA with a 754/427 K/BB ratio in 1,083 2/3 innings. Cahill had some brief success after signing with the Cubs as a free agent in mid-August, compiling a 2.12 ERA in 11 appearances out of the bullpen.

Blue Jays narrow GM search to two candidates: Tony LaCava and Ross Atkins

Tony LaCava
AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Blue Jays have narrowed their search for a new general manager down to two candidates: current interim GM Tony LaCava, and Indians vice president of player personnel Ross Atkins. Former Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos resigned last month.

LaCava was promoted to interim GM on November 2 and has already made a handful of moves along with new president Mark Shapiro. The club acquired Jesse Chavez in a trade and signed pitchers Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ to multi-year deals.

Atkins worked under Shapiro in the Indians organization for 15 seasons, so it is no surprise that he is a finalist for the open GM position.