Now you're just making stuff up, Kenny

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FOXSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal thinks the Jays should let Alex Rios depart on waivers, deleting his contract while getting nothing in return. It’s an arguable position, except that Rosenthal doesn’t put forth much of an argument. Instead, he starts off with this:
The “trade” would not be Rios for whatever meager package the White Sox might offer. The “trade” would be for the $58.7 million that Rios is guaranteed from 2010 to ’14, an average of nearly $12 million per year.
Know what a team could have bought for $12 million last offseason? Outfielder Bobby Abreu, second baseman Orlando Hudson, first baseman Russell Branyan and shortstop Adam Everett — and still had $800,000 to spare.

And Adam Everett!!! Be still my heart.
This is the argument?
First, those players are probably going to end up making over $15 million this year. It’s fun to pretend Hudson’s deal was worth the guaranteed $3.38 million, but he’ll earn $8 million if he stays healthy. He’s already guaranteed himself more than $6 million.
Second, no one team could have had those four players for even the $15 million. It’s never going to work that way. If the Angels faced competition for Abreu, he wouldn’t have signed for $5 million. If the Blue Jays or any other random team offered him $5 million on December 15, he would have laughed in their faces.
So, let’s just say the Blue Jays were waiting in the weeds for all of these guys. Well, Abreu might have been realistic. Not at $5 million, but maybe $7 million-$8 million. Hudson? Back to Toronto and J.P. Ricciardi’s loving arms? Probably not. Plus, he would have cost a draft pick. Branyan? They weren’t going to offer him regular playing time, so he still would have gone to Seattle. Everett? No, I just don’t get that one.
But Rosenthal’s point is that the Jays could use Rios’ money on free agents. And they could. It probably wouldn’t work out, but they could. First, let’s run down all of Ricciardi’s successful big free-agent acquisitions.

Should we do it again? OK, you can say A.J. Burnett was a modest success. He was an above average starter while earning $31 million over three seasons, going 38-24 with a 3.94 ERA, but he only stayed healthy in his walk year. The other three multiyear deals Ricciardi handed out to bring in free agents all ended up with him eating money: B.J. Ryan, Frank Thomas and Corey Koskie. If Ricciardi chooses to spend Rios’ money on free agents, he’ll likely end up with worse players and fewer draft picks.
No, I hardly think that’s the answer. Rios has been a disappointment since landing his big contract prior to 2008, but he’s still been a huge bargain to this point. Yes, he’s eventually going to make $12 million in 2011. However, in 2008, he earned $4.235 million. In 2009, he’s making $5.9 million. Next year, it’s going to be $9.7 million. The odds are still very good that he’ll be worth every penny he’s earning, particularly if the Jays face facts and realize they’d be better off with him in center and Vernon Wells in a corner.

Robinson Cano hit his 300th home run last night

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Last night Robinson Cano hit a solo homer in the ninth inning of the Mariners’ loss to the Texas Rangers. It was his 22nd on the season. Though it was insignificant to the outcome of that game, it was significant to Cano: it was his 300th career homer.

While we’ve become accustomed to not caring much about home run milestones south of, say, 500, 300 homers for Cano is a big deal, as he’s only the third second baseman to cross that threshold in baseball history. The other two: Jeff Kent, at 377, and Rogers Hornsby at 301.

Cano, who turns 35 next month, has a career line of .305/.354/.495 and 1,179 RBI, 512 doubles and 33 triples to go with those bombs. He’s in his 13th big league season and still has six more years left on his deal with the Mariners. He’s averaged 24 homers a year since coming to the Mariners. While he’ll obviously trail off at some point — and while great second baseman’s have this weird habit of just suddenly falling off a cliff — it’s highly likely that he’ll finish his career as the all-time home run leader among second baseman. If he remains healthy he should also get over 3,000 hits in his career.

Cooperstown, here he comes.

Reds sign catcher Tucker Barnhart to a four-year deal

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Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reports that the Reds have signed catcher Tucker Barnhart to a four-year contract extension. The terms: $16 million total, with a $7.5 million club option for the 2022 season that has a $500,000 buyout. He also received a $1.75 million signing bonus.

The deal buys out all three of his arbitration years — he was going to be eligible for the first time this offseason — and the first year of his potential free agency. The club option buys a second. Barnhart made $575,000 this season.

Barnhart, 26, is finishing his second season as the Reds primary catcher. This year he’s hitting .272/.349/.399 with six homers and 42 RBI in 113 games. For his career he has a line of .257/.328/.366 in 330 major league games. His real value is defensive, however. He leads the National League in caught stealing percentage and number of base stealers caught (31-for-70, 44%) and leads all players at any position in the league in defensive WAR according to Baseball-Reference.com.