Blue Jays set to re-sign McDonald for $1.5 million

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While trade rumors swirl around Roy Halladay, it looks like Alex Anthopoulos’ first move as the Blue Jays’ new general manager will be re-signing John McDonald for one year and $1.5 million.
McDonald has spent the past five seasons in Toronto, starting a total of 301 games, but was primarily a backup this year as Marco Scutaro emerged as the Blue Jays’ everyday shortstop. However, with Scutaro now a free agent McDonald may be given a chance to claim the starting job in 2010.
If that happens it’ll be great news for the Blue Jays’ defense and terrible news for the Blue Jays’ offense, because McDonald is one of the most extreme good-glove, no-hit players of this era. He’s a career .238/.276/.317 hitter, which works out to an adjusted OPS+ of 57 that ranks dead last among all active position players with at least 1,500 plate appearances.
Despite building a strong case as the worst hitter in baseball, McDonald has stuck around for over a decade because of his glove. He didn’t join the Blue Jays until after his 30th birthday, but while in Toronto he’s graded out as 12.7 runs above average in 2,513 innings at shortstop according to Ultimate Zone Rating. McDonald’s defensive reputation is even better than those numbers, although that’s perhaps due to the superior range he flashed in his 20s.
As a 35-year-old veteran with a good glove McDonald is worth the modest one-year commitment from a team with a big hole at shortstop, but Anthopoulos should definitely be looking for a more capable starter. Whether that means making an effort to re-sign Scutaro, targeting a different free agent, or swinging a trade, one of his offseason goals should be making sure that McDonald doesn’t head into spring training atop the depth chart.

Mets leaning on Jay Bruce, Neil Walker as Lucas Duda insurance

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MAY 12:  Pinch hitter Lucas Duda #21 of the New York Mets walks back to the dugout after striking out for the first out of the ninth inning against Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on May 12, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  The Dodgers won 5-0.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.

Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”

Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”

The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.

Jason Kipnis diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians celebrates after scoring a run on a wild pitch thrown by Jon Lester #34 of the Chicago Cubs (not pictured) during the fifth inning in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.

There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.

Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.