More thoughts on the Sox and Adrian Gonzalez

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Adrian Gonzalez headshot.jpgI don’t know that there’s any trade rumor with as little actual merit creating as much buzz, sturm und drang as the Adrian Gonzalez to the Sox business.  Even the most wild rumor-passer-oners in the blogosphere all note that nothing has really happened except the passive acknowledgment of general overall compatibility between the Sox and Padres on this subject. Every report is quickly followed up with a “nothing is close to happening” disclaimer.  It’s a hot rumor because so many people want it to happen as opposed to anything being even remotely imminent.

Or do they want it to happen?  I don’t follow the politics of Red Sox Nation too closely, but Red Sox Monster blogger Dan Lamothe claims that a lot of Sox fans have “freaked out about the Sox potentially parting ways with Clay Buchholz and Jacoby Ellsbury.”  He disagrees and makes a plea to Theo Epstein to throw Ellsbury and Buchholz over the side in favor of Gonzalez at the first available opportunity.

But is there any chance that such an opportunity will present itself at all? ESPN’s Buster Olney thinks that Ellsbury, for one, would not make sense for the Padres:

In a vacuum, sure, you’d love to have him. But Ellsbury is going to be
eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2010 season, and
in 2011-12, he could make as much or more than Gonzalez will make over
the next two seasons. In other words: His salary would become almost an
immediate problem for the Padres, and given that he is represented by
Scott Boras, the Padres would have to assume there would be no hometown
discounts. Ellsbury would be a nice player for San Diego, but he would
be a money pit.

I think that’s right.  The chief appeal of getting a guy like Ellsbury for San Deigo would be that he’s a name player, a Major Leaguer the team would want to show the fans so they don’t revolt during season ticket-buying season after a Gonzalez trade.  He doesn’t help with the cost problem, and given that he’ll almost certainly opt for free agency at the first opportunity himself, he’s not going to talk to the Padres about any contract extensions.

I still think this: if the Padres are going to trade Gonzalez — and it’s not a given that they should — they should do it at the break when there are identifiably desperate teams who will pay heavily in terms of big talent that is under team control for a long time.

Zach Britton settles with the Orioles for $6.75 million

Baltimore Orioles relief pitcher Zach Britton delivers a pitch against the Boston Red Sox in the ninth inning of a baseball game at Fenway Park, Tuesday, June 23, 2015, in Boston. The Orioles won 6-4. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
AP Photo/Steven Senne
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The Orioles and closer Zach Britton avoided an arbitration hearing, agreeing to a $6.75 million salary for the 2016 season, Jon Heyman reports. The club has now handled all of its remaining arbitration cases and won’t have to go to a hearing with any players.

Britton, in his second of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $7.9 million while the Orioles countered at $5.6 million. $6.75 million is exactly the midpoint between the two submitted figures.

The 28-year-old lefty saved 36 games in 40 chances last season for the O’s while putting up a 1.92 ERA with a 79/14 K/BB ratio over 65 2/3 innings.

The Blue Jays will also try to sign Josh Donaldson to a multi-year deal

Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson gets up after being unable to handle an infield single by Boston Red Sox's Mookie Betts during the fourth inning of a baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston Monday, Sept. 7, 2015. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
AP Photo/Winslow Townson
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Tacking onto Friday’s report that the Blue Jays will attempt to sign Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion to multi-year deals, Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that the club will try to do the same with third baseman and defending American League Most Valuable Player Josh Donaldson. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports notes that Donaldson’s arbitration hearing is scheduled for February 15, so the two sides will have 10 days to hammer out a contract.

Donaldson, 30, is entering his second of four years of arbitration eligibility. After earning $4.3 million last season, Donaldson filed for $11.8 million and the Blue Jays countered at $11.35 million. The $450,000 difference isn’t much compared to some of the other disparities among arbitration-eligible players and their respective clubs. Jake Arrieta and the Cubs, for example, had a gap of $6.5 million.

This past season, Donaldson let the league in runs scored and RBI with 122 and 123, respectively, while batting .297.371/.568 with 41 home runs and 41 doubles. He earned 23 of 30 first place votes in AL MVP balloting, with runner-up Mike Trout of the Angels grabbing the other seven votes.

Reds prospect Juan Duran suspended 80 games

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Juan Duran, a minor-league outfielder in the Reds’ farm system, has been suspended 80 games following positive tests for the performance-enhancing drugs Drostanolone, Stanozolol, and Nandrolone.

Duran is 6-foot-7 with big-time power, averaging 23 homers per 150 games since 2011, but he also strikes out a ton and struggles to control the strike zone. He spent last season at Double-A, missing a lot of time with injuries and hitting .256 with six homers and a .728 OPS in 59 games as a 23-year-old.

Duran is on the 40-man roster and is considered a quasi-prospect, but he’ll be ineligible to play until July and figures to head back to Double-A once reinstated.

The Blue Jays will talk long term deals with Jose Bautistia and Edwin Encarnacion

Jose Bautista Blue Jays
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Ever since Alex Anthopoulos resigned as Blue Jays’ GM and Mark Shapiro took over as team president, a distinct air of frugality has set in over Rogers Centre. The go-for-broke attitude that fueled Toronto’s fantastic second half last year was repudiated and long-term, sustainable building has seemed to be the order of the day.

But the Jays aren’t going to go crazy with that: ESPN’s Jayson Stark reports that the Blue Jays plan to have long-term extension talks with the agents of Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion during spring training. This, combined with the still-remaining possibility that they can avoid arbitration with MVP Josh Donaldson and hammer out a long-term deal could mean some serious spending by the Jays before Opening Day.

Or this could just be talk from the front office designed to buoy the spirits of fans. Locking up all three of them to long-term deals may be hella expensive and may not be possible. It’s also the case that, given their ages — Bautista is 35 and Encarnacion is 33 — it may not be advisable to lock the both up. As always, it depends on the terms and how generous Rogers Communications plans on being with the Jays’ budget.

But the chatter is now out there and expectations are poised to be set.