Gregg a waste of money for Jays

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Sometimes a team just wants a proven closer. It doesn’t matter if he’s any good or not; it’s just the safe play. If the proven closer fails, then it’s his fault. If the unproven closer fails, it’s management’s fault.
The 2010 Blue Jays, a team destined to finish in fourth or fifth place, now have their proven closer in Kevin Gregg. The $2.75 million guarantee is hardly so excessive as to make it one of the worst deals of the winter. In fact, it’s a little less than I thought he’d get. Still, it’s hard to see how he’s worth it when Guillermo Mota was forced to settle for a minor league deal the very same week.
Gregg, too, likely would have had to settle for a minor league contract this winter if not for the stroke of good fortune that landed him in Florida in 2007. After three years of pitching in obscurity in Anaheim, he quickly took over as the Marlins’ closer and saved 32 games in 36 chances. He was solid again in the first half of 2008, but knee problems took a toll and he ended up blowing nine saves in 38 chances before losing his closing job at the end of the year. Traded to the Cubs, he was handed the closer’s role over Carlos Marmol last spring, but he turned in a dreadful season. He blew seven saves in 30 chances, gave up 13 homers and finished with a 4.72 ERA in 68 2/3 innings.
In all, Gregg has a 4.03 ERA in 335 career relief appearances, about half of which came in the NL. The man he’s expected to supplant as Toronto’s closer, Jason Frasor, has a 3.78 ERA in 342 appearances, all of them coming as a Blue Jay. Going strictly by ERA, he’s had two seasons better than Gregg’s best and none as poor as Gregg’s worst.
Frasor, though, isn’t a favorite of Jays manager Cito Gaston’s. So, he’s set to return to a setup role, barring a trade.
It’s my opinion that Scott Downs, Frasor, Jeremy Accardo and Josh Roenicke are all better bets than Gregg for 2010. Casey Janssen might be as well, but he’ll have to show he’s healthy. The Jays also have Brian Tallet, Jesse Carlson and Shawn Camp coming back, though Tallet may begin the year in the rotation. There won’t be room for all of them, so either Downs or Frasor could be traded and Roenicke might return to Triple-A.
Perhaps that will work out if Downs or Frasor could bring back a talented young outfielder capable of stepping in right away. Still, the Jays could have gone that route with or without Gregg. Their $2.75 million was better utilized elsewhere.

Trevor Cahill considering the Pirates as a potential destination

Trevor Cahill
AP Photo/Paul Beaty
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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.

The Diamondbacks met with Johnny Cueto’s agent

AP Photo/David Goldman
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Update (7:58 PM EST): Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports that Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart met with Cueto earlier this month in the Dominican Republic and made a contract offer that the right-hander turned down. The Diamondbacks maintain interest in the free agent.


Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Diamondbacks spoke with Bryce Dixon, the agent of free agent starter Johnny Cueto. However, Rosenthal notes that Cueto’s price tag is expected to exceed the Diamondbacks’ comfort level.

Cueto, 29, is one of a handful of highly touted starting pitchers in this offseason’s free agent class. He is joined by David Price and Zack Greinke, among others. Jordan Zimmermann inked a deal in the neighborhood of $110 million over five years with the Tigers on Sunday morning, which will serve as a barometer for Cueto.

Cueto finished the 2015 regular season, between the Reds and the Royals, with a 3.44 ERA and a 176/46 K/BB ratio over 212 innings. He made 13 shaky starts with the Royals, but outside of a shellacking in Game 3 of the ALCS against the Blue Jays, pitched well in the post-season. Cueto pitched a complete game in Game 2 of the World Series against the Mets, helping put the Royals up two games to none at the time.

As a result of switching teams during the season, Cueto was not eligible to receive a $15.8 million qualifying offer. This means that Cueto, unlike Zimmermann for example, does not come attached with draft pick compensation.

Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski is reportedly trying to trade Hanley Ramirez

Hanley Ramirez
AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File

Nick Cafardo provides this interesting nugget in his Sunday notes column at the Boston Globe

Hanley Ramirez, 1B-DH, Red Sox — There’s now talk in the front office that Dave Dombrowski is trying to move Ramirez in a deal. The Mariners, Orioles, and Angels seem to be the targets, and all three make sense.

Cafardo notes that “there are huge hurdles to cross” before a trade could happen — like how much of Hanley’s remaining salary the Red Sox would have to eat and what positions the soon-to-be 32-year-old is able to play defensively at this point in his career.

Boston’s higher-ups have asked Ramirez to learn first base and drop 20 pounds this winter. Whatever team is looking to acquire him would probably have to be comfortable with him serving primarily as a designated hitter.

Hanley is owed $68.2 million over the next three seasons and he carries a $22 million vesting option for 2019. He batted just .249/.291/.426 in 105 games this past year.