What does the Vernon Wells trade mean for Jose Bautista?

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That’s what many Blue Jays fans are wondering right now.

We’ve heard conflicting reports about whether the Blue Jays are picking up any of the $86 million remaining on Vernon Wells’ contract. Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com hears that they will, Shi Davidi of the Canadian Press hears that they won’t. Angels general manager Tony Reagins can’t possibly be that clueless, let’s just go with the assumption that they will.

As for the players the Blue Jays are getting in return, Juan Rivera is owed $5.25 million in 2011 and Mike Napoli just requested $6.1 million in arbitration from the Angels this week. That’s a total of $11.35 million. Neither player is cheap in the short-term, but dealing Wells should still give the Blue Jays quite a bit of payroll flexibility moving forward.

Anytime you can deal an albatross contract like the one Wells has, you have to do it, but one of the potential side benefits is that the Blue Jays will have some extra cash if they are interested in working out a multi-year contract with the arbitration-eligible Jose Bautista. The surprise home run king filed for $10.5 million and was offered $7.6 million from the Blue Jays when arbitration figures were exchanged on Tuesday.

As mentioned earlier this week, the Blue Jays have a policy under general manager Alex Anthopoulos that they do not negotiate one-year deals once the arbitration deadline has passed. Anthopoulos certainly deserves praise here, but we probably can’t judge this trade in full context until the Bautista situation is settled.

Bud Norris exits outing with right knee soreness

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Angels’ right-handed reliever Bud Norris made his 23rd appearance of the season on Friday, and after just three pitches, he was done for the night. He worked a 2-1 count to Marlins’ Dee Gordon in the eighth inning, then promptly exited the field after experiencing some tightness in his right knee. Neither Norris nor manager Mike Scioscia believe the injury is cause for major concern, and the 32-year-old right-hander admitted that it may have had something to do with his lack of stretching before he took the mound. For now, he’s day-to-day with right knee soreness, with the hope that the issue doesn’t escalate over the next few days.

While the Angels are lucky to have avoided serious injury, they’ll need Norris to pitch at 100% if they want to stay competitive within the AL West. They currently sit a full nine games behind the league-leading Astros, and haven’t been helping their cause after taking five losses in their last eight games. Friday’s 8-5 finale marked their third consecutive loss of the week.

 

When healthy, Norris has been one of the better arms in the Angels’ bullpen. Through 23 2/3 innings, he’s pitched to a 2.66 ERA, 3.4 BB/9 and an outstanding 11.8 SO/9 in 23 outings. The righty hasn’t allowed a single run in four straight appearances, recording three saves and helping the club clinch four wins in that span. This is his second setback of the year after sustaining a partial fingernail tear on his pitching hand during spring training.

Video: Max Scherzer sets record with 13-strikeout outing

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Max Scherzer is a force to be reckoned with. The Nationals’ right-hander delivered a season-high 13 strikeouts against the Padres on Friday, locking down his fifth win and his fourth double-digit strikeout performance of the year.

More remarkably, it was also the 53rd double-digit strikeout performance of Scherzer’s career, tying Clayton Kershaw for the most 10+ strikeout appearances by an active major league pitcher. Chris Sale is a distant third, with 43 to his name, though he’s been making considerable strides to catch up so far this spring.

Scherzer took the Padres to task on Friday night, whiffing 13 of 31 batters during his 108-pitch outing. He started strong, catching Allen Cordoba swinging on a 1-2 count to start the game and keeping the game scoreless until Ryan Schimpf unleashed a home run in the fourth inning. That was the first and final run the Padres managed off of Scherzer, who retired 14 consecutive batters following the blast and came one out shy of a complete game in the ninth inning. (Fittingly, Koda Glover polished off the win with a final strikeout, bringing the total to 14 on the night.)

It’ll take more than one stellar start to advance Scherzer and Kershaw on the all-time list, however. Their 53-game record ranks 13th, about 159 games behind second-place Hall of Fame hurler Randy Johnson and a full 162 games shy of the inimitable Nolan Ryan.