Jim Leyland closeup

Jim Leyland won’t discuss his contract status … starting now

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Jim Leyland is in the final season of his contract, but today the 66-year-old manager responded to questions about his status by saying “I’m not going to discuss it.” And then he discussed it. A lot, actually:

If we do all right, I assume I’ll be here. If we don’t, I probably won’t be. People write about all this pressure. There’s no pressure on me other than to win games. I love to win baseball games. I want to win a division and get to the postseason. Other than that, there’s no pressure on me whatsoever. I’m not going to listen to that silly stuff about the last year of my contract. I’ve been going through that for a hundred years. I don’t really give a care about that, and I’m not going to discuss it.

I’ve been reading all this and that. It’s simple. If you don’t win, people point fingers. Sometimes it’s the manager. Sometimes it’s the players. Sometimes it’s the general manager. But it doesn’t make any difference to me. We’re out here to win games. If we’re in the middle of a game, we’re not thinking about our jobs. We’re thinking about how to beat the other team, win as many games as we can. That’s what we do for a living.

So I’m not going to discuss all that silly stuff. That’s for the writers to gossip about and put in the paper and all that. I’ve been reading that stuff for a while now. I don’t pay any attention to that. I mean, they know in Japan that this is the last year of my contract, because it’s been written about enough.

Jason Beck of MLB.com has a lot more where all that came from.

Leyland saying “sometimes it’s the general manager” is interesting, because Dave Dombrowski is also in the final year of his contract and the GM made a pair of bold, risky free agent signings in Victor Martinez and Joaquin Benoit. I have the Tigers pegged as co-favorites in the AL Central alongside the Twins and White Sox, but Detroit finished 81-81 last year and hasn’t won a division title since 1987.

After filling up reporters’ notebooks with quotes about his contract status, Leyland ended the media session by saying: “But that’s the end of that stuff for the whole year. I’m not talking about that.”

We’ll see how long that moratorium lasts. My guess is the answer will be “whenever the Tigers have their first extended losing streak.”

Orioles interested in Denard Span

Denard Span
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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MASN’s Roch Kubatko is reporting that the Orioles have “some level” of interest in free agent outfielder Denard Span. The Nationals did not make a $15.8 million qualifying offer to Span, which means he doesn’t come attached with draft pick compensation unlike other free agents such as Alex Gordon and Dexter Fowler.

Span, who turns 32 in February, hit a solid .301/.365/.431 with five home runs, 22 RBI, 38 runs scored, and 11 stolen bases, but took only 275 plate appearances due to back and hip injuries. He underwent season-ending hip surgery in September but is expected to be ready to participate in spring training.

The Mets and Royals have also reportedly shown interest in Span’s services.

Blue Jays showing interest in Ryan Madson

Ryan Madson
AP Photo/Orlin Wagner
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ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that the Blue Jays are on the prowl for relievers with closing experience. Ryan Madson is one of the names on their list.

Madson, 35, had a career rebirth with the Royals in 2015. He signed a minor league deal with the club that paid him a salary of $850,000 if he made it back to the majors. Due to a plethora of arm injuries, Madson hadn’t pitched in the majors since Game 5 of the 2011 NLDS against the Cardinals as a member of the Phillies. For the Royals, he wound up becoming a crucial member of the bullpen, finishing with a 2.13 ERA and a 58/14 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings.

While Madson allowed five runs in 8 1/3 post-season innings, he pitched well when it mattered most, as he hurled three scoreless frames in three appearances in the World Series against the Mets.

Madson has closing experience, with 55 career saves. 32 of them came in 2011 when he took over the closer’s role from Brad Lidge.

After signing Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ, and trading for Jesse Chavez, the Jays have bolstered their rotation but it was reported on Saturday that interim GM Tony LaCava is still focused on upgrading the pitching staff.

Trevor Cahill considering the Pirates as a potential destination

Trevor Cahill
AP Photo/Paul Beaty

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.