The Marlins just announced that they have acquired left-hander Wade LeBlanc from the Padres in exchange for catcher John Baker.
The Marlins have 11 players who are eligible for arbitration this winter and John Buck is already locked in as their primary starting catcher, so swapping Baker for LeBlanc makes plenty of sense.
LeBlanc, 27, went 5-6 with a 4.63 ERA and 51/28 K/BB ratio in 79 2/3 innings over 14 starts with the Padres this season. He will almost certainly miss pitching in the cozy confines of PETCO Park, as evidenced by his 2.97 career ERA at home and 6.16 ERA on the road, but he could be a decent fit in the back of Florida’s rotation. While they remain in the mix for C.J. Wilson and Mark Buehrle, adding a left-handed starter was a priority for the Marlins this winter.
Baker missed most of the season following Tommy John surgery, but batted .154 (2-for-13) after being activated from the disabled list in September. The 30-year-old backstop is a .271/.356/.401 hitter in the big leagues and has a .782 career OPS against right-handed pitching, so he could make for a nice little tandem with the right-handed hitting Nick Hundley.
Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that the Blue Jays and third baseman Josh Donaldson are tabling extension talks as the two sides weren’t able to build any momentum towards agreement on a new contract.
Donaldson said, “We’re not quite there. That, to me, right now is not the major focus and I’m turning the page.” He added, “I want to play this season and really focus on winning games because, ultimately, our goal is to win a World Series and I don’t want to hinder that at all.” Donaldson also said he expects to hit free agency.
The 32-year-old avoided arbitration with the Blue Jays last month, agreeing on a $23 million salary for the 2018 season. He’s a free agent at season’s end. Last year, the three-time All-Star hit .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs, 78 RBI, and 65 runs scored in 496 plate appearances. Donaldson missed six weeks in the first half with a calf injury, but was able to return and post terrific numbers, so his health — at least that aspect of it — shouldn’t be a concern going into spring training.
If Donaldson does reach free agency, he’ll join a star-studded group that will likely also include Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Charlie Blackmon, and A.J. Pollock.