Everyone talks about the Yankees as team whose internal deliberations are not typically leaked to the press, but the Blue Jays are right up there in the informational black hole rankings. Know how you know this? The wild, all over the place speculation about who their new manager might me.
I mean, it’s possible that Jim Tracy, Jim Riggleman or any other guy who has been mentioned may be the new guy. Or it’s possible they won’t be. But the fact that we’ve had any number of names mentioned, but none who have acknowledged, through surrogates or otherwise, that they are truly candidates is evidence of a press that really doesn’t have a handle on who the Jays are truly targeting.
Two new names from my Twitter feed overnight:
Manny Acta would be an … interesting choice. Sure, I love his style and everything, but do you really get a job with a team that is going for it like the Jays are going for it after two very recent failed stints like Acta has had? He was forced to experience no time in bench coach/special advisor wilderness after being fired by the Nats and if he gets a job for 2013 after being canned by the Indians he’ll have done the immediately-land-on-his-feet thing for a second straight time. How good an interviewer is he?
Hargrove is a much more intriguing name. He’s been out of the game for a long time and left his last job — the Mariners in 2007 — in midseason while the team was 45-33, on a winning streak and in second place. The official explanation was that it was due to family and/or burnout issues or/something like that. It’s possible he was clashing with Ichiro Suzuki. Either way, the very next year he started expressing a desire to get back to managing in the bigs but hasn’t had an opportunity to do so. He spent some time managing a semi-pro team in 2008 and 2009. Then he took some time off. Since 2011 he has served as a special advisor to the Indians. But the dude does have a couple of pennants and was always well-thought-of as a manager.
That’s kind of the Davey Johnson track, isn’t it? Maybe, as some teams are looking to ape the Robin Ventura/Walt Weiss/Mike Matheny no-experience trend, the Jays are looking to go the bring-back-the-old-hand-who-left-too-soon route that the Nationals took?
Who knows? Based on the disparate reports we’ve seen, no one except the Blue Jays.
With the White Sox losing Jeff Samardzija to free agency, Erik Johnson will likely get a shot to contribute out of the rotation to open up the 2016 season, GM Rick Hahn said in a conference call on Wednesday, per a report from MLB.com’s Scott Merkin.
“As we sit here today, I think it will be an opportunity for Erik Johnson to convert on sort of the return to form he showed back in 2015 when he was International League pitcher of the year for [Triple-A] Charlotte,” Hahn said. “Obviously, he got some starts in September and continued to show the progress in Chicago he had shown in the Minor Leagues over the course of the last season.
“So if Opening Day were today, then I think Johnson is penciled in to that spot in the rotation right now. In all probability, once we get closer to spring, there will be some competition for him to earn that spot. But if we were strictly looking at today, then I would think Johnson has the inside track on filling Samardzija’s innings.”
Johnson was called up from Triple-A Charlotte in September and made six starts, allowing 14 runs (13 earned) on 32 hits and 17 walks with 30 strikeouts in 35 innings. That followed up an impressive five months in the minors where he compiled a 2.37 ERA and a 136/41 K/BB ratio across 132 2/3 innings.
Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, and MLB.com each included Johnson on their top-100 prospect lists, ranking him 63rd, 67th, and 70th, respectively. The right-hander was selected by the White Sox in the second round of the 2011 draft.
It was reported on Friday afternoon that Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig was involved in a brawl at a Miami nightclub. Details were scant at the time, but he reportedly left with a bruise on his face.
Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports that Major League Baseball plans to investigate Puig under the league’s new domestic violence policy for his role in the brawl. Citing a report from TMZ, Hernandez notes that Puig shoved his sister, “brutally sucker-punched” the manager of the bar, and instigated the brawl.
The Dodgers and Puig’s agent have thus far refused to comment on the situation.
Rockies shortstop Jose Reyes was the first player to be investigated under the league’s new domestic violence policy earlier this month, as he allegedly assaulted his wife. Reyes has pleaded not guilty after he was charged with domestic abuse in Hawaii.
As our own Craig Calcaterra pointed out, commissioner Rob Manfred does not need to wait for Puig to plead guilty or to be found guilty to levy a punishment.
Patrick Newman is reporting that the Chunichi Dragons of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball and outfielder Dayan Viciedo are close to an agreement on a contract. Newman notes that the Dragons are close to signing pitcher Jordan Norberto as well.
Viciedo, 26, has struggled since making his major league debut in 2010 with the White Sox, batting an aggregate .254/.298/.424 with 66 home runs and 211 RBI in 1,798 plate appearances. He spent the 2015 season with Triple-A Charlotte (White Sox) and Nashville (Athletics), hitting a composite .287/.348/.450. While Viciedo can hit the occasional home run, he hasn’t shown the ability to do much else at the big league level. Given his age, he could prove himself in Japan and parlay that into a renewed shot in the majors in the future.
The White Sox signed Viciedo out of Cuba in December 2008, agreeing to a four-year, $10 million deal. The club re-signed him to one-year deals in 2013 and ’14 for $2.8 million each and $4.4 million ahead of the 2015 season.
Update (8:45 PM EST): Per Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi, Happ will get $10 million in 2016 and $13 million each in 2017 and ’18.
MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm reports that the Blue Jays have signed lefty J.A. Happ to a three-year deal worth $36 million.
Happ, 33, had a rebirth as a member of the Pirates last season after starting the season with 20 subpar starts with the Mariners. He made 11 starts for the Buccos, boasting a 1.85 ERA with a 69/13 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings.
Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported this past August that Happ’s newfound success had to do with a delivery tweak suggested by Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage. The Blue Jays are certainly hoping that adjustment is the full explanation for his success.
The Jays’ signing of Happ most likely signifies they won’t be pursuing free agent lefty David Price.
This will be Happ’s second stint with the Blue Jays. The Astros dealt him to Toronto in a July 2012 trade. He posted a 4.39 ERA with a 256/113 K/BB ratio in 291 innings with the Jays, then went to the Mariners in a trade this past December that brought outfielder Michael Saunders to the Jays.