Blue Jays to bring back John Gibbons as manager

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While all indications were that the Blue Jays planned to bring in a retread as John Farrell’s replacement on the bench, who knew it’d again be one of their own? John Gibbons, who managed the team from 2004-08, will reclaim the job, the Toronto Sun reports.

Gibbons had a 305-305 record in three full and two partial seasons in his first stint at the helm of the Jays. It was his only gig as a major league manager. When he was fired after a 35-39 start in 2008, he was replaced by another former Jays manager, Cito Gaston.

The hiring, expected to be officially announced Tuesday, will come one day after the team officially acquired shortstop Jose Reyes, right-hander Josh Johnson and left-hander Mark Buehrle in a 12-player deal.

Gibbons’ original Toronto stint is best remembered for his confrontations with players Shea Hillenbrand and Ted Lilly. Hillenbrand was traded just a few days after taking on Gibbons, while Lilly and Gibbons made up not long after their blow-up.

Still, the bigger problem with Gibbons was his tendency to stick with underperforming veterans. Part of it was the hand he was dealt, but he always seemed to be most comfortable sticking with his veteran role players.

Maybe that won’t make much of a difference now, since the Jays have assembled a high-payroll team and don’t have a bunch of prospects knocking down the door (they still have some talent, but much of it remains at least a year or two away from the majors). How he handles the bullpen will be a big key for him, particularly if the Jays fail to acquire an experienced closer. They have plenty of talented arms, but it remains to be seen whether Gibbons will favor experience over talent. After all, this is a guy who once let Miguel Batista rack up 31 saves.

Robinson Cano hit his 300th home run last night

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Last night Robinson Cano hit a solo homer in the ninth inning of the Mariners’ loss to the Texas Rangers. It was his 22nd on the season. Though it was insignificant to the outcome of that game, it was significant to Cano: it was his 300th career homer.

While we’ve become accustomed to not caring much about home run milestones south of, say, 500, 300 homers for Cano is a big deal, as he’s only the third second baseman to cross that threshold in baseball history. The other two: Jeff Kent, at 377, and Rogers Hornsby at 301.

Cano, who turns 35 next month, has a career line of .305/.354/.495 and 1,179 RBI, 512 doubles and 33 triples to go with those bombs. He’s in his 13th big league season and still has six more years left on his deal with the Mariners. He’s averaged 24 homers a year since coming to the Mariners. While he’ll obviously trail off at some point — and while great second baseman’s have this weird habit of just suddenly falling off a cliff — it’s highly likely that he’ll finish his career as the all-time home run leader among second baseman. If he remains healthy he should also get over 3,000 hits in his career.

Cooperstown, here he comes.

Reds sign catcher Tucker Barnhart to a four-year deal

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Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reports that the Reds have signed catcher Tucker Barnhart to a four-year contract extension. The terms: $16 million total, with a $7.5 million club option for the 2022 season that has a $500,000 buyout. He also received a $1.75 million signing bonus.

The deal buys out all three of his arbitration years — he was going to be eligible for the first time this offseason — and the first year of his potential free agency. The club option buys a second. Barnhart made $575,000 this season.

Barnhart, 26, is finishing his second season as the Reds primary catcher. This year he’s hitting .272/.349/.399 with six homers and 42 RBI in 113 games. For his career he has a line of .257/.328/.366 in 330 major league games. His real value is defensive, however. He leads the National League in caught stealing percentage and number of base stealers caught (31-for-70, 44%) and leads all players at any position in the league in defensive WAR according to Baseball-Reference.com.