Toronto was 38-24 and in first place by six games on June 6, but the Blue Jays have gone 22-26 since then and general manager Alex Anthopoulos did nothing at the trade deadline yesterday.
Several veteran players talked publicly about their unhappiness with the lack of moves, led by closer Casey Janssen telling Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com:
For us not to do anything, most of us had some ideas that we were going to
improve this club a little bit. It’s unfortunate we didn’t. At the same time, we just have to do what we have to do to win games and try to find ways to get into the playoffs. Yes, it was frustrating but we have to play tonight.
I think everyone is just kind of shocked with all the movement that happened and big names going in every direction. … I’ve never seen anything like it, I can’t remember anything like it, that was as crazy as this was and kind of down to the wire as the deadline approached. Like I say, congrats to those teams, they did good.
Star slugger Jose Bautista had a similar but slightly less outspoken take:
Of course it’s a little disappointing that we somehow weren’t able to get anything done, but everybody around us that’s in contention somehow–and even some teams that aren’t in contention, like the Red Sox–somehow figured it out. But there’s still time to get stuff done. We still have a pretty good team put together and we’re hoping to get the guys that are hurt back and that’ll be a good injection of talent for us down the road. … But it’s a little bit of disappointment.
According to various reports Toronto was linked to, among others, Asdrubal Cabrera, Jon Lester, Bartolo Colon, Chris Denorfia, and Alex Rios. And certainly Anthopoulos has shown a willingness to make a big splash in the past, so perhaps Bautista is right that the Blue Jays may yet add some help in August.
Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.
Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.
Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.
Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.
The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.
Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.
Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.
The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.
Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.
Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.
Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.