Josh Thole expected to begin season in minors

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When the Blue Jays acquired Josh Thole from the Mets in the R.A. Dickey deal last month, the expectation was that he would catch the majority of the knuckleballer’s starts in 2013. However, that won’t be the case if all goes according to plan.

Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos indicated to Mike Cormack of Sportsnet.ca yesterday that ideally Thole will begin the season with Triple-A Buffalo while Henry Blanco, who was recently signed to a non-guaranteed, one-year deal, will serve as J.P. Arencibia’s backup.

“Blanco has not been guaranteed the job at all,” Anthopoulos explained. “That’s why he’s on a non-guaranteed contract. But again, if it works out that Blanco’s the backup and Thole ends up being optioned down here, organizationally that means things are going well. Blanco was good enough to be the backup and now we’ve got tremendous depth.”

Blanco caught seven of Dickey’s starts in 2010 when they were teammates with the Mets, so the 41-year-old is a viable alternative as a backup. If Arencibia suffers an injury, Thole would be at the ready to handle the majority of the starts behind the plate.

The Blue Jays and Thole avoided arbitration yesterday by agreeing to a two-year, $2.5 million contract with a club option for 2015. The 26-year-old backstop is coming off a disappointing season in which he batted just .234/.294/.290 and missed nearly a month with a concussion.

Report: Angels and Anthony Rendon agree on seven-year, $245 million contract

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Another big free agent domino has fallen at the Winter Meetings in San Diego. Third baseman Anthony Rendon is signing with the Angels on seven-year, $245 million contract, per Jon Heyman.

Rendon, 29, was the top free agent position player. He’s coming off of a season in which he helped the Nationals win their first championship, batting .319/.412/.598 with a league-high 126 RBI and an NL-best 44 doubles along with 34 home runs and 117 runs scored in 646 plate appearances. Rendon also continued to play solid defense at third base. During the postseason, Rendon hit .328/.412/.590 with seven doubles, three homers, 15 RBI, and 11 runs scored in 75 trips to the plate.

The Angels badly needed to make a big free agent splash this offseason, and third base was as good a place as any to do it. Rendon will now slot easily into the middle of the Angels’ lineup along with Mike Trout. It remains to be seen if the Angels are done making moves, but they could use a corner outfielder and another starting pitcher.

Humorously, Rendon has said he’d like to retire by age 35, as Jesse Daugherty of the Washington Post alluded to on the Nationals Talk Podcast. This contract will take him through his age-36 season.