Surprise, surprise: according to Sportsnet's Shi Davidi, the Blue Jays are "seriously considering a move away" from catcher J.P. Arencibia, having made inquiries on free agents A.J. Pierzynski, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Carlos Ruiz, and possibly even Tom's Pick, Brian McCann.
Yesterday, Keith Law wrote in an ESPN Insider Only article that he "[gets] the sense that [the Blue Jays are] sick of Arencibia's act on and off the field." The way he wrote it seemed very much like speculation to me, but it is a speculation that I share. The Blue Jays were already trying to move their power-hitting catcher last offseason, with Alex Anthopoulos shopping both John Buck and Arencibia after the Marlins trade. Except for a possibly improved pitch-framing ability, Arencibia has declined (or have not improved) in every aspect of his game, plus he is in line for a significant raise thanks to arbitration. The Blue Jays really only have four choices: stick with Arencibia as their catcher next season, pay him $2.8 million to play in the minors (on whichever team A.J. Jimenez isn't on), cut him loose by not tendering him a contract, or trade him. In a world with finite payrolls, a trade might be a decent option even though Arencibia's value is probably at a nadir. Andrew Stoeten likened this situation with the decision the Blue Jays made to trade Aaron Hill (and John McDonald) for Kelly Johnson. But of course we need to keep in mind that Arencibia is currently worth much less than Hill in 2011. It would be intriguing what team would be willing to gamble on Arencibia (or maybe he will have to be included in a bigger deal involving more pieces in order for someone to take him).
Out of the list of catchers, the most interesting of the choices for the Blue Jays may be Saltalamacchia. He is a year younger than McCann and not nearly as well established, but he might be someone that the Jays can grab without the overpayment McCann is due One would think that Alex Anthopoulos would remind Saltalamacchia's agent that he was second to Arencibia in strikeouts in 2013. But what he brings to the table some pop, the ability to hit line drives, and to take the occasional walk. The Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo mentioned on Sunday that the Blue Jays are interested in Salty because he "comes from a winning program and is a great chemistry guy in the clubhouse" because the biggest job for the club is to "bring in winning players with winning attitudes, just like the Red Sox did." Funny, because here I thought that the Jays would be interested in his bat.
Later in Davidi's piece, he mentioned that a pitcher that is "intriguing" is Ubaldo Jimenez but I will wait for a later post to discuss more about him as a possible add.
Besides what Tom already covered in his Monday Bantering piece, Davidi also mentioned that the Blue Jays may be close to hiring their new first base coach. Although the Blue Jays were considering an "internal candidate" for the position--at one point Tim Raines was a name that popped up--Davidi floated the possibility of John Gibbons hiring his old friend from the Royals Trey Hillman, who was just let go by the Dodgers. One thing to remember is that new MLB rules allow for an extra "coach" to sit in uniform for games, so there is a chance that Hillman will be given time to search for better coaching position before reuniting with Gibbons and new hitting coach Kevin Seitzer.
Late Monday night, Chicago-based media critic Robert Feder tweeted that Mark DeRosa is among a list of eight former Cubs as part of WGN's "top potential candidates" to replace Keith Moreland's role as the Cubs' radio analyst (hat tip to @KennedyMLB). DeRosa did some analyst work with TBS and the MLB Network for the playoffs after showing off his on-screen personality during the season in this fun spot with Munenori Kawasaki, but don't count him as retired yet. The list seems to be a list of "wants" for WGN rather than finalists that have been interviewed (he was also considered for the Cubs' TV analyst role last season before signing with the Jays). In an interview with Yahoo! Sports, DeRosa did admit that he would like to continue playing. With the Blue Jays picking up his $750,000 option for 2014, he has an opportunity to do so and to continue being in the clubhouse mentoring Brett Lawrie.
For what it's worth, someone at the Blue Jays front office told Joel Sherman that Jose Reyes is unavailable unless they are planning to do "a total reset," which by all accounts they aren't.
After some dreadful weeks with no news, it is nice to have things to talk and write about, even though a lot of it is still speculation. But the prospect of the Blue Jays bringing in an above-replacement catcher (even at the expense of a good guy like J.P. Arencibia) is something that should bring warmth to your heart and start your day right.