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Thursday bantering

Boras, pitching rumours and hedgehogs

Houston Astros v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

Yesterday we saw some important Jays news as the Blue Jays hired Astros batting coach Dave Hudgens to be Bench Coach. Tom has more here.

Interestingly DeMarlo Hale is said to be exploring roles with other teams and and different internal roles with the Jays.

And here is another piece on possible pitching targets for the Jays. (Perez, Ross, Santana and Moore are new names to add to the list).

Bryce Harper rejected the Washington Nationals’ offer of approximately $300 million over 10 years late last season, according to multiple reports.

Washington tried to lock up Harper with one of the richest deals in baseball history before he became a free agent, but he opted to test the market. According to reports, the Nats’ offer is now off the table, but the team is still open to a deal. Harper is of course represented by Scott Boras...

...who is clearly not a fan of where the Jays are heading.

Boras took aim at the Blue Jays during his annual press conference on Wednesday at the general managers meeting in Carlsbad, California. In particular, Boras pinned the sharp decline in Toronto’s attendance on the team’s unwillingness to invest in top talent saying:

Toronto is a wonderful city, it’s been a great franchise, they’ve drawn three million fans. They’ve lost near a third of their fan base due to the Blue Flu of not bringing attractive players that their fans find interesting to their market.

The Blue Jays finished 35 games behind in the AL East in 2018, a season that saw their attendance drop by more than 10,000 fans a game. In 2017, the Blue Jays led the AL in attendance at 3.2 million; that declined to 2.3 million this year, the largest drop in the majors.

Boras also criticized the Marlins (who hasn’t?) who finished last in the majors this year in attendance. The Marlins drew just 811,000 fans this season, the lowest since the 2003 Montreal Expos. Their average attendance of a little more than 10,000 a game is barely above some Triple-A teams.

“The fans of Florida have certainly brought the M.I.A. to Miami,” Boras said in a sick burn.

In trade related news and rumours:

  • The Rays are sending outfielder Mallex Smith to the Mariners for catcher Mike Zunino and outfielder Guillermo Heredia. More info here.
  • The Yankees aren't interested in Harper, but the Phillies are, and they want Manny Machado too. Boras is looking to get Harper a 14 year contract for over $400m and maybe as high as $500m. Which is bonkers.
  • The D-backs are reportedly open to entertaining offers for key players, and with just one year and $14.5M remaining on his contract, it’s only natural that Paul Goldschmidt’s name is being bandied about.
  • The Yankees might be looking for another catcher as Gary Sanchez will undergo surgery on his left (non-throwing) shoulder this offseason. The timeline for Sanchez’s recovery is about three months, and the current projection is that he’ll be ready for Opening Day. The Yankees don’t foresee any issues with his recovery and say they are comfortable with Austin Romine being the main catcher expect them to reach into their vast underground bunker of cash and fork out for JT Realmuto.
  • The Mets and Astros are kicking the tyres on ‘catcher’ Yasmani Grandal.
  • Atlanta, St Louis and Philadelphia are coveting Craig Kimbrel. The Cards are also drooling over Andrew Miller.
  • Dave Roberts’ $1.1M option was picked up by the Dodgers but as a vehicle to continue talking. Expectation remains they’ll do a 4-year deal.

Congratulations to Oakland Athletics third baseman Matt Chapman being named the 2018 Wilson Overall Defensive Player of the Year.

He led all Major Leaguers regardless of position in defensive runs saved (29). No other 3B had more than 10 and his 29 Runs Saved were most in 8!

He also led American League third basemen in total chances (484), assists (331), and zone rating (.853).

And to end on a bizarre note, former Jay Eric Thames AKA Epic Thumbs was in Japan out shopping for knives and swords (as you do) when he stumbled across a hedgehog cafe...