December 2016

Toronto Blue Jays 2017 Free Agents Update

We have about 50 days until spring training starts (aka pitchers and catchers report) and almost all of the 2017 Toronto Blue Jays free agents are still free agents. Surprising? For some players yes, for some players not. But with a poor free agent market this offseason, you would have to think that for some teams these players could be a “cheap but perfect” fit.

A few months ago, I made a post highlighting both the Blue Jays current free agents that were on the team last season, as well as priorities that the Jays should make towards those free agents. While some plans have gone as planned, others have not.

Let’s go through the list and see where each players stands as of today (December 27, 2016). (NOTE: This will only be for Major League Jays free agents, not Minor League.)

  • Jose Bautista
    • Bautista is still a free agent. Journalists and executives are saying that the draft pick attached to his name is making teams weary of him/his contract, and for the Blue Jays the draft pick is very valuable. Bautista has reportedly said that he will accept a one year offer as long as it pays more money than the original qualifying offer given to him from the Toronto Blue Jays. Bautista has also reportedly declined several offers in hopes of coming back to Toronto.
  • Edwin Encarnacion
    • As many of you know, Edwin Encarnacion has signed with the Cleveland Indians for a 3 year/$60 million contract. You can read my post about Encarnacion here.
  • R.A. Dickey
    • A few months ago, R.A. Dickey signed with the Atlanta Braves on a one year contract. You can read my post about him here.
  • Scott Feldman
    • Feldman is still a free agent and there is no word as to where he might be headed as of late.
  • Joaquin Benoit
    • Joaquin Benoit signed a one year contract with the Philadelphia Phillies in early December.
  • Dioner Navarro
    • Navarro is right back to where he was around this time last year, since he only signed a one year deal with the Chicago White Sox in time for the 2016 season. Like Feldman, there have been no public discussion regarding him.
  • Brett Cecil
    • Although I wrote in my free agent priorities post that Cecil should have been a priority, the St. Louis Cardinals gave Brett Cecil an offer of 4 years/$30.5 million. There was no way the Blue Jays could have matched that offer, or given him any thing higher.
  • Jason Grilli
    • Since Jason Grilli had a team option on his contract, the Blue Jays would have been dumb to not have exercised it. Thank goodness they did, and you can read more about it here.
  • Michael Saunders
    • Saunders is still a free agent, but I have heard his name being thrown around. Teams are looking for left handed hitting outfielders, and that is exactly what Michael Saunders is. The Blue Jays could use him as well, but there have been no word as to whether they have offered him a contract or not.
  • Gavin Floyd
    • Gavin Floyd is still a free agent. No talks about him have come up.
  • Josh Thole
    • Thole is still a free agent, and I believe he intends to play in the 2017 season. Where exactly is not known.

Are there any free agents that you would like to see the Blue Jays sign? Even players that are not on this list? Tweet me or let me know in the comments!

Although there is only 50 days until Spring Training, there is still a lot to be done!

Alyssa Cohen


To Edwin Encarnacion

On December 22, 2o16 at 9:00pm, Edwin Encarnacion signed a 3 year/$60 million (plus an option) with the Cleveland Indians. Practically the same contract that the Blue Jays offered him weeks ago that his agent denied.

Edwin Encarnacion was one of the most consistent and memorable Blue Jays of all time, and it is very hard to seem him go. From hitting over 30+ home runs for the Blue Jays for the past five years, to being the 2016 playoff hero. He will be greatly missed.

My favourite Edwin Encarnacion moment happened in the 2015 season, when Edwin hit 3 home runs in one game on Saturday August 29. I personally will never forget that moment. It felt like a fairy tale, and it was one of the main pieces of the Jays making the playoffs for the first time since 1993.

But how can any of us forget the Wild Card game that ultimately changed the 2016 post season. I will never forget that moment either. With one hit, we were heading back to the playoffs for the second straight year. I screamed my head off with that one. My dad fell asleep and my mom said that no matter what happened that night, we both had to be quiet. But after that home run, all rules were thrown out the window. I’m surprised the whole world didn’t hear me!

This contract shows that everyone makes mistakes. I am not feeling sour directly to Edwin himself, but mostly his agent Paul Kinzner. I know more than half of you probably came to terms with this when both Morales and Pearce were signed weeks ago. And believe me, I am definitely not blaming the Toronto Blue Jays front office for this one either. They ultimately gave him the best contract, but he wasn’t ready to sign it yet. But, I always had a glimpse of “What if?”, although there was no way that was going to happen from the beginning. I guess this was just an unfortunate mistake, and I am sure Edwin is feeling that too. I for one hope he fires Mr. Kinzner right away, he deserved a better agent than this. Kinzner should have realized that teams are looking for speed, lefty’s and youth, non of those adjectives fall next to the name Edwin Encarnacion. However, we have to realize that this is not about the fans, this is a business. No real blame should be put on either sides, although you have to let me be sour for a day.

So Eddie, I’d like to thank you for the good times, the smiles, the laughs, the bombs, and most of all… the parrot.

Best wishes always.

Love your friend,

Alyssa Cohen

2016 Blue Jays Winter Meetings Recap

Everyone expected the Blue Jays to pull off some big moves, and well, they didn’t really do that. While others may not agree with the moves made, we know that Shapiro and Atkins have the best intentions for our team. Besides, we all want the same goal. Rings.

If you haven’t been following a long as intensely as I have, you are in luck! I have recapped days 1-4 below to take a look at all of the moves the Jays management managed to pull off. (Technically, December 4 was not day one because everyone was flying in and they had a big dinner at night. All of the real stuff started on the Monday which is where I am starting, just to clarify.)

Day 1 – December 5, 2016

The first day of the winter meetings started with quite a bang. Normally I find time to check my phone to see any Blue Jays news during my period 2 Geography class. Most of the time there is nothing new, but today was a shift from the norm.

The Blue Jays signed INF/OF Steve Pearce for 2 years, $12.5 mil. 

Pierce is a valuable player, who has played all positions in his career, excluding catcher and pitcher. The contract amount is not to bad, considering that he is an average defender and hitter. He will generate a lot more offence from first base than Justin Smoak, which we will all appreciate. This was the Blue Jays biggest Winter Meetings move.

Blue Jays reportedly offer Dexter Fowler $60 mil for 4 years.

According to multiple reports, the Blue Jays have offered OF Dexter Fowler a contract. Although, sources are saying that they are about $3-$5 million off. If that is the case, then I think Dexter Fowler will be a Toronto Blue Jays by the end of this week!

Blue Jays reportedly out on Edwin Encarnacion, after he declines $80 million/4 year contract offer. 

I think that the Blue Jays made a smart move when it comes to Edwin. After he declined the offer, they slowly took it off the table and moved on right away. With the money we were originally going to pay Edwin, we can fix up some holes in our roster (back up catcher, corner outfielders, relievers, etc.). I (like you) are sad about Edwin leaving, but it may be for the better. And this also makes my narrative almost 50% correct (I will tell you about it sometime later in the season)!

To recognize: Joaquin Benoit signs with the Phillies for 1 year/$7.5 million

As a free agent, Benoit signed a contract with the Philadelphia Phillies. He is likely to pitch in the 8th inning.

Day 2 – December 6, 2016

Day two of the Winter Meetings was an interesting day for rumours and other team deals. Nothing major for the Blue Jays as far as adding new players.

Chris Collabello elects Free Agency.

Former Blue Jays starting first basemen Chris Collabello elects free agency instead of Minor League assignment. After testing positive for PEDs, Collabello was never the same. After the Jays took him off of the 40-man roster, he decided to elect free agency. It will be very interesting to see where he goes.

Toronto Blue Jays reportedly back in talks with Jose Bautista.

After rumours surrounding the Jays with Dexter Fowler, the Blue Jays have now been talking with Bautista’s agent/team. I guess the Jays are still interested in him being an outfielder for the team, as 1B and DH are pretty much taken already by Steve Pearce and Kendrys Morales.

Jose Bautista reportedly OK with a 2-year Contract.

It’s interesting to think that around this time last year Bautista was reportedly asking for $150 million/5 years. Now, he may be ok with a $25/2 year contract offer!

Edwin Encarnacion market slowly decreasing, Indians interested? 

Apparently, the Indians have suddenly become very interested in Edwin. They also apparently generated $20 million extra in revenue from the world series. Personally, I do not think that they will have enough money for Edwin and contract offer request.

To recognize: Red Sox trade for White Sox pitcher Chris Sale.

Suddenly, the Red Sox are the new favourites for the American League team in the 2017 World Series. They have David Price, Rick Porcello and now Chris Sale. Although, the Red Sox gave 4 major players away that were currently being developed in their farm system, which could possibly hurt them in the future.

Day 3 – December 7, 2016

Ross Atkins shares that Bautista is a great alternative and that there is definitely a way to “connect the dots”.

With Edwin Encarnacion most likely not coming back, Bautista would be a great alternative for the team as well as the fans who fill up the stadium.

Unless there’s a surprise entrant, slugger Edwin Encarnacion’s finalists appear to be the Toronto Blue Jays and Cleveland Indians. 

Surprisingly, in the morning of day 3 we thought that Edwin would most likely not be coming back, but by the end it was reported that he could still possibly be coming back. A possible scenario could be Morales DH, Edwin 1B and Pearce OF. Or, they could ask to trade Pearce but I don’t think he will want to be traded since he literally JUST signed here.

Rockies interested in Marcus Stroman and would trade Charlie Blackman for him. Blue Jays say no to the offer and share that they wouldn’t be willing to trade Stroman straight up. 

With all of the work that Stroman does around the city and on social media, it would be a real shame to see him go. Earlier in the offseason Ross Atkins said that it would be unlikely to change the starting rotation. I really hope that he stays with us, but stranger things have happened.

Toronto Blue Jays sign Brett Oberholtzer to a minor league deal.

This was pretty much the only contract that the Jays had signed since Pearce, and it was only a minor league deal. Oberholtzer had a 5.89 ERA and a 3-3 record, while being a reliever for both the Phillies and Angels.

Jay Bruce has reportedly enlisted the Toronto Blue Jays on his no trade list. 

Just some random information for you all, especially the people saying that the Jays should try to sign Jay Bruce!

To recognize: Ian Desmond signs with the Colorado Rockies.

Ian Desmond, former utility player for the Texas Rangers has now travelled to the National League and is currently a member of the Colorado Rockies.

To recognize: Aroldis Chapman to New York Yankees 5 year/$86 million.

Now we have another team to beat in the AL East. Is it just me, or does it feel like every team is improving for the better but ours?

Day 4 – December 8, 2016

Toronto Blue Jays select Glenn Sparkman from the Rule 5 Draft.

Glenn Sparkman is 24, he posted a 5.22 ERA across four levels in 2016, reaching AA.

Dexter Fowler reportedly on his way to St. Louis for a physical. St. Louis reportedly offered him a huge contract, somewhere around $85 million for 5 years.

No wonder the Jays weren’t able to get him right away. If I were Fowler, I would have taken the Cardinals offer, too. Jays are reportedly still in “the mix” but I’m not sure how they could be.

After this week, the Blue Jays still have a ton to do. Encarnacion and Bautista are still on the market, and it will be very interesting where they end up. I still think one of them will come back to the Blue Jays, but I don’t know which one.

Personally, I think both the Red Sox and White Sox won the Winter Meetings. The Red Sox got a lot of all star players, and I assume that means that they are really going for it. The White Sox received multiple amazing prospects, they will be a team to bit within the next 5-10 years.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the 2016 Winter Meetings for the Blue Jays, I am not so happy.

Alyssa Cohen

PS. Big things are coming for Year 2 of Alyssa Cohen MLB! A lot of changes are currently in the works, and I think you will all love them! I will be explaining everything on the One Year Birthday/Anniversary of the blog in January. As of right now, I am currently looking for a Blue Jays Minor League/Farm system fan that likes to write. If you consider yourself that, please click here and fill out the form to let me know. Thank you!

The 2016 MLB Lockout/Strike Possibility (NEW AGREEMENT)

************* READ UNTIL THE VERY END *************

To me, baseball is like a constant. From the first week of April, to the last week of September, during almost everyday, there is baseball. Whether your team is destined to win the World Series, or destined to be the worst in the league, baseball was and will always be here.

When I first heard of a strike, I remember my parents reminiscing about the 1994 strike. While the Toronto Blue Jays weren’t that great of a team in those days, my parents among every other fan still watched them. It didn’t matter whether they were good, baseball was always on TV/Radio, so why not watch it? In 1994, there was no postseason. They didn’t even play past June. There was NO point. I really don’t know how I would have survived that season.

Thinking to the upcoming season, I don’t know how I will get through it with a strike or lockout. It’s the Blue Jays year, we can all feel it. But what’s the point of building a championship team, when there may not be a champion at all?

If you are not aware, on Thursday December 1, 2016, the current MLB Collective Bargaining agreement between Major League Baseball and its players comes to an end. However this year, there are many things that the players union will wants to fix, that MLB does not. To read all of the details, please visit this article that thurghly explains everything you need to know:

In 1994, baseball in its entirety, lost a lot of its fans and followers. People didn’t understand (and still do not) why millionaires were arguing about money, when there are people around the world who make less than $1 a day.

And although many players claim they are not afraid of a lockout, I sure am. Writing about baseball is what I do, and what will I be doing for an entire year if it isn’t just that?

If a lockout does happen, I will be losing a lot of respect for the entire Major League Baseball, although I do understand the majority of the key points listed in the article above.

So, how does a lockout specifically affect our Blue Jays? Well, let me ask you this first. Haven’t you noticed that there haven’t been many big deals, trades or signings made recently? That’s because everyone is waiting to see what happens after December 1. Although the Blue Jays have already signed Kendrys Morales and Lourdes Gurriel Jr., there are still many holes that need to be filled. Such as new relievers, new outfielders, and more left handed batters. If a lockout or strike does proceed, everything related to the contracts or trades is either delayed or stopped entirely. And if you really think about it, time is moving fast. Pitchers and catchers report for spring training in mid-February, and it’s already the beginning of December.

What will happen to our team if there is a lockout? That’s the scary part… Nobody knows.

Well, it turns out now we know!

Just about 30 minutes ago (as I type this), MLB has officially signed onto a 5 – year agreement with the MLBPA. Here are the reported new guidelines (note: new guidelines are coming out as we speak, so make sure you follow me on twitter for new updates every hour. I also will list them below with the word NEW for the most recent one I have added):

  • No 26th Roster Spot
  • No International Draft
  • Luxury tax threshold at $195 million for 2017, will grow to approximately $210 million over 5 years
  • (NEW) All Star Game will no longer predict home field advantage for World Series, the team with the best record between the two that win the ALCS/NLCS with the best regular season record will gain home field advantage
    • This will leave a lot of creativity for how they can split up the two teams, rather than just American League VS. National League, they can have the game teams as USA VS. International
    • This could also be a poor choice because, there is a big difference between a hard division such as the AL East, rather than the NL East
  • (NEW) Disabled List reduced from 15 days to 10 days, resulting in more DL trips for starting pitchers with off day/rotation shuffle.
  • (NEW) Longer season extension, 187 from 183 days. Lets players rest and have a few more days off.

Beginning Next Offseason:

  • Free agent compensation must be paid by teams over tax threshold only
  • Draft pick will be below first round

Thankfully, we will definitely be having baseball over the next five seasons indefinitely!

Alyssa Cohen

PS. I’d like to welcome all of the new visitors of my blog that have arrived over the past few days. Thanks to some sharing on a massive Blue Jays Facebook group, my latest post about Kevin Pillar had over 2,000 views in just one day!