With only one real big signing remaining on Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopolous’ agenda before the season starts—Jose Bautista, the Jays roster looks to be almost set heading into spring training.

Spring Training for the Blue Jays will be used to figure out who will be that long-awaited fifth starter for the Jays. Names being mentioned already include Jesse Litsch, Marc Rzepcynski, Zack Stewart and even Scott Richmond to fill the void left by Shaun Marcum, who was dealt to the Milwaukee Brewers earlier in the year for Canadian second baseman, and top 50 MLB prospect Brett Lawrie.

Another use for Spring Training will be to figure out who the team’s closer come opening day will be. Again, a fistful of names are on the tryout list which include Frank Francisco, Jon Rauch, Jason Frasor and the recently-signed Octavio Dotel.

Again, it will be anyone’s guess who will win the role out of Spring Training, but experts peg Francisco with the slight edge right now.

Manager Jon Farrell will also use the time to round out the remaining two or three bench spots that should remain before the season begins. Already pegged for bench positions appear to be back-up catcher Jose Molina, utility-man John MacDonald and fourth outfielder Juan Rivera.

If the Jays decide to keep eight bullpen pitchers, they will not need another bench player to round out the roster. However, if they choose to only keep seven, they will need an extra bench player. Guys who come to mind here include Mike McCoy, Corey Patterson and Darin Mastroianni.

I doubt the Jays would keep Mastroianni and have him rot on the bench, so the only two likely guys would be McCoy and Patterson. To bring Patterson in, the Jays would need to sign him to a major-league contract and demote someone off their 40-man roster. So with that said, McCoy could have the inside track there.

Enough with the background information and onto more important things.

With the Jays shedding some payroll, they have their books cleared up to re-sign home run champ Jose Bautista to a long-term contract. Even taking that money into account, the Jays still have one of the smaller payrolls in baseball.

The Jays will need to make a decision. Do we compete this year or next? Judging by the way the other Toronto sports major franchises are failing miserably, in my opinion, it would be in the Jays best financial interest to spend money now and make their team a contender.

With the Raptors and Leafs seasons heading down the porcelain throne, the Blue Jays could really see a spike in ticket sales and merchandise if they are willing to put a winner out there today.

A great AL team for the Jays to look at are the Cleveland Indians.

Rumors are swirling about all three of these players I will be listing, and personally, all three would be great fits for the Jays.


RF Shin Shoo Choo

Choo is one of those quiet, yet extremely effective right fielders nobody ever hears about, but should. Last season he hit .300 with 22 HR and 90 RBI, along with swiping 20 bags. I really can’t think of anyone who had a quieter 20/20 season than Choo, maybe across Ohio in Cincinnati, where Drew Stubbs hit 20 HR and swiped 30 bags.

Choo is extremely durable and dependable, and right now appears to be hesitating on signing an extension with the Tribe.

If the Jays are unable to sign Bautista, do they go after Choo? Or even if they do sign Bautista, do they move him to third and try and bring in Choo?

Choo is owed $3.95 million this season, and is still arbitration eligible for the next two offseasons. Personally, he’s right down the Jays’ alley in terms of relatively young and controllable for the next few years. 

What will they be looking for?

Likely two or three really good prospects in return for Choo.


SP Fausto Carmona

If the Jays are not confident in their No. 5 starter, a name being bandied about in trade rumors lately has been Indians ace Fausto Carmona. Last season saw Carmona resurrect his career after a few brutal seasons.

Carmona started 33 games, going 13-14 on a dismal team. In 210 innings pitched, he allowed 203 hits, 88  earned runs, 124 strikeouts, but sadly 72 walks.

Still though, his control was much better last season, as he walked only two more batters than the last two seasons, where he walked 70 batters. Even better, he only pitched 125 innings in each of those seasons, so that’s marked improvement for Carmona.

Last season in limited action against the AL East, he held his own going 4-3 in 52.2 innings pitched allowing 54 hits, 23 ER, good for roughly a 3.93 earned run average. Today, anything below 4.00 is great to have.

Under the tutelage of John Farrell and Bruce Walton, Carmona could have a breakout season.

The major downside however is that he’s owed $ 6.288 million this season, and $7, $9 and $12 million the next three seasons afterwords. So its really a financial burden trying to get him, but the Jays have plenty of room to expand their payroll.

What will they be looking for?

Likely two cheaper pitching prospects in return for Carmona. Maybe Chad Jenkins and Henderson Alvarez. Personally that’s probably overpaying on he part of the Jays.


CF Grady Sizemore

Injuries have plagued Sizemore for almost two seasons, and his trade value has taken a severe hit on the Indians. Once thought of as one of the best five tool players in the game, the injuries Sizemore that sustained lately has really derailed what looked to be a very promising career.

I am not saying his career is over or he’s washed up, but with injury concerns and a fairly high salary, the Indians, if they are fielding offers, would likely have to lower their asking value for the time being.

Best strategy for them would be to hold onto Grady and hope he returns to his 2008 form in which he hit .268 and belted 33 homers and drove 90 runners at the top of Cleveland’s lineup. He also swiped 38 bases that year.

But who knows, the Jays could come in with a wonderful offer and the Indians accept.

What will they be looking for?

Personally it will likely take three to four top 25 organizational prospects to acquire Grady. A package including Jake Marisnick, Zack Stewart, Chad Jenkins and Kellen Sweeney could be enough to sway the Tribe to deal Grady.

Feel free to comment.

Until next time…


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