Toronto Blue Jays Offseason Tracker: Latest Trade Rumors, Free Agency News

Ely SussmanCorrespondent INovember 9, 2012

Toronto Blue Jays Offseason Tracker: Latest Trade Rumors, Free Agency News

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    The Toronto Blue Jays continue to make huge moves this offseason. Their activity has landed All-Stars like Mark Buehrle, Melky Cabrera, Josh Johnson, Jose Reyes and most recently, R.A. Dickey.

    Last summer's 73-89 record obviously embarrassed the franchise. After this makeover, Toronto is poised contend for a championship in 2013.

    Toronto Star reporter Brendan Kennedysort of—prepared us for this back in September. He wrote that GM Alex Anthopoulos would expand payroll and do everything necessary to improve the team.

    Use this tracker to stay updated on all the latest Blue Jays trade rumors and free agency news as spring training approaches.

Mark DeRosa Fills out Roster

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    After stints in the five other MLB divisions, Mark DeRosa finally has a job in the AL East.

    He has inked a $750,000 deal that includes a club option for 2014.

    Alex Anthopoulos recently spoke about adding another right-handed bat to the Toronto Blue Jays bench. This soon-to-be 38-year-old could find himself platooning with Adam Lind at first base or starting elsewhere on the diamond should there be a major injury.

Toronto Avoids Arbitration with Emilio Bonifacio and J.A. Happ

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    Emilio Bonifacio signed a $2.6 million contract, while J.A. Happ will receive $3.7 million this coming season.

    The former stole 30 bases in just 64 games last summer with the Miami Marlins. He's a versatile defender who the Toronto Blue Jays plan to start at second base.

    Happ turned 30 in October. The former NL Rookie of the Year runner-up could find work as a swing man if he doesn't crack the crowded rotation out of spring training.

    Both players will be eligible for arbitration again in 2014.

Blue Jays Sign Henry Blanco

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    The backup catcher competition ought to be pretty intense in Toronto Blue Jays camp.

    Henry Blanco, 41, has agreed to a non-guaranteed, $750,000 contract.

    The Venezuelan journeyman batted .188/.224/.281 last season. Blanco tore a ligament in his left thumb and hasn't played since Aug. 5.

    Mike Nickeas and Josh Thole will also try to claim a 25-man roster spot.

Darren Oliver to Retire?

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    The Toronto Blue Jays instantly picked up Darren Oliver's $3 million option for 2013. His domination out of their bullpen last season—2.06 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 52 SO in 56.2 IP—made the decision a no-brainer.

    But according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the southpaw wants his contract restructured and his salary increased. Major league sources say he'll be content with $3 million if Toronto trades him to the Texas Rangers. His family lives in the Dallas area.

    General manager Alex Anthopoulos isn't budging. He tells MLB.com's Chris Toman that the 42-year-old will probably retire.

    The Blue Jays wisely stocked up on young relievers in 2012, acquiring David Carpenter, Steve Delabar and Brad Lincoln through midseason trades. Of course, the preference is for Oliver to continue his career...at their price.

Javier Vazquez Being Scouted

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    It seems the Toronto Blue Jays already have five capable starting pitchers, but there's nothing wrong with adding depth behind them.

    Javier Vazquez sat out in 2012 after spending the previous season with the then-Florida Marlins. He's preparing for the World Baseball Classic in his native Puerto Rico and reportedly dialing up his fastball into the mid-90s.

    Alex Cora tells Alex Speier of WEEI.com that aside from the Blue Jays, the Boston Red Sox and Washington Nationals have scouted the right-hander.

Blue Jays to Acquire R.A. Dickey, Extension Runs Through 2015

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    The New York Mets traded R.A. Dickey while his value is highest and received plenty in return from the Toronto Blue Jays. Catcher Travis d'Arnaud and right-hander Noah Syndergaard—arguably the team's two best prospects—head to the Big Apple along with John Buck and Wuilmer Becerra.

    Dickey will earn a $5 million salary in his age-38 season, but considerably more in 2014 and 2015, according to Andy Martino of the Daily News:

    Source: total guarantee of 3/30 for Dickey with $12 mil option for 2016.

    — Andy Martino (@MartinoNYDN) December 17, 2012

    Mike Nickeas and Josh Thole combined to catch all 34 of his starts last summer. Both will be included in package, though J.P. Arencibia is expected to remain the primary backstop.

    Here's a peek at the Blue Jays projected starting rotation with the reigning Cy Young Award winner: Dickey, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson, Brandon Morrow and Ricky Romero.

    Pretty fearsome, eh?

Josh Johnson's Agent "Receptive" to Contract Extension Talks

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    Josh Johnson's contract expires after the 2013 season. If nothing changes, he'll be among the top starting pitchers in that free-agent class.

    But the right-hander and agent Matt Sosnick aren't opposed to signing an extension in the coming months, according to Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star.

    Sosnick "thinks highly" of the Toronto Blue Jays organization and knows the city well.

    However, Alex Anthopoulos hasn't approached Johnson or his representative about a long-term commitment. The team is more likely to reserve judgement until the potential ace experiences some success in the AL East.

Toronto Re-Hires John Gibbons After Long Managerial Search

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    The Toronto Blue Jays had plenty of eager candidates of all ages and qualifications. From the beginning of their thorough search, they favored candidates with major league managerial experience.

    GM Alex Anthopoulos eventually decided on a familiar face, as John Gibbons previously skippered Toronto from 2004-2008 (305-305 record). The franchise confirmed his re-hiring on Nov. 20, according to MLB Trade Rumors (h/t Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun).

    He worked with some pretty talented rosters during that previous stint, but none with depth comparable to the 2013 Blue Jays. Gibbons will finalize his coaching staff in the coming weeks.

    Former third base coach Brian Butterfield told Boston's WEEI that he "remained in the running for the Toronto managerial opening until the '11th hour'" (via Sportsnet's Mike Cormack).

DeMarlo Hale to Join Coaching Staff as Bench Coach

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    DeMarlo Hale has spent the last seven seasons in the AL East, most recently as third base coach of the Baltimore Orioles.

    The latest report from Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com suggests that the Toronto Blue Jays pried him away from the O's with a three-year guarantee.

Commissioner Bud Selig Approves 12-Player Blockbuster

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    Shortstop Jose Reyes and veteran starting pitchers Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson will all become Toronto Blue Jays in what FOX Sports' Jon Paul Morosi calls a "historic salary dump." Infielders Yunel Escobar and Adeiny Hechavarria headline the group of departing players.

    On Nov. 19, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig approved the blockbuster (via MLB Trade Rumors).

    The trade solidifies two spots in the Jays' starting rotation and provides an elite lead-off hitter. Also, Emilio Bonifacio is among the speediest and most versatile individuals in baseball.

    Of course, this also bloats the team's payroll. The newcomers will earn approximately $43.25 million next season alone (assuming Bonifacio gets $2.50 million as Matt Swartz of MLB Trade Rumors has projected)!

    Though John Buck and Johnson are entering contract years, Buehrle and Reyes have already been signed to long-term guarantees. Combined, they are owed an extra $123 million beginning in 2014.

    The Fish included $4 million in the transaction.

Melky Cabrera Coming to Toronto, Signed Through 2014

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    Enrique Rojas of ESPNdeportes.com had it first—Melky Cabrera is going north of the border.

    The Dominican outfielder was a midseason NL MVP candidate, projected to rank atop the 2013 free-agent class. Everything changed in August when Major League Baseball suspended him 50 games for violating their drug policy.

    He admitted to the wrongdoing and removed himself from batting title contention.

    The Toronto Blue Jays will pay Cabrera $16 million over two years, presumably to start alongside Colby Rasmus and Jose Bautista. Recently-extended Rajai Davis will probably compete with him for the honor in spring training.

Justin Germano Signed to a Minor League Contract

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    Justin Germano might never get his own locker in the Rogers Centre, but signing him to a minor league contract doesn't carry much risk. He receives an invitation to spring training, too (via Zach Links, MLB Trade Rumors).

    The right-hander's stats are underwhelming (10-30, 5.27 ERA, 1.42 WHIP in 93 career games), but he has posted an encouraging 2.08 strikeout-to-walk ratio since 2007. He started 12 times for the Chicago Cubs this past season.

    Germano pitches with finesse. Per FanGraphs, he averaged just 86.1 mph with his fastball in 2012.

    The 30-year-old will only move into a rotation spot in the event of several major injuries.

Maicer Izturis Inks Multi-Year Deal

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    The versatile veteran infielder officially joined the Toronto Blue Jays on Nov. 8. Jon Heyman of was first to break the news.

    Maicer Izturis might contend with newly-acquired Emilio Bonifacio for the starting job at second base. He has more than 1,500 innings of major league experience at shortstop and third base, too.

    Izturis' deal will guarantee him $3 million in each of the next three seasons. A 2016 club option of equal value can be bought out for $1 million.

Blue Jays Get Jeremy Jeffress for Cash Considerations

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    Jeremy Jeffress can throw triple-digit heat, but the Toronto Blue Jays acquired him from the Kansas City Royals at virtually no cost.

    So what's the catch?

    Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star points out that he is a repeat offender under Minor League Baseball's drug policy. Three separate tests from 2006, 2007 and 2009 detected marijuana. One more slip-up earns him a lifetime ban.

    Jeffress' control problems have doomed him in parts of three MLB seasons (30 BB in 38.2 IP).

    Despite all the baggage, the 25-year-old could be a terrific weapon with the right guidance.

Esmil Rogers Joins the Bullpen

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    Esmil Rogers came to the Toronto Blue Jays on Nov. 3. The club sent Mike Aviles and Yan Gomes to complete the deal with the Cleveland Indians.

    The right-hander struggled early in his career, but righted the ship in 44 games with the Tribe (3-1, 3.06 ERA, 1.11 WHIP in 53.0 IP). Even better, he's still a year away from arbitration eligibility.

    Rogers joins a relief corps whose ERA (4.33), WHIP (1.35) and batting average against (.253) ranked last among American League teams.

    Meanwhile, the signing of Maicer Izturis fills the void left by Aviles' departure.