* LF Melky Cabrera turned down the Blue Jays qualifying offer of $15.3 million US which means another hole for Alex Anthopoulos to attempt to fill at the annual general managers meetings at the Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix. .... 2014 Canadians in the Minors … Canadians in College 2015 Canadian draft list 2016 Canadian draft list Letters of Intent
By Bob Elliott
How many holes does the 2015 Blue Jays have?
Less than a cribbage board.
Less than SpongeBob.
And certainly fewer than The Beatles “A Day in the Life” on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album when John Lennon wrote “Four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire.”
There are plenty for general manager Alex Anthopoulos and his staff to fill.
Work began last month and continues Monday at annual general manager’s meetings at the Arizona Biltmore resort in Phoenix. The Biltmore opened in 1929 and sits on 39 acres of gardens, swimming pools, golf course, lobbies and for the next four days trade talk.
On the market: Not much in free agents Emilio Bonifacio (.259, 3 homers, 24 RBIs, .573 OPS), Rasmus (.225, 18, 40, .733 OPS), who lost his job with the Jays last season, are free agents and Seattle Mariners Michael Saunders (.273, 8, 34) via trade.
Do the Jays go with Gose, who hit .226 with .604 OPS last season? He has shown that he throws better than Rasmus, does not have an aversion to walls and was 15-for-20 stealing. Yet, is the bat there for an every day basis? Not likely.
Do the Jays hand the job to Pompey, who turns 22 next month, and has all of 43 plate appearances? Pompey impressed at class-A Dunedin in April, double-A New Hampshire, triple-A Buffalo, the Rogers Centre and now the Arizona Fall League.
What about St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Peter Bourjos, the Jays inquired about him before when he was with the Los Angeles Angels?
GM Jack Zduriencik said at season’s end that Saunders has to “reassess his off-season workout habits in order to be better prepared” for a full season. Saunders battled injuries (shoulder, oblique) cutting his playing time to an average of 101 starts the last three seasons.
Some projected Saunders would be a 30-30 player in 2013, but instead of 30 steals and 30 homers, the left-handed hitter from Victoria, B.C. has averaged .248, with 13 homers, 13 steals and 46 RBIs in 116 games from 2012-14.
Quote, Unquote: “Pompey is the most dynamic player (in the league), a switch-hitter who will take a on-base skills, good speed, some pop, good defensive skills in centre. I’d play him over Gose and Pillar. Pompey certainly looked like he fit in the big leagues once he got regular playing time at the end of September.” _ Jim Callis, MLBPipeline.com covering the Arizona Fall League.
2015 Prediction: If not Saunders a combo of Pompey, Gose and Pillar with the best man getting the most starts.
On the market: Nelson Cruz (.271, 40, 108, .859), Torii Hunter (.286, 17, 83, .765), Nick Markakis (.276, 14, 50, .729), Alex Rios (.280, 4, 54, .729) Nori Aoki (.285, 1, 43, .710) and Cabrera (.301, 16, 73, .808).
Cabrera is the best of free agent left fielders, which means he won’t be on the Rogers Centre turf. It’s not like the Jays are the only team with an interest and a need. The Chicago White Sox, Texas Rangers, New York Mets, Orioles, and Mariners are interested. And so are the Cubs, who are expected to be in on everyone. Consider the Cabrera era is over.
Cruz has better numbers than Cabrera but was mostly at the DH spot, making 60 starts in left for the Baltimore Orioles.
The Jays had interest in Hunter before he signed with Detroit two years ago. Hunter was unsure whether he’d play next season in October.
Quote, Unquote: “Rios played the whole year with a bad wrist which cost him his power and never complained once, He would be a good fit for Toronto. Tony Fernandez’s first stay in Toronto ended badly. Second time around it was a walk in the park. Why not the same for Rios?” _ A veteran scout on the Jays outfield.
Prediction: Andy Dirks (.286, 0, 2, .746 at class-A Lakeland, class-A West Michigan and triple-A Toledo) and Pillar (.267, 2, 7, .692).
The left-handed hitting Dirks is coming off back surgery. With the Tigers in 2013 (.257, 9, 37, .686) he made 103 starts and the right-handed hitting Pillar (30 starts for the Jays last year).
Or the Jays could go with a platoon of Dirks and right-handed hitting John Mayberry (.212, 7, 23, .212, .734).
On the market: Pedro Sandoval (.279, 16, 73) and Chase Headley (.243, 13, 49) are both legit third baseman. Sandoval wants a six-year deal.
Franciso had imposing numbers on June 20: 10 doubles, a triple, 12 homers, 30 RBIs, a .245 average and an .881 OPS. He hit so well the Jays went to a platoon. For a right-hander Lawrie was at second with Francisco at third and for a lefty Lawrie played third.
Then opposing teams began throwing breaking balls, Francisco hit .189 the rest of the way with 52 strikeouts in 132 at-bats. Juan is long gone.
Valencia will provide back-up help.
Jays have interest in Sandoval at three years -- not at six.
2015 Prediction: Lawrie.
The Jays have called the Angels on Kendrick, who would be up grade, however, the nine-year veteran -- on the final year of a $33.5 million deal ($9.5 million in 2015) -- has a no-trade clause to the New York Mets, Tampa Bay Rays, Miami Marlins and the Jays.
Goins wasn’t the Jays biggest problem when he was demoted at the end of April hitting .150. The Jays lost 7-6 to Boston Red Sox that day as Brandon Morrow walked eight in 2 2/3 innings to sit last.
2015 prediction: Goins or an incoming second baseman acquired via trade, with help from Izturis, 34, bascically a 90-game a year guy anyway.
On the market: David Robertson (4-5, 3.08, 39 saves), Francisco Rodriguez (5-5, 3.04, 44 saves), Sergio Romo (6-4, 3.72, 23 saves), Andrew Miller (5-5, 2.02, one save), Rafael Soriano (4-1, 3.19, 19 saves) and Jason Grilli (1-5, 4.00, 12 saves).
The Jays have interest in Miller, as do the Detroit Tigers, who drafted him as a first rounder and teams think he can close. Miller said during post-season he wanted to stay in the AL East. Talk is Boston will make a three-year $21-million offer.
Robertson is headed for large money and the Jays have not spend on closer since they gave B.J. Ryan a five-year $47 million deal. Jays wound up with two complete seasons on the five year deal as he saved 75 games.
We’re hearing that the Jays are not interested in neither Rodriguez nor Romo.
Cecil is an option but do the Jays want to take him out of the set-up role where he earned all-star status in 2013.
2015 prediction: Unknown. (First name unknown too).
Bullpen: 2014: Loup 71 games, Cecil 66, McGowan 45, Redmond 42, Steve Delabar 30, Santos 26, Chad Jenkins 26, Aaron Sanchez 24, Esmil Rogers 16, Rob Rasmussen 10, Morrow 7, Neil Wagner 10, Kendall Graveman five, Daniel Norris four.
The Jays have interest in Gregorson.
Loup, Cecil, Redmond and Jenkins are likely assured spots.
Could McGowan return on a lesser deal?
Can Delabar re-gain his 2013 all-star form?
Would Liam Hendriks, who made three starts last year before being sent to the Kansas City Royals and then re-acquired be a long man?
Sanchez’s future is in the rotation, but if the Jays leave him in the bullpen (1.09,, nine walks, 27 strikeouts in 33 innings) after he was not as dominant in the minors (3.95, 57 walks, 84 whiffs in 100 1/3 innings).
2015 Prediction: Loup, Cecil, Delabar, Gregorson, Jenkins, Rasmussen.
-- Follow Bob Elliott on Twitter @elliottbaseball