* Are the Blue Jays chasing C Russell Martin (Montreal, Que.) and DH Victor Martinez? Talk in the lobby of the Arizona Biltmore says yes. .... 2014 Canadians in the Minors … Canadians in College 2015 Canadian draft list 2016 Canadian draft list Letters of Intent
By Bob Elliott
PHOENIX _ Russell Martin.
Did Alex Anthopoulos hit the contact list on his phone and it jammed on the letter “M”?
Your Toronto Blue Jays were, however, linked to both free agent catcher Martin and DH/first baseman Martinez on Monday as the big brains arrived for the annual general managers meetings at the Biltmore Hotel.
Not many Detroit Tigers leave the grasp of owner Mike Illitch and general manager David Dombrowski, but Martinez is out there on the market.
Martinez, one of the three AL MVP finalists, rejected the one-year, $15.3-million qualifying offer the Tigers offered. As did Blue Jays left fielder Melky Cabrera.
All Martinez did was lead the American League with a .974 OPS playing at first base for 35 games, catching two games and starting 115 games at DH. Martinez, who turns 36 next month, had 33 doubles, 32 homers and a .335 average, while knocking in 103 runs
“I never divulge who we’re going to talk to or who we have interest in,” said Anthopoulos, as he sat in the living room of his pool side villa, along with assistant GMs Tony LaCava and Andrew Tinnish, along with Perry Minasian, pro scouting director.
Later, Anthopoulos said that the Jays could use a rotating DH and that the club was not forced into obtaining a “pure DH,” or “needing a defender.”
“We don’t know who will be available, do we go get a first baseman and DH Edwin Encarnacion? Or do we play Edwin at first and rotate guys through the DH spot?” he asked.
He wasn’t saying, although Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal had both the Seattle Mariners and the Jays as being interested in Martinez.
Martin is on the market and has met with the Chicago Cubs, while Los Angeles Dodgers and the Jays have expressed interest, according to agent Matt Colleran.
Anthopoulos was asked if Martin was strictly a big-market player. He was drafted by Dodgers scout Logan White in 2002.
The New York Yankees were the only club to offer him a starting job in 2011 when he was coming off a hip injury. The Jays offered him a part-time role as they were ready to give the catching job to rookie J. P. Arencibia, coming off an MVP season at triple-A Las Vegas.
Then Martin signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates, a two-year $17 million deal.
Anthopoulos said he would meet with Gustavo Vasquez, who represents free agent San Francisco Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval. Vasquez met with Boston Red Sox GM Ben Cherrington on Monday and will meet with the Chicago White Sox, and Giants this week.
Could the Jays land two free agents?
“I don’t know if that is in the cards,” said Anthopoulos. “We really don’t have an order by position of the way we’re headed. We’re going to make calls on 3-to-5-to-7 free agents. Ultimately you have to move at your own pace.”
A for Aaron: The Jays will stretch out Aaron Sanchez this spring giving him a starter’s work load and allow him to compete for a spot in the rotation. Marco Estrada will work out of the bullpen to start with. Does deciding that Sanchez won’t be in the bullpen where he was so dominant late last season and trying to build his arm strength up to be in the rotation mean that the Jays are ready to move one of their starters?
Utley had 36 doubles six triples 11 homers and 78 RBIs in 155 games with a .746 OPS. He earns $10 millions this year, has a full no-trade and refused to waive it earlier this season. Of course, the Jays have a need at second base after taking the job away from Ryan Goins last year.
Hamels was 9-9 with a 2.46 ERA in 30 starts walking 59 and striking out 198 in 204 2/3 innings. The lefty who earns $22.5 million has a limited no trade and may block trades to 20 clubs. This year he was able to block deals to all clubs except the Atlanta Braves, Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees, San Diego Padres, St. Louis Cardinals, Texas Rangers and Washington Nationals.
Bastardo, 5-7 with a 3.94 ERA walking 34 and striking out 81 in 64 innings, might be the only one that the Jays could afford to obtain is eligible for salary arbitration. The Jays need to rebuild their bullpen.
Comment: A reader sent along this from a comment box on reports than the Jays had interest in Martinez:
JaysFan1975: AA is “interested” in any good player...
Rogers is NOT “interested” in paying them and Beeston is not “interested” in going over five years.
Move on folks. Nothing to see here!