Ron Vesely/Getty ImagesThe Toronto Blue Jays may be preparing

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  • zhangzk
    April 15, 2019 at 8:14 pm #2072

    John Gibbons at the conclusion of the 2018 MLB season.On Tuesday , Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported the Jays “seem destined to move on” from Gibbons, who started his second stint with the club in November 2012.Toronto holds a 51-60 record, which leaves the club 27 games behind the Boston Red Sox in the AL East and 15 games behind the AL’s final wild-card spot, currently held by the Oakland Athletics.Gibbons first joined the organization’s staff in 2002 as a bullpen catcher. He was promoted to manager ahead of the 2004 season and held the position through June 2008.The 56-year-old Montana native went on to join the Kansas City Royals staff in 2009 and spent time managing the San Antonio Missions at the Double-A level before returning to the Blue Jays.Toronto made back-to-back appearances in theAmerican League Championship Series in 2015 and 2016 but couldn’t capture the team’s first World Series berth since 1993. The Blue Jays missed the playoffs last season.In June, Gibbons reached a milestone by managing his 1,500th game.”It means I’ve been around a little bit. I’m proud of that,” hetold reporters. “I got some breaks too. That’s what you gotta have in this game. A lot of really good baseball guys don’t get them, and I got them.”Although the Jays are only a couple of years removed from championship contention despite being stuck in the same division as the Red Sox and New York Yankees, it appears they are preparing to move in a new direction at manager for 2019, barring a miraculous postseason surge over the next two months. Since Major League Baseball’s hot-stove season has slowed to a crawl in the final run-up to spring training, we might as well use our imaginations.We’ve made one bold prediction for each of the top four free-agent and trade targets remaining on the offseason market. And if we do say so ourselves, the emphasis really is on “bold.” We’ve imagined a mix of contracts and final destinations that would defy expectations.Are any of these likely to pan out? Probably not, no. But they’re rooted in enough plausibility for even Lloyd Christmas to admit there’s a chance.We’ll start with the free agents.Bryce Harper: Wont Beat Giancarlo Stantons Record $325M Contract1 of 8Manuel Balce Ceneta/Associated PressInitial projections for Bryce Harper’s free-agent contract were around $400 million. PerKen Rosenthal of The Athletic, Harper at least wants to beat Giancarlo Stanton’s $325 million payout.Harper should feel entitled to that kind of money. He’s collected a National League MVP, six All-Star nods, 184 home runs and a .900 OPS in seven major league seasons. And he’s still only 26 years old.Harper hasn’t been the most consistent superstar, however, and much has changed since Stanton signed his dealin 2014. There’s a palpable fear of long-term contracts across MLB, and harsher luxury-tax penalties disincentive shorter deals with high average annual values.The Harper sweepstakes has thus been less wild than anticipated.According to Jon Heyman of Fancred, it may be down to the Washington Nationals, Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago White Sox and maybe a spattering of mystery teams. There are complications even among his favorites Domingo Santana Jersey , such as Washington’s loaded payroll and Chicago’s apparent preference for Manny Machado.At this point, the 14-year, $420 million deal that MLB Trade Rumors projected for Harper seems far out of reach. Something more like the 10-year, $300 million offer he rejected from Washington last September (per Chelsea Janes of theWashington Post) may be in the offing.Manny Machado: Wont Top $250M2 of 8John Bazemore/Associated PressPerhaps the most shocking reports to come out of the Machado sweepstakes are the ones from ESPN’s Buster Olneyand Bob Nightengale of USA Today, which allegethat the White Sox have made the four-time All-Star a seven-year, $175 million offer.Of course, these reports have to be taken with a grain of salt. Machado’s agent, Dan Lozano, blasted them as “inaccurate and reckless.”Because he’s also 26 and he’s beenmore productive, Machado deserves as much or even more than Harper. But because of a variety of factor . his recentpostseason antics, his surgically repaired knees and his lack of an MVP t wouldn’t be a shock if he fell short of Harper in years or dollars.To boot, Machado’s market wouldn’t seem to be any more crowded than Harper’s. The San Diego Padres have entered the fray, according to Dennis Lin of The Athletic, but that could be them feigning interest in response to the negative backlash over a recent report about their finances. The Phillies have been linked to Machado but more so to Harper of late. If so, the White Sox may have the inside track all to themselves.Even if the seven-year rumor is bunk, ESPN’s Jeff Passan’sreport of an eight-year offer might not be. Even at $30 million per year, that would leave Machado short of $250 million.Dallas Keuchel: Signs with the Cincinnati Reds3 of 8David J. Phillip/Associated PressDallas Keuchel would appear to have a wider array of suitors than Harper or Machado. But after trading for Tanner Roark, Alex Wood and, most recently, Sonny Gray, the Cincinnati Reds are probably out.Or are they?Cincinnati’s 2019 payroll is projected at$123.25 million, which would be a new franchise record. But in the words of President of Baseball Operations Dick Williams Eric Sogard Jersey , per Mark Sheldon of,”We still plan to continue to make moves to improve the club.”Even with Roark, Wood and Gray aboard, there’s a question of how much the Reds have improved a starting rotation with a 5.28 ERA since 2017. Adding Keuchel, 31, would go far in putting that question to rest. He is, after all, a Cy Young Award winnerwho’s coming off a 3.74 ERA over 204.2 inningsAs it is, the Reds aren’t kidding themselves in thinking they can contend in the near future. As FanGraphs’ Jeff Sullivan covered, the 2019 National League Central race looks wide-open. It also won’t be long until the Reds are harvesting from their No. 6 farm system.Craig Kimbrel: Signs with the Minnesota Twins4 of 8Matt Slocum/Associated PressEven setting aside his 333 career saves, there’s plenty of evidence that Craig Kimbrel is an all-time great relief pitcher. For instance, his MLB record career rate of 14.7 strikeouts per nine innings.The 30-year-old has nonetheless had a hard time finding work. So much so that Rosenthalrecently floated the possibility of Kimbrel returning to the Boston Red Sox on a one-year deal.If that’s where Kimbrel’s market is right now, the door is wide-open for a mystery team to swoop in and claim him. And by “mystery team,” obviously we mean the Minnesota Twins.According to La Velle E. Neal III of theStar Tribune, the Twins began the winter with such late-relief luminaries as Andrew Miller and Cody Allen on their wish list. They’ve since signed elsewhere, while the Twins have added Blake Parker and nobody else.Yet the Twins areprojected foronly a $106.2 million payroll in 2019. They could sign Kimbrel at fair market value (say, $18 million per year) and still be short of their $128.7 million Opening Day mark from 2018. Their chances of taking down a stripped-down Cleveland Indians team in the American League Central would become that much greater.Corey Kluber: Traded to the Philadelphia Phillies5 of 8Tony Dejak/Associated PressNow that the Cleveland Indians’ 2019 payroll is safely below where they opened 2018, they don’tneed to trade Corey Kluber and his $17 million salary.If they do, Jon Morosi of reported it’ll only be for a “Chris Sale-level return.” Also per Morosi, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Padres are two interested parties who could deliver on such an ask.But since we’re making bold predictions, let’s imagine the Phillies making a late push for the two-time Cy Young Award winner.The Phillies have been focused on adding hitters (Andrew McCutchen and Jean Segura) and relievers (David Robertson, Juan Nicasio and Jose Alvarez) this winter. But they may be far from done. According to Nightengale , their grand plan still involves adding an impact hitter, starter and reliever.Though they reportedly favor Keuchel for the starter role, Kluber is A) better and B) potentially within their reach.They could spare Odubel Herrera or Nick Williams if they add Harper, which would appeal to an outfield-needy Cleveland club. Throw in Sixto Sanchez or Adonis Medina, both of whom rank among’s top 100 prospects, and they could have a package worthy of Kluber.J.T. Realmuto: Traded to the Tampa Bay Rays6 of 8Wilfredo Lee/Associated PressThe Miami Marlins have struggled to find the right deal for J.T. Realmuto. But even this late in the offseason, they still have six suitors to barter with, according to Joe Frisaro of most notable of these is the Dodgers, whose acquisition of old friend Russell Martin didn’t take them out of the market for Miami’s 27-year-old All-Star catcher. Indeed, Nightengale reported the Dodgers are now focused on Realmuto after adding A.J. Pollock to their outfield last Thursday.However, beware the Tampa Bay Rays.Per an earlier report fromFrisaro, the Marlins have been seeking a “top prospect and more” for Realmuto. Or, in some cases, “a catcher with some big league experience.”One possibility involves the Rays sending the recently acquired Mike Zunino to Miami, along with some of their lesser prospects. Failing that, they could go for the nuclear option of sacrificing one of the best players (e.g. Wander Franco or Brent Honeywell) from their fifth-ranked farm system.In either case, the Rays would be getting back a major weapon for a tough fight in the AL East.Nicholas Castellanos: Traded to the New York Mets7 of 8Rich Schultz/Getty ImagesNicholas Castellanos’ agent, David Meter, told Anthony Fenech of theDetroit Free Press that the slugging right fielder wants to be traded before spring training. However, Detroit Tigersgeneral manager Al Avila had nothing new to report.”It’s been very frustrating,” he said, according toFenech.It doesn’t help that the Atlanta Braves Zach Davies Jersey , who looked like an ideal fit for Castellanos, are likely out after re-signing Nick Markakis. However, there could be a home for the 26-year-old elsewhere in the NL East if the New York Mets get involved.Though the Mets appear to be done with major roster moves, they’re facing pressure fromRosenthal and Matthew Cerrone of do more in order to truly establish themselves as a playoff threat.From looking at their lineup, adding a right-handed power threat would be ideal.In light of his .831 OPS and 193 extra-base hits since 2016, Castellanos would be ideal. The Mets likely wouldn’t have to give up either of their two best prospects (Andres Gimenez or Peter Alonso) to get him, and his presence would allow Brandon Nimmo to slide over to center field on a full-time basis.Robbie Ray: Traded to the Oakland Athletics8 of 8Ross D. Franklin/Associated PressMore so than fellow NL West left-hander Madison Bumgarner, Robbie Ray is a candidate to change addresses this winter.PerPassan, the Arizona Diamondbacks will trade Ray if a team offers better than what the Seattle Mariners got for James Paxton.Per Nick Cafardo of theBoston Globe, the Phillies and Houston Astros have legit interest in Ray, who’s struck out 11.8 batters per nine innings over the last three seasons.Yet we can’t help but look suspiciously at the Oakland A’s.The A’s have made some good moves in preparation to defend their 97-win 2018 season, but there’s no ignoring the sheer thinness of their starting rotation. It’s projected by FanGraphs to outpace those of only the White Sox and Baltimore Orioles in wins above replacement.Some kind of substantial upgrade must beforthcoming. A trade for Ray, who’s under team control through 2020, would make the grade, and the A’s have the farm system to make it happen.A deal could be based around lefty A.J. Puk, who’s coming back from Tommy John surgery. Or, since Ray’s value is down a bit following a rough 2018, a selection of upside plays such as Dustin Fowler, Jorge Mateo, James Kaprielian or Sheldon Neuse.Stats courtesy of Baseball Reference and FanGraphs. Payroll data courtesy of Roster Resource and Cot’s Baseball Contracts.

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