The rumours of Manny Ramirez being a target of the Toronto Blue Jays when the Major League Baseball signing period begins appear to be wishful thinking.
General Manager J.P. Ricciardi told Fox Sports on Wednesday that the club's priority was to bring back starting pitcher A.J. Burnett, who is all but certain to exercise the opt-out clause in his contract.
"Manny is not priority No. 1. I can't even say he's priority No. 2," Ricciardi told Fox Sports. "It would really be a long shot for us to bring him to Toronto. He's on our radar, but maybe not on our radar like some people will report.
"I don't see us getting involved in unbelievable, astronomical numbers. We would not go down that path."
Ramirez who undoubtedly would add some power to a Jays lineup that finished with the 24th most home runs in the Majors and finished ranked 23rd in slugging percentage, is reportedly seeking a six-year contract that would pay him $25 million a season.
The 31-year old Burnett is coming off the best season of his career, posting an 18-10 record with an American League leading 231 strikeouts, and will likely command over $15 million a season on the open market. If he leaves, the Jays who led the Majors in ERA would look at the thin free agent market for pitching that falls off after CC Sabathia, Ben Sheets and Derek Lowe, but might go with one of their three-young left-handers Brett Cecil, Ricky Romero and Brad Mills, all of whom Ricciardi said were close to being major league ready.
Ricciardi also told Foxsports that while the Jays need a shortstop and a leadoff hitter, that he would "really need to be knocked over" to replace Marco Scutaro, who took over the shortstop job during last season.