Ferguson: Will Jays be active when MLB free agent pool opens?

Scott Ferguson
11/2/2012 12:47:31 PM
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Starting at 12:01 am et Saturday morning, MLB clubs can start diving into the free agent pool. The top names are Zack Greinke and Josh Hamilton; neither of whom will likely end up with the Blue Jays.
The Dodgers and Rangers look like the best fit for Greinke, while the Angels are trying to clear enough payroll space to bring him back as well. All we really know about Hamilton is that he probably won't be back in Texas. There is already talk the Rangers are interested in David Ortiz if the Red Sox aren't able to resign him.
If the Blue Jays land a decent starter or two, it will more than likely be through a trade. Three pitchers they may have had some interest in are already off the market; Jake Peavy resigning with the White Sox - who also picked up Gavin Floyd's $9.5 million option - while the Angels swapped Erwin Santana and cash to the Royals for lefty pitching prospect Brandon Sisk.
If the Jays were into quick one-stop shopping, they might be able to fill their basket with Washington free agents. First baseman Adam LaRoche slugged 33 homers this season and drove in 100 for the second time in three seasons. He's also a gold glove first baseman. LaRoche is also the big left hand bat the Jays need. He and Edwin Encarnacion could share first base and designated hitter.
The Nats left-hand setup reliever, Sean Burnett, is also available. You can never have too many southpaws in the pen and remember, Darren Oliver hasn't completely ruled out retirement yet.
The third member of the Washington trio is right hander Edwin Jackson. His career record is just below .500, but he's a strikeout pitcher and he eats innings.
My top trade target would still be the Rays' James Shields but it appears now he is the Dodgers' top off-season target and why not. Shields has thrown at least 200 innings six years in a row. That's ace material.
Next year's free agent crop is far richer than this year's, potentially  including the likes of Tim Lincecum, John Lester, Matt Garza, Barry Zito, Brian McCann, Robby Cano, Derek Jeter (he's not going anywhere), David Wright, Curtis Granderson and Jacoby Ellsbury.
The funny thing is, you could nearly re-assemble a team of former Blue Jays. Imagine if they were all in their prime. For starters, you'd have Roy Halladay, Chris Carpenter and A.J Burnett.
In the pen you'd have Frank Francisco (oops), Scott Downs and Darren Oliver setting up.
Behind the plate it's John Buck, Adam Lind at first, Aaron Hill at second, Yunel Escobar (still a Jay for now) at short, John McDonald or Michael Young at third with Young also a possibility at DH.
The outfield wouldn't be the greatest but would include Ben Francisco in right and Rajai Davis (still a Jay) in centre or left.
This will probably be the easiest option to turn down for 2014. Johan Santana has a club option for $25 million with a buyout of $5.5 million. Though he threw the first no-hitter in Mets history this season, Santana won't be in New York in 2014.
The Blue Jays are doing a great job of keeping their managerial search under wraps. The 13th skipper in franchise history should surface late next week after the general managers' meetings in Palm Springs. I've got a hunch it's between current bench coach Don Wakamatsu and Dodgers third base coach and former Expos third baseman, Tim Wallach.
Most unusual name trade of the week: Rick Hahn, the White Sox's new GM with his old boss Kenny Williams moving upstairs, swapped minor league outfielder Kenny Williams Jr. to Colorado for outfielder-1B Mark Tracy, who just happens to be the son of Jim Tracy; the man who just stepped down as manager of the Rockies.

Zack Greinke (Photo: The Canadian Press)


(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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