Jays discussing Brandon McCarthy


 * Is Brandon McCarthy next on the Blue Jays starting wish list? Does signing McCarthy or another starter allow the Jays to then deal a starter for a closer? ….

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Letters of Intent


By Bob Elliott

SAN DIEGO _ Color Francisco Liriano black and gold … as in gone.

The Blue Jays had been discussing signing the free-agent lefty.


Free-agent Brandon McCarthy?

McCarthy, 30, was 7-5 with a 2.89 ERA in 14 starts in 2014 with the New York Yankees, who picked him from the Arizona Diamondbacks after he started 3-10 with a 5.01 ERA in the desert.

The Pirates brought back Liriano on a three-year $39 million deal. Can the Jays afford a similar deal to add McCarthy?

The Yankees are expected to be players for McCarthy wanting him to go behind CC Sabathia, Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda, all coming off injuries. McCarthy has battled the disabled list in his career as well, but pitched 200 innings for the first time in 2014.

On other fronts: General manager Alex Anthopoulos continues to look for relief help — Pat Neshak, Luke Gregerson — when not answering questions about the future of president Paul Beeston.

Does the fact that the Jays have a vacancy sign on the closer role make Toronto more attractive to relievers?

“Sometimes, with certain players, I do think at the end of the day it comes down to the dollars and the term,”

Anthopoulos told reporters. “If all things are equal that can help, It’s actually more valuable if you’re doing a shorter-term deal, someone’s looking to re-establish themselves, look to do a one-year deal, you have that spot available.”

How about former San Francisco Giants closer Sergio Romo? Or Jesse Crain.

Is the market for relievers, higher than before?

“Reliever contracts, if you look over the last 5-to-6 years it has been a cyclical thing,” Anthopoulos said. “Years ago, Scott Linebrink got a four-year deal, that was a big story, Justin Speier way back with us got a four-year deal. Way back, B.J. Ryan got a five-year deal and you’re talking about salary inflation and things like that and it was for $47 million. I remember Billy Wagner got four times 11 (million dollars). There are times when it’s supply and demand, the right year.

“There are teams very aggressive, others that are leery about making commitments. I don’t know this market is any different than any others. It’s timing and who’s available at that time.”

When it comes to timing … the time is getting close for the Jays to obtain a closer.

Inexact science: The problem with relievers is that few are consistent for long periods.

“You look for some predictive value, scouting reports, analytics and so on but it’s probably the most volatile position that there is,” said Anthopoulos. “We felt our bullpen last year was certainly going to be a strength and it didn’t work out that way. It was deep and it was talented the year before.

“That’s why some people are opposed philosophically are opposed to length to some of these deals because of the volatility of it. Some guys that are consistent and those are the ones who normally get paid. It certainly makes it very challenging but all 30 clubs dealing with the same things and you do your best. You look at the health components, someone’s file, scouting reports to try to put all of things together. The makeup, character, they take care of themselves and also the way they’re used can be a big predictor as well.”

Spink winner: Legendary Detroit News ball scribe Tom Gage, who has covered the Tigers for 36 years, was elected the 2015 winner of the J.G. Taylor Spink award in balloting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America on Tuesday.

He will be honored on induction weekend July 24-27, in Cooperstown, N.Y.

In the closest vote since the mail-ballot process started in 2002, Gage was named on 167 of the record 463 ballots, by BBWAA members with 10 or more consecutive years. The late Furman Bisher, who wrote for the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, had 161 votes. Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy was third with 134 votes.

More honors: Baseball America honored the late San Diego Padres Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn with a lifetime achievement award presented to his wife Alicia and his children at an awards gala. The award will be named in Gwynn’s honor going forward. Arizona Diamondbacks special assistant to the GM Dave Duncan will receive the Roland Hemond Award, honoring lifetime achievement in scouting and player development.

San Diego’s Alex Jackson won BA’s high school player of the year Award, and Cubs prospect Kris Bryant from the University of San Diego, winning the minor league honors.

The Kansas City Royals were named organization of the year with other awards major league player, Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers; top rookie Jose Abreu, Chicago White Sox; executive of the year, Dan Duquette, Baltimore Orioles; manager of the Year Buck Showalter, Baltimore Orioles

In the minors: executive of the Year: Sam Bernabe, Iowa Cubs, manager of the year: Mark Johnson, Kane County Cougars/Cubs.

College Player: A.J. Reed, Kentucky

Scott Harrigan
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