The Blue Jays evidently aren’t messing around this offseason.

The Blue Jays evidently aren’t messing around this offseason.

While getting free agent catcher Russell Martin to a five-year, $82 million contract (as first reported by Peter Gammons, Jon Heyman and Ken Rosenthal) served as one of the Jays’ largest offseason commitments in team history, they evidently aren’t intent on stopping there.

According to multiple major league sources, the Blue Jays are remain as one of the six clubs to continue to show legitimate interest in free agent pitcher Jon Lester. Also known to be pursuing the lefty are the Cubs and Red Sox, both of whom are expected to meet with the pitcher this week.

According to Cots Contracts, the Blue Jays’ payroll landed at $137,770,000 last season, with Mark Buehrle slated to make the most money of any player on the roster in ’15 ($19 million).

The Martin signing potentially frees up more money for the Cubs, who were thought to be the other the finalists for the 32 year old catcher’s services. It has been reported Lester is scheduled to meet with Chicago Tuesday.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford

Giancarlo Stanton didn’t win the NL MVP award, but he may be on the cusp of cashing in on the biggest contract in baseball history.

Giancarlo Stanton is reportedly closing on a 13-year deal with the Marlins. (Getty Images)

Giancarlo Stanton is reportedly closing on a 13-year deal with the Marlins. (Getty Images)

Giancarlo Stanton didn’t win the NL MVP award, but he may be on the cusp of cashing in on the biggest contract in baseball history. According to CBSSports.com, the Marlins and Stanton have agreed to terms on a 13-year, $325 million deal, with the two sides working to iron out the language of the deal. The deal would include both no-trade protection and the opportunity to opt out, according to the report.

Stanton, who turned 25 last week, would thus be locked up through his age 37 season (if he does not exercise the potential opt-out) for a franchise that has a long history of trading its stars in their primes. Miami was evidently willing to change course for the foremost power hitter in the NL. Stanton, who finished second in NL MVP voting to pitcher Clayton Kershaw, led the NL with 37 homers and a .555 slugging mark while hitting .288 with a .395 OBP in 145 contests before his year came to a sudden halt when he was hit in the face by a pitch on Sept. 11.

An extension could end Stanton’s perpetual place in the rumor mill, an existence to which he first became introduced as an 18-year-old in 2008, when he was mentioned as the potential return for the Sox in a trade that would have sent Manny Ramirez to the Marlins.

“I heard it was going to happen,” Stanton acknowledged in 2009.

Indeed, in the absence of an extension, it seemed unavoidable to wonder whether the Red Sox would make a play for Stanton. That curiosity even hovered over this offseason, with curiosity about whether the Sox might try to build a package around Xander Bogaerts and/or Mookie Betts.

“I think any three of those guys, you’d be hard-pressed to part with. Obviously you have a couple of potential stars and a guy who looks like he might turn into a supernova,” reliever Burke Badenhop, who played with Stanton as a member of the Marlins in the early years of his career and spent the 2014 season playing with Bogaerts and Betts while pitching for the Red Sox. “Having played in Miami and knowing Giancarlo — Mike, as we referred to him — he’s that team. I really hope he wins the National League MVP. Without him, does that team have a chance to be where they were this year? Probably not. It would be tough for them to part with him. It would probably take a very, very big package.

“He was pretty obviously a talent,” Badenhop added in thinking about Stanton at the start of his big league career. “He wasn’t really a baseball player. He galloped like a horse out there. He was a freak of nature. You just weren’t sure if he was a baseball player. He’d take some bad swings. He struck out a bunch. Out in the outfield, he was a very good defender, which people don’t really realize. He’s got a really good arm. He’s really polished that side of his game, too. Now, he’s getting to his barrel more. He hits pitches out more that aren’t necessarily mistakes. He hits good pitches a long way. For people who have never been in Miami, that’s a gigantic ballpark. Where he’s hitting those balls is otherworldly. … To see him round himself into a baseball player is really great toe see. And he’s a fun, goofy guy, which plays well. He has fun playing the game.”

Now, it appears that Stanton has determined that he can enjoy the idea of being the face of the Marlins for the foreseeable future.

Blog Author: 
Alex Speier

Rusney Castillo will be playing some more offseason baseball, after all.

Rusney Castillo. (Getty Images)

Rusney Castillo. (Getty Images)

Rusney Castillo will be playing some more offseason baseball, after all.

After suffering a setback due to a bruised thumb suffered while playing in the Arizona Fall League — having to leave the AFL earlier than anticipated — Castillo has been cleared to participate in the Puerto Rican Winter League.

Castillo will join the Criolles de Caguas (who are managed by former Red Sox infielder Alex Cora) Nov. 26, with the plan of getting the outfielder 100 at-bats. The 27-year-old was originally supposed to join Cora’s club Nov. 7 and play through the end of the month.

The Puerto Rican Winter League’s regular season schedule extends until the end of December. Among the players playing for Caguas is Red Sox minor league outfielder Henry Ramos, who hit .326 in 48 games for Double-A Portland last season.

With the Suprise Saguaros of the AFL, Castillo hit .278 (10-for-38) with 10 runs and a .333 on-base percentage over eight games. With the Red Sox he hit .333 (12-for-36) with two homers, totaling an OPS of .928.

The righty hitter was recently examined in Boston and cleared by the team’s medical staff.

Blog Author: 
Rob Bradford
The Hot Stove boys are back again, talking about Jon Lester, Pablo Sandoval, Giancarlo Stanton's big contract and taking phone calls.
The Hot Stove boys are back again, talking about Jon Lester, Pablo Sandoval, Giancarlo Stanton's b

Jon Lester has already gotten a lot of love from teams throughout baseball thus far this offseason. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)PHOENIX -- Here we go.



Left-hander Jon Lester, who posted a 16-11 record and career-best 2.46 ERA with 9.0 strikeouts and 2.0 walks per nine innings in a career-high 219 2/3 innings, finished fourth in