Throughout January and February, we're reviewing offseason MLB transactions that have fantasy implications, and we're going team-by-team. This isn't quite like Hot Stove Daily. The focus here is limited. We're mostly here to discuss ownable fantasy players who've found new employers, and in the case of the Blue Jays below, well … we'll make something up to write about.
Be honest, if we skipped the Toronto HSH, would you have noticed? This could be the shortest Helper in history, friends, let's establish that up front. There's not a lot of news coming from Blue Jay Way (they're the only AL club that didn't sign a major-league free agent), and even though this club won 86 games last year there's not much to be optimistic about. Meet us in the YYZ and let's have a look at the stories that shape the franchise.
A.J. Burnett signs with the Yankees
Burnett has a reputation of being a contract-year mirage guy, so you can't blame the Jays for not bankrupting the franchise to keep the enigmatic righty (New York gave him five years and $82.5 million). One can raise the question of why Toronto didn't try to move Burnett for a package last summer (teams were definitely interested), but the Jays will take their compensation picks and move on. And now Doc Halladay looks awfully lonely in the Toronto rotation, no Cassidy to his Sundance.
Here's a sneaky name to consider in the late rounds; Hill is capable of being a $15-17 infielder if his body cooperates in 2009. Don't forget the tasty .291-87-17-78 line he posted back in 2007, and keep in mind he's entering his magical "27 year." I bet Hill goes undrafted in a bunch of mixed leagues and that's a mistake. His current ADP sits at a salivating 324; look for that number to come crashing down if Hill hits the ground running in March.
Jose Bautista signs a one-year contract
When Scott Rolen is your starting third baseman, you better have a reasonable Plan B, and Bautista at least qualifies as that. He'll probably steal 300 at-bats somewhere along the way, hit 10-12 homers, hit under .250, and never be owned by anyone in your mixed league. Maybe you bid a few bucks in an AL-only format and maybe you don't; your feelings on batting-average liability come into play there.
Michael Barrett signs a minor-league contract
As good friend Jeff Erickson would say, please forward your fan mail accordingly. Barrett wore out his welcome in Chicago and San Diego the last couple of years and his offensive ability apparently flew the coop after the Carlos Zambrano fight, but you never know, maybe Barrett will figure something out this spring and push Rod Barajas for playing time (figuratively, not literally). Make Barrett force his way into your plans.
Matt Clement signs a minor-league contract
It's been a while for this cat – a labrum problem has kept him out of the majors since the middle of 2006. The Cardinals weren't impressed with Clement's limited work in the minors last year and made no effort to keep him, a telling sign. This might be our last Clement note of the season, so make the most of it.
Blue Jays don't upgrade their shortstop position
They had interest in Rafael Furcal but it didn't stick. Jason Bartlett's name floated around, some other rumors came and went. I suppose a deal between now and April is always possible, but for the moment John MacDonald sits above the depth chart, the classic good-glove, no-hit shortstop (.210/.255/.269). Nothing to see here, keep moving.
Other Toronto Tales: How soon can Dustin McGowan make it back? The best-case scenario looks like May, but I'd be surprised if that comes to pass. … Is Travis Snider here for good? The Jays were certainly impressed with his 24-game debut at the end of last year but they also know he's about to turn 21 and coming off a three-jump season; he's not guaranteed to break camp with the team, albeit fantasy players are already getting excited about the kid's potential. … Am I being too dim about the Jays for 2009? I looked high and low for a posted over/under on the Jays and I couldn't find anything yet; I'll be shocked if anyone expects them to win 86 games again. Your intelligent and respectful disagreement is, as always, welcome in the comments.