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Toronto Blue Jays Wiretap

Blue Jays Kick Off Burnett Tour

The Blue Jays will be in full recruit mode early this week when free-agent pitcher A.J. Burnett begins his off-season tour of potential employers with a stop in Toronto.

The Florida Marlins right-hander will be wined, dined and romanced by the Jays, who hope they can eventually land him on a multi-year contract. It will be like a high-school athlete visiting a college campus: See what a great facility the Rogers Centre is. Check out our workout room. Wanna tour the city? See how beautiful the lakefront is.

Burnett is the best of the free-agent starters on the market this off-season and has a strong relationship with current Jays pitching coach Brad Arnsberg, from when the two were together with the Marlins.

Unlike most free agents, Burnett, of North Little Rock, Ark., isn't drawn to the large-market eastern teams, such as the New York Yankees or the Boston Red Sox, or the sun of California, either with the Los Angeles Angels or the now headless Dodgers.

Burnett, his friends say, would rather be under the radar, which would put the Jays in a position to entertain with their roughly $85-million US budget. Of course, the Baltimore Orioles, the Seattle Mariners and the Washington Nationals will also be players.

Via Slam

Rios Becomes Toronto's X-Factor On Their Off-season Plans

This winter, the Jays will likely sift through the market for veteran options in the outfield. Toronto doesn't want to become a perpetual way station for players who learn on the job, and this offseason may bring a line of demarcation. Guys like Gross or Griffin may have to wait for an injury or a trade to another organization to get their big league break.

Vernon Wells is set in center, of course, which means the Blue Jays only have two spots to worry about. Reed Johnson and Frank Catalanotto have handled left field for the last two seasons, but Toronto may try to upgrade on that platoon. Johnson could still serve as a defensive backup and occasional starter, even if the Jays added a regular left fielder.

Rios is the true X-Factor here. Nobody's sure when he'll pull it all together, despite growing signs of physical maturity. Rios popped 10 home runs last year, but he also took corresponding dips in batting average and patience at the plate. The youngster didn't pull the ball the way Toronto wanted and wasn't able to go with the pitch the way he's done in the past.

It wouldn't be much of a surprise to see Rios traded or have his role reduced. But then again, it wouldn't be a shock to see his skills kick in next season or the one after that. These are the difficulties of acting as a general manager -- even in jest.

Via MLB.com

Mariners To Pursue A.J. Burnett

The Seattle Mariners have made pitching a priority and will pursue A.J. Burnett, the best available, despite the fact he was sent packing -- told to go home -- by the Florida Marlins the final week of the season.

Teams predict that Burnett will shy away from signing with the large market Yankees or Red Sox, as long as a contract offer is comparable.

The Mariners are guessing the asking price for Burnett will be $65 million US for five years. That's $13 million up from early September when the guessing was he would get $10-to-$11 million for four years.

Via Toronto Sun

Blue Jays Oct 2005 Archive