“I don’t think there’s been any talks about anything” involving a long-term extension between Alek Manoah and the Blue Jays, the right-hander told Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi. Noting that he is under team control through 2027, Manoah didn’t seem to expect any negotiations in the near future, saying “I don’t think I’m a priority right now.” The right-hander did state that “there’s no hard feelings, it’s just the business part of it” in regards to both the lack of talks, and Manoah’s decision to again take a salary renewal from the Jays rather than officially agree to their offered salary for his pre-arbitration season. Manoah will earn $745,650 in 2023, and he might become eligible for arbitration as early as next winter if he gains Super Two status.
Extending Manoah would give the Jays come cost certainty over what might be some increasingly pricey arbitration years, given how impressive he has looked in his first two MLB seasons. After a strong rookie campaign, Manoah took things a step further in his first full season, posting a 2.24 ERA over 196 2/3 innings and finishing third in AL Cy Young Award voting. If an extension didn’t come, Manoah said “I’m completely happy riding out that [arbitration] process and allowing the team to go spend money on other guys and me continuing to earn my value and earn what I hope to get one day,” though he also stated that “I want to play in Toronto for a long time.”
More from around the AL East…
- Sticking with the Blue Jays, there was some surprise that the team surpassed the luxury tax threshold for the first time this winter, and bumped its real-dollars payroll from $175MM (already a club high) in 2022 to a projected $211.7MM heading into Spring Training. But, team president Mark Shapiro told The Toronto Star’s Gregor Chisholm that “on the expense side, this is the way we envisioned it” after going through their rebuilding phase. “Once we have that mass of talent, we want to put it in a position to sustainably be a championship-calibre team. So we need to surround it with talent, where we have gaps,” Shapiro said. “But not build the team solely through free agency, supplement a team through free agency….The thought was we’d always have to ramp up payroll as we went.” The Jays have some regular shoppers in the higher-end free agent market over the last four offseasons, signing such players as George Springer, Hyun Jin Ryu, Kevin Gausman, and (most recently) Chris Bassitt to expensive long-term deals, while also investing in some pricier trade targets and contract extensions.
- The Yankees announced earlier this week that catcher Ben Rortvedt underwent surgery to remove an aneurysm in the posterior artery near his left shoulder, and that he’ll miss at least a month before resuming baseball activities. The injury was “really shocking” to Rortvedt, as he told The Athletic’s Brendan Kuty, since he first assumed that the soreness in the pointer finger of his glove hand was a normal side effect of catching. But, after he noticed his finger was starting to turn blue, Rortvedt went for further examination, and apparently not a moment too soon. According to orthopedic surgeon Dr. Armin Tehrany, such a circulation problem created “the risk of permanent soft tissue damage,” and Rortvedt “might [have needed] to get something amputated.” Fortunately, it looks like Rortvedt won’t miss all that much time, and the catcher will finally get to start his Yankees career after missing the 2022 season due to oblique and knee injuries.
- Felix Bautista threw another bullpen session today, MASNsports.com’s Roch Kubatko writes, as the Orioles closer was aiming to ramp up to 80-85 percent readiness. Bautista is still recovering from left knee problems that cropped up at the end of last season, as well as an offseason problem for strengthening his throwing shoulder. Today’s work marked Bautista’s sixth throwing session overall, so he appears to be on pace to reach his stated goal of making the Opening Day roster. Bautista’s first MLB season was a thorough success, as he posted a 2.19 ERA and an elite 34.8% strikeout rate (albeit with a below-average 9.1% walk rate) over 65 1/3 innings, becoming one of many breakout players for the surprising Orioles.