TORONTO – Preparing to formally introduce prized addition Russ Martin on Thursday, the Toronto Blue Jays continue to be linked to Pablo Sandoval although they don’t appear to be hot after the free agent third baseman at the moment.
Industry sources told Sportsnet colleague Ben Nicholson-Smith and myself the Blue Jays haven’t made any offers for Sandoval, but remain in the mix for him. After signing Martin for $82 million over five years, it’s believed they aren’t actively engaged with any free agents at the moment.
Multiple reports out of Boston say the Red Sox have an offer on the table for Panda, and they appear to be the front-runners for him.
Sandoval would certainly be a fit for the Blue Jays given their need for either a second or third baseman and a left-handed power presence to support Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. A meeting between his agent and the club last week at the GM meetings was said to have gone well, but nothing sounds imminent.
Sportsnet One and sportsnet.ca will carry the Martin news conference live starting at 2 p.m.
The Blue Jays lost corner infielder Juan Francisco on waivers to the Red Sox on Wednesday, a move that removes a projected salary of $2.2 million for the arbitration-eligible off their books.
They now have roughly $108.2 million guaranteed to 11 players, with another $17 million estimated for the Blue Jays’ seven remaining arbitration-eligible players (Marco Estrada, Brett Cecil, Justin Smoak, Brett Lawrie, John Mayberry Jr., Andy Dirks and Danny Valencia).
If all seven are retained, that would leave them at about $125 million for 18 players, with holes in left field, in the infield and in the bullpen still to be addressed.
Teams must submit their 40-man rosters on Thursday and the departure of Juan Francisco leaves the Blue Jays with one available spot.
Infielders Andy Burns and Jon Berti and relievers John Stilson (recovering from shoulder surgery) and Ryan Tepera are candidates to be added, preventing them from being exposed in the Rule 5 draft Dec. 11.
Players claimed in that draft cost $50,000 and must remain on their new team’s big-league roster all season or be offered back to their original club for $25,000.