MLB rumors roundup: Blue Jays are on the clock

Josh Donaldson can't become a free agent until after the 2018 season, but the Blue Jays would like to lock him up long before then. Nick Turchiaro/USA TODAY Sports

The arbitration hearing between American League MVP Josh Donaldson and the Toronto Blue Jays is set for Feb. 15, according to FoxSports.com’s Ken Rosenthal, meaning the sides have just about 10 days to come to a long-term deal.

There’s no big risk here, of course, with Donaldson submitting a figure of $11.8 million for next season and the Jays countering with $11.35 million. He can’t become a free agent until after the 2018 season, but it’s nevertheless in the best interest of both sides to continue talking until Feb. 15 in an attempt to hammer out a long-term deal. The Jays want to lock up a 30-year-old player they think will be one of the best third basemen in baseball for years to come, and Donaldson wants long-term financial security instead of risking going year-to-year.

Jays GM Ross Atkins described his discussions so far with Donaldson as “great” on Thursday, according to MLB.com, and confirmed the sides were working toward a multi-year contract.

The perhaps more pressing issue for the Jays is what to do about sluggers Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, who combined for 79 homers and 215 RBIs in 2015 but whose contracts both expire at the end of the upcoming season.

Bautista, for his part, told the Toronto Globe and Mail he’d like to be a Blue Jay for life.

Here are more rumors for Friday:

  • Tyler Clippard: Though Diamondbacks general manager Dave Stewart said he wouldn’t look to the trade market to fill out his bullpen, he did not rule out adding another arm via free agency. He was asked specifically by the Arizona Republic about the possibility of signing free-agent right-handed setup man Tyler Clippard and did not rule it out. “We have not talked to his people, [but] that is a good name. I know we talked about it internally, so I think there’s a pretty good possibility we will [reach out], at least just to see.”

  • Los Angeles Dodgers: Teams asking about outfielder Yasiel Puig are being told the outfielder is not available, “at least not right now,” tweets USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. The White Sox have been interested in upgrading their outfield and the Dodgers would like to move Andre Ethier, but, according to Nightengale, there have been “no signs of a potential match.”

  • Jake Arrieta: A record arbitration settlement between the Chicago Cubs and ace Jake Arrieta appears likely before next Tuesday’s scheduled hearing, writes CBS Chicago’s Bruce Levine. The Cubs have offered Arrieta $7.5 million, who has countered with $13 million. Chances are good that Theo Epstein and agent Scott Boras will hammer out a deal (more likely a short-term one) somewhere in between before it gets to an arbitrator. The National League Cy Young winner made $3.63 million in 2015 and posted a 22-6 record with a 1.77 ERA. A long-term deal has been floated, but Levine thinks the Cubs want to see a second season of dominance from Arrieta before locking him up to a long-term, big money deal.