AL East Notes: Vazquez, Angels, Tanaka, Blue Jays, Taillon (www.baseball-reference.com)

The Angels signed

this offseason, and with a catching corps of Suzuki, Max Stassi, and Anthony Bemboom, adding an upper-tier backstop “would be a luxury and not a necessity” for the team, FanSided’s Robert Murray writes.  However, the Halos have at least checked in on some prominent catchers, including Christian Vazquez of the Red Sox.  No deal appears to be close, as the Sox naturally want quite a lot for Vazquez and “there are doubts whether the Red Sox will entertain trading him” whatsoever.

Vazquez is entering his final guaranteed year of the contract extension he signed in March 2018.  He’ll earn $6.25MM in 2021, and the Red Sox hold a $7MM club option ($250K buyout) on his services for 2022.  It’s a very affordable price for one of the game’s better defensive catchers, not to mention a catcher who has swung an increasingly dangerous bat — Vazquez has hit .278/.327/.472 with 30 homers in 710 plate appearances since the start of the 2019 season.  He does turn 31 in August, so the Sox could think about moving him at a high point in his trade value, but the Angels or any suitor would have to step up with a very big offer to get Boston’s attention.

More from the AL East…

  • In a press conference announcing his return to the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, Masahiro Tanaka implied that he could return to Major League Baseball even before his two-year deal with the Eagles is up.  “I feel I have unfinished business in America, and I haven’t given up on that, so they agreed on terms that would keep those options open,” Tanaka said.  This could seem to hint at an opt-out clause after the 2021 season, Ken Davidoff of the New York Post notes, and quite possibly a return to the Yankees in 2022.  With the Yankees intent on resetting their luxury tax penalty limit this winter, the team opted to spend its resources elsewhere rather than re-sign Tanaka at his desired asking price.  Come next offseason, however, the Yankees might well be willing to exceed the tax threshold (and pay only a first-timer penalty fee) in order to acquire Tanaka and other roster upgrades.
  • Also from Robert Murray, Blue Jays outfielders Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Randal Grichuk are drawing trade interest.  The addition of George Springer has created a surplus in Toronto’s outfield, with Grichuk seemingly relegated to fourth outfielder duty as Gurriel and Teoscar Hernandez are slated for the corners.  It’s safe to guess that Gurriel is the more sought-after player, since Gurriel is over two years younger than Grichuk and has a less-expensive contract — Gurriel is owed $13.4MM through the 2023 season, while Grichuk is owed $29MM.  One of the outfielders could be dangled a way of obtaining pitching, since the Jays continue to look for both rotation and bullpen help.
  • The Rays were one of the other suitors trying to obtain Jameson Taillon from the Pirates, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.  Taillon ended up traded to the Yankees, and as Topkin points out, the Rays had interest in both Taillon and Corey Kluber, New York’s two main pitching acquisitions of the offseason.

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