Day 1 Winter Meetings — Evening edition

Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos met with the Toronto media on Monday afternoon to discuss Day 1 of the annual Winter Meetings at the Hilton Anatole Hotel in Dallas. The main recap of today’s events can be found on the main but here is a bunch of stuff that didn’t make its way into the main piece.

Don’t forget that you can follow me on Twitter @gregorMLB for complete coverage and links to all of my articles from this week’s event.

On initial impressions Day 1….

“I feel like when I come to these meetings, a lot of time you lay more ground work than anything and you get things done after you leave. Certainly things can develop, but it seems to me like a lot of stuff is maybe big free agent signings, you go to the podium, things like that, which I wouldn’t expect (from us).

“Trades wise we’re just continuing to have dialogue. I don’t feel a pressure that it needs to be done over the next few days. You’re having that much more intense conversations with multiple teams, I’d prefer to take all of the information back and sit down rather than rush to make a decision.”

“There is the frame work of a lot of things that we can do but we’re not real excited to do them and we don’t necessarily feel they are the best deals for the club right now.”

On Sunday you referenced the five-yard line in describing the status of current trades. What’s changed between Sunday and Monday…

“It might have been the wrong choice of words. I guess what I meant by that is we’ve explored enough things with teams. Let’s say we’ve asked about a certain player, we’ve massaged it and gone back and forth enough times that it’s probably not moving from what it is right now and this is what it is. Do we want to do it or not?

“Maybe the five yard line means we’re close to getting it done and that’s why it was the wrong choice of words. I guess what I would say is the framework of certain deals is for the most part there and we just have to make a decision if we want to do it or not. The decision as we sit here today is that we don’t want to make those deals.”

On the current market in free agency and trades…

“Talking to other GMs it seems unanimous, at least from my conversations with them, that both the free agent market and the trade market are moving very slowly.

“It just seems like everything is pushed back so much. Whether it’s CBA, whether it’s the asking prices both in trades and free agency are higher than normal I don’t know but it definitely feels like it’s moved a lot slower.

“We’re not as advanced. I think we’re a few weeks behind of where were in the past.”

On whether he’s able to explore multiple trade/free agent options at once….

“You’re doing multiple because you have a lot of time in the day and there are a lot of meetings. Some meetings you just know they’re not really going to go anywhere, or you just have a sense, you walk out of the room and you know what the price is but you don’t really want to pay it.”

Did Papelbon and Bell set the market for relievers…

“I don’t think so. I think those guys are a cut above. Papelbon, clearly, you look at the track record and what he has done. I think Bell, the same way, 40-plus saves three years in a row and an elite closer. I think it’s all slotting in accordingly. You look at Nathan coming in, he came in below Bell. I think everyone is slotting approximately where you’d be expecting them too.”

On Kelly Johnson’s arbitration decision on Tuesday night…

“If Kelly accepts it’s under the understanding that it’s a one-year non-guaranteed deal but doesn’t mean it couldn’t become more than that.”

Second base, what do you need most from that position…

“I think we’re always looking to (increase) on-base percentage. You look at the best lineups in the American League East, they grind. On base is a big one and it’s obviously becoming expensive. But on-base percentage is important.”

What about defensively from a second baseman…

“I think second base, historically, it’s one position you can get away with below average defense and I think you’ve seen it with a lot of players … You see a lot of players that might not be great defenders but have long careers at that position.”

On Jeff Mathis…

“There’s no question he was a non-tender candidate … but for us there was no harm because Brad Mills did a nice job for us but there was a very real scenario that Brad Mills was going to come off the 40-man at some point with some of the needs that we were going to have. There was no downside to having Jeff’s rights for a little bit of time and at least being able to explore it.” 

Are any of your prospects untouchable…

“As a general philosophy, I don’t believe that anyone is untradeable as everyone could be had for the right price. I just think sometimes the price is so exuberant that it makes the player untradeable but I think keeping an open mind like that it’s going to open up more options and it lets other teams know that hopefully we’re creative and we’re open minded to trying to get something done.”

Adding a lefty in the bullpen a priority?

“It would be nice just because of the AL East you always like to have someone. You look at some of the lineups we face but again it’s not going to be just for the sake of adding just because someone throws from the left side. They’re going to have to be someone we feel can really impact, really get the tough left-handers out late in the game.

Are you concerned that adding a closer might block a younger pitcher?

“I think if you pitch, you’re not blocked. If you’re a position player you can be blocked. If you pitch you don’t get blocked because if you catch only one other guy can catch … if you pitch there are five spots in the rotation and seven spots in the bullpen. There is always a spot for you. I just think on the mound that’s why you don’t see many arms get traded because they’re rarely blocked.”

Regarding Lind’s offseason conditioning program and reflecting on his 2011 season…

“He talked about how he just wore down. Obviously he got hurt, his back, his wrist … He had never really played a full season at one position and he worked so hard in Spring Training, ground balls, played almost every game at first. He hadn’t played a full-time position in six years or more, he was
not accustomed to that and I think he really felt the toll in the second half and he wore down.

“I think he now knows how to prepare for a whole season at the position. He knows to back off from his work in Spring Training … I think Adam now knows to pace himself with the body to prepare himself for that position. It’s going to allow him to stay fresh from start to finish”

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