Day Four — Saying goodbye to Dallas

The Winter Meetings have now come and gone. I hope everyone enjoyed the coverage on MLB.com this week. It was a busy four days and a lot of sleepless nights for myself and my fellow baseball writers as we tried to keep everyone up-to-date on the latest news surrounding the Blue Jays.

You can find my official Winter Meetings wrap-up on the main site. At the time of this posting, the article had not yet gone live but it should be there later this afternoon. You can also find an Offseason Notebook with items on Yu Darvish, Brian Jeroloman and the Rule 5 Draft. Please make sure to check those out and go through the news archive to catch up on any of the news you might have missed this week.

Thanks a lot for following along this week and you can continue to do so on Twitter throughout the offseason @gregorMLB. I plan on now taking a few days off but if the Blue Jays make a surprise move I’ll be here with the coverage. If not, then check back on Monday for another edition of the Inbox — you can submit your questions to bluejaysmailbag@gmail.com

In the meantime, here are plenty of leftovers from Alex Anthopoulos’ debriefing with the media on Thursday morning:

On Kelly Johnson accepting arbitration…

“It was expected. I had spoken to his agent and it was expected. It’s a good outcome for us. I think either way it would have worked but we’re a better club right now with Kelly Johnson on this team.”

Game plan moving forward…

“I think there are a lot of areas we could still address. You’d always love if you could add a bat to the middle of the lineup — that would be great. Realistically, I don’t know how possible that would be and right now I don’t see us being able to do that but things could change.

“I would love to add a mid to front rotation starter, again, that’s easier said than done because I think every team in the game is going to look to do something like that.

We definitely still need to solidify our bullpen. We’ve taken care of the ninth inning but we still need to take care of the eighth inning and continue to build that depth.”

Would you be okay with the status quo in the starting rotation…

“I guess I would be okay with it. The one thing is we have a lot of depth with young arms and young starters but they are young and there’s always an unknown there with how they’re going to react. But at the same time there’s value to getting those guys the innings and I think they all have the ability to click and do very well for us.”

Strictly trades to improve the bullpen or would you sign a free agent…

“I think it will be a combination of both. I think you’re always going to end up signing one or two free agent relievers. Sometimes it’s Minor League free agents and there are some guys we’re going to look at in trade too. So, getting those late innings eighth inning guys I see that being via trade rather than in terms of free agents but that could change as well.”

On what was accomplished this week…

“I think anytime we get together and we have meetings you move the ball forward. You continue to have dialogue and you continue to narrow your scope, narrow your focus, and realize things can happen or can’t happen.

“I definitely leave these meetings with more information, more of a sense of what it would take to get things done than before I got here. I felt the same way at the GM meetings. I think each time we get together, each time we have dialogue with teams, free agents, you have a better sense of what you can get done.”

Reaction to Pujols signing…

“I think Jerry DiPoto is going to be a great GM, I really mean that. I was really impressed with him when I dealt with him a little bit when he was with the Arizona Diamondbacks. If I’m an Anaheim fan I’m very excited that he’s there and I think he’s going to do great things.”

On the Angels giving Pujols a 10-year contract…

“He’s one of the great players in the game, a Hall of Famer. There are certainly players that are above and beyond anything else. I think everyone has their own philosophies and things like that. I think we’ve been pretty clear what ours is. I’m never one to really have an opinion on what other teams are doing, the parameters of what everyone else has, and things they do and why. They have their own reasons for doing that but Anaheim has always been a great club, great ownership and they’re going to continue to be one of the better teams in the AL.”

How does Darvish compare to Dice-K…

“I wouldn’t get into specifics about how good I think a player is going to be or isn’t going to be. Maybe after players are signed and things like that I would be a lot more to commenting about abilities and things like that. But there’s no doubt it he’s a very talented player.”

Could you go to Rogers and ask for more funds…

“We don’t need to. I have more than enough resources to put a good product and a competitive team on the field. It’s on me to be able to do it. There has never been an issue with that, there hasn’t been a problem at all with all of that stuff.

“That being said, if there’s something out there that makes a lot of sense, we always have the ability to go to ownership. They’ve always been willing to help and try to make the team better.”

On Wednesday you said you would consider Johnson in LF. Is that still the case?

“Right now we don’t have a second baseman — he would be the second baseman as of right now. But we know the fact that he has played left field and we think he did a fine job with it back when he did it with Atlanta. We have the ability to do that, so if some opportunity does present itself, knowing that we have the ability to shift him that’s definitely encouraging from our standpoint because it does keep from a roster construction standpoint a lot more flexibility on my end.”

Are you surprised Johnson didn’t have more suitors?

“It’s hard to say because I wasn’t necessarily in the second base market. I was one foot in and one foot out because I didn’t know. We never really went after anybody, I didn’t engage any agents because I was very clear from the outset that we were waiting on Kelly to find out what was going to happen. The landscape and the dynamics of other teams, and what their needs were, I don’t know a lot of teams that have a need at that position.

“I think we had a clear cut hole there, we had a clear cut need and I can’t speak for Kelly but I think the five weeks that he was here, I think he enjoyed his time. Beyond that, from our standpoint, sure if he left we would have gotten two draft picks but I think the players we would have had to give up in trade would have been significantly better than the two draft picks. From that respect, one, I think we are a stronger team and two we’ve kept some of younger players.”

Are you a better team now than at the end of the season…

“I believe we’re a more talented team now but we still have holes. Our core talent continues to improve. We still need to fill in the remaining relievers, we’re hoping some of our younger players continue to take a stride forward. I would say the biggest thing is I don’t think we lost a core piece in the off-season so far, we added one. From my standpoint that’s an improvement because that’s what we need to do.

“I just would like to have depth. Casey did a nice job for us but we’re that much stronger if he can pitch in the seventh inning. The more we can solidify that bullpen and make it that much stronger the better off we’re going to be.

Depth to make another big deal?

“We’re pretty deep in terms of minor-league players, that being said we’re not looking to trade all of them. But the minor-leagues are there to either help the big-league club by coming up there and playing or to use them in trade, and not all of them are going to pan out. If you take a Baseball America top 30, all 30 of them are not going to be playing for you, we don’t have room. At some point players are going to be used in trade and I think from our standpoint, timing is very important, whether it’s where their value is, if they’re block. I think timing is very important.”

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