Debunking the latest Blue Jays’ rumour

Another day and another rumour surrounding the Blue Jays’ supposed interest in adding starting pitcher into the mix. On Monday afternoon, Foxsports.com reported that Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos has “had dialogue with the White Sox” about right-hander Gavin Floyd.

Why this is actually news, I’m not sure, but since every time one of these reports surface south of the border it garners a lot of attention it becomes necessary for the Toronto media to respond in some way. This is what we know, Anthopoulos is one of the most active GMs in Major League Baseball and it’s a point of pride for him to know exactly who is available from other teams and what the asking price is. That way he won’t be caught off guard if any major moves are made and if there’s a bargain to be had you can be sure he’ll be exploring the possibility of adding more talent to his roster.

Anthopoulos kicked the tires on right-hander Doug Fister last year and according to a source he also was in on Michael Pineda before the promising righty was dealt to the Yankees for top prospect Jesus Montero. In both cases, the Mariners asking price was too high and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that Seattle was after third baseman Brett Lawrie — who isn’t going anywhere — because of his high-ceiling talent and the fact that he grew up in nearby Langley, British Columbia, while his sister became an NCAA softball star in the state of Washington.

The search for a front-line starter continued throughout the offseason as there were multiple reports Toronto had serious interest in the likes of Gio Gonzalez and Mat Latos. Ultimately, the club decided to stick with the status quo because of the high demands and now that Spring Training has rolled around there’s no immediate reason to suspect that will change before Opening Day.

The fact that these reports are coming out now should suggest nothing other than that Anthopoulos is once again doing his due diligence. He was spotted at the Phillies ballpark late last week to watch an outing by right-hander Joe Blanton. Philadelphia’s complex is a short 10 minute drive from the Florida Auto Exchange Stadium and it just makes sense for Anthopoulos and his scouting department to make the short drive to get a first-hand look at a pitcher who reportedly is on the trading block.

Think about it, though, how many times have the Blue Jays made a move that previously was reported first by an American outlet — or anywhere in Canada for that matter? The Colby Rasmus trade came out of nowhere, so did Brett Lawrie, Sergio Santos, Kelly Johnson, Yunel Escobar, Jason Frasor and even free agent signings such as Francisco Cordero and Darren Oliver. The only move I can remember in the past two years that was really exposed before it became a reality was the signing of set-up man Octavio Dotel in December of 2010 — not exactly a blockbuster kind of deal. Anthopoulos has a cone of silence over his organization, doesn’t leak anything to the press and he ensures that not only do his co-workers strictly abide by that but the organizations he deals with as well.

There’s a general rule of thumb Toronto’s GM likes to use in these type of situations. If a report gets out that a deal is done then it very likely is done. If a report comes out that two teams are discussing something, or that a team and agent have begun serious negotiations, more often than not it’s false. Has Anthopoulos spoken to Chicago’s Kenny Williams about Gavin Floyd? I wouldn’t bet against it. Have the talks reached a point where the deal is even remotely imminent? I highly doubt it.

One other thing to keep in mind throughout these reported rumours is that the Blue Jays starting rotation is pretty set at this point in camp and there are no obvious jobs up for grabs. Ricky Romero and Brandon Morrow are firmly entrenched in the top two spots and No. 4 starter Henderson Alvarez isn’t going anywhere because he has become a favourite of not only the front office but by manager John Farrell. In the No. 5 spot, Dustin McGowan has been one of the biggest storylines in all of Spring Training and an organization that normally likes to keep expectations in check has been over the moon raving about his potential for a comeback season. The Blue Jays are going to give McGowan — who is out of options on his contract — every chance the rest of this spring and the early stages of the year to prove he deserves a spot on the big league team.

That leaves left-hander Brett Cecil as the only remaining question mark in terms of his standing within the organization. Right now, he appears to have the job as the No. 3 starter and while he ended last year without a guaranteed role he rededicated himself during the offseason by dropping well over 35 pounds. “In the best shape of my life” is a cliche used way too often during Spring Training baseball but when it comes to Cecil there’s very little debating that it’s actually true. There are still questions about whether Cecil can regain his velocity and it remains to be seen whether he can consistently keep the ball down in the zone but after a grueling offseason it would seem like the organization would at least give him the rest of spring and the early part of the 2012 season to prove his worth. Adding another arm at this point in camp would be akin  to giving up on Cecil’s future with the organization and that does not seem like a believeable scenario at this point.

If Cecil falters or McGowan goes down with an injury would that open the door for an upgrade to the starting staff? Of course it would because the next wave of pitching prospects Drew Hutchison, Deck McGuire and Chad Jenkins would be best served by having a little more time in the Minor Leagues to refine their craft. Those are all reasons why Anthopoulos will continue to monitor the market for another starter because it’s just the smart thing to do. But pulling the trigger on a deal when there’s still three weeks to go until Spring Training is another matter entirely.

6 Comments

Not to mention that, according to the stats I checked, in 18 innings so far this spring the combined efforts of Romero, Morrow, Cecil, Alvarez and McGowen have surrendered just ONE lousy run. That’s what? A 0.50 ERA? Granted its only 18 innings but its still pretty darned encouraging

I would also like to point out that AA has said in the past that if he hears of a deal being made, he will make some calls, if only to complicate things, and drive up the asking price for the other team. The more they pay, the less they have to bid against him if he really is serious.
The other thing is that player agents take advantage of The Blue Jays’ policy of silence to toss their name into the mix, knowing full well that they will not respond to deny the rumor.

Pingback: Blue Jays Rumour Roundup – March 13, 2012 « AL Eastbound & Down

I think you’ve hit the nail on the head here, Gregor. Anthopoulos is nothing if not thorough. While the Jays do have a lot of trade bait now, it all comes down to “why pull the trigger on a trade just to be seen pulling the trigger?”. Unless a pitcher became available who was just irresistible as far as immediate value to the club goes, against what the Jays would have to give up – which, let’s face it, is unlikely to happen at this point in spring training – the Jays would be silly making any moves. They would not trade Romero, Morrow finally seems on the cusp of greatness, and Alvarez is the real deal, from what I’ve seen. The jury is still out on Cecil and McGowan, so something could happen pretty quickly if they falter in April or May, but barring injuries, I think the team is where they want to be at the moment. Based on spring training, this could turn out to be a VERY good rotation.

Why is everyone forgetting about Mr. Drabek????

Indeed! He seems to be turning a corner this spring. My feeling is that he’ll wind up in Triple A, but be first in line if help is needed once the season gets underway. So far, Drabek has looked pretty fine.

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