Random thoughts from Day 3
It has been a predictably slow Winter Meetings so far for Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos and the rest of his staff. Anthopoulos cautioned in the days leading up to the meetings that it appeared unlikely Toronto would make any major moves here in Central Florida. That would still appear to be the case with only one day remaining until clubs return home and continue to plot their next moves.
Even though there haven’t been any official transactions to talk about there have still be some interesting developments at the Walt Disney Swan and Dolphin Resort. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the things making headlines:
- The Toronto Sun’s Bob Elliott reported late Tuesday night that the Blue Jays are shopping center fielder Colby Rasmus for starting pitching. This should hardly come as a surprise considering Toronto’s obvious need to upgrade the rotation while also having Anthony Gose waiting in the wings to potentially take over in center field. But use plenty of caution here, just because Rasmus is being shopped doesn’t mean Toronto will be able to pull off any kind of trade. Rasmus is just one year away from a massive payday as a free agent and that has a very negative impact on his overall value. The Blue Jays don’t need another back-end starter — they already have plenty of those — they need someone that can easily be a candidate for the top three. If the club couldn’t get that for Jose Bautista then it’s incredibly hard to believe they’d be able to get that for Rasmus.
- A lot has been made about Alex Anthopoulos’ comments about his team having a “five year” window of opportunity to win. Not sure what all the fuss is about because this isn’t exactly a new stance. Anthopoulos mentioned five years as far back as last year and has been using that term a lot more in recent weeks. In reality, it’s a smart stance to take because a team like the Jays can’t afford to completely mortgage the future in order to compete now. Nothing sets an organization back more than a GM who feels he is on the hot seat and completely ignores future plans in favor of the immediate future. The problem here, though, is that realistically the Blue Jays don’t have a five-year window. Yes, more prospects are on their way but Jose Reyes is the only player on a guaranteed contract beyond 2015. If this team isn’t competitive within the next year and a half — possibly even the next year — there will be a lot of players that become available in exchange for prospects.
- There was a similar uproar on Tuesday about Anthopoulos’ continued reluctance to go beyond five years in any contract. Based on how most of those long-term contracts work out I completely understand the club’s reasoning behind this philosophy. It wasn’t that long ago the Blue Jays fanbase was enamored with the likes of Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder. In reality, neither of those players had even a remote possibility of signing with Toronto and that’s probably a good one thing based on how ugly those contracts now appear to be. That being said, the one thing I don’t quite understand from Anthopoulos’ comments is that he would rather lump the entire sum of money into a five-year deal instead of, for example, seven. Anthopoulos said that instead of going seven years at $10 million per, he would rather go five years at $14 million. In what world does that make any sense? Sure, a club certainly could pay a higher annual rate in order to go fewer years but if it was willing to pay almost the exact same amount what harm does tacking on a couple of more years do? It spreads the money out, eases payroll on an annual basis and there’s still an offchance that there could be some value at the end of the deal. Anthopoulos probably wasn’t being entirely serious with his comments but this one just simply doesn’t add up.
- The market for starting pitching seems to be incredibly bare right now. Cincinatti’s Homer Bailey appears to be staying put for now, the rumors of Cole Hamels or Cliff Lee being available from Philadelphia don’t really add up and it certainly would appear there’s little to no chance at all of Toronto getting its hands on Tampa Bay’s David Price. There are still several intriguing free agents available on the open market but unless the Blue Jays suddenly get an influx of cash to spend that would seem unlikely as well. That will leave Toronto scouring the market for the likes of Chicago’s Jeff Samardzija and since there are still a countless number of teams looking for pitching that doesn’t bode well for the Blue Jays chances of getting him — or someone similar — for fair value. Adding to the rotation remains a daunting task for Anthopoulos and there are no easy solutions here. It seemed impossible a couple of months ago that the Blue Jays wouldn’t add an elite starter but Anthopoulos has begun to float the idea that he would be okay with J.A. Happ and Drew Hutchison at the back-end of the rotation. Both are capable starters but this is still rather telling.
- We all knew that Rajai Davis was going to get paid but the final amount he got was still rather surprising. At the end of the season, I predicted that Davis would probably be able to get $8 million over the course of two years. That seemed expensive but considering the amount of money available across the league it appeared realistic. Turns out, Davis was able to get even more than that by securing a total of $10 million. Davis will be missed, he was incredibly fun to watch on the basepaths and he was the ideal platoon partner for Adam Lind but unfortunately for Toronto his services are a luxury the club simply could not afford. Gose is ready to take over as the fourth outfielder, has similar speed, better defense and while he’s not a candidate for a platoon his pricetag comes in at approximately $500,000 next year. The Blue Jays need to use those savings to fill glaring holes in other areas.