The fallout from failing to sign Santana
Transcript of Anthopoulos’ scrum with the media:
(editors note — As always the questions asked by the group of reporters — including myself — aren’t transcribed word for word but it gives the jist of the question in each case. Anthopoulos’ quotes are word for word.)
How close were you to signing Santana?
“Probably don’t want to comment on how close I felt we got or didn’t get. I think what I’ll say is from what I was told he wanted to pitch in the NL. Couldn’t compete with it. It wasn’t money. It wasn’t years. He had a strong desire to pitch in the NL and there was no way to compete with that. Wish him the best, obviously I’m sure us and other clubs would have loved to have had him but we’re going to move on.”
Did he always want to pitch in the NL?
“I think you’d have to ask them. I was just told recently that he had a strong desire to pitch in the NL. It was on a one-year deal and that was where he wanted to be.”
Were you used in the process?
“No. No. That’s probably the only thing I’m going to say. No.”
Would it have helped to up the value of the deal?
“No. From what I understand it was nothing to do with money or years or anything like that at all. Strictly, the National League is where he wanted to be. That was the only thing and there was no way to compete with that from what I was told.”
Were you being used for leveraging?
“Normally I would say that. In this case I don’t think I would.”
Clubhouse reaction, disappointment in the clubhouse after lots of players campaigned to get him?
“You’d have to ask them. I think, obviously, a lot of our players have relationships, I think that was all over the Internet and so they’re well aware of what’s transpired. I think they’re very comfortable with, obviously we all wanted to have the player here, I think that goes without saying, but I think they’re as comfortable as they can be in terms of the club’s involvement and their involvement and the process overall. I think we all feel we did everything we could.
“As you guys know, very rarely do things leak with us unless they’re pretty much done. We’re in rumours all the time but you never see a ton of stuff on us unless we’re right there. That’s just generally speaking. I think everyone, the players involved in the process that have relationships with him and from our standpoint, we’re very comfortable we did everything we could.”
Mixed messaging to the fans, previous statements about upgrading club, team standing pat….
“I understand because of the acquisitions we made last year that that term’s been thrown around. I don’t necessarily believe in it. I just think it points to it being all about one year and it’s not, obviously. We’re trying to win on a perennial basis and things like that. I understand last offseason was so active and we haven’t been nearly as active. That being said, we believe a big part of our lack of success last season was we didn’t have guys on the field.
“We didn’t have Cabrera on the field or when he was he’s not the guy we’re seeing now, playing centerfield. We’re seeing the guy now that we thought we were going to see. Obviously we didn’t know he had a tumour there. Having a guy like Drew back, we didn’t count on him last year, we had Josh Johnson here, but we think Drew’s got a chance to be outstanding. He’s putting himself in a great position to make this club and I think if he does make this club he’s got a chance to have a tremendous year. Even a guy like Brandon Morrow, I don’t think we projected having two wins out of him last year and just him being on the mound should definitely be worth a lot more than that. The bullpen, going into last season, we weren’t sure we had talent, we feel that it’s a strength.
“The offense we feel is going to be a strength. Obviously we’ll go as far as the rotation can bring us. We think with R.A., with Mark, obviously Brandon and, again he’s not there yet, certainly Drew looks like he’s got a chance to have an impact. Then we’ve got some guys, obviously, that are going to be battling for the fourth and fifth spots in the rotation. We still think there’s a lot of upside.
“All that being said, I can understand skepticism. It comes with the job with the performance we had on the field last year. I think we’ll show how good we are when we break. I think the guys that we have have tremendous upside but we would have loved to add someone just to have depth. If that had meant you can take a guy like Drew and send him down to have options and be your sixth starter, seventh starter, you’re just stronger from an organizational standpoint but we weren’t going to force deals and do things we really didn’t believe made sense just to make a splash.”
Hutchison has a spot in the rotation?
“No, I just said it earlier. He hasn’t made the rotation, he’s competing. As we sit here on March 12, he looks great, he’s putting himself in a great position but we still have another two weeks of camp left so he has to continue to grind. But I’ve been very impressed, 92-96. I think I talked him pretty highly coming into camp, I expected him to really impress. We’ve been high on him for awhile, seeing him out in the fall league, I’m not surprised.”
Have you talked to Happ? He seemed disappointed by your comments last week…
“Well he hasn’t told me anything. As far as I’m concerned, no one said anything to me, so I don’t have any concerns.”
Did you have the impression that Santana was going to sign last weekend? There were obviously reports about a deadline being set…
“Um, yeah, you know what, I’d rather not say. I’d probably rather not say.”
You’re obviously being careful with what you say, but on a personal level are you surprised he didn’t end up signing with the Jays?
“That’s another good one. I’d probably rather not say on that one as well.”
Why don’t you want to say…
“You know what, I want to be respectful of everybody. Like I said, I wish him the best, I would have loved to have had him, I know a lot of our players would have loved to have him. I think it’s pretty obvious we were involved, it didn’t work out, I’m trying to take the high road here.”
But you thought it was done on Saturday?
“I don’t think I’ve ever come out and said that. In fairness, I don’t know that I want to characterize the discussions or the negotiations.
Obviously it’s done, he made his decision, he’s in Atlanta. Great signing for them, I wish him the best and sorry it didn’t work out with us.”
There’s obviously a lot you’re not telling us, do the players know the whole story?
“Obviously some guys have relationships with the player. I think the players that are close to him, the players that have relationships, know more than the players don’t have a relationship with him. They were obviously talking to him and trying to recruit him.”
Did you address the team?
“I think throughout the process, when you have players that have strong relationships with someone, they’re probably involved to some extent going into it. I think it’s pretty obvious, I think someone even wrote, a photo was tweeted or something about coming to Toronto. He has relationships there. You see these guys each day, sometimes you’re getting information about a player, what kind of guy he is, things like that. I would think players that have relationships, and we have a bunch in there, lots of guys from the Dominican, they obviously would have talked to the player I would assume.”
But was there an agreement?
“I wouldn’t want to say. I’d probably want to keep the discussions and the negotiations private for the respect of everybody.”
Based on your reaction, is it fair to say these negotiations were more off kilter than others you’ve had before?
“You guys are good. Like I said, you do a lot of deals as a GM, assistant GM, all deals have their nuances, peaks and valleys. Hard to say that one has more fluctuations than any other. I don’t know that I could characterize one more than any other. Good question though.”
Comfortable with options in house or do you need to make a move?
“Still be on the look out. We like the talent we have, I think that goes without saying. But there’s obviously a lack of experience and that’s where you’d love to have some experience and you can have that depth and you can send some guys down on options. Ultimately if we have to go with some of the inexperienced guys that have talent to do well, we’re prepared to do that. But clearly with our pursuit of a guy like Santana, adding some more experience can’t hurt, especially because we viewed him as an impact starter.”
Typically you always prefer to do deals through trade, is that something you explore now?
“We’ve had plenty of dialogue. We’ve had a little bit of dialogue in Spring Training, highly unlikely I could see us making a trade in Spring Training but you never know how things will open up. We’ll still keep the lines of communication open with some clubs that we had talked to earlier. That’s probably where we’re at with that.”
You said the reason you were given was that Santana had a desire to pitch in the National League…
“Strong, very strong.”
But the Braves weren’t even in the mix on the weekend when a deal was supposedly done or at least close. It was only after the injuries….
“That’s a good point. That’s a very good point. I think that’s a very good point.”
Perception of sitting on your hands this offseason…
“We had some trades. I’d say one trade we were almost done to acquire a starter and that didn’t work out. Then you have a bunch of other dialogue, position players and things like that. But I’d say we had one trade that we were extremely close to that didn’t work out.”