Wrapping up the Winter Meetings
The Winter Meetings officially came to a close on Thursday morning and the Blue Jays don’t exactly have a lot to show for their efforts. The only actual move Toronto made this week was claiming Chris Colabello off waivers from the Twins and the only fans who should be excited about that move are the ones in Buffalo because that’s where he’s expected to start the 2015 season. Outside of that, it was a relatively quiet week at least in terms of news that actually affects the 25-man roster. The constant talk about Paul Beeston and the future of the Blue Jays’ presidency, well that’s another story entirely.
On the main site you’ll find full coverage of this week’s events but I also wanted to provide some of my stray thoughts about how this week unfolded:
- The Blue Jays don’t appear close to making any moves but as we all know by now the club would like to address its holes in the bullpen through trades as opposed to free agency. Anthopoulos isn’t opposed to acquiring relievers who are about to enter the final year of their contract and in fact that’s the route I expect him to eventually take. For the fans who keep asking about Cincinnati’s Aroldis Chapman, though, you can forget about that one because the cost will be a lot higher than the Blue Jays can afford to pay. So knock him off your list.
- It’s unfortunate that these Winter Meetings from a Toronto perspective mostly will be remembered for the drama surrounding Beeston. It was impossible to walk through the lobby of the hotel without bumping into someone who asked what was up with the Blue Jays president. Whether it was fellow reporters, agents, or people within my own company it was a constant topic of conversation. The sad part about all of this is that it was completely unnecessary. All Rogers Communications had to do was say something, say anything. But instead requests for comments went unanswered — I didn’t even get a no comment, I got completely ignored in my requests to talk — and Rogers has yet to issue any kind of statement. It now appears that Beeston will return for another year but this entire situation should be studied in classrooms about how not to run public relations. For the record, that is a shot at Rogers and not the Blue Jays PR staff. I truly believe Toronto’s organization had its hands tied by ownership on this one. Communications might be in the company name for Rogers but it doesn’t appear to be one of their strong suits. After all the time Beeston has been with this organization, he deserved a better fate than having his name become an endless topic of conversation all week.
- I have to admit I was way off in my initial projections for the amount of money the Blue Jays still have to spend. I’ve been saying for weeks that it appears Toronto had at least $20 million at its disposal and perhaps even more than that if/once Dioner Navarro gets traded. As I wrote in a piece Wednesday night, it appears as though the available money is a lot closer to the $5 million-$10 million range than the $20 million I originally thought. Toronto has to factor potential buyouts, injury replacements, players optioned to the Minors, etc into their payroll and some of that helps explain the discrepancy. But as many fans have already pointed out, if that’s the case then the same thing could have been said about the 2014 payroll as well. This will require further examination and I’m admittedly as confused as some of you are about why the available money seems to be a lot lower than I first thought.
- I theorized on Twitter earlier today that perhaps a lower Canadian dollar is one of the reasons why. The loonie hit a five-year low today and it’s worth approximately 86 cents compared to 94 cents at this time last year. I want to be very clear, this specific part of the conversation is pure speculation on my part. I did not hear that from anyone in the organization but I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about payroll and at some point a low Canadian dollar will impact the Jays. Has that time come? I’m not so sure but it’s possible. Sportsnet’s Michael Grange wrote an excellent piece about the dollar earlier this year and I encourage you to check it out for more background information along with some quotes from Beeston. The Canadian dollar hasn’t been a talking point for a long time but I grew up in an era when it was a very big deal for sports franchises in this country. Maybe the time is not now, but if the dollar continues to drop there’s no doubt it will impact the club’s bottom line at some point.
- The Blue Jays won’t have any trouble trading Navarro but they have yet to find another team that has been willing to meet their asking price. If Toronto really wanted to get rid of Navarro’s $5 million contract they could do so at any time without an issue but the Blue Jays are adamant about getting an asset in return. Anthopoulos, as per usual, wouldn’t get into specifics of his trade talks but I think it’s safe to assume the Blue Jays are looking for bullpen help in return. Arizona is one team with known interest and it’s also a club that has some relievers to spare so there could eventually be a match there but that’s far from a guarantee. The one surprising thing about that is Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart actually went on record saying he was interested in Navarro and also Detroit’s Alex Avila. That’s pretty rare in this industry.
- An upgrade at second base is still possible but if it happens the player coming in will be on a short-term deal. One player to keep an eye on is 33-year-old Japanese infielder Takashi Toritani. Agent Scott Boras confirmed this week that the two sides have talked but those negotiations are believed to have been preliminary at best for now. Toritani likely won’t require a lot of money to sign and he could come in and compete with Ryan Goins and Maicer Izturis while Devon Travis gets some more time to develop in Triple-A.