Alex Anthopoulos has stated that he thinks that shoring up the back end of the Jays’ bullpen is one of his main areas of focus this off-season, and while it’s impossible to deny that, until Frank Francisco figured shit the fuck out after the All-Star break, the Jays were getting pretty close to shit all from back there, it’s still painful for me to see the club linked to some of the top free agent closers who are on the market, as they have been again today– again by Buster Olney of ESPN.com.

In Olney’s latest (Insider only) column, he claims that the Jays have discussed Heath Bell, Jonathan Papelbon, Joe Nathan, “who threw the ball very well down the stretch as he got further removed from his elbow surgery,” and the prospect of trading for Oakland’s Andrew Bailey.

Technically, he says that those guys are “among the names that have come up in their conversations,” so who knows how serious their interest could have been? I mean, Heath Bell’s name could come up in their conversation in an exchange like: “How about pissing away a draft pick and paying way too much money to bring a declining Petco-created 34-year-old to the AL East on a multi-year deal?” “You’re fucking fired!”

Nathan is even older than Bell, and wasn’t very Joe Nathan-like in his first year back from Tommy John surgery, but the price to acquire him– in both salary and term– is a whole lot more palatable. Plus, as Olney points out, he was better down the stretch– opponents OPS’d .598 off him from July 1st onward.

Papelbon– hate him as I do– has been pretty fucking reliably terrific for Boston the last several years, and is about as close to a sure thing as there is on the market– not that you could ever call any free agent a sure thing, especially a reliever. His acquisition also, as Olney points out, would put a dent in one of they Jays’ division rivals. However, he’ll command a shit-tonne of money– more than a 60- or 70-inning guy is worth, surely– and will require the Jays giving up a draft pick.

That is… unless he doesn’t.

Olney also has a bit of information later in his post about the CBA talks, which are ongoing. He notes that the compensation for Type-A free agents is one of the more contentious issues, given the way teams have, over the last four years, taken to actually valuing draft picks and gaming a system that was “set up three decades ago to deter George Steinbrenner from signing all the top free agents.” One proposal would eliminate teams having to surrender their top draft picks to sign one, while another would mimic the NFL’s system, forcing clubs to pay an top-end salary to any Type-A free agent they offer arbitration to. The latter seems a bit fanciful, but the key point he makes is that there is still a chance that the compensation changes could go into effect for this free agency period.

Would that change the equation for the Jays on a guy like Papelbon? It’s only money, right? Better to pay in cash than in prospects, right? Uh… right??? I don’t know– I don’t think so– but they seem a little more into this needing an established closer thing than I want to believe, so maybe.

Then there’s Andrew Bailey. The A’s closer is entering his first year of arbitration, so any team acquiring him would him would control him relatively cheaply for three seasons. He’s coming off the worst season of his career, statistically, part of which can be attributed to a painful-looking forearm strain suffered in spring training, which kept him out until May 29th. He also, according to his injury history at Baseball Prospectus, had elbow surgery last winter, microfracture surgery on his left knee in 2009, and Tommy John in 2006. Um… holy shit.

Still, back in August, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports heard that “the Rangers offered Robbie Erlin and Joe Wieland (who ultimately got them Mike Adams) plus shortstop prospect Leury Garcia” for Bailey. Erlin was the club’s #4 prospect, according to Baseball America, so it’s safe to say Bailey will cost a decent amount, in terms of prospects. But the Jays have enough depth in the system at the moment that they should realistically be able to pull a deal like that off without taking much of a hit. If the price is right, why not?

Otherwise, how about that Joe Nathan, huh?

Comments (20)

  1. If Rogers actually has money to spend for the first time in forever, I would hope that they won’t waste it on a reliever. 

  2. Is Snider still a “prospect”?  Is it a coincidence that the Jays are scouting another prospect at CF – a position they are already “set” at?

  3. They scout everyone. Anthopoulos probably sends his guys out to scout other GM-candidates, just in case they can do a better job than him.

  4. Nathan, Broxton, Harden, & Mike Gonzalez.

    Sign those 4.

  5. Snider is a corner OF.

  6. if we didn’t have to give up the pick I’d be happy with Papelbon. douche probably sells jerseys to his own kind

  7. if the jays are serious about competing next year i think they should consider moving alvarez to the ‘pen (a la the rangers and feliz) thereby eliminating the question mark around whether his offspeed stuff will develop between now and april (for those slotting him into the rotation already).

  8. It’s complete fucking bullshit that they are going to change how free agency works with no warning, but won’t do the same for dropping in another playoff spot officially. 

    I love how people in baseball really bite their goddamn fingernails because the Yanks and Red Sox and now Phillies might not be having enough advantages. Jsut go down to eight fucking teams if it means that much to Selig and these other shits whining about how TB and Toronto and “gaming” the system.

  9. Broxton, Zumaya, Harden….hope you can get two right arms from the three of them

  10. Terrible idea.  You don’t waste a guy like that in the pen until he proves he can’t do it as a starter.  Feliz always had command issues that made a move the pen a strong possibility.  And even with that situation, they’re still likely to move him back to the rotation next year.

  11. Conversation in the Jays front office:

    ‘So run me down that list of free agent relief pitchers again?’

    ‘…Okajima, Oliver, Papelbon, Peralta, Qualls…

    And that’s how Paplebon’s name came up in free agent discussions here.  Unless Farrell has made a *very* persuasive argument.

  12. fine, put drabek there. who cares? the point is they have internal options to fill that kind of role. my comment was more directed at people who want to throw 40million dollars at a closer that may, if it is a 4 year deal, throw more innings over the life of the deal than one year of a starter like yu darvish.

  13. Mlb on sirus just listening and great point madebest free agent signing are when you know the person as well as player…….so if Jays sign Paplebon its because Farrell knows the man and player

  14. it’s simple,  Chad Beck for closer.

  15. “As for the Jays, their pursuits of both starters and relievers is standard operating procedure for general manager Alex Anthopoulos.

    “Alex is always looking for everything,” one rival GM said. “He is the only GM in the league with a 60-man roster – and I say that as a compliment.

    “You can’t pin him down. He has interest in every one of your players.”

    http://mlbbuzz.yardbarker.com/

  16. yes

  17. Jays were supposedly all over Grienke and Uggla last winter too.  It’s just Alex being Alex.

  18. I stopped listening to Sirius MLB the day some host ranted that Miguel Cabrera was the mvp because if he had got hurt the Tigers would be 10 games behind the Sox rather then 10 games in front of them. He believed guys like Miggy were worth 15-20 wins and Bautista wasn’t because the Jays were only .500 with him. It was so baffling that I almost steered my vehicle off a bridge.

  19. Just because Alvarez wears goggles doesn’t mean that he’s destined to become a closer.  Alvarez has far more value to the Jays as a starter.  Alvarez managed to post impressive numbers with the Jays using only two pitches.  If anything, he could be sent down to the minors if there is no room for him in the rotation so that he can refine his secondary stuff.  Putting him in the pen would be wasteful.

  20. I’d take a flier on Nathan on a one year deal with an option year.  We don’t give up any picks (he’s an unranked FA) and the terms would be much more palatable than paying Papelbon type money.

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