Are the GM meetings– currently taking place in Indian Wells, California, and being converged on by far too many media members from this city– actually turning into something more resembling the Winter Meetings, where all kinds of innuendo comes gushing in our directions, and the transactions happen fast and furious?
I don’t think so. But I do buy– now more than ever– the notion that teams are ready to do a lot more business in this stage of the off-season than they have ever been before, almost entirely because of the obliteration of the old system, wherein clubs had to wait for potential free agents to accept or reject offers of arbitration before knowing whether or not there would be a compensatory draft pick attached to their name.
Right now, free agency is in full swing, the GMs are talking trade, and just about everybody in baseball is available.
Here’s what’s worth talking about when it comes to the Jays tonight:
Over the course of several tweets, and a fresh piece at Sportsnet, Shi Davidi fills us in on what Alex Anthopoulos imparted to the media (read: a bunch of Sportsnet guys) this afternoon, following a busy day, in which the Jays acquired Maicer Izturis and Jeremy Jeffress. And much more than in previous years, you can almost see a rosy picture coming together– one that’s powered by actual, tangible things the front office has been saying and doing, rather than just hopefulness powered by the informational vacuum and the understanding that Rogers is a grotesquely moneyed uber-corporate monolith.
Tweeting out the link to his story, Davidi calls the Izturis signing– the longest-term and most expensive free agent signing of an outside free agent of the Anthopoulos area, ridiculous as that is– “a first step for
#Jays, who now must tend to heavy lifting with some money to make things happen.”
“Going to the third year was what got it done early,” Anthopoulos says in Davidi’s full piece. “There was value to getting it done early. You can wait around and try to keep your options open and keep your flexibility open, but you can sometimes get paralyzed by that and almost miss a lot of opportunities.”
He adds that “there’s value to having some certainty with your roster,” and he’s not wrong: both in knocking off tasks for the off-season, and in the fact that it sends a message– minor as it may be– to players and agents alike that the Jays are actually out there willing to spend– willing to put a pile of money and term in front of a player that they like and let them decide whether or not to take it.
It may not mean anything at all, and saying otherwise may verge too deeply into blind optimism, but it certainly seems possible that it’s a better way than shutting down possibilities with players before even getting to the point of formally asking, the way it seems they’ve done in previous years– Jeff Blair and Dirk Hayhurst had an excellent exchange on this subject earlier in the week on the Jeff Blair Show.
And even though it’s the most lucrative free agent deal he’s inked a player to, Anthpoulos insists that, when it comes to second base, “the contract is such that it’s not so high that it prevents us from doing something else if something were to fall into our lap.”
“I think we’re positioned well. Again, it’s not a bottom-less pit and we can’t go sign 20 players, we have to be selective with the players, we have to be creative, but we have opportunities we didn’t have in the past,” the GM said, adding that– thanks to the influx of cash that all teams will receive from MLB’s national TV contract that kicks in come 2014– back-loading some deals “can certainly be done.”
Anthpoulos added a couple of extra tidbits that showed up in Davidi’s Twitter feed, first, explaining that the deal for Jeremy Jeffress is the equivalent of a waiver claim– a low cost acquisition of a guy who’s out of options and will have to make the team in order to not be exposed to waivers, assuming they don’t try to sneak him through at some point previous, and second, noting that there was interest in Mike Aviles from more clubs than just Cleveland. Guess those other suckers just weren’t offering shitty, hard-throwing relievers with cheap years of control remaining.
FanGraphs on Izturis
Jeff Sullivan wrote a rather favourable piece on the Izturis deal over at FanGraphs. Titled “Maicer Izturis finds a new place to be perfectly acceptable,” Sullivan counters such derision as Keith Law’s comment from today’s KLaw Chat at ESPN.com– “Hey, any time you can give a guy whose .320 OBP was higher than his slugging percentage a three-year, eight-figure deal, you have to do it, right?”– by noting that you can probably expect more from Izturis than you think.
“Since 2010, 351 position players have batted at least 600 times. In terms of WAR/600 PA, Izturis comes in at 2.3, basically dead even with guys like Colby Rasmus, Jeff Keppinger, and Michael Morse,” Sullivan explains. “While I know this is practically trolling, Derek Jeter‘s WAR/600 PA since 2010 is 2.4. Quibble all you want about the defensive inputs, but the general point is that Izturis has been just fine for a while, and he’s not so old that he should fall apart. There’s a pretty good chance he’s better than his 2012.”
Money quote: “This isn’t a contract that’s going to win Toronto a pennant, but it’s easier to see it going well than it is to see it going poorly. A three-year, $9-million contract can go only so poorly. Maicer Izturis isn’t much of a big splash for Alex Anthopoulos, but it’s a pretty safe splash, which isn’t bad as free agency goes.”
Today In MLBTR
Hiroki Kuroda is reportedly the Dodgers’ top choice as a rotation piece, which sounds fantastic to me, seeing as if the Dodgers turn their sights to a guy the Jays want– like Anibal Sanchez, Brandon McCarthy or Edwin Jackson– it makes it that much less likely that we’ll end up with him. Though… it’s not like there’s anything stopping LA from doing both.
MLBTR passes along a Bob Elliott tweet from earlier in the day, in which the Hall of Famer bluntly tells readers to not expect Justin Upton to be coming to Toronto. What, not even with Adam Lind heading the other way? You sure? Well, OK, then. I buy it.
Our old friend JP Ricciardi has apparently signed a three year deal to continue on as a special assistant to Mets GM Sandy Alderson.
Billy Beane insists that his A’s are not going to trade one of their young starting pitchers for a shortstop, so you should totally not even bother asking about it. It’s totally not something he’s even going to do. Better get ready to pay an exorbitant price, amiright? Because he’s so reluctant, guys.
The Red Sox are interested in Anibal Sanchez and Hiroki Kuroda, and this is why Alex Anthopoulos talking about striking early is important, but also why it’s kind of more important to remember that those fuckers have money, and the fact that the Jays were below them in the standings this year doesn’t change the prestige factor– as John Farrell. So we’re probably going to see them and Baltimore sign someone we’d much rather the Jays do– and it’s going to fucking suck. Hopefully Alex pays out big money fast and changes some perception.