Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos made his way over to whichever far corner of the Opryland facility is hosting “radio row” and hopped onto the air with Jeff Blair and Dirk Hayhurst this morning on the Fan 590, discussing with them the dog and pony show that is the Winter Meetings, all the rumours surrounding his club, the likelihood of deals getting done, JP Arencibia’s bizarre confidence, and– as is always most important for fans of the Rogers-owned club– payroll.

Typically, he doesn’t say a whole lot. And what he does say leaves more than enough room for him to wriggle his way out of the statement, if somehow needed– he has indeed learned well from Paul Beeston– but that surely doesn’t mean it’s not still worthy of our scrutiny.

The big payroll discussion comes at the end of the club, specifically when Blair asks whether Anthopoulos would rule out his club getting into a ‘bidding war’ for one of the remaining free agent pitchers.

“Probably,” he explains, unsurprisingly opting not to overheat the salivary glands of every agent in the place. “Just with where we’re at, with what the prices seem to be, with the commitments we’ve already made from a payroll standpoint, we’d have to shuffle some things around to get into a ‘bidding war.’ I think otherwise it would have to be the right deal– it’s the right deal, the right price, and I go to Paul– but we’re pretty up there in terms of payroll right now. And again, it’s not to say it can’t be done, but being candid: unlikely.”

So you’re tellin’ me there’s a chance!

As is his style, Anthopoulos leaves the statement open enough for it to be read whichever way one pleases– provided you’re willing to try hard enough to be positive about the chances of a big signing still to come. Is he ultimately pessimistic but not quite ready to rule out a minute chance? Is he playing a PR game, merely trying to give the impression that more dollars won’t likely be squeezed out of him? Are we all working from the same definition of ‘bidding war’?

We’ve been down the road marked “payroll parameters” before, and from that experience should understand that it probably doesn’t serve to read so much into the few cracks of daylight in his words as to power our big-spending fantasies. But last month’s trade was a bit of a game changer, and I think it’s changed our expectations not just of the team on the field, but of how the club operates off of it. Fairly or not– warped to say so this soon after such a major commitment– it’s not enough for that to have been a one time thing.

And there doesn’t appear to be a major trade on the horizon either.

Again, AA’s posture here could simply be gamesmanship, but that increasingly feels like the kind of thing we’re forced to resort to when we don’t want to believe what he’s plainly saying.

“We really have not had any significant trade talks since we’ve been here– anything longer than three, four minutes over the phone,” he tells Blair, noting during another part of the interview that a big event like the Winter Meetings really isn’t needed to elicit trade talks, as they’ve been ongoing for several weeks and then some.

With that in mind, his answer is unsurprising when he’s asked if there’s any sort of makeup-changing deal out there for his club, explaining, “I don’t see a deal. I mean there’s a lot of players out there that certainly can, but I don’t see a deal. We’re not close to doing any deals at all. Right now we like the core of the team, the concern is always the depth of the team.”

Speaking of core pieces, Anthopoulos speaks to– though mostly skirts, and certainly does not confirm– the notion coming from JP Arencibia that the incumbent catcher has been told that he isn’t going to be traded.

“I can tell you that I normally don’t look to trade players that are part of our core,” the GM explains in general terms, “or certainly who we’ve signed long term. But if we do, you’re certainly going to look back and say, ‘you know what, it sucks that I have to go, but I understand why he did that deal, it’s probably going to make sense to the club.’ ”

Specifically asked why he thinks Arencibia is saying the things he’s been saying, Anthopoulos offers this:

“I think it’s a combination of things. When we made the trade– the same way as when we signed Cordero last year, and he was coming off 30 saves and 2.2 ERA with the Reds. I called Santos right away and I told him, ‘Look, it’s not changing your role on the team, you’re the projected closer, Cordero knows that as well.’ So when the trade was made, I let JP know that– John Buck and him have a relationship, but John Buck is coming in to be the backup, you’re still the starter. I just do that out of courtesy, not because people call me or are concerned. But I know that trades happen– it’s going through someone’s mind, they’re getting emails and texts and they’re getting hit up by media, so you just do it right away. Way back when David Eckstein was signed, John McDonald was called, because he was projected to be the starter. I just think it’s the right way to do things. Beyond that, I don’t promise anybody anything, but yeah, JP is our every day starter, he’s the guy that we plan on starting.”

Plans can change, of course, which is precisely why Anthopoulos says here that he doesn’t “promise anybody anything,’ and precisely why it’s never made sense to me that Arencibia thinks for certain that he’s staying. I wouldn’t bet against it– the odds that any particular player gets dealt in a given off-season are pretty low– but I still insist I won’t be shy about taking rumours he’s involved in seriously. Or… at least as seriously as I do all the other rumours that are floating around out there. Which is to say, not very seriously at all, frankly.

So… there’s that.

Comments (58)

  1. Maybe JPA misinterpreted what AA meant all along.

  2. Rosenthal reporting that Hamilton and the Rangers are making progress on a four-year deal. Not finalized, and others could jump in, but that sounds pretty promising.

    While it could have been a disaster in the long run if he did, it’s nice to know that he won’t be joining Baltimore or Boston (two of his rumoured suitors) if this deal is completed.

  3. Thanks for the update. So, what you’re saying is – nothing to see here.

  4. Jp was the heart of the team last year they faltered without him. You don’t always look at the numbers to judge what a player means to the team.

  5. So JP saying “AA promised me I’m the opening day starter” and AA saying “I promised JP he was our opening day starter, unless we trade him which is pretty unlikely” aren’t really too far off, just a matter of semantics and a bit of broken-telephone in the wording.

    Also, I’m glad we’re not getting into bidding wars. That’s not who the Jays are. We’re not the lions that spend all day running and fighting with each other to get the tasty gazelle. We’re the vultures who swoop down when the time’s right.

  6. AA is all things to all people.
    Fucking inscrutable.
    It’s all Greek to me.

  7. fuck jason frasor

  8. My interest in the Winter Meetings has been tamed.

  9. AA looks Inuit in that pic

  10. Did anyone catch Blair and Hayhurst saying that they gathered from an off the record conversation with JPA, that he’s ‘not exactly a big John Farrell fan’.

    • Prolly did his best JF impression and Farrell wasn’t pleased heh

    • I heard that as well. I also remember JPA being frustrated that Farrell pinch hit for him with the game on the line, I believe it was in Cleveland. That is when JP went on the rant about being a “run producer his whole career” and so on.

    • Did Farrett vote for Romney or Obama?

  11. Re payroll talk, it would be interesting to go back through AA’s quotes on payroll prior to the Marlins deal to see if he tipped his hand at all.

    I recall him saying stuff like ‘payroll is definitely going to go up, we’re going to look at FAs, it can be alright to have some overpaid guys once you have a good core, but not a bottomless pit’. I think we all figured they’d sign Ryan Dempster or something and end up around 95 to 100 million.

    It’s really curious to me how it was decided to raise payroll by 40 million. Was it really as simple as making a phone call and asking? Has Rogers always been willing if AA asked? Why not ask earlier then?

    • I think it’s more to do with the right players as well as spending to take the team to a 90-95 win level as opposed to just an 80 – 85 win team.

      Which is why I find all these suggestions from Wilner and Davidi that the payroll is likely maxed out to be completely laughable. These guys were way off on their last guess and clearly do not have any better guesses than you or I do.

      Which is why I’ll still get excited by tweets linking us to Dickey and suggesting we may be a mystery team on Greinke.

      Clearly nobody knows the potential limits outside of the Jays front office.

      • Agreed, its the same way with trade rumours. Its basically common knowledge that if there are rumours of a trade happening then its not gonna happen because there are never any leaks from the Jays front office so how can the very same reporters who always say that then say for certain that there is no more money to spend. Its not very logical. I’m not saying they can and will spend more money but you can’t say for certain one way or another.

    • It had to go up once everybody got through arbitration, even without picking up additional salary although everyone figured we would grab a FA starter.

      • Sure. If you remember that Shi Davidi article from a month ago, taking arbitration and say, one FA into account, the Jays looks to be in the 95 to 100 mil range. But we’re pushing 125 now.

    • I got put an IMHO,in case Stoeten is lurking somewhere.
      “Was it really as simple as making a phone call and asking?”
      A little more than a 30 second phone call but basically,Yes.

      “Has Rogers always been willing if AA asked?”
      No.There had to be the public interest increasing in the club.

      “Why not ask earlier then?”
      Because the focus was gathering draft picks and high upside players.Then it was seeing what the Jays had at the Major league level.eg. Would Bautista regress?Would Lawrie be a capable 3rd baseman?Was Snider or Thames the answer in left?etc. etc.etc.
      To go back further, ya gotta look at the history in detail.

  12. Kubel might be traded today – looks like Lind’s brother, do it up AA!

  13. “Jp you are our starter not Buck, and by that I mean you’ve got a month to get hot and generate trade value before ur fucking gone and Travis gets the calls…fuck you…love Alex.”

  14. There should be a translator website for Alex Anthopoulos quotes.

    “I don’t see a deal. I mean there’s a lot of players out there that certainly can, but I don’t see a deal. We’re not close to doing any deals at all. Right now we like the core of the team, the concern is always the depth of the team.”

    Really means: “Frig off with the questions about who were going to get. Obviously we are here to improve the team and I’m a freakin ninja… so yeah, if I’m gonna make a move you’re not gonna hear about it until it’s done.”

  15. I don’t see any point in spending time deconstructing AA’s every pronouncement. He will do what he will do and we can be sure he won’t tell us or anyone else about it first. So maybe just sit down, relax and see what happens? No one knew the Marlins deal was coming. No one knew about Melky Cabrera. All this hysterical stuff is crazy.

    And…there’s that.

  16. I’m trying to keep my hopes in balance between the fucking media telling is we won the bidding war on Yu Darvish last year, and then realized it wasn’t true, with the excitement of the “deal made out of thin air” with the Marlins…AA is going to do what he’s going to do…and we will find out only after it happens…

    When was the last time a trade rumor on the Jays leaked out that was true???

    Relax and enjoy the winter trade meetings…enjoy that the Yankees seem to be in decline; the Orioles seem to be out of their league on getting anyone; that Boston seems to be loading up on overpaid underachievers, and Tampa is doing some cautious buying. AA was wise to get the heavy lifting out of the way before this circus sideshow takes place.

    • Lots of stuff has been foreshadowed.

      • I think most of that is just people seeing that the Jays are a fit on a guy based on their MO.

        Morrow, Rasmus & Cabrera fit in that category. People made the maple link with Lawrie.

        Virtually all this Dickey stuff, for example, isn’t based on actual “sources”. People just see the fit.

      • @ Stoeten

        LIke what?

        • There was speculation of the Jays having an interest in Rasmus… Rosenthal suggested the Jays/Mariners/Phillies Halladay deal like 2 days before it happened.

          • But we all knew that was going to happen. That Halladay had demanded a trade and that it was the first piece of business that AA had to deal with. We even knew the trading partners and had done since the circus at that year’s trade deadline. And we knew about Farrett courtesy of the Boston Red Sox and their pals in the Boston media.

            However I don’t think we knew Wells was gone. We didn’t know about Gibby. In general AA plays his cards very close to his chest especially when he’s going after someone.

          • Okay James.
            Nobody seen
            Gibbons being rehired, no rumours.
            Who would be on the coaching staff.
            The Marlins trade.
            Izurtis.
            Snider being traded
            Thames being traded
            Santos trade
            Should I keep going?
            Keep thinking AA’s an open book.

          • But, again, those were really just people putting two and two together.

            Nothing suggesting a front office leak.

            If people keep linking the Jays to Dickey and 6 weeks from now it actually happens, I don’t consider that the media being “right”.

          • @RADAR

            Um.. I definitely don’t think AA is an open book. Most moves have definitely not been foreshadowed.

            But a few have. Stoeten did a post on it a few months ago I think.

          • @Isabella

            We knew Halladay had to be traded, but Rosenthal had ‘what if the Phillies traded Lee to say, Seattle, and the Jays traded Halladay to Philadelphia for guys like Drabek etc’. It was pretty clearly given to him early.

            I’m obviously not saying things never come out of nowhere with AA. Most clearly are not foreshadowed at all.

            But, its not really right saying they never are, because a few have been.

          • @ james
            The question was
            When was the last time a trade rumor on the Jays leaked out that was true???

            The majority of moves aren’t leaked.You mentioned Rasmus and Halladay.
            What are the recent leaks?
            Isabella’s right.

          • @ James

            Yes, a few have been. But I guess I’m getting restless with the avid dissection of everything AA says at the Winter Meetings. It’s wearying and I don’t think it’s necessary or rewarding. Especially trying to work out what the payroll is and if AA will go after anyone. No way he tips his hand to either of those two. He’ll stay with the ‘if the right opportunity presents itself…’ platitudes to keep the media quiet and that’s fine by me given that Rogers has actually kept their word and ponied-up some dough.

          • @ Radar.

            I’m definitely not arguing the fact that most moves aren’t foreshadowed at all. Just that it has happened here or there. There was a DJF post a while ago that gave a few examples of rumours turning into player acquisitions.

            @isabella
            I totally get not wanting to bother dissecting AA’s words, with him being so secretive. Seems like he just about never tips his hand.

            I think that may be why people want to analyze his words so much. He leaves so much open to interpretation. For example, before the offseason he did say that payroll would go up, and that they’d look at players with higher contracts. None of us had any idea he meant to this degree though.

      • With AA? Like what? Nobody saw Gibbons…nobody foreshadowed any trade with the Marlins…nor Cabrerra…the Houston trade was not foreshadowed beforehand…don’t get me wrong, it’s fun to listen to you guys talk about wants needs and dreams, but I haven’t seen a lot more than speculation

  17. I think the rest of the winter might be a snoozer…if you’re the kinda guy who lives and breathes these things.
    If I was to bet the farm, I’d say AA makes a move or two for depth purposes – maybe a couple of AAAA free agent pitchers, or maybe a bench bat.
    Does he move JPA? I’m on the fence – because of course AA is listening to offers and pitching a couple of his own…but I think he would be perfectly happy with a JPA/Buck tandem to start the year and take it from there.
    As far as JPA constantly tweeting that “he’s the starter, because AA told me from his own lips out of his mouth” – well, you’re the starter NOW. But if a deal comes down that turns AA into a sweaty little puddle of goo, well, you just might be the starter – on another team.

  18. Has there been any comments from Buck on how he feels about being a backup to JPA?

  19. Is a catcher going to lose games for a team with his bat? Is a catcher’s defense going to put his team over the top? What is a catchers worth measured by? AA seems to be intent on securing depth as a priority from this point on. Could having a power hitting catcher hitting in the 7-8-9 spot be considered bottom of the order depth? There are plenty of bats in the line up, anything that JPA can contribute at the plate should be considered cake. Anything that a 7-8-9 hitter contributes is cake, why not put 25 HR in one of those spots? I see the trade value, but I don’t see the point in moving a young player with potential that has a good amount of service time that can’t hurt your club.

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