Take this supposed quote from a supposed friend of a Twitterer who had supposedly spoke briefly with Paul Beeston for what little it’s worth (then double it because of that avatar), but yesterday this floated my way across the interwebs…
@andrewstoeten buddy saw Beeston this morn, said plan was to sign a big name pitcher and big bat, plan B was the marlins deal.
— Arthrell24 (@Arthrell24) February 12, 2013
@andrewstoeten plan A fell through when big name pitcher resigned with his own club.any idea who that would be?
— Arthrell24 (@Arthrell24) February 12, 2013
I’ve actually spoken to a player agent (no, really!) who said he figured that was essentially the Jays’ plan before the Miami deal came around, too– though I have no idea if that was entirely his speculation or if there was a kernel of inside information in what he was saying.
Regardless, to think about what could– or, in this winter’s case, may not– have been is already rather warped. Weirdly, while it may not have entirely sunk in for us yet that we’ll be watching R.A. goddamn Dickey work his magic every fifth day, it feels to me like we’ve already been so over the moon with the Jays for so long that contemplating these other possibilities kinda makes the brain hurt– especially when we start thinking of what may have been the real alternatives.
Which isn’t to say that I think anybody ought to believe the suggestions being made in the tweets above, or that the information made it from “Beeston’s” mouth to our screens without some twists along the way. I mean, it’s a bit silly to think that the Jays could have had such tunnel vision, locking their sights in so tightly on one specific pitcher. Yet it makes a little bit of sense when you think about the timeline, which, as far as I can see, points directly at the White Sox’ Jake Peavy.
A quick look at the excellent Transaction Tracker at MLB Trade Rumors, shows that between the extension Cole Hamels inked with the Phillies in July, and New Year’s Day, there were really only two “name” pitchers to either extend with their current club, or hit the open market only to return: Jake Peavy and Anibal Sanchez.
If you really want to pretend Hiroki Kuroda was going anywhere else, or that Jeremy Guthrie is a “big name” guy, I suppose you could include them as well, but in those cases the point is actually moot, as neither they nor Sanchez quite fit the timeline– all three didn’t re-sign until after the Jays had completed their big move. Peavy, on the other hand, signed a contract extension that was announced officially more than two weeks prior, on October 30th, after it seemed certain for much of the month that he’d hit the open market, with rumours suggesting the White Sox would buy out, rather than exercise his $22-million contract option for 2013.
True, the deal was signed a week before talks between the Jays and Marlins got hot and heavy at the GM Meetings, but we know, thanks to Bob Elliott’s excellent Toronto Sun piece on the anatomy of The Trade, that the framework for the start of the Jays-Marlins blockbuster was by then already in place, with the Jays having refused to part with Adeiny Hechavarria and Justin Nicolino for Josh Johnson at the trade deadline. Elliott also tells us that it was about a week before the Peavy extension that the Marlins higher ups got together and made the decision to blow up the team and start restocking the farm system, with their eyes on the Jays’ surplus.
We also know that last month Alex Anthopoulos acknowledged to reporters that some kind of “mega-deal”– one that would have added similarly astronomical amounts to the club’s payroll– had been nixed shortly prior to Marlins blockbuster. “Beeston’s” comments seem to acknowledge the same event, adding the important clue about the pitcher re-signing instead, which would seem to put Peavy squarely in the timeline. His $22-million option would have also gone a long way to adding to the payroll in the way the nixed deal supposedly did. And, in fact, back in the fall we’d even speculated around here on the possibility of the Jays trading for a pitcher like Peavy, or Dan Haren, whose option was likely too rich for his current club, but palatable enough to a Jays organization desperate for both pitching and some big ticket player to actually take their money.
Of course, “Beeston” supposedly said that the aim was to sign this mystery pitcher, so maybe he wasn’t necessarily talking about the same thing. Plus, Elliott’s timeline suggests that the framework for the deal with the Marlins wasn’t close to firmly in place until the teams met at the GM Meetings. So to believe the tweeted information we’d either have to quibble with his reportage, or believe that the “Plan B” wasn’t so much The Trade, fully formed, but maybe another run at Johnson– whose price was already known to Anthopoulos– which evolved from there.
Actually… I can buy that.
And how’s this for one more twist: just four days before the re-signing of what we thought was a market-bound Peavy, the White Sox officially promoted former GM Kenny Williams up to the office of executive VP, and made Rick Hahn their full-on GM.
Is it possible that the White Sox’ changing of the guard was the odd catalyst for the Jays’ spectacular off-season? Did Hahn take the reins and nix a Peavy “megadeal,” or pull his pitcher back from the brink of free agency, which forced Alex Anthopoulos to return to the Miami Marlins to explore building around a proposed deal for Josh Johnson that had come about back in July?
I dunno. Maybe?
If so, though… uh… thanks, White Sox!