Steve Buffery of the Toronto Sun is in Orlando at the GM Meetings, and relays a conversation with Alex Anthopoulos wherein it would appear as though the Jays GM thinks he can address his starting pitching needs on the free agent market.

Writing about Anthpoulos coming to the meetings with “an open cheque book,” and confirming the GM’s previous comments that payroll will indeed rise from the $119-million and change it was at this year, Buffery also provides us with this quote from the man himself:

“Ask me tomorrow and I may change my mind. Last week I would have said via a trade. But today, based on conversations I’ve had, there’s an opportunity to do it via free agency. I really think it’s a coin flip at this point. Both options are in play and we’re definitely exploring both. We’re talking to free agents and we’re talking to teams.”

I’ve long been harping on the notion that it would be somewhat great to see the club keep what remains of its prospect pipeline as intact as possible this winter, but that, of course, hinges on what the price for one of these free agents might be. I reserve the right to take it all back if a deal looks shitty! Which… it inevitably will, I think, just because it’s free agency and it’s a starting pitcher. But maybe not!

As we discussed earlier today, the Jays are in a good position regarding players who will be declining their qualifying offers, because of the fact that the club’s two first round draft picks are protected against being revoked as part of the free agency compensation process. I know Anthopoulos likes to be aggressive, and personally, I’d love to see him get one of those guys early on in free agency, so that later– after already having bitten the draft-pick-losing bullet– he can maybe look into swooping in on any guys whose market may be cratering, knowing that he’d only be giving up a third-round pick to do so.

I keep trying to tell myself it’s all wishful thinking, but the Jays– and Rogers, in particular– might as well be in for a pound, given how in for a penny they put themselves last year (if, you know, you don’t mind my mangling of the idiom). It just makes damn sense.

One interesting alternative was discussed by myself and a few others on Twitter today, though, which is Rick Porcello, who Jon Heyman of CBS Sports says could be made available by the bullpen-deficient Tigers (as, supposedly, could Max Scherzer, but let’s not go nuts).

Of course, the market for relievers is pretty flush, so it’s not like the Tigers are over a barrel, and surely more than even the Jays’ top relief piece (that is: Steve Delabar, who has many more years of cheap control than a Casey Janssen or even Sergio Santos) would be necessary to get a deal done, but… I think it could be worth exploring, despite some initial consternation that I had. (Was I looking at ERA and forgetting about the shit defence behind Porcello? Probably. Guy has been a 3-win pitcher for three straight years, is durable, generates ground balls… would be a nice fit, actually).

On very pricey alternative that Buffery also notes is Masahiro Tanaka, who he tells us was scouted in Japan by Andrew Tinnish and Dan Evans this year. I’d be more convinced of the Jays’ interest if Anthopoulos himself had made the trip, though, which he did back when Yu Darvish was about to be posted in 2011. Even having made the trip, AA came away (somehow) not liking what he saw enough to make the kind of bid needed to beat the Rangers– or so he said.

Buffery also notes that the GM is high on the health of Brandon Morrow, while Shi Davidi has also just published a report at Sportsnet that quotes Anthopoulos as saying that Melky Cabrera is looking much, much better as well.

“He looks great rehabbing, he should be fully recovered and doing extremely well,” GM Alex Anthopoulos said during a recent interview. “We expected that but he still has to go through the process. Right now he’s doing incredibly well and we expect him to be significantly better because we found the root of what some of the problems were ailing his legs.

“We expect him to come into spring training ready to go and have a great year for us.”

Easy stuff to say when you’re trying to convince teams and agents that you don’t need their commodity as desperately as you maybe really do, but that’s still good to hear– as is the fact that, according to Davidi’s piece, Moises Sierra has been taking ground balls at first base in the Dominican Winter League, with the thought being that he might be able to platoon with Adam Lind there. Or, at the very least, he’s trying to become as versatile as possible, as he’s out of options and could wind up lost for nothing if he can’t break camp with the club.

So… there’s that.

Comments (76)

  1. toronto sun comments are the worst

    • I had to stop myself from actually responding. Settled on just voting that one guy’s horseshit down. THAT’LL LEARN HIM!

    • “You have read 1 of 20 complimentary Sun articles”

    • Some of the comments they wrote about John Farrell during and after the World Series were priceless.

      “the difference is boston has a good manager! not like the bum we have who just sits on his ass in the dugout. Ferrell (sic) actually motivates! fire gibby fire aa hire a real gm and manager!”

  2. If Sierra were to platoon with Lind, couldn’t they simply start EE at 1B and DH Sierra?

    • If Lind is at 1B and they need Sierra to pinch hit, it would be easier to do it straight up than by moving Edwin to first and losing the DH spot, or putting whoever else at first.

  3. This article feels like it was planted

  4. Reyes/Choo/Bautista/Canoe/Encarnacion/McCann/healthy melky/Rasmus/Lawrie

    1. Sherzer
    2. Ubaldo
    4 Morrow
    5. Buehrle

    Make it happen!

  5. “Buffery also notes that the GM is high on the health of Brandon Morrow”

    Knowing Morrow’s history and reading AA’s quote there are two ways to interpret this sentence. Relying on Morrow for anything more than 150 innings would be a mistake.

  6. Open cheque book, eh?

  7. Sounds like he has some irons in the fire with regards to free agency. I’d take a stab at Ubaldo if you can keep the price tag around or under $50mill. Not liking the velo drop and not believing the second half dominance given his opponents (same could be said for fellow FA Scott Kazmir), but he’s still missing bats and he’s been relatively healthy over his career. If Porcello can truly be had for bullpen pieces, they should be all over that as well.

    On the other hand, does anyone look at the Reds as just too good a fit as a trade partner to pass up for the jays? they have Hanigan, Phillips and Bailey all available. AA could fill all his needs in one go, and with the unperformance and giant contract of Phillips, the crappy year at the plate from Hanigan, and the single year of control for Bailey, how much could the budget-conscious Reds possibly demand?

    • Probably more than you’d want to pay for the declining performance and huge contract of Phillips, another crappy year at the plate from Hanigan, and one year of control for Bailey.

  8. Also I do like Sierra as a Lind platoon partner, although I had thought that role was already filled by derosa. Not much point in two RH platoon bats who play abysmal defense at all their positions.

  9. I’m warming up to Porcello, I love the the ground ball rate, hurt him in Dirtyroit with their ball park and infield but should be an advantage in Toronto.

    • Porcello is fine as long as theyre not relying on him to be the high end guy they need. If hes the 5th starter, you could do a lot worse.

    • Why would he fare better in Toronto? Ground balls move much faster on turf then grass and we have a worse fielding shortstop.

      Lawrie is miles better then Miggy but I’m sure you can throw that away in what Reyes league average defense (at best) gives up.

      I don’t mind Porcello but that reasoning doesn’t make sense to me.

      • There are more than two players on the infield, though.

        • So then you buy that playing in Detroit hindered him and playing on turf would help him.

          Please explain.

          • I didn’t say playing on turf would help him. I didn’t even say playing with a better defence behind him would help him– though it would, and I think his ERA constantly underperforming his FIP suggests that.

            However, I was merely pointing out that you were only speaking about one half of the infield defence.

  10. The problem with Porcello is if all he cost was a reliever or two plus a mid-tier prospect, there are a ton of teams who would be all over him.

  11. love the idea of Sierra platooning with Lind.

  12. But which starting pitcher on the market is worth it? The only one that interests me is garza. Proven track record of success in the AL East, throws hard, but has health issues. Tanaka is a crapshoot, unproven, not as talented as darvish (doesnt miss bats) and will likely be crazily paid. Ubaldo walks a ton of batters and has had a severe velo drop. Its got to be garza or nobody. AA is fooling himself if he thinks jimenez is the answer to the rotation woes. The rest are bronson arroyo type shitballers pretty much.

    • They all have flaws, yes, but this is pretty silly.

      • Ok, just curious, how would you rank the free agent starters? Who would be your top choice? For me, its garza and then a huge dropoff. Ubaldo is not a high end starter anymore. Garza is the only starter with high end capability when healthy.

        • Simply not true. Josh Johnson, for one. People like Tanaka. Ubaldo– though I don’t think his fastball is coming back– has been much better at his high end than Garza ever. Or, replace “better” with “more valuable.”

          Ubaldo was better than Garza this year, and in 2008-10 as well. He’s also been far more durable over the last two seasons (63 to 42).

          I could be convinced to take Garza, if push came to shove, but it is certainly not a slam dunk, and certainly not a huge drop-off after him.

          Keith Law had Tanaka, Ubaldo, Santana, Nolasco and Burnett all ranked ahead of Garza, FYI.

        • They should sign Garza, trade Gose and whatever else it takes to score Price, but only if Price agrees to an extension, and then sign Shields next year so the 3 Musketeers can be reunited.

          They should also sign Doc, who is not done, for his leadership and workhorse mentality.

          Giddy up Doc…

          • Holy shit Gose AND whatever else it takes? Don’t you think that’s getting a little steep?

  13. Given my druthers, I’d rather NOT have AA scythe through the Jays’ prospect pipeline for a second straight year.
    Give me one more starting pitcher who might be able to put together a season that DOESN’T include the phrase “season-ending injury”, and a catcher who could hit a beach ball pitched to him by a 5 year-old girl – and I’d take my chances with the rest of the 2013 roster.

  14. Sign them. Sign them ALL.

  15. Chooch on a two year
    Or mccan for five years?

  16. You wanna know what I think?

  17. Really hoping Melky can return to form, having him back at his best will be like signing a FA. I’m going to miss Rajai a bit, 40-50 steal guys don’t grow on trees, and we are short on depth now. But i guess guys like Gose and Sierra will break with the team.

    Also, I believe I’ve heard the Jays say payroll will rise to the 140-150mil mark, so I’m going to hope on one bigish FA. I rather we take a flier or two on cheap pitching.

  18. About a year ago we -Jays fans- and everyone else thought the team was going to be great.

    Why has that changed? Sure, Josh Johnson flamed out, and Emilio somehow found a way to make Brett Saberhagen a footnote in “Royals besting the Jays” lore.

    Let’s assume the team should be pretty good. Just as we did last winter.

    The offense should be very strong 1-7
    Cabrera (injuries healed?)
    Bautista (one more year to heal the wrist)
    Lind (and his lefty mashing friend)
    Lawrie (24 and ready to mature)
    Rasmus (that’s a lot of production from a plus defender batting 7th.

    How strong do the bats of 8 and 9 really need to be?

    We’ve had a year to learn about defensive holes at 2b and catcher. This can be fixed with cheap defense first free agents and in house options. As well as a bench coach willing to play a shift or two.

    Improved team defense offered by these changes, along with full seasons of Lawrie at third, Reyes with good ankle and a revitalized Melky as a guy who recently played some CF, should help to improve the starters’ luck.

    Let’s not sell the farm for a serviceable starter, let’s promote it. Stroman was polished coming out of college, and he’s had two more years. Hutchison proved he could pitch as a 21 year old. I want to see what he can do with a couple years more maturity and some weighted balls. Maybe Drabek finally figures it out.

    It worked for the Cards with Wacha, and A’s with Gray. Hey even the ’92 Jays got some contributions from new guys like Timlin and Hentgen. If nothing else, they proved to be primed for the ’93 season.

    As for the free agent pitchers, they all seem to have health or performance warts. So why not trust the youngsters and take a gamble on Roy Halladay. If we throw a life preserver his way he might entertain the idea of returning to his former stomping ground. After two seasons in which his stuff disappeared and his performances ranged from bad to super crappy, perhaps he’ll spend the offseason trying to reinvent himself as a smoke and mirrors guy. He’s gone the reinvention route before. He didn’t pitch much last year, so perhaps the break might revive him a bit anyway. If nothing else, maybe he can rub off on the youngsters.

    We thought AA’s moves were brilliant last winter, let’s trust our instincts.

    • You had me until Halladay. Well… sort of. They should still get a pitcher, entirely. And I don’t mean one for batting practice. But I think leaving a fifth spot to be competed for by all the depth pieces is a good one. They’re going to need more than six starters, like every team (except the Reds, apparently) always does, so I don’t think they should leave themselves too exposed, but… yeah. It’s not as bad as the people who can only look at the W-L record want to believe.

      Guzman and, to a lesser extent, Leiter were young pitching contributors on those teams too.

  19. I am encouraged that AA is willing to sign some free agents. He acknowledged he may not be able to get the holes filled solely through trades.

    Perhaps, Rogers reaizes that they have to keep spending to contend?

    @Stoeten, shouldn’t the Score send you Orlando to keep an eye what’s going on at the meetings?

    • I wouldn’t want to go if they tried. Can cover things way, way better from here– at least the way I do it. Nobody’s running to me with a scoop. I’d just be doing what I’m doing here, but in a hotel room or something. Sounds like the Winter Meetings has some networking and meeting other writers that could be valuable (though I still wouldn’t be interested), but not the GM meetings, I don’t think.

      • @ Stoeten,

        Thanks for the reply. I wouldn’t turn down a trip to Orlando with this dreary weather here.

        I appreciate all the extra content this week.

        • GM meetings are a bore and no big trades come out of the meetings. GM meetings are more about rule changes etc, not trades.

  20. Loving the content this week…my 2013 season ending flaccid cock slowly grows bigger each day. Obviously the ultimate dream is Cano, but getting a couple of half stud SP to go with our rotation would be equally as fun. Ubaldo would make me happy, and Porcello is way underrated.

    • If the Jays do not make Cano some kind of offer, any offer, then you know the Jays are not in win now mode.

      Ubaldo is not a good pitcher and would get eatin alive in the ALE. He’s only had a few good years in weak divisions. Porcello is a future Ace and I’d love the Jays to get him but he’s a FA in 2 years so no point going after him unless he’s damn near free, and he’s not.

      What needs to happen is a big blockbuster trade with the Brewers. Lucroy, Braun, or Aoki and Yovani Gallardo. What the Jays give up in return could vary.

      Or the Jays need to make a trade with Houston for Jose Altuve and Jason Castro in exchange for parts and lots of cash. Houston needs cash.

  21. I think we’ll see some salary being moved off the big league roster to help add some flexibility with payroll with guys like Jansen (4.0M), Santos (3.7M), Lind (7.0M) and then less likely because they’d have to probably throw in cash but maybe even guys like Buehrle (19.0M) Izturis (3.0M) Rasmus (7 ish ) and Arencibia who most likely won’t be back or be paid 2.8M by the Jays. Moving some combination of guys there, I think you’ll see another 7-15M freed up on top of the extra 16-20M added by the Jays. So potentially adding on the high end of that 35ish million to payroll you could definitely fill the 3 biggest holes on the roster with at least one high end starter, a league average second baseman and catcher.

    • Throw J.A. Happ in there at 5.2M as a likely candidate to be moved for some added payroll flexibility.

    • Had me until Buehrle and Rasmus. Do not agree there– certainly not moving those guys just to free salary– but the others, sure, could happen.

      • I don’t think you’d see Buehrle or Rasmus traded as a salary dump (or to be honest anyone being traded purely as a salary dump), it would definitely have to be for something significant coming back for those two but just trying to make the point that the outgoing salary would help mitigate salary coming in. Targeting mid-tier free agents like Ellis, Ruiz or A.J., and a pitcher like Ubaldo whose value one hopes to be depressed by throwing a draft pick around his neck might seem more realistic with some shuffling of the deck.

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