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.