There was mostly a whole lot of nothing to digest from last night’s radio action featuring Alex Anthopoulos, which is pretty much exactly what we’ve come to expect from a GM who somehow manages to be both tight-lipped and overly loquacious. There are always at least a couple of nuggets to be mined from his comments, though, and while I tried to unpack them as best I could in the course of transcribing what he said, I think there are some worth a second thought…
Deals With Teams Waiting On Free Agents?
Perhaps most interestingly, we have Alex’s statement about having deals setup that are contingent on whether the other team is able to land a free agent. Specifically, this:
I was just having a conversation with a team last night; they have some interest in our players, but they basically said the interest is predicated on whether they lose out on some free agents, and those free agents are going to take a little bit of time.
As I noted in the original post, during his hit on TSN Radio, he made it even more like discussions are quite far along– as though he could act on such deals just as soon as the dominoes fall.
So… um… what are the dominoes?
Because we know what the market looks like, the information Anthopoulos provided here may actually give us a clue– and therefore might also tell us about who he’s looking to move to someone who missed out on a big free agent get.
There are still a couple of big money catchers on the market, though I doubt J.P. Arencibia is even good enough to be anybody’s booby prize.
Centre fielders Jacoby Ellsbury and (if you really want to consider them as CF options) both Shin-Soo Choo and Curtis Granderson are still out there, and Colby Rasmus would certainly be a nice consolation for someone who didn’t land any of those players. The thing about that is, though, with just one year left before free agency, it’s not really the ideal time to deal Rasmus. You’ll get less for him now than if he were two years out, and you also need to consider that you may be giving up on a draft pick in the process– that is, if he manages to have a good enough season to warrant a qualifying offer (should you fail to extend him).
That’s a big if, and I could be wrong that the Jays may even be thinking about it, but it just seems like it would be tough to build fair value into a deal for him to offset what he could very realistically (though not certainly) net the club, both on the field next season, and off it in the 2015 draft.
I suspect, then, that the contingency may actually be for relievers.
At ESPN.com (Insider only), Dan Szymborski wrote yesterday about why he thinks the Braves should trade their relief ace, Craig Kimbrel. The piece touches on some of the same reasons why dealing a reliever (albeit one who isn’t nearly as ridiculously good as Kimbrel) would make total sense for the Jays. ”In a world in which the Phillies are willing to offer Edward Mujica a three-year deal, and a 39-year-old Joe Nathan is likely to clear $10 million, three years of Kimbrel at arbitration prices is worth a lot to a big-spending team,” he explains.
True, Casey Janssen may not have the value that we’d hope because, like Rasmus, he’s just a year away from free agency, and while they’re all very good, Brett Cecil, Steve Delabar and Sergio Santos aren’t anywhere close to Kimbrel, but the idea is pretty much the same. Hey, maybe Anthopoulos wasn’t so dumb by not offloading his bullpen pieces for nothing at the trade deadline!
As Szymborski also explains, a reliever isn’t going to be the centrepiece to some kind of a massive deal, but it’s not like the Jays need massive upgrades at second base or behind the plate. Just good ol’ average will do fine, thanks. Speaking of which!
Could J.P. Arencibia Really Be Coming Back? Like… Really???
The second of the GM’s comments that I think warrants expanding on was the stuff having to do with J.P. Arencibia. Obviously many fans are terrified that he’ll will be back, especially since Anthopoulos– quite rightly, it’s easy to forget– explained that he thinks there’s a pretty clear possibility that he’s capable of more than he showed this season.
It’s not unfair for the GM to still have some kind of belief in his catcher– Arencibia showed through his first two seasons, and all through the minors, that he can be a much better hitter than what we saw in 2013. Good enough? I don’t know. Probably not, given his defensive shortcomings (which Anthopoulos defended, somewhat tepidly, by noting that Mark Buehrle– who had a Mark Buehrle-ish year– was really the only pitcher throwing regularly to Arencibia), but… given what the market currently looks like, if Arencibia were on another team that was looking to move him, wouldn’t we maybe be seeing the previous two years, the power, and the durability, and thinking he might be a guy worth taking a flyer on?
He’s not nothing, I guess is what I’m saying, and I don’t think Anthopoulos is wrong in pointing that out. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t still think that the situation with him is entirely untenable– and that the GM essentially admitted as much by saying that he hasn’t at all considered of making him a backup, even though it became overwhelmingly apparent over the course of this season that Arencibia was too exposed in the full-time role he was given, and needs to have his playing time scaled back.
I think he’s gone. Not just for that reason, though.
Last night in a comment on the original post, after it was pointed out to me that I was similarly certain that Adam Lind couldn’t be brought back either– especially following 2011– here’s how I explained it:
Completely different scenario for the team, though. They’re not in “let’s see what we’ve got” or “let’s see if we can turn this guy into a real asset” mode, they’re in “improve or lose my job” mode. I’ve been wrong lots of times, but I’m not worried for a second that Arencibia will actually be back next year. Just the risk of getting fucking skewered all summer about it alone is enough to make it untenable– AA’s on thin enough ice as it is to put that kind of a target on his back if he endorses JP and he comes back and sucks shit again.
I also think that the end-of-season comments about defensive improvement, though mostly focused on the infield, are telling– as are the one today where he basically conceded (by clarifying that he was only speaking about offence) that Arencibia is what he is defensively. He knows that isn’t good enough.
Yes, it’s just my opinion, but I’m not worried. I mean, seriously, can you imagine the shit Anthopoulos would take if he actually staked a significant part of his off-season on bringing Arencibia back? I know there’s the old saying that, as a GM, if you think like the fans you’re going to end up sitting with them, but nobody would give him the slightest hint of grief if he made the switch and it blew up in his face. Nobody even half serious could, after a decent Arencibia season somewhere else, throw “I told you so” in Alex’s face. It’s just too easy right now to move him, and too hard not to.
I mean… fuck. Getting rid of the offence-first catcher who just put up one of the absolute worst full-time OBP seasons in the goddamn bloody history of the sport? Bad as it is, you can’t convince me that the catching market is so bad that this isn’t a complete no-brainer. I’m sorry, you just can’t. You just can’t!