Alex Anthopoulos joined guest host Elliotte Friedman and Michael Grange this evening on Prime Time Sports and– hold onto your hats– there’s a small move coming! But… uh… it’s probably not one that’s going to blow your effing hat off, so actually, maybe you should stop looking like a damn dickhead and let go of the thing.
To wit, here’s what the GM said right near the end of the conversation, which can be found– at least in part– at Fan590.com.
We’re working on a small deal right now– maybe we’ll have it announced tonight. Small, though. I’m not trying get buzz going that this is going to move the needle or be breaking news, so it might go tomorrow, but we’re hopeful can get it done tonight. For the most part– like the three-way deal, we were aware of that last week. I think we’ve been active, in terms of dialogue and been aware of what’s going on. We’ve been close on some things– we’re definitely having dialogue, but I don’t know that we’re close to anything significant.
It’s like Christmas! Y’know… shitty Christmas.
I mean, do I really have to devote every waking moment for the next several hours to watching Twitter for the news to break? Because I was thinking real hard about getting drunk. So… you may be left to your own devices here. Don’t say you weren’t warned.
Otherwise, there was a treasure trove (note: not literally) of comments coming our way from Anthopoulos this evening, including some fully expected stuff on J.P Arencibia and Dionner “good friends with Joey Votto” Navarro (much of which I’m not going to bother typing out), some illuminating stuff about how Doug Fister slipped through his– and much of the league’s– fingers, and this little tidbit about a suddenly-healthy (fingers crossed!) Brandon Morrow:
He’s thrown two bullpens and a simulated game, and he’s thrown everything– fastballs, sliders, curveballs– and not at 60% or 80%, it’s at 100%, full go, and he’s not feeling a thing– he feeling great. I think when we look back at the issues he had, he never really had an extended period of rest– it would be three or four days off, then keep playing catch– and he never could allow his arm to heal and his arm to rest. I think he just needed that extended period of rest. And not that he’s thrown ten innings in a game, but multiple bullpens, sim games, things like that– going max effort, because he wanted to really have a good feeling about going into the off-season. He didn’t anything back in every pitch and everything else. So he should be 100% full go for Spring Training.
I want to believe– I really, really do!
Meanwhile, on his new catcher, he conceded basically everything that is in plain view about Navarro, while trying to put the most optimistic shine on him possible. “We think he’s turned the corner swinging the bat as well– we think we might have found something here. But there’s certainly some risk, too,” he explained.
The risky business– particularly concerning his durability and his lack of full-time work over the last several years– is clearly part of the whole enterprise. “That was absolutely a long part of the dialogue and a big part of the risk that we were going to take on,” he said, “and I think the price point– the salary is reflected in that.” Meaning, he explained, just one year of a less risky full-time catcher like A.J. Pierzynski went for the same money Navarro took for two, while it took a three year commitment (at $7-million in average annual value) for the Marlins to land Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the bargain bin tonight.
There’s good news for Josh Thole, too, as it sounds like he’ll receive a bit more playing time, given that Anthopoulos explained that “we don’t think it’s that big of a stretch for Navarro to catch 100 games, or maybe beyond that.”
But the decision to move away from Arencibia was, obviously, a sound one. Skipping past all the stuff about what a great guy JPA is– which I honestly don’t doubt– he told us a little bit about the process, and the point at which he knew that he needed to find someone else to fill the position.
You always try to wait until the end of the season, so you can take a giant step back. It’s so easy to get emotional in-season when things happen. I remember when we outrighted Encarnacion in 2010 when Cito was still here, and we had talked about it, but he made another throwing error at third base, and I’m up in the box and it’s just like, ‘I can’t watch this anymore,’ and you just react. And it’s like, ‘It’s time, we’re sending him down tonight.’ I went down and I talked to Cito and we did it. And you can overreact in-season, and at any point in time a decision is going to get made and [even] turn around. Encarnacion coming back– and I’m not trying to harp on him, but, I remember he had a nice September the one year for us, and he hit some home runs– I think he hit two or three home runs against the Twins– and he really had a strong end to the season, and that factored into him coming back. Even a guy like Lind had a monster September for us– seven home runs, really swung the bat well– that certainly factored into the decision to bring him back. It is a six month year, and I know we like make decisions after four or five months, but that sixth month still is a part of the evaluation process. So, we waited until the off-season, we canvassed all the clubs in trade, we found out every price on all the free agents, looked at all the files from a medical standpoint, and when we added it all up, Navarro– at what we felt Arencibia would make over the next two years; Navarro’s probably going to make the same thing– we felt it was just the right fit for the team.
He also addressed some o the process stuff when he was asked by Friedman whether he would make Aaron Sanchez an untouchable commodity when someone asked about him in trade:
No. I’ve actually been asked about him a lot– the same with Stroman and Sean Nolin and guys like that. I don’t want to cut off trade dialogue right out of the chute, so when teams ask about him I say, ‘Look, obviously we value him highly, and we like him quite a bit, but in the right context we’d be open-minded,’ and I say that about every single player on the team. Sometimes I’m reluctant when I ask for someone’s star player, I basically qualify it, I say, ‘Look, I understand you don’t want to move this guy, I understand the price would be steep, but is there any way there you would talk about him, and I would pay,’ and so on. You don’t want to insult anybody, and things like that, and I try to encourage everybody to have that dialogue with us, so, even nine times out of ten it’s not going to go anywhere, just by having conversation and having dialogue, you don’t know where discussions might lead.
Most interestingly, though, Anthopoulos told us about some of what led to the Tigers making last night’s puzzling trade with the Nationals– and certainly didn’t do much to dispel the perception that Detroit was a) narrow in their demands, and b) quiet about much of the process.
We definitely contacted Detroit earlier in the off-season, knowing that they had depth in starters, and mentioned to them that we would have interest if they saw fit, and at the time it just sounded like they had better fits with other clubs– so it wasn’t even a matter of having a deal to say no to, it was just one of those things that, again, some clubs line up a little bit better with other clubs. And, again, Dave Dombrowski has been doing this job longer than probably all of us combined, and has had great success doing it, and I think they felt like– I can’t to speak for him, but I don’t know that we had the right mix of players for them relative to what they were able to get.
. . .
Some GMs do that– they do come back [when they've got a more favourable offer on a player]– they’ll tell you that right out of the chute, that look, ‘we’re going to be moving player X, and we’ll make this an auction and we’ll go back to everybody, and we’re going to take the best deal.’ Some will work a little bit more quietly. I know that when we made the Sergio Santos deal with the White Sox, people said they were surprised that he got moved and that he was available, and we just quietly worked on it. So, there’s times that you don’t want it out there that you’re talking about a player and you try to keep things quiet.
With respect to Detroit, I definitely reached out to them. One, you always reach out to every team in the off-season to see where you might line up, in a sense, but we knew– they were very candid to say that they were going to look see if they could move one of their starters. They weren’t necessarily committed to who would be moved, but one of them was probably going to be moved and Smyly was going to go into the rotation, so, it was one of those things that– Dave’s great to deal with, he’s very candid and up front– he just said, ‘We looked at all of the organizations, and we’re looking for certain players, and we don’t know that we line up in trade with you guys.’
So it was one of those things where we didn’t necessarily line up in trade– we didn’t have a fit– and I remember having to tell some clubs the same thing with Roy Halladay. I got calls from all the clubs, and there was a bunch where we just said, ‘You have good players, but you probably don’t fit exactly what we’re going to look to get.’ We we’re looking for a certain player, a certain type of control, all those type of things. With Detroit, I’m sure they got a lot of phone calls, but for us, I just don’t think we had the right mix of players.
. . .
I asked him, ‘Anybody that fits?’ He was looking for very specific things. He said, look, for a deal like this, and what he was going to look to do, we didn’t necessarily have the right fit.
Damn it, Dombrowski! Holy piss, Fister would have been a tremendous, tremendous fit here for that price. Anywhere, really.
So would have Mat Latos or Gio Gonzalez– one of whom I’m pretty sure Anthopoulos is talking about here (assuming he’s got the timing wrong, that is) as he continued on about the process of lining up on deals:
I was just actually talking to someone earlier– I remember being in on a young starter three years ago, and it was going to be a prospect type deal, but the team trading him told me that they wanted– and their ownership wanted– that they wanted players that were pretty much going to go onto the big league roster right away, or by mid-season were going to go onto the big league roster. So the talent that we were offering was down low in A-ball, but probably higher ceiling, maybe more long term value– and the team even acknowledged that for me. But there was a dynamic there, from an ownership perspective, that the other team had the better fit, maybe not the better players long-term, but the better fit because they were able to put some guys on the 25-man. Those are some of the things that don’t necessarily get out to the media, or don’t get out to the fans, but there are other dynamics when you’re dealing with some of these things.
OK, fair enough. And what about the stuff that does get out into the media? Like, say, about a certain GM’s infatuation with a certain oft-injured Oakland A’s pitcher?
I saw that too. It was kind of funny, I was in a conversation with someone– I actually joked about it– that I guess we were in love and no one told us anything about it. I guess all I can say is that I just don’t know how another Major League executive would know who we’re after or really want, because I definitely don’t get into the habit of talking to other GMs and saying, ‘Look, by the way, just so you know, this other club, they have this player, we love this guy. We’re dying to get this guy– have to have him. Spread the word! Get it out there.’
Sometimes, I’ve seen it before, when players are getting moved there is gamesmanship and things that go on, and we get lumped in with players and so on, but it just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for us to go advertise something like that if we really did like a player.
Oh well, you’re no fucking fun at all, are you? I’ll take it all back, though, Alex, if you just hold off on that deal until tomorrow morning so I can sober up– whaddaya say???
No? You’re going to ruin my night? Well… fine. At least it won’t be as bad as those people who paid all kinds of money to witness the bloodbath that’s going down at the Air Canada Centre, right?
So… there’s that.