It’s not that Alex Anthopoulos was expected to be making big moves, but the Blue Jays were supposed to make at least some sort of noise at the Winter Meetings this week in Nashville. The team has greatly improved already and has done so mostly through trade, so it seemed like another major league transaction was out of their cards. They were possible in on a R.A. Dickey trade or were supposed to trade J.P. Arrencibia to a team that needs a catcher like the Rangers or the Mets, but for the most part the Blue Jays stayed put apart from signing Eli Whiteside and some minor league deals. They didn’t even sign any players in the Rule 5 Draft, however they were lucky in retaining all of their players. Nothing really happened for the Toronto Blue Jays.
Except the other AL East teams took steps to playing catch up.
The Yankees mostly stayed put as well, but had spent most of their time in the two weeks leading up to the Winter Meetings signing free agents Andy Pettitte, Hiroki Kuroda and Mariano Rivera to one year, $10M+ contracts and may acquire an outfielder soon. The Orioles acquired T.J. McFarland through the Rule 5 Draft, signed some minor league free agents, re-signed Nate McLouth and might be in on a free agent power bat that is still available on the free market. The Rays signed James Loney and traded for ex-Blue Jays Yunel Escobar as well as making some smaller organizational transactions. The Red Sox, however, had the biggest Winter Meetings of the division, going out for twin 3 year/$39M contracts for Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino, in addition to making smaller contract moves and earlier signing would-have-been-great-to-platoon-with-Adam-Lind Jonny Gomes.
This is what happens when a team goes out and makes a big splash on the hot stove early in the off season, like the Blue Jays did; other teams get to access the situation and react accordingly. However, unlike the teams who mostly made free agent transactions to acquire their players, the Blue Jays were competing against one other entity, the Miami Marlins. Alex Anthopoulos’ goal was to acquire major league ready talent in exchange for affordable players and minor league prospects, while the contracts of the players involved were set in ink. The Red Sox signed two aging players to multi year contracts worth an AAV of $13M because they had to beat out multiple other teams so they could play for them over time. The Yankees signed their very old players to one year contracts worth $10M+ because they are trying to stay under a certain luxury tax threshold, therefore cannot to go after big name free agents.
The Blue Jays benefited mostly due to fortunate timing. The other AL East teams in the Yankees, Red Sox, Rays and Orioles did not make similar grand off season moves, but have all made the post season in the last four years. If things stay relatively stagnant in the division until pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training, on paper (and I can’t stress enough “on paper”) the Blue Jays have the first real shot to make the post season in a long time. It’s an odd thing to say as a Jays fan, but here’s to things staying the way they are!