As we sit back and prepare for the flurry of moves (stifled laugh) from the Toronto Blue Jays at the Winter Meetings next week, the news this weekend, at least for Toronto, is trickling in relatively slowly. Perhaps that is a bit uncomfortable for fans that were spoiled last winter, but that is the truth of this winter’s moves to date.
However, when the generally secretive Alex Anthopoulos makes a comment that appears a bit more candid that usual, one has to wonder a bit. The particular comment in question came in an interview Wednesday and documented in Gregor Chisholm’s weekly notebook on Thursday.
“We’re always looking to add. Anyone wants to add a frontline starter each year. We just want to improve the rotation. Clearly the results were what they were last year. Part of that improvement will come internally
There are two notes that are concern to me as a fan, as they should be for you as well.
Firstly, Anthopoulos acknowledges the desire to improve the rotation, but not necessarily by adding a front line starter. That’s a bit concerning because the middle-tiered pitchers that could have helped the Blue Jays and were seen (prior to signing) as relatively reasonably priced, like Scott Kazmir, Ricky Nolasco, and Scott Feldman, have all signed already. Bronson Arroyo, Paul Maholm,and Bartolo Colon still fit that mold, but that market seems to be pretty tapped out.
That just leaves the top-tiered free agent pitchers like Ubaldo Jimenez, Matt Garza, and Ervin Santana as available targets. However, as Anthopoulos’ comments seem to indicate, he’s prepared to not enter that arena, which will become decidedly more difficult should Masahiro Tanaka not get posted and with the Yankees now saving the millions from letting Robinson Cano go.
That leads us to the second part of that comment, “part of that improvement will come internally.” That’s an interesting note to add on there, as it would seem to indicate that Toronto is willing to take its chances with hoping for bounce-back campaigns from J.A. Happ and Brandon Morrow, as well as contributions from Sean Nolin, Marcus Stroman, Kyle Drabek, and Drew Hutchison. That’s not going to please many fans, who are hoping for a splash this winter while Stroman, Nolan, et al get more work in Buffalo to start the season.
There will be some clambering for a big trade, for the oft-mentioned Jeff Samardzija, Trevor Cahill or Wade Miley of the Diamondbacks, or even the pipe dream of David Price. However, considering that Cahill cost the D-Backs Jarrod Parker and Ryan Cook, and the fact that he’s under team control for four more seasons as a reasonable rate, the package in return would likely be more than Toronto would be willing to pay.
No, unless there is a seemingly surprise trade partner out there, Toronto has just two paths to walk; pay up in free agency for inferior talent or stand pat. Neither is a good choice, so it comes down to the less of two evils, with no clear winner in the argument.