Is Alex Anthopoulos Going To Make His First Big Free Agent Splash Soon?


September 18, 2012; Bronx, NY, USA; Toronto Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos speaks during a press conference addressing offensive comments written on the eye black of infielder

Yunel Escobar

(not pictured) before a game against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-US PRESSWIRE

There is a lot of speculation on when a team like the Toronto Blue Jays should make that ultimate push for the playoffs. It has been Alex Anthopoulos’ vision to build a strong farm system, thus creating a strong major league roster from within, trade for key needed pieces and finally spend on the one-three big name players in free agency to complete a well balanced roster. It looks like he has done steps one and two over the past three years with AA as General Manager of the club, but when you look at free agent pickups by Alex Anthopoulos, one can’t help but wonder when the Blue Jays GM will reel in the big names and finish off with a roster built to contend for the playoffs.

In Anthopoulos’ first year as GM of the Blue Jays, he was thrown into the offseason cold; he only took over for the previous GM on October 3, after the regular season was over. The first major league roster free agency moves resulted in signing John McDonald to a 2year/$3M contract (who was with the Jays for the 2009 regular season), Álex González to a 1year/$2.75M contract, John Buck to a 1year/$2M contract and Kevin Gregg for 1year/$2.75M. While AA did have many other transactions that winter (including the infamous Roy Halladay trade), he decided to rather decline arbitration on top players and get compensatory draft picks from teams that picked up Jays players. It was a move made to strengthen the Blue Jays’s roster for the future, as those comp picks for 2010 resulted in picking up Aaron Sanchez, Noah Syndergaard, Asher Wojciechowski, and Justin Nicolino. Essentially, the Blue Jays picked up the “Big Three” because they did not sign Marco Scuttaro and James Paxton as they went to other teams.

In the 2010 offseason, Alex Anthopoulos made these major league roster free agent moves: Jon Rauch (1year/$3.75M) and Octavio Dotel (1year/$3.5M). The rest of Anthopoulos’ moves came through a trade or arbitration, notably signing Jose Bautista to a long term contract and trading away the albatross of a contract in Vernon Wells in exchange for Juan Rivera and Mike Napoli. Update: Alex Anthopoulos only brought in Francisco Cordero for 1year/$4.5M and Darren Oliver for 1year/$3M with a 2013 option after publicly attempting to bring in Yu Darvish, but finally last week he brought in his biggest offseason acquisition to date, both in term length and in monetary value, in Maicer Izturis at a whopping 3year/$9M contract.

Over the first 3 seasons as General Manager, AA spent roughly $25.25M in major league ready free agent contracts, averaging out to roughly $8.4M a year. Each and every year under Alex Anthopoulos’ rule, the majority of Blue Jays fans have become increasingly frustrated by the lack of interest their GM has made landing big name free agents and just settling with what they have. The lack of preparedness that entailed the 2012 starting rotation for the Jays was certainly a strong enough indicator for those fans that Anthopoulos needs to make big name moves now. And it definitely seems like he is ready to make those kinds of moves.

"Anibal Sanchez reportedly seeking $90m over 6 yrs. In general terms, could #Jays take that on? ‘We could accommodate that type of AAV.’ AA on 5-yr #Jays limit on contracts: ‘There hasn’t been any talk of going beyond it right now. You never say never, things can change’-Shi Davidi @ShiDavidi"

With the only remaining necessities for the 2013 roster being an upgrade at LF and the starting rotation, it looks like Alex Anthopoulos is ready to bring the Toronto Blue Jays into playoff contention. The open willingness to spend $10M+/year on a free agent means that AA’s plan is nearing completion. Hopefully this offseason will bring Blue Jays fans and ownership what they’ve been looking for in a big name signing. If the Blue Jays are to make the playoffs two to three times over the next four years, they’ll have to make those big pushes right now.

If Alex Anthopoulos settles for anything less, especially after putting the freedom to spend that much money out there, I expect there will be hell to pay from even the most faithful to the Blue Jays organization.