MLB Free Agency is less than a day away, and the Toronto Blue Jays have been positioning themselves financially to improve several holes on their roster. The recent trade of Adam Lind to the Milwaukee Brewers for Marco Estrada was completed primarily to give Alex Anthopoulos freedom to re-shape the roster, and his first stop will be Free Agency.
Jeff Blair of Sportsnet has detailed why the Blue Jays could continue their early activity in the 2014 offseason. He notes that the Blue Jays could learn from their shortcomings in 2013’s Free Agency, where Anthopoulos waited for the market to develop and came away with very little, other than a botched run at Ervin Santana.
Trading Adam Lind was not a surprise, but the timing of the move suggests to me that the Blue Jays won’t be wasting much time when Free Agency opens at 12:01AM on Tuesday. Lind was traded within hours of his option being exercised, so what was the rush?
The Blue Jays could have held on to Lind through the Winter, and waited for other teams to strike out in Free Agency, which may have increased the market for Lind. Anthopoulos moved Lind for a pitching asset immediately, though, because he wants financial freedom Tuesday morning, not next Spring.
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After declining the options on Brandon Morrow, Dustin McGowan and Sergio Santos, the Blue Jays will have a moderate level of financial flexibility, but the extent of it will largely be determined by Melky Cabrera. Kyle Franzoni highlighted yesterday that Cabrera and the Blue Jays are reportedly still not close on a contract, although the interest seems to remain mutual. Toronto will have to be very careful that a drawn out contract negotiation with Cabrera does not hold them hostage on the Free Agent or trade market.
Trade talks are seemingly constant with Alex Anthopoulos at the helm, and the coming months will be no different. The Blue Jays have holes to fill at 2B, the bullpen and in the outfield, but now must address the situation at 1B/DH as well. Rumors circulated this morning that the Jays front office has even held internal discussions about Canadian Russell Martin, whose addition would slide Dioner Navarro into a full-time DH role.
The direction that Anthopolous will move the Blue Jays in is unclear just yet, but his growing pool of options could lead to a very busy month on the Blue Jays Hot Stove. With Free Agency opening tomorrow morning, Anthopoulos may not have many bullets, but his finger is on the trigger.