Toronto Blue Jays General Manager, Alex Anthopoulos held court with the media on Thursday morning at their spring training facilities in Dunedin, Florida.
The main issue was addressed right at the start, regarding starting rotation depth and acquiring a starting pitcher, as assumed the price wasn’t right for Alex Anthopoulos to pull the trigger. And he is confident in what he already has in the Jays’ pitching depth.
“We’d like to do it but we’re not going to do it at all costs. As we sit here today I think it’s unlikely at this point, we’re getting so late into spring training. Unlikely unless a trade emerges, but again.” Anthopoulos said. “As the offseason has progressed, we’ve felt better about the internal options, especially the young guys, whether it’s a guy like Stroman, Drew Hutchison, guys like Kyle Drabek as well. Brandon Morrow looks great.” — “That being said, if something presented itself, we’d love to do it. We just haven’t been able to find anything that works for us.”
Anthopoulos continued to instill the idea that he was not going to spend recklessly in order to acquire a free agent, saying, “We wanted to add to the rotation, to add depth. But again, where some of the price points were, whether it was years or dollars or some of the acquisition costs in trades, I wouldn’t have felt good standing in a scrum and saying ‘We didn’t believe in the acquisition cost, we just did it but we don’t feel good about it.’ You need to feel good about those moves.”
“I can’t talk specifically about free agents. I guess I would say, for what the cost is for the remaining free agents that are out there, we feel better, what the current cost is, if the price changes sure, it might change thing. That’s what I felt like it’s unlikely. As we sit here today, with what the current cost would be, we feel better with the guys we have internally.”
Anthopoulos didn’t rule out the possbility of acquiring a pitcher during the season, but again it has to be the right price and the right situation.
“Just from some trade dialogue that we’ve had earlier in the offseason, I think some of those same guys could be available in-season. Things change fast during the season as well. I still think we have some of the prospect capital to get something done in-season. We have the payroll flexibility to do that as well. But we don’t want to force a deal, give someone a four or five-year deal if we don’t believe in it just because you feel the need to add a starter. We’d like to, but it’s not just about adding a guy regardless of the cost. But in-season things can absolutely come up.” Anthopoulos said.
As for the Blue Jays’ current roster, the GM feels there is enough to compete but it will be dependent on the starting rotation.
“I think we can all agree there’s a lot of talent on this team. The bullpen should be a strength. It’s very deep. We still think the offence will be above average in the AL and the rotation has a bunch of guys who are proven plus a bunch that aren’t proven but are very talented and certainly could emerge. That’s obviously going to be the key. It’s an important part of our year. We’re going to go as far as our rotation can take us.” Anthopoulos said.
Part of the reason for Anthopoulos not rushing to sign a big free agent pitcher in the offseason was his strong belief in the improved depth of the starting pitchers, mainly the re-addition of Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison.
“Last offseason because guys were hurt, we didn’t have the bodies. We didn’t have Hutchison or Drabek. We knew we needed Romero to bounce back. Happ was coming off a foot injury. We have a lot more bodies and a lot more depth. Beyond our front five last year we were thin. We had Romero, who scuffled as our sixth starter coming out of camp. Beyond that, it was Ramon Ortiz and Chien Ming-Wang and we had to sign five minor league free agent starters. We didn’t need to do any of that this offseason.”
Other than the starting pitching, the other position that needed improvement on the Blue Jays roster was at second base. But to many people’s surprise, Alex also did not acquiring a starting second baseman, here’s why.
“A day ago, I was talking to a club about some trades. Right now through free agency, I’d say no. I would think it’s unlikely that we add someone there but I would say that we’ll still continue to have some dialogue trade wise, see if we can bring someone else in. Our target has been more a younger guy that has upside that has a chance to be a long-term piece.” said Anthopoulos.
The front runner for the starting second baseman position according to Anthopoulos, seems to be the one who took over the role late at the end of the season, Ryan Goins—primarily due to his defense, which was lacking at that position for the Blue Jays in 2013.
Anthopoulos praised the 26 year old by saying, “I love the defense. He’s (Goins) as good defensively, I believe, as we’ve had here since Orlando Hudson was here. I think he’s that good a defender. Defensively, he’s gold glove caliber. The question will be the bat. Obviously we’ve got some competition for him and if he does make this team we view him right now as the nine-hole hitter. I think with Ryan, because the defense is so good, it allows him to not have to hit as much because he can help us on the other side of the ball to such a great extent. I love what he brings from a defensive standpoint.”
The question many fans are asking, did Alex Anthopoulos come close to acquiring a player? The answer:
“To trades, yes. We got very close on some trades. Free agency-wise, I don’t think we ever got close at all.”
The full media scrum with GM Alex Anthopoulos can be seen below: