Transitioning Lind to first intrigues Jays
Team eager to see if he could be long-term fit at position
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The old saying that states, "Where there's smoke, there's fire," doesn't seem to apply to the workings of the Blue Jays' front office.
During the Winter Meetings, various media outlets claimed the Blue Jays were in hot pursuit of first baseman Carlos Pena.
Pena even went as far as to confirm Toronto's interest during a conference call on Wednesday to announce his new contract with the Chicago Cubs.
That supposedly came as a complete surprise to the man in charge of the Blue Jays, general manager Alex Anthopoulos.
"Of the first baseman that have signed, we haven't inquired on any of them," Anthopoulos told reporters on Day 3 at the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort.
The Blue Jays don't appear to have any interest in acquiring a premium free-agent first baseman unless it's someone who is willing to spend time in the designated hitter role as well.
The main reason for that decision is Anthopoulos does not want to stunt the development of Adam Lind. The 27-year-old Lind played 11 games at the position last season and, for now, the Blue Jays believe they owe it to themselves to see if he would be a long-term fit.
"We're getting a little more intrigued by it," Anthopoulos said of transitioning Lind into a first baseman. "We're not ready to commit to it right now, but we would like to have a scenario where at least we can continue to find out about Adam at first."
Lind is under contract for the next three seasons at a total of $15 million. The Blue Jays also have three club options from 2014-16, which are valued at $22.5 million. With Toronto potentially committed to him on a long-term basis, it would benefit the club to utilize Lind at a position in the field. That way, it creates the possibility of adding a veteran hitter later on to fill the DH spot.
"The upside for us long term in finding out about Adam, there's huge value to that," Anthopoulos said. "Just for the roster construction going forward. So, to find someone that can be a little bit more of a hybrid role -- whether they're DH and play some first -- that's the ideal scenario for us."
"To go sign a bona fide first baseman that you're going to have to promise everyday at-bats ... we can sit here the following year and say: 'You know what, we still haven't truly found out about Adam Lind because we had an established first baseman that needed to play the position.'"
Lind spent some time at first during college but has yet to receive a regular opportunity to play there in the Majors. During his brief stint in 2010, there were some glaring weaknesses in his abilities at first.
He struggled with a lack of range and his footwork around the base. Those skills could potentially improve with enough repetition, though, and Lind shows great hands with an ability to pick the ball, which is a key component of the position.
While it's clear the Blue Jays would like to experiment with Lind at first, it's not an absolute certainty that he will be able to succeed at the position. That's why the club is interested in signing a designated hitter that also has the ability to play the corner infield position. That way the club can develop Lind at the position but still have a fallback option in case it doesn't work out.
That should safely put an end to the constant Manny Ramirez rumors that have been circulating around Toronto. Ramirez has been spotted north of the border several times during the offseason, but it's pretty clear his appearances have had nothing to do with the Blue Jays.
"The priority would be -- in an ideal scenario -- a DH/first baseman, someone that we know can play the position," Anthopoulos said. "I don't know that we're comfortable at this stage just handing someone a job that is strictly a DH that doesn't have the ability to play first base."