Blue Jays lay foundation for rest of offseason
After a trade early in the week, Winter Meetings relatively quiet
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Alex Anthopoulos made the first big splash of this week's Winter Meetings, but as he left town on Thursday afternoon, there remained only one move he had to show for his efforts.
Toronto made headlines Monday by trading right-hander Shaun Marcum to the Brewers for top prospect Brett Lawrie. Since that time, though, Anthopoulos was unable to get anything else finalized and instead spent his time laying the groundwork, with agents and other organizations, for future moves.
The Blue Jays general manager says his club's lack of activity isn't surprising. He believes it's easy for some people to get caught up in all the hype surrounding this annual event. But for him, it's more important to stay on an even keel and not divert from the long-term plan of the club.
"If you don't feel like it's the right move, don't react and do it just for the sake of doing it because you're at the Winter Meetings and you feel compelled to do so," Anthopoulos said on the fourth and final day at the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort.
"We didn't do anything a year ago and we got things done after the fact. So that could end up being the case for us [this year]."
The Blue Jays actually had the framework of the Marcum/Lawrie trade set up before arriving in Central Florida. Once at the Meetings, things remained relatively quiet for Anthopoulos.
The club reportedly has been involved in discussions with free-agent catcher Russell Martin, and Anthopoulos continues to monitor the market for a potential closer to replace Kevin Gregg, who likely will be headed elsewhere this offseason. The other needs include help at both corner infield positions.
Anthopoulos declined to name any specific players he is targeting but did admit he is trying to be as active as he can. The GM did not leave the Winter Meetings with any free-agent offers on the table, though, because that goes against the way he likes to operate.
"I don't like leaving an offer out there, [because] then it allows it to be shopped," Anthopoulos said. "My style is more getting the parameters, letting the agent know those parameters probably make sense for us, [then] we'll be in that mix.
"I want to know that the player wants to be here, or at least we're on a short list. If the agent then comes back and says, 'Look, he's willing to come here, you're definitely one of the top places he wants to be,' ... If I can get a window to start negotiating with someone and we're engaged and there's a back and forth, that's usually my process."
In other Blue Jays news, free-agent catcher Miguel Olivo agreed to a two-year, $7 million contract with the Mariners on Thursday afternoon. That means Toronto will receive a compensation pick between the first and second rounds of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft.
Blue Jays free-agent relievers Gregg and Scott Downs also continue to receive interest on the open market.
Downs reportedly has been in talks with the Red Sox. As a Type A free agent, Downs would net the Blue Jays a pair of picks in the first three rounds of next year's First-Year Player Draft should he sign with another team. Gregg, who saved a career-high 37 games for the Blue Jays in 2010, reportedly has talked with Baltimore, Boston and Pittsburgh. Like Olivo, Gregg's signing with another team would result in the Blue Jays receiving a compensation pick.
So in the end, it was a relatively quiet week for the Blue Jays, but the coming weeks before the holiday season could bring a lot of change. Here's a look at what happened this week in Florida:
Deals done: Toronto traded right-hander Marcum to the Brewers for Lawrie.
Rule 5 activity: The Blue Jays opted not to make a selection during the Major League portion of the Rule 5 Draft. The club did lose unprotected infielder Brad Emaus. He was selected by the New York Mets, whose assistant GM is J.P. Ricciardi -- the same man who drafted Emaus back in 2007. The Blue Jays selected middle infielders Ivan Contreras and Roan Salas during the Minor League section of the Rule 5 Draft.
Goals accomplished: The Blue Jays dealt from an area of depth to fill a weakness with Monday's trade for Lawrie. Toronto had a slew of young arms but was lacking high-ceiling position players in its Minor League system. The club got that in Lawrie, who entered the season ranked No. 26 on MLB.com's Top 50 prospect list. He has the ability to become a star infielder or corner outfielder.
Unfinished business: The Blue Jays were unable to fill any holes on their Major League roster during these Winter Meetings. The club would still like to add a reliever to the back end of its bullpen, and there is a clearly defined need for a first baseman/designated hitter to split time with Adam Lind at those two spots. The Blue Jays would also like to add a third baseman, which would allow Jose Bautista to remain at his preferred position in right field.
On the free-agent market, the club reportedly has expressed interest in Martin and reliever Jesse Crain. Through trade, there has been rumored interest in Royals No. 1 starter Zack Greinke, although the price tag may ultimately be too high, especially considering Toronto is building for the future and will need as many top prospects as possible to make that mission successful.
GM's bottom line: "Getting [to] the point where we have potential All-Stars at every position on the diamond. In our minds, [in] the five-man rotation we need the caliber of a No. 3 starter or above in all five spots. So trying to fill that quality and that high ceiling is the challenge. The ultimate challenge is getting all of those guys to come together and control them at the same time, and that's what it takes." -- Anthopoulos, on what it will take to succeed in the American League East and why the club is trying to develop its Minor League system before making a big move on the free-agent market