Inbox: Is Toronto shopping for more pitching?
Beat reporter Gregor Chisholm answers Blue Jays fans' questions
How serious are the Blue Jays talking to the Mets about R.A Dickey? I would love to see him in Toronto but not at the expense of J.P. Arencibia or Travis d'Arnaud.
-- James F., Ottawa, Ontario
The Blue Jays and Mets talked during the Winter Meetings, but at the time there didn't appear to be a lot of common ground between the two parties. General manager Alex Anthopoulos admitted to submitting an offer to another club, but he declined to confirm it was to New York, while also adding he wasn't expecting anything to come out of it.
Things could have changed since then, though, with multiple online reports surfacing on Friday evening that the Blue Jays were among the finalists for Dickey's services. New York had been attempting to sign its No. 1 starter to a contract extension but now appears more focused on working out a trade.
If the Mets are in fact going the trade route, the Blue Jays won't be the only suitors. The Angels and Rangers are both in the market for starting pitching, while a slew of other teams were expected to enter the mix once New York made a final decision on Dickey's future.
A package of Arencibia and Anthony Gose would be pretty attractive to the Mets, but it's also a deal that would have a major impact on Toronto's overall depth. It remains to be seen whether Anthopoulos would be interested in making that kind of sacrifice or instead opting for the status quo. It's a sellers' market, and Dickey isn't going to come cheap.
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The ball is currently in the Mets' court, and they must first decide what their future plans for Dickey are. Dickey, who is set to earn $5 million next season, could be signed to a two-year extension or dealt away to another club.
Do you see the Blue Jays acquiring another big arm, or is someone like Carlos Villanueva a realistic option to bring back as our fifth man in the rotation, with J.A. Happ and Chad Jenkins as safety nets?
-- Jon H., Toronto
Anthopoulos is still searching for upgrades, but barring any major late offseason moves, he'll likely stick to relatively minor additions. He's already started that process with the recent Minor League signings of Claudio Vargas and Justin Germano.
The problem with the Blue Jays' rotation certainly isn't with Happ as the No. 5. The veteran lefty is more than capable of becoming a solid piece at the back end of the rotation, but there is very little depth behind him.
The vast majority of Toronto's Minor League talent can be found in the lower levels. Jenkins is the only pitching prospect who appears ready to contribute, and while others, such as Deck McGuire and Sean Nolin, could enter the mix, they definitely cannot be relied on early in the year.
That would make the addition of a swingman a much-needed insurance policy. I still think it would make a lot of sense to re-sign Villanueva and have him compete with Happ for the final spot of the rotation. Anthopoulos said the two sides touched base after the recent trade with the Marlins, but nothing appears imminent, as Villanueva will take his time in search for a guaranteed starting gig elsewhere.
Are the Blue Jays still looking for a right-handed platoon partner for Adam Lind?
-- Brandon B., Waterloo, Ontario
Heading into the Meetings, there was a general consensus that the Blue Jays were in the market for a right-handed bat to platoon with Lind, but that no longer appears to be the case.
Anthopoulos sounds confident with the current group that he has assembled. Rajai Davis could see time in the lineup versus left-handers, while Emilio Bonifacio provides a lot of versatility and could spell Colby Rasmus in center under the same circumstances.
With the ability of Bonifacio, Davis and Maicer Izturis, among others, to play multiple positions, there also isn't as much of a need for another reliable bench player. Anthopoulos admitted that spot wouldn't see a lot of playing time, and therefore he seemed reluctant to offer anyone a guaranteed deal.
A more likely scenario would be handing out a couple of Minor League deals with invites to Spring Training. That would keep the club's options open and also provide an opportunity to start the season with an eight-man bullpen, should the need arise.
I'd really like to see both Arencibia and D'Arnaud in Toronto for years to come. Would it be possible for one to catch and the other to play first base or DH?
-- Jeff T., Vancouver, British Columbia
As a short-term move, that remains a possibility, but it's not something that can be relied on in the future. d'Arnaud began taking ground balls at first in 2012, and that is expected to continue again next year.
The Blue Jays want d'Arnaud to be ready in case there is a need at the big league level, but the vast majority of his value is held because of an ability to play behind the plate.
d'Arnaud projects to be a very good offensive catcher, but the numbers wouldn't look as impressive compared to his peers with a move to first. Unless d'Arnaud's knee injury lingers into next season, there's absolutely no reason to believe his long-term future is anywhere but behind the plate. That means eventually the Blue Jays will have to choose between him and Arencibia, but it's a decision that could be delayed until next offseason.
What will happen between Gose and Davis? Both of them are the ideal fourth outfielder now, with them both being fast, and putting Gose against MLB pitching would help his development.
-- Erik M., Hong Kong
There's next to no chance that Gose will be able to break camp with the Blue Jays. The club wants him to receive regular at-bats, and that simply can't happen in Toronto with Melky Cabrera, Rasmus and Jose Bautista in the outfield.
Gose is set to begin the year at Triple-A Buffalo while Davis assumes the role of fourth outfielder and late-game pinch-runner. If one of the three starters goes down, Gose would receive a promotion, but until then, he'll have to wait his turn.
That should actually be good news for both Gose and the organization. Gose showed flashes this past season, but he is far from being a finished product. There are still some kinks in his swing that need to be worked out, and he needs to drastically improve his ability to bunt.
These issues can be worked on at Buffalo away from the media spotlight and pressure of having to win. He should return to the big leagues as a better player because of the extra seasoning.
A lot of articles in the Toronto media have speculated the large Jays-Marlins trade will define Anthopoulos' legacy. Does the media recall that it took Pat Gillick eight years to win the AL East and 15 years to make it to the World Series?
-- Tyler D., Vernon, British Columbia
The media isn't the only one suggesting that the recent trade with Miami will ultimately define Anthopoulos' tenure in Toronto. It's also something that has been mentioned by others around baseball and the agent for right-hander Josh Johnson.
The line of thinking behind that claim doesn't really have anything to do with the timeline of winning in Toronto. Instead, it has everything to do with money. The Blue Jays have taken on a lot of salary through 2015, and they won't regain a lot of flexibility until the end of that season.
In some ways, it's a similar investment to the one former GM J.P. Ricciardi made in 2006 by signing A.J. Burnett, B.J. Ryan and trading for the likes of Troy Glaus and Lyle Overbay. When those big moves didn't pan out, it reflected negatively on Ricciardi and ultimately led to his demise.
Anthopoulos finds himself in a better position this year, though. He has a team with a lot more depth than Ricciardi did, but if the club doesn't take the next step within the next couple of years, Anthopoulos ultimately could be the one to answer for it, just like Ricciardi.
What is the latest on Darren Oliver? Will he be back next season?
-- Michael H., Guelph, Ontario
The Blue Jays aren't expecting to hear a final decision from Oliver until January. As of right now, it appears the veteran left-hander is leaning toward retirement, but the club is holding out hope that will change in the coming weeks.
It's also possible that Oliver will request a trade to be closer to his family in Texas, but it's not known whether Toronto would be willing to accommodate that type of move.