Having addressed the closer’s situation through the acquisition of Sergio Santos and mounting a spirited defence of Tuesday’s “payroll parameters” statement that sent a good portion of the Toronto Blue Jays fan-base into depression, indications were that general manager Alex Anthopoulos was moving on to address the team's need for another starting pitcher.
The Blue Jays were one of several teams linked with Oakland Athletics starter Gio Gonzalez, as sources said Anthopoulos looked for partners that would accept a package of minor-league prospects in return for a pitcher capable of giving the team 200 innings.
Meanwhile, second baseman Kelly Johnson accepted the Blue Jays' offer of salary arbitration and will return to the team. Johnson, who hit .270 with three home runs and nine runs batted in in 33 games after he was acquired in a trade with the Arizona Diamondbacks for Aaron Hill and John McDonald, could also see some time in left field, according to Anthopoulos.
The Blue Jays already have two left-handed hitters who play left field in Travis Snider and Eric Thames, so that might increase the likelihood of a trade. Anthopoulos said he had other second base options available in the trade market if Johnson had declined the arbitration offer (the Jays would have received compensatory picks from the team signing him) but with the possibility of a left-field stint it is unclear whether Johnson’s decision actually closed the door firmly on those other options. The Blue Jays will now have to make a roster move Thursday to make room on their 40-man roster.
The topic of the day remained the linking of attendance and team payroll by both Anthopoulos and president and chief executive officer Paul Beeston, with Anthopoulos stressing overall revenue generation was the issue and getting his back up over any suggestion he may have called out the team's fans while reminding his daily media session of the perils of long-term, free-agent contracts. And Anthopoulos revealed that in his first off-season as GM, Beeston asked him what he needed – did he want to go after free-agents Jason Bay and John Lackey? His response was that it “didn’t make sense” given where the team was. Bay has been hurt and a bust with the New York Mets; Lackey was last seen being raked over the coals in Boston as a ne’er do well – part of the team's clubhouse fried-chicken-eating brigade – not to mention undergoing Tommy John surgery after a greasy season on the field as well.
The Blue Jays haven’t figured in the free-agent market, but the agent for Jose Reyes, Peter Greenberg, said he had discussions with Anthopoulos about his client before Reyes signed a six-year, $106-million free-agent deal with the Miami Marlins. No offer was made, with Greenberg describing Anthopoulos’' approach as chiefly one of curiosity.
Anthopoulos was asked if he felt he had the resources necessary to do what he wanted to do this winter.
“We’re still in the middle of it,” he said. “We’ll find out.”
Cheek’s wait continues
The wait for Tom Cheek’s induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame continues. Cheek, the voice of the Blue Jays for 27 years who passed away in 2005, was a finalist for the seventh consecutive year in balloting for the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcast excellence but was passed over again: this time, in favour of television analyst Tim McCarver, The award is presented by the Hall of Fame and McCarver will be feted at next year’s induction ceremonies in Cooperstown. Cheek was one of three finalists chosen as a result of fan on-line balloting.