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Toronto Blue Jays General Manager Alex Anthopoulos needs to improve his starting pitchers and behind the plate. (Nathan Denette/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Toronto Blue Jays General Manager Alex Anthopoulos needs to improve his starting pitchers and behind the plate. (Nathan Denette/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Jeff Blair

Jays' Anthopoulos will waste no time in making his pitch Add to ...

So how long does Alex Anthopoulos wait to phone the general manager of a team that has just been eliminated from the playoffs, anyhow?

We know the Toronto Blue Jays GM likes to move fast.

We also know that in the past two off-seasons, two general managers who have done business with him ended up losing their jobs: Larry Beinfest of the Miami Marlins last month, and Tony Reagins of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim the season before.

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Okay, so that mega-deal last winter with Anthopoulos didn’t cost Beinfest his position, not directly.

But trade for Vernon Wells, as Reagins did, and you take your chances.

So when – just between us kids – will Tampa Bay Rays GM Andrew Friedman feel the first subtle taps of Anthopoulos’s tire-kicking?

When is the body cold enough to talk shop?

The Blue Jays might go in on Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, but in the meantime, when do we find out if the, erm, Price is right?

Has Anthopoulos hit a Homer yet with the Cincinnati Reds?

“As a courtesy, you’ll wait until a team is out of the playoffs and, even then, you’ll give it a good amount of time,” Anthopoulos said Wednesday.

“I just think it’s a courtesy not to talk to guys when they’re in the playoffs. So, my calls now are to teams that are out.”

Anthopoulos’s off-season wish list couldn’t be clearer: a couple of starting pitchers and an upgrade behind the plate.

He has some commodities: in particular, bullpen depth and some cost-effective outfielders.

While it’s nice to have Steve Delabar setting up Casey Janssen, Delabar is an arm that could provide a contending team immediate ninth-inning help in 2014. The Rays can’t run Fernando Rodney out as a closer in 2014. The Reds are mulling over putting Aroldis Chapman in the rotation, especially if they decide to move starter Homer Bailey thinking he won’t be inclined to sign a multiyear contract. Other teams that are still in the race – the Detroit Tigers, for example – have expressed past interest in Delabar.

As clear as Anthopoulos’s needs are after a 74-win season, so too is it clear precious little in the way of help will be available in the free-agent market. It’s a Bronson Arroyo type of winter, folks. Anthopoulos has already said there are some intriguing names in play, and that’s not a total surprise considering the game is flush with TV money and relatively balanced competitively, which makes even smaller markets think they can be players. Do not underestimate the impact of a worst-to-first story such as the Boston Red Sox, either.

Look around. The Reds, Atlanta Braves, Texas Rangers and Rays have all been eliminated and have pressing issues dealing with core players and pitchers. The Reds have fired manager Dusty Baker and anybody who spent time around the team as it spun its wheels down the stretch expects a name or two to be shipped out.

It’s not about finances in the cases of the Reds, Rangers and Braves as much as managing a window of opportunity. Perhaps a Jurickson Profar or Alexi Ogando becomes available. Or a Bailey. The Angels, who gave the Blue Jays a run for greatest underachievers in the majors, have decisions to make involving Howie Kendrick.

The Blue Jays probably don’t have enough to get involved in the David Price sweepstakes, if, as expected, the Rays trade Price two years before he leaves as a free agent – just as they did with Matt Garza and James Shields. Price has been a beast in the American League East during the regular season (postseason, not so much) and given the dearth of name starters this winter, he will command a princely sum.

The World Series matchup isn’t even set yet and already there’s talk about where a once-in-a-lifetime player – New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano – will end up and how much he’ll get.

This is what happens when everybody thinks they can win. This is what happens when teams see the Red Sox and Oakland Athletics and even the Pittsburgh Pirates playing big games in October. This is what happens when “Why Not Us?” becomes more than a marketing phrase.

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@GloBlair

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