Shopping done early, Blue Jays take winter breather
Team lays groundwork for rest of offseason, but doesn't make major move at Meetings
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Following weeks of seemingly non-stop roster moves, the Blue Jays' flurry of activity grinded to a halt during the Winter Meetings at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center.
Toronto was unable to find any suitable matches, either through free agency or trade. General manager Alex Anthopoulos instead spent several days evaluating the market and laying groundwork for the rest of his offseason.
"I would say we're going to try to continue to do things; I just don't see there being anything right now," Anthopoulos said Wednesday before flying out later that night.
"I think the Winter Meetings is tough. We've inquired on players, we've talked about things. But we don't have anything that's remotely close or that we're really having a debate. I think there's a bunch of deals that we can make at prices that we definitely do not want to pay."
There was little action, but still plenty of rumors. The Blue Jays were linked to Mets starters R.A. Dickey and Jon Niese, but New York has yet to make a final decision on whether it will deal either pitcher.
Toronto had internal discussions about both starters, but if trade talks were to heat up, it likely won't happen anytime soon. The Mets would prefer to sign Dickey to an extension, and the asking price for Niese reportedly is very high.
The Blue Jays also were approached about the availability of infielder/outfielder Emilio Bonifacio. The Braves are one team with known interest, but the trade talks never appeared to gain any momentum because Bonifacio is not someone Anthopoulos is inclined to move.
Of course, things could always change with one phone call, but that wasn't going to happen in Nashville.
"If we were to do anything [else], take a lot of the groundwork that was laid here and you do it after you get to step away, everyone gets to calm down a little bit," Anthopoulos said.
"You're trying to get a hold of people, they're trying to get a hold of you; you miss calls because you're in the middle of a meeting or on a phone call. It's tough, [because] everyone's so preoccupied."
Deals done: The only move the Blue Jays made during the Winter Meetings was claiming catcher Eli Whiteside off waivers from the Yankees. Not exactly exciting stuff, but it does provide the club with more depth behind the plate, and in theory could allow the Blue Jays to make a move later this offseason.
Toronto currently has five catchers on its 40-man roster. J.P. Arencibia is firmly entrenched as the starter, with veteran John Buck as his primary backup and top prospect Travis d'Arnaud waiting in the wings.
Rule 5 Draft activity: The Blue Jays were at full capacity on their 40-man roster and therefore passed on making a selection during the Major League phase of the Draft. Toronto did make three picks in the Minor League section: outfielder Sawyer Carroll, right-hander Alvido Jimenez and left-hander Efrain Nieves.
Goals accomplished: The Blue Jays weren't able to accomplish a lot at the Meetings. Anthopoulos said that he presented some "general concepts" on trades to a couple of his fellow general managers, but he wasn't expecting anything to come of it -- at least not for now.
The lack of activity shouldn't come as a major surprise. Toronto already had completed most of its unfinished business prior to the start of these Meetings. Anthopoulos can now take his time while attempting to build depth within the organization.
Unfinished business: Toronto is still in the market for more pitching. The club would like to add another arm in the bullpen and was linked to free-agent right-hander Jason Grilli on the final day in Nashville. The Blue Jays also would like more depth in the rotation, and they would be open to the idea of acquiring an upgrade over No. 5 starter J.A. Happ.
Team's bottom line: "There are things that we looked at, spent a little time on, but then you realize they're just not a fit. You always examine everything, but there's nothing that was presented to us that we've spent days on or we're working through. There was maybe one idea that someone floated that was interesting, that was fair value. We spent the night reviewing it. We just didn't feel like it was the right fit for our club." -- Anthopoulos