Toronto Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos is still mostly operating under the radar, but he’s thinking pretty big these days.
How big? Well, according to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet, potentially Matt Kemp-big. Not that ‘inquiring’ is the same as ‘getting somewhere in trade talks’, of course, but this seemingly minor tidbit at least provides some insight into Anthopoulos’ mindset going into the Winter Meetings.
For one , the Blue Jays head honcho seems to have changed his tune a bit about the idea of using a reported payroll increase in 2014 to fill the team’s needs, instead now leaning towards the trade route. Given the mind-boggling deals that have gone down in free agency thus far, especially when it comes to starting pitchers, it’d be hard to blame him for having to adjust; that said, the fact that he’s going after big names has implications on the team’s current core players.
Even though he’s coming off arguably the worst season of his career and has his share of health concerns, Kemp’s 8.4 fWAR potential means he’s not likely to come cheap. Not to mention, this directly suggests that the team is willing to move on from current center fielder Colby Rasmus, who is coming off his best season and could be due for extension talks.
Though he hasn’t always been the steadiest performer, Ramsus’ improvements made this year was perceived to have made him one of the core players for Blue Jays moving forward; it’s not surprising that the team would be looking to move an outfielder, but if they’re going potentially to ship out a 4.8 fWAR player who plays superb defense and who posted a .840 OPS instead of prospects like Anthony Gose, you’d have to wonder if the Blue Jays might be at risk of making a lateral move.
This is bigger than just Kemp and Rasmus though, and definitely reinforces the GM’s points that most of what he might be working on isn’t likely to be reported, and that no one is 100 percent safe on the team.
If that is the case, some of the attention might also be directed at third, where Brett Lawrie — whether due to injury or just ineffectiveness — hasn’t quite followed up on his 2011 splash with a breakout season as most in the fan base imagined he would have by now. He’s still young and full of tools and star potential, but the team will understandably want to see his first 3.0-plus fWAR from the hot corner if they’re to reasonably succeed.
Could he be moved to a 3B-needy team for a big arm, with Jose Bautista then taking over?
All of this is conjecture, obviously, but what isn’t is that whatever changes that the Blue Jays GM is looking to make via trade, they’re not likely to be tweaks rather than major changes to the team’s core as opposed to the farm.
That’s all fine and good when it comes to maintaining the team’s outlook in the future, but ultimately tells us little about how they could help the team compete in 2014 until the moves are made. Considering the current needs that the team has, though, you’d think that it’d be difficult to fill them via trade — even from positions of strength like the bullpen and outfield — without opening up another hole elsewhere, no?