MLB Toronto Blue Jays

5 Former Free Agents The Toronto Blue Jays Should Have Targeted

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5 Free Agent Missed Opportunities For Toronto Blue Jays

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Blue Jays came out of the 2013 MLB Winter Meetings without making any much-needed significant changes to their lineup and pitching rotation. Free agents across the league now seem to be be flying off the board while a plethora of missed opportunities continue to add up for Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos.

One can argue that Anthopoulos has done this to himself as he often refuses to sign free agents to any sort of significant contract, especially if players are asking for a contract that guarantees them five years or more. It now looks as though the struggling GM will continue to be stubborn in regards to holding true to his preferred method of trading for players in order to strengthen his team. The problem here is that nobody seems to be biting when it comes to his so-called crafty and creative trade packages. Anthopoulos and the Blue Jays front office have now found themselves stuck between a rock and a hard place.

It's no mystery that the Blue Jays are thin in regards to their options at second base and with what they have locked in for a starting rotation in 2014. This is where they needed to be aggressive and perhaps throw the idea of not signing free agents out the window. Over the past two weeks there have been a number of viable free agents that have now come to terms with other teams, thus adding to the total of missed opportunities for the Blue Jays to improve. Right now it seems as though time is running out rather quickly for the Blue Jays to boost their stock in the competitive American League East.

As the holiday season approaches, the 2014 Blue Jays campaign doesn't seem to look so jolly and bright. Trying to be aggressive on the trading block rather than on the free agent market has proved to be costly for Anthopoulos and his team. Here are 5 former free agents that the Blue Jays should have targeted in order to improve their ball club this offseason.

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5. Omar Infante

Omar Infante
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Omar Infante is a top ten second baseman that is solid at the plate and on the defensive side of the baseball as well. He would have fit perfectly into the Blue Jays lineup as a second baseman that can actually make good contact with the ball. Instead, they let him slip away as he recently signed with the Kansas City Royals.

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4. Jhonny Peralta

Jhonny Peralta
Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

Although there is much controversy surrounding the signing of Jhonny Peralta with the St. Louis Cardinals due to his involvement with PEDs, the Blue Jays didn't mind taking on that criticism last offseason when they signed Melky Cabrera to a two-year deal. Signing Peralta would have had to involve some shuffling of the lineup on defense with Jose Reyes and perhaps Brett Lawrie, as Peralta isn't a natural second baseman. But for the pop in his bat it would have been well worth it for someone to sacrifice their everyday position in order to fit Peralta into the lineup.

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3. Tim Hudson

Tim Hudson
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Why not keep the trend alive? The Blue Jays already have two starting pitchers in their mid to late thirties in Mark Buehrle and R.A. Dickey, so why not add another? With Tim Hudson, you know what you are going to get. The 38 year old will eat up a lot of innings and will almost always give you a shot to win the game. Instead, the San Francisco Giants have capitalized on signing the reliable righty.

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2. Ricky Nolasco

Ricky Nolasco
John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Ricky Nolasco raised his stock as a free agent by going 8-3 down the stretch of the season for the Los Angeles Dodgers after he was traded to them by the Miami Marlins in 2013. Nolasco is a pitcher that would have strengthened the middle of the rotation for the Blue Jays and has the ability to perhaps rack up close to 200 strikeouts in a season. Instead, the Minnesota Twins were aggressive in pursuing Nolasco and ultimately agreed on a deal with the 31 year-old hurler.

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1. Robinson Cano

Robinson Cano
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

It's no surprise that the most sought after free agent was second baseman, Robinson Cano. Yes, he was asking for a lot of money over a lot of years on his contract. However, for the best second baseman that the baseball world has seen in the past few decades it would have been well worth the time and money that any team would have had to commit to Cano this offseason.

Cano would have fit in perfectly up the middle of the diamond and in between fellow Dominicans Jose Reyes and Edwin Encarnacion. Not to mention having him hit either in front of or behind a healthy Jose Bautista in the lineup. This signing in particular would have once again put the Blue Jays back in the conversation of who will be taking the AL East title in 2014. Instead, it's the Seattle Mariners who are now set to make some noise in the AL West now that they have the best second baseman in the world on their team.

Rogers Communications has all the time and money in the world to make this sort of signing happen, and there's no excuse for letting a player like Cano get away. This all comes down to a young GM who is still learning how to build a proper team while at the same time becoming more comfortable with taking risks for his ball club. The more Anthopoulos waits around for someone to trade with him, the shorter the list of available big-time free agents gets and the less of a chance for making the playoffs becomes more evident for the Blue Jays in 2014.