Blue Jays Notebook: How late is too late?

Ubaldo Jimenez waited until spring training began before signing a four-year, $50 million contract with the Baltimore Orioles. It wasn't a comfortable feeling. (Reed Saxon/AP)
February 7, 2014, 12:35 PM

Throughout the off-season, I’ll provide commentary and links related to the Toronto Blue Jays and MLB every weekend.

If there’s one thing the national baseball media has agreed on in recent weeks it’s this: the Toronto Blue Jays are viewed as favourites to land either Ubaldo Jimenez or Ervin Santana.

Blue Jays leadership also seems confident that they have a good shot at obtaining a pitcher before opening day. Alex Anthopoulos and Paul Beeston told fans last week that they’re working to find the right piece at the right price.

But could the market move more quickly than anticipated, leaving the Blue Jays empty-handed to the surprise of fans and pundits alike?

“That’s definitely something that we’ve talked about,” Anthopoulos said last week. “I just think though at this point with all of the players that are out there and dialogue with the agents, I think for the most part agents will circle back with all of the clubs before they do something unless something unbelievable falls on their laps and they have to close.”

Anthopoulos is right. It would make sense for players to circle back to the Blue Jays before finalizing a deal. After all, general managers are sometimes willing to budge at the last minute. There’s no harm in making one last round of calls, right?

Yet the Blue Jays are also taking on risk by adopting this wait-and-see approach. After all, players and agents can grow frustrated from playing the waiting game for months at a time. If an appealing offer comes along from another team, it’s safe to say their first concern won’t be keeping the Blue Jays looped in.

HALLADAY ADDRESSES JAYS PROSPECTS: It didn’t take long for Roy Halladay to make an impression on one of Toronto’s top young arms. The two-time Cy Young winner addressed Blue Jays prospects during a strength and conditioning camp this week, and Marcus Stroman was all ears. “Wow. Life lessons,” the prospect tweeted. “Huge thanks to #RoyHalladay for that unbelievable lecture. Invaluable experience!” Stroman even recorded a voice memo that he plans to listen back to during the season.

RASMUS HANDLES THE HEAT: Colby Rasmus knows his strengths as a hitter. The 27-year-old centre fielder said at the outset of the 2013 season that he liked hard fastballs, even if they’re coming it at 95 m.p.h. or faster.

“That doesn’t matter,” he said. “I don’t usually mind it. I usually like it when guys throw hard. I’m a fastball hitter, so that’s the one I’ve got to look for.”

It turns out Rasmus enjoys lots of success against the hard stuff. He swung at 19 pitches of at least 98 m.p.h. in the last three seasons, Mark Simon of ESPN recently demonstrated. He missed only four of those 19 pitches, collecting seven hits compared to just three outs.

NOTES: Ken Davidoff of the New York Post, one of the many national writers who expects the Blue Jays to land Jimenez or Santana, also predicts that Toronto will sign Kendrys Morales for two years and $20 million. While it’s easy to envision a deal with Jimenez, Morales wouldn’t be an obvious fit in Toronto. Like Adam Lind, he hits right-handers better than left-handers… The Red Sox would like to see the Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles come up short in the pitching market, Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald writes… In case you missed it, team president Paul Beeston told Sportsnet’s Michael Grange that the Blue Jays are monitoring the Canadian dollar’s decline. “It won’t affect our plans for this year, we’re already locked and loaded,” Beeston said. “But it will affect our bottom line, that’s for sure.”

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