LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – As the first base market has evolved over the off-season and the asks have remained significant for free agents like Kendrys Morales and James Loney, Adam Lind’s $7 million contract has started to look more and more attractive.
Sources told Sportsnet that interest has picked up in the Toronto Blue Jays first baseman/designated hitter in recent weeks, although the club is not shopping him, wary of having to replace his production.
The same principles likely apply to Colby Rasmus, with Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun reporting that the centre-fielder has been offered to two teams for starting pitching. A deal involving either player appears neither imminent nor guaranteed, but the interest in them from others demonstrates the juggling act Alex Anthopoulos is engaged in.
While the GM revealed Tuesday most conversations about starting pitchers end up with requests for either Aaron Sanchez or Marcus Stroman, he’s trying first and foremost to use his bullpen depth in trades. He’s “open-minded” to moving one of his prized pitching prospects, but intends to be careful in stripping down the layer of starting pitching depth tentatively slated for triple-A Buffalo.
“If we’re adding a starter and we’re trading one starting prospect back plus some other pieces, position player, bullpen depth, we haven’t gone down,” said Anthopoulos. “If we’re trading two starting prospects for one, that might have more of an impact but we have other players people have interest in and I don’t necessarily consider the guys that are further away depth right now. They’re just really good prospects and we’ve been asked about those guys, as well.
“The upper level rotation depth is one we’re really careful to move at this point, that’s not to say we won’t, but we’re just not motivated to move a multiple of those guys.”
I wrote Tuesday about a school of thought that believes the Blue Jays should pay the unpalatable free-agent price for starting pitching rather than try to trade or wait out the market.
Here’s one opinion from the winter meetings lobby on why teams are reluctant to dive into the top-end starting pitchers: if a club intends to be in on Masahiro Tanaka, it’s going to need all its money available to take a decent run at him.
As the revised posting process for Japanese players keeps crawling to the finish line, there’s some fear that the $20 million maximum may de-incentivize the system to the point that NPB teams have reason to hold onto players until one year before they hit free agency.
Tanaka is two years away from free agency, and Rakuten could wait until next year to post him, since they’re sure to get several $20 million bids this year or next.
Ben Nicholson-Smith examines the Blue Jays’ policy of maxing out contracts at five years, and the flexibility they’re showing in going to six.
The Blue Jays are trying to trade for a right-handed bat to platoon with Adam Lind at first base. Anthopoulos described their target as being in a similar position to Rajai Davis a few years back, “someone who’s had quite a bit of at-bats but we think they’d fit better into that role on the bench for us.”
If they chose to go the free agent route Jeff Baker makes some sense.