Anthopoulos: Bench a priority for Blue Jays

January 17, 2014, 10:17 AM

The Toronto Blue Jays are making bench depth a priority as the off-season winds down.

In an appearance on Prime Time Sports Thursday, general manager Alex Anthopoulos said the Blue Jays are seeking centre field depth and a right-handed bat who can platoon with designated hitter Adam Lind. Anthopoulos has also discussed some minor trades that target players capable of contributing in reserve roles.

“It’s actually something we’ve talked about a lot,” he told Stephen Brunt and Bob McCown on Sportsnet 590 The FAN. “The bench is under-rated. It’s important, not only for in-game but also depth when guys do go down. We’ve actually been having a lot of dialogue.”

The GM had one recent discussion with an agent who represents an intriguing unnamed player.

“A player who’s been an everyday player in his career for quite a bit of time and has made some money and still wants to get playing time but ultimately the market has kind of collapsed on him a little bit,” Anthopoulos said. ”The issue is it’s not even financial so much because he wants to go somewhere where he can get the most playing time because he wants to set himself up for the following year.”

While Anthopoulos did not mention the player by name, some free agents could be viewed as fits. Michael Young (career .829 OPS vs. LHP), Jeff Baker (career .875 OPS vs. LHP) and Mark Reynolds (career .834 OPS vs. LHP) are among the versatile right-handed hitters who might be intriguing bench pieces in Toronto. However, Young appears to be considering retirement and Reynolds is reportedly nearing a deal with the Milwaukee Brewers.

On the trade front, a player such as Chris Denorfia (career .833 OPS vs. LHP) might appeal to Blue Jays decision makers. However, the San Diego Padres have little reason to part with the affordable 33-year-old outfielder.

The Blue Jays could also pursue trades, free agents and waiver claims toward the end of spring training, when roster decisions make capable players available on an annual basis. Alternatively, the Blue Jays could rely on an internal option such as Moises Sierra. Though the out-of-options outfielder showed promise toward the end of the 2013 season, he isn’t a traditional centre fielder and has mixed results against left-handed pitching.

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