ORLANDO, Fla. — The Toronto Blue Jays are in the market for a new utilityman and clubhouse soother with Mark DeRosa choosing to retire rather than play out his $750,000 option for the 2014 season.
Alex Anthopoulos exercised the classy veteran’s option on Oct. 31 but the 38-year-old hadn’t settled on whether he’d return or not. They discussed the matter recently and Anthopoulos revealed DeRosa’s decision at the GM meetings.
“Obviously I thanked him for everything. I know he was only here a year, but he had a tremendous impact on some of the players … developmentally,” said Anthopoulos. “He also helped us win the games we did win because he had a good season and he helped a lot of guys on the club.”
First and foremost on that front was DeRosa’s work with excitable third baseman Brett Lawrie, who calmed noticeably over the course of the season, particularly at the plate.
His savvy and solid work against left-handed pitchers will be missed, and may help explain why the Blue Jays are having Moises Sierra take grounders at first base in the Dominican Republic.
DeRosa did some studio work with TBS during the post-season and may very well end up back in the media.
In 88 games with the Blue Jays, DeRosa batted .235/.326/.407 with seven homers and 36 RBIs.
“He can still play,” said Anthopoulos, “but family considerations were important to him, as they should be.”
Other highlights from Anthopoulos on Tuesday:
-There has been some speculation about the Blue Jays being a surprise team in pursuit of free agent second baseman Robinson Cano. Unless he’s willing to settle for five years, you can forget about it, as the Blue Jays have no intentions of moving off their policy of contracts for six years or more.
“We feel good about it,” Anthopoulos said of the policy. “That’s where our policy sits today, I don’t think I’d ever rule anything out under the right context and the right circumstances. If you’re prepared to pay someone five years at X, and a sixth year comes out at almost the same total dollars, sure, then you can explain that. But for the most part it’s the basic framework, and being averse to the incredibly long terms we’ve seen with some of the seven, eight year deals.”
-Asked if the prices in free agency were too rich for the Blue Jays, Anthopoulos responded: “Affordability is not the question – it’s do we see the value. There are plenty of players you like, but you like them at a certain price. Some players, if they’re 10 years or whatever it might be, as great as a player as it might be, I’d say at that price you wouldn’t want to get involved with that player.”
-The Blue Jays have a logjam in their bullpen and with several relievers out of options, the likelihood is some will be dealt before spring training. Anthopoulos described the level of interest in his relievers as, “strong. Normally you have one or two that people like, and it’s not to try and boast about it, but I think I’ve been asked about every single reliever, when I say we’re 10 deep, to varying degrees.”
-Munenori Kawasaki is believed to have offers on the table from several Japanese teams. Anthopoulos said: “Right now he’s going to explore some other options, but we’re definitely hoping for him to come back.”
-Anthopoulos smiled when he was surrounded by Japanese media and asked about any interest the Blue Jays may have in Masahiro Tanaka, the Japanese pitching sensation expected to be posted in the near future. The Blue Jays were linked to Yu Darvish when the Texas Rangers ace was put up for posting -- they entered only a protective bid in case his price dropped -- and therefore they're being connected to Tanaka this time around. Anthopoulos said all the right things and wouldn't divulge his plans, but given that the posting process is expected end up up in the $50-$70 million range, and that the GM didn't even scout Tanaka in person, you can be certain the Blue Jays won't be actively involved.