Gibbons: Jays have 50/50 shot at adding pitcher

Ervin Santana delivers a pitch. (Michael Dwyer/AP)
January 23, 2014, 10:51 AM

Now that Masahiro Tanaka has signed his $155 million contract with the New York Yankees, the rest of the starting pitching market can finally take shape.

The Toronto Blue Jays are involved in discussions for available pitchers, but they continue to say they aren’t prepared to overpay for a class of arms led by Ubaldo Jimenez, Ervin Santana and Matt Garza. Manager John Gibbons suggested Wednesday on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM that the Blue Jays could go either way.

“I would guess maybe 50/50 on if we do something or not,” Gibbons told hosts Casey Stern and Jim Bowden. “I think everyone’s been kind of waiting to see what happens here with Tanaka, so things should start picking up here on the other free agents out there.”

GM Alex Anthopoulos has been in contact with player agents and teams about potential free agent signings and trades throughout the off-season. However, the Blue Jays don’t intend to spend as aggressively as they did last winter, when they rebuilt their roster with a series of high-profile trades and free agent signings.

“There are still some limitations we have,” Gibbons explained. “We beefed up our payroll pretty good, so we’re at a soft limit anyways. But if it makes sense, we don’t want to have to overpay for somebody, but [Anthopoulos is] working pretty hard.”

After four weeks of waiting for Tanaka, many expect the starting pitching market to develop quickly. The Blue Jays know what the asking prices of available pitchers are and they have discussed potential trades at length. Now, the wait could be about to end.

“Hopefully something breaks here in the next couple of days,” Gibbons said. “With the Blue Jays, personally, if something doesn’t happen we like what we have.”

The Los Angeles Angels, Seattle Mariners and Arizona Diamondbacks are among the teams expected to consider free agent starting pitchers in the weeks leading up to spring training. While the Houston Astros, Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers were in on Tanaka, those teams aren’t necessarily viewed as serious suitors for other free agent arms.

Gibbons noted that he wasn’t surprised in the least to see Tanaka sign with the Yankees, and jokingly acknowledged that the 25-year-old right-hander would have helped the Blue Jays. “Not my money or else I would have, put it that way,” he said.

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