Pat Gillick knows a thing or two about pulling off a big deal, and when the Hall of Fame general manager was on the verge of making a big trade he always worried more about "the players you give up" than any financial implications.
That’s why Gillick was so impressed with the blockbuster Toronto Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos pulled off with the Miami Marlins last month. Despite taking on a whole boatload of money, the swap happened without Anthony Gose, Travis d’Arnaud, Aaron Sanchez and Noah Syndergaard.
"The one thing Alex was able to do, he gave up talent but didn’t give up some of his premium prospects, so consequently I think they got a lot more back in return from the Marlins than they gave the Marlins," said Gillick.
"That’s in the back of your mind any time you make a deal, what impact will the players have coming and what impact do the players have going. In his situation, I don’t think he gave up a whole lot and he got a lot back in return."
While one can argue about the disparity of talent in the deal, the money headed back to Toronto is without doubt lopsided.
The five players acquired in the deal will make in excess of $40 million in 2013 alone.
Under the right circumstances, though, Gillick feels that shouldn’t be a concern.
"You can’t play money, people don’t come to see money play, they come to see players play," he said. "If you’ve got the right players on the field and you win, you can always generate more cash, you can’t always generate more players.
"If you make the right deal, you can generate a lot more cash by having a winning product on the field. That’s what it looks like the Blue Jays are trying to do."
The Blue Jays have claimed catcher Eli Whiteside off waivers from the New York Yankees, a small move that will fuel another round of speculation about J.P. Arencibia and John Buck.
The math on that is simple – Anthopoulos is happy to go into the season with the extra depth behind the plate, but if a must-do deal comes along involving one of them, he’ll be able to deal from an area of strength.
He’s not looking to actively move a catcher, or diminish depth — see the 2012 season for reasons why.
As I wrote during the GM meetings last month, the New York Mets will not do a 1-for-1 deal of Arencibia for left-hander Jon Niese, who is locked up through 2016 with options for ’17 and ’18. Dealing him for R.A. Dickey would be far more problematic since they’d be giving away four years of Arencibia, a 20-plus home run hitting catcher, for one of the Cy Young Award winner.
When the Blue Jays inquired about Josh Johnson and the price was set by the Marlins, Anthopoulos didn’t flinch but said the deal would need to be expanded.
One could expect the scenario to be the same for Dickey.