As questions persist about the Toronto Blue Jays’ willingness to take on payroll in trades, Alex Anthopoulos insists he has the resources he needs to make deals. The general manager said he’s ready to get creative, but declined to detail what kind of financial backing he’ll have in the coming weeks.
“I don’t have any doubt that we have the ability to add players,” Anthopoulos said. “How that gets done, we can always be creative, but I’ll say this: we have a very healthy payroll, we have a very strong payroll.”
In the past, Anthopoulos has gone to ownership for approval on a case by case basis. He could do so again with 11 days remaining before the July 31 trade deadline.
“Ownership’s been outstanding with us from that standpoint,” Anthopoulos said. “If a baseball trade lines up for us, I don’t see any reason we’re not going to be able to add players at the trade deadline if we can line up in terms of talent.”
Yet until the Blue Jays make such a move, some skepticism will remain. Earlier this season, a group of Blue Jays players agreed to defer their salaries if it meant obtaining starter Ervin Santana, and Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun reported Friday that the Blue Jays are telling teams they can’t take on money in trades.
The Blue Jays aren’t close to completing any trades, with discussions still in the “conceptual stage.” But the Blue Jays aim to make moves, even if it means giving up valuable prospects.
“In the right context you certainly would do it,” Anthopoulos said. “It’s really as much about what you get back, as much as what you give up. The more talent you give up, the more years of control, the more talent you get back. It’s a sliding scale.”
The sliding scale also applies to finances — part of any trade discussion this time of year for all 30 teams.
“There’s plenty of deals where money gets exchanged,” Anthopoulos said. “There’s value to dollars, regardless, no matter who the club is. There’s value. Some people may value it more than some others, but there’s no doubt it’s part of the compensation one way or the other.”
Still, the Blue Jays would prefer to hold onto their prospects, and view right-hander Aaron Sanchez as a potential impact reliever. Anthopoulos said Sanchez is “ready right now” after making “tremendous strides” to refine his delivery and generate even more ground balls. Brandon Morrow could also bolster the Blue Jays‘ bullpen later in the summer, though the Blue Jays are also open to bringing him back as a starting pitcher if he looks and feels good enough.
Before Morrow returns, Adam Lind, Brett Lawrie and Edwin Encarnacion are expected return from their respective injuries, restoring order to middle of the Blue Jays‘ batting order.
“Getting those guys back is huge no matter what,” Anthopoulos said. “But we’re going to look to add in trade if we can as well. Hopefully both.”
With a 50-48 record entering play Sunday, the Blue Jays are still in the mix for the post-season, despite their recent struggles. While Toronto’s players would surely welcome a major acquisition, Anthopoulos says he’s not motivated to make a deal for the sake of the clubhouse unless it’s a fit.
“We’re all in this together. We’re all trying to win,” he said. “We all live and die with every win and loss. From that standpoint, I think everybody wants the same thing.”
The needs are clear. The Blue Jays could use relief help. They could use an infielder capable of playing second or third base. They could use a starting pitcher if a clear upgrade over someone like J.A. Happ became available.
Now Anthopoulos faces the challenge of addressing one or more of those needs to deepen a roster that could use reinforcements. And though he won’t say precisely how much leeway he has when it comes to adding payroll, that part of the equation will shape the team’s trade talks in the next 11 days.