Jays may consider trading Halladay
Dealing ace could fit in with GM Anthopoulos' vision
TORONTO -- Alex Anthopoulos finally did away with the suspense and agreed on Saturday afternoon to discuss the immediate and long-term direction of the Blue Jays. It was a topic the new general manager wanted to address when the time was right.
With the General Managers' Meetings set to kick off in Chicago on Monday, Anthopoulos felt the time had come to talk about the road ahead. Coming off a disappointing 75-win season, the Blue Jays do not appear close to their first playoff appearance since winning the World Series in 1993. It is now up to Anthopoulos to find a remedy for the situation.
Anthopoulos' vision is of an organization that can have a sustained period of success, becoming an annual postseason contender within a tough American League East. To reach that point, Anthopoulos plans on relying less on free agency for now, and focusing his attention on building a strong core through trades and strong scouting and player development.
Anthopoulos does not want fans thinking this means the Blue Jays are entering a rebuilding phase.
"Really, I would characterize it as 'building,'" Anthopoulos said during a conference call. "I think when people talking about a rebuild, you would be tearing down the team and trading away a number of players. I don't know that we have that, necessarily. I think we have a lot of good young players. I just don't think we have enough."
The issue front and center on the minds of the Blue Jays' fan base is the status of ace Roy Halladay, who is eligible for free agency next offseason and a key component in Toronto's direction. Anthopoulos stressed that the Jays want to keep Halladay in the fold, but the pitcher has made it no secret that his goal is to reach the postseason and play for a World Series title soon.
A contract extension for Halladay is an unlikely scenario, considering that 2010 likely will be a stepping stone within a more long-term process for Toronto. It is more likely Anthopoulos will field trade offers for the pitcher this winter, and the young general manager indicated he is open to listening to proposals for any of his players.
"There are several players that I would be very reluctant to trade," Anthopoulos said. "That being said, I think I have to be open-minded to anything that can make this ballclub better going forward and better for the long-term. ... Roy's made it very clear that he wants to win, and we respect that and that's why we love him. He's as competitive as there is.
"He's probably one of the greatest, if not the greatest, Blue Jay to ever put on a uniform here. But he wants to win, and ... we were a 75-win team last year. We haven't met his criteria for winning, and we certainly don't fault him for that. We certainly want to win as well, and I think he stressed that his timeline for winning and ours may not mesh and may not match."
Anthopoulos did not reveal a specific payroll figure for the upcoming season for the Jays, who operated on roughly $80 million in 2009. He said team ownership has expressed a willingness to increase payroll if it makes sense, and Anthopoulos believes Toronto eventually can reach a financial level of teams like the Angels, White Sox and Red Sox.
This winter, Anthopoulos said he plans on being more active on the trade front than with free agents. According to the 32-year-old rookie GM, Toronto needs to be able to win around 95 games each year to realistically contend in the AL East. Once the Blue Jays are closer to that goal and have a solid core in place, Anthopoulos will be more willing to consider spending more on the open market.
"I would say that I would probably be more active in trades than free agency," Anthopoulos said. "I think trades is definitely something that I'm going to be more aggressive with overall. That doesn't necessarily mean that they're going to occur, but it's probably a little bit more of a fit for our club right now."
The Jays have a trio of free agents in catcher Rod Barajas and shortstops Marco Scutaro and John McDonald.
Anthopoulos reiterated that he has interest in bringing all three players back, but he also has spent a lot of time evaluating the alternatives. One thing to consider is that Toronto potentially could receive three compensatory picks in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft if Scutaro (a Type A free agent) and Barajas (Type B) decline arbitration and sign with other teams.
"That certainly goes into the evaluation of the player," Anthopoulos said. "As much as we'd like to bring all three of those players back, there may be some areas where it makes sense for us to pursue other opportunities -- sign a free agent or make a trade that will be better for this organization."
After all, Anthopoulos has more than 2010 in mind.
"For us to be short-sighted and try to do something haphazardly," Anthopoulos said, "and take major financial risks, and make short-sighted trades that will impact this franchise long-term and not allow us to have a sustained model of success is not the right way to go, in my mind.
"I think we need to set the core, I think we need to continue to add and I think we need to impact and make changes to the foundation."
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.