12/08/08 10:00 PM EST
Ricciardi not trading Ryan to Mets
Club is willing to explore trades, but doesn't plan to trade closer
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi shot down an online report claiming that the Blue Jays and Mets had discussed Ryan's availability. Ricciardi took it a step further, indicating that Toronto isn't shopping Ryan, even though dealing the closer could free up some spending money to help accomplish other offseason goals.
"I don't see us trading B.J., to be honest with you," Ricciardi said on Monday at the Winter Meetings. "He's good at what he does, No. 1. No. 2, we've got him for two more years. I think as you keep looking down the road, we've still got a good club, and we're going to have a good club next year, too. It's tough to fill that spot."
The Mets are in the market for a closer and the Blue Jays -- without an excess of spending money this winter -- are willing to consider shedding payroll in order to fill some of their holes. Last season, Toronto featured the best bullpen in baseball, perhaps making Ryan seem expendable.
While there would appear to be a match with the Mets, Ricciardi said the two sides never met.
"We haven't talked to the Mets about Ryan," Ricciardi said.
Ryan, who is owed $10 million in each of the next two seasons, saved 32 games and posted a 2.95 ERA last season for the Blue Jays. Even so, Ryan struggled with inconsistent command throughout the season after returning from Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery on his left arm.
According to a report in the Newark Star-Ledger, the Jays inquired about Mets outfield prospect Fernando Martinez, though New York isn't interested in moving him. It's unlikely that the Mets would consider such a deal with other closers available on the open market. New York is aggressively pursuing free-agent right-hander Francisco Rodriguez, who saved a record 62 games last season.
The Jays have been hurting financially due to a weakened Canadian dollar and a decrease in team sponsorship. As a result, Toronto has experienced layoffs within its front office and is looking at trimming the $97 million payroll the club operated on in 2008. The club might consider trades to help in that regard.
One reason the Blue Jays are hesitant to part with Ryan is the fact that the team may need to move one of its relievers to the rotation next season. If Toronto strikes out in its attempts to reel in a starter this offseason, Ricciardi said left-handers Scott Downs and Brian Tallet are candidates for a move to a starting role.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.