* Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos says that there are deals are there for the club to make -- if they decide to pay the price. .... Sign up for CBN Newsletter
By Bob Elliott
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla.--The deals are there.
The Blue Jays can make them--for either a starting pitcher or a position player-- if they choose to take one step forward for improvement and one giant leap for 2014.
“We have some things we can do, things we can say yes to,” Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos told reporters on Wednesday afternoon at the 112th winter meetings at the Disney Dolphin Resort.
And he was not talking about a sign-and-retire player like Roy Halladay.
The belief is that the Jays have been talking to the Cubs about right-hander Jeff Samardzija, who was 8-13 with a 4.34 ERA in 33 starts for the Cubs last season. He walked 78 and struck out 214 in 213. innings.
All the Cubs want are top prospects Aaron Sanchez, Marcus Stroman and a third player.
“But the acquisition price doesn’t work for us right now,” Anthopoulos said about any deals on the table. “I don’t know if I could quantify how far off that they might be.
“We continue to have dialogue, so if you want to look at that as encouraging, I don’t know. It’s not so far out of the realm that we won’t continue to have talks.”
Anthopoulos said, “No one is untradeable,” when asked about reports the Jays were offering centrefielder Colby Rasmus to obtain starting pitching.
But, later, in discussing his outfield, of which two-thirds -- Melky Cabrera and Rasmus--could be free agents after the 2014 season with only Jose Bautista locked up, he said: “We’ve been asked about everybody on the 25-man (roster). For us to move an every-day position player and feel like we can get better, that would be hard to do. Would I rule it out? No. I think what’s happened is we’ve had teams come to us.”
Anthopoulos said he could discuss a long-term deal with Rasmus comparing it to the Edwin Encarnacion contract talks.
"The only one I can point to is Edwin, because that’s the last one that we did, we talked about the off-season bfore free agency and we didn’t really go down the path, then we explored it again at the all-star break," said Anthopoulos about Encarnacion. "We wanted to see how Edwin was going to start playing.
"I’m not saying that’s going to be the case with Colby. We could look to do it this off-season, all-star break, end of the season. But I never divulge it because it becomes a daily watch. I’m hopeful that he can be here.”
The GM said he recalled a couple of years back when the Jays had only two relievers under control: Sergio Santos and Casey Janssen ... with five bullpen spots to fill.
He also suggested there was a chance both Moises Sierra and Kevin Pillar could emerge into every-day roles.
“The one thing we have is power and there’s not a lot of power on the market and the free-agent prices don’t work (when it comes to cost),” Anthopoulos said.
“So we’ve been approached by clubs asking for some of our position players that have power.
“We haven’t lined up anything.”
Two GMs said Tuesday that the Jays had offered Rasmus in trade talks.
Anthopoulos says other clubs asked about the availability of Rasmus.
As George Gershwin wrote ...
“You like potato and I like potahto.
“You like tomato and I like tomahto.”
The Detroit Tigers have discussed sending centrefielder Austin Jackson to the New York Yankees for centre fielder Brett Gardner.
Could it evolve into Rasmus for one of the other centre-fielders and an arm?
You really don’t fully appreciate Rasmus’ range into the gaps until you see him chase down extra-base hits at Comerica Park in Detroit or Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City.
Anthopoulos made the point that his team had to be strong defensively up the middle.
The Jays opened a year ago with J.P. Arencibia behind the plate, Emilio Bonifacio and Maicer Izturis sharing second, Jose Reyes at short and Rasmus in centre.
Not exactly the 1927 New York Yankees.
“We made changes behind the plate and at second,” said Anthopoulos.
Dioner Navarro, who has not started more than 100 games since 2009 (109), replaced Arencibia behind the plate and Ryan Goins has given the Jays a glimmer of hope--at least fielding the ball--at second. There is talk that the Jays are still looking for more catching help.
Anthopoulos said the Jays had discussed a number of trade possibilities.
“We talked about multiple three-way deals,” he said. “There’s some scenarios where we can bring other teams in.
“Ideally, you always prefer to deal directly with that team. It gets so much more complicated. There always seems to be a snag because there’s multiple players and sometimes the whole thing gets held up because of one player.
“There’s a lot of times when we hit a roadblock and they’re looking for a certain position and we say we may not have that, but we may line up with these four teams. A GM might tell you we like these three players. Can you get one of them? I might try to go to work. One thing we’re pursuing would most likely look to have a three-team component to it. Some others are just straight deals.”
A year ago, the Jays left the winter meetings with a foundation to make the deal with the New York Mets, which landed them knuckleballer R.A. Dickey.
“We’re not as close as we were with the Mets,” Anthopoulos said. “But things can change.”
Things have to change for a team coming off a 74-win season.
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COLBY RASMUS’ CAREER STATS
ERA TEAM G R H HR RBI BB SO BA
2009 STL 147 72 119 16 52 36 95 .251
2010 STL 144 85 128 23 66 63 148 .276
2011 STL/TOR 129 75 106 14 53 50 116 .225
2012 TOR 151 75 126 23 75 47 149 .223
2013 TOR 118 57 115 22 66 37 135 .276