McCown just said that he has on good authority that the Jays would be willing to break their 5 year rule to go after Jon Lester.
— Ryan Walsh (@LegendOfZombo) November 21, 2014
— Hope_Smoke (@Hope_Smoke) November 21, 2014
Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos hit the airwaves last night, speaking to Bob McCown and Ken Reid on the Fan 590′s Prime Time Sports (audio here) in the wake of the press conference to announce his biggest ever free agent acquisition, Russell Martin.
Naturally, then, much of the conversation was about Martin, and about the process the club went through to sign him, which is stuff that has already been covered exceptionally well in pieces from Shi Davidi at Sportsnet and John Lott of the National Post. I’ll skip that talk, for the most part, and focus instead on some of the other nuggets that came up in the conversation — of which there were several.
On the importance of the Martin signing…
“I know when we met with Russ, it’s one of the things I talked to him about — would he be willing to sign early, or does he need to go to the winter meetings, or does he need to do all these things. Because I do think that with some of the other plans and things we’d like to do, getting him on the board and getting him signed helps you. And I’ve seen it now — I wasn’t sure to the extent, but I’ve had some agents tell me that, after signing him, [their client] would love to play with him. I think we’ve become a more desirable place to play. Now, that doesn’t mean that we’re going to be able to spend less or get players for fewer years, but it opened the door to some players who were maybe undecided about Toronto, and I think it does maybe push the needle a little more towards us, adding a guy like that, because he’s so well thought of around the game, he’s so well liked as a teammate, and all the other things he brings. Whether it’s a reliever or starter, I’ve had a lot of the agents tell me ‘the Martin signing was a nice indicator, they’d love to throw to him,’ and it does kind of put us back on the map of being that serious about trying to win.”
On the club’s free agent pursuits…
“Before I got on this call I was on the phone with an agent, just talking about the fit with Toronto, how sincere would the player be, all those type of things,” Anthopoulos explained, illustrating the fact that he’s still interested in the market, despite admitting that nothing is imminent. “Normally when you get to the offer standpoint talks are advanced, and we’re nowhere close to that,” he added. “We’re not anywhere close to there at all.”
So much for whatever bullshit Nick Cafardo was spouting earlier in the week, eh?
On the trade market…
“There’s definitely some things we’ve tried to get done from a trade standpoint, we just haven’t been able to get those deals done. So, I’m not very confident right now. I’d say all trade talks are probably more exploratory at this point. I don’t think we’re close. We know who’s available, and there’s a few players we’d love to get, it’s just the ask… it’s — for example, one player we’re fine with parting with, and the second player we need to add, that’s the hangup. And now you’re looking for, ‘OK, I’ll do the one, can I replace that player with somebody else?’ Then you can’t agree there and the conversation goes, ‘well, can I get some other player off another team to facilitate that and do a two-for-one?’ Those are some of the stumbling blocks and some of the road blocks you have when trying to get a deal done. There’s plenty of players we’d love to have who’d be a great fit but we just seem to hit a road block in some of those areas, because we’re not prepared to do what it will take — to give up the players that teams have asked for right now.”
“We have a few players with specific teams that we’re trying to get — not big deals — it’s just, for the most part, rarely do you do one-for-one deals. They’re normally two-for-one or two-for-two, things like that. And sometimes you can agree on the first player, but clearly we’re trying to get someone who is better than the one, so you need to add a little bit more — some people call it a ‘sweetener,’ I guess — and we just… the sweetener’s really sweet for what the team wants and what we’re trying to give. So, we’ll just continue to try to work. I don’t think we’re close to anything, we’ll just continue to try to work at it and see if we can get some things done.”
The Jays’ off-season work isn’t done yet, but with yesterday’s official unveiling of Russell Martin they took a huge step in the right direction, and the folks at Winnipeg’s TSN 1290 Radio were kind enough to ask me to join them to reflect on why the Jays made the deal, why we should be excited about it, and where they go from here.
They were also kind enough to wake me from a mid-morning nap with their phone call. I don’t even think I sounded groggy or anything!
Have a listen to the segment here.
Awesome image via @BlueJayHunter
There really wasn’t a tonne from Thursday’s Russell Martin press conference that needs to be written about, frankly. That might seem strange given all the tweets embedded below, but much of that is information filtered out in the moments after, as the local media was actually able to get their hands on Alex Anthopoulos.
But the Martin stuff? He was beaming, he seemed genuine and affable, he said all the right things, and it was exactly the kind of sunny love-in you’d expect when a team makes its first major free agent signing sign J.P. Ricciardi inked Frank Thomas on November 18th, 2006.
But so what if it was maybe a little predictable? As a Jays fan, it’s impossible not to feel pretty damn good right now.
The off-season isn’t going to pause long for us to bask in this moment, though, and so while we’ll take a look here at a bunch of notable moments from the presser, we’ll also highlight at a bunch of scuttlebutt as well.
Um… mostly just by lazily copying a bunch of tweets…
Russell Martin met with AA & Beeston at a coffee shop in Laval, Québec where an older lady recognized them & urged Martin to sign with #Jays
— Ben Nicholson-Smith (@bnicholsonsmith) November 20, 2014
Good for Martin starting with the fifth year of the contract when listing reasons to come here. Because… y’know. We know.
— Andrew Stoeten (@AndrewStoeten) November 20, 2014
Martin, in French, says he has experience catching knuckler with Charlie Haeger in LA. I think he said he wants to catch Dickey. #Bluejays
— Mike Wilner (@Wilnerness590) November 20, 2014
AA said Martin wants to give catching the knuckleball a try. Said key is to have “soft hands” and he has them. — Brendan Kennedy (@BKennedyStar) November 20, 2014
AA said he wouldn’t rule out carrying three catchers next season because DH spot open. But as previously mentioned, trying to deal Navarro. — Brendan Kennedy (@BKennedyStar) November 20, 2014
Did you just… lay a clutch of eggs?
The Blue Jays tweet out the first image of Martin in a Jays uniform. This is really kinda awesome, eh?
I’ll have more to say from the just-concluded press conference in a separate post shortly, by the way.
As noted below, Dioner Navarro has “expressed an interest in being dealt” to the Blue Jays, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. It’s understandable — Navarro is a free agent after 2015 and stands to make a lot more coming off a full-time gig than he would hitting the market as a backup and part-time sub-par DH — but as John Lott tweets, “just a wild guess, but the Blue Jays would probably explore trades for Navarro even without him asking.”
I like the idea of Navarro as a backup catcher, pinch-hitter, and part-time DH, and the club certainly doesn’t have to trade him just because he’s asked — according to Heyman “the Jays responded by telling Navarro … that they believe they could get him decent playing time between DH and catcher” — but they could feasibly get a nice piece in return for him. And since the Jays need bullpen help, and Anthopoulos has a long-established penchant for trading catcher for relievers, um… I think we all see where this is going.
Also noted below is Ken Rosethal’s tweet about the club’s potential interest in Torii Hunter, and their waning confidence regarding Melky. Hunter’s defence has fallen off a cliff in the last two years, with him being an abysmal eighteen runs below average by both UZR and DRS in 2014, and he’s not much more than a league average hitter, too. He was basically replacement level last year. Pass.
As for Melky, I know that getting a draft pick back after giving one up for Martin is a big thing, but as I tweeted earlier: “Should we maybe put two and two together regarding the Jays’ ‘culture change’ stuff and their seemingly lukewarm interest in Melky?”
Heyman tells us that the White Sox appear to be interested in Melky, by the way.
Stealing my own tweets again here, but: Not to be too cynical, but Rogers family giving $130M for heart research kinda fits the PR plans we’ve heard about. And, of course, by “not to be too cynical” I mean “to be a total ghoul about it.” Just thinking that it maybe suggests some credence to the idea that Rogers is consciously trying to repair their brand, which would be a good thing for the Jays (obviously in addition to just being a good thing in general). However, someone who does fundraising for U of T tweets at me to say it’s been in the works for years, so good on the Rogerses. It’s “the largest donation ever to a Canadian health-care institution or university,” says the Globe and Mail.
Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet reviews John Gibbons’ appearance on the Fan 590 this morning, during which the Jays’ manager said that there are “no problems” with R.A. Dickey, despite recent speculation that he too may be perceived as a poor fit in the Jays’ room. I really don’t know about all that stuff — I’d rather the Jays accumulate talent, frankly, and Dickey, despite the caddy, certainly is still that, even if he’s not quite been the guy the Jays were hoping they’d get.
More importantly from the Gibbons piece, the manager admits that the club is eyeing top relief choice Andrew Miller. “Us and everybody else,” he added. “He’s a hot item right now. He’s come a long way in a couple of years. He was that big, hard thrower that was kind of erratic and he really came into his own in the last couple of years. You look at our team right now with Casey gone, and there’s a hole in that closer spot.”
Meanwhile, Nicholson-Smith tweets that the Jays have added RHP Ryan Tepera to their 40-man roster, which fills the space left yesterday when Juan Francisco was claimed on waivers by the Red Sox. This means that John Stilson will be unprotected, among others, as it currently stands. Bluebird Banter has an excellent rundown of the club’s Rule 5 situation.
As I said on Twitter, good for Martin starting with the fifth year of the contract when listing reasons to come here. Because… y’know. We know.
Help translating the French statements in the comments appreciated!