Alex Anthopoulos popped up on the Fan 590 this morning, chatting with Jeff Blair about the off-season so far, and while you probably could have written a bunch of Alex’s answers in advance — I actually did for one of them, about how much of a distraction the Beeston rumours have been, on Twitter (shock: they haven’t been distracting at all, he says) — there were surprisingly more than a few nuggets worth taking note of.
Blair spent a lot of time in the early part of the segment talking about Melky Cabrera, seemingly attempting to fold that talk into a bigger discussion about the club’s payroll. This tactic actually worked fairly well, as Anthopoulos was as close to specific about where his club’s payroll is going (er… staying) as he’s maybe ever been.
The G.M. admitted that, as Blair had been reporting for the last week or so, he had contacted Cabrera’s camp as the Michael Saunders deal was being finalized in order to let them know that the Jays were no longer interested. Two stray thoughts about this: one, so much for John Gibbons saying at the Winter Meetings that the door had yet to be closed on Melky coming back, and two, hopefully this means that the Jays are keen enough not to view Saunders as a potential centrefielder (which he almost certainly would have become if they continued to pursue, and ultimately landed, Cabrera). But obviously, it’s Alex’s thoughts on why they exited the Cabrera chase — despite Melky actually landing in Chicago on a reasonably-priced deal — that actually matter, and in giving us those he continued to assert that the two sides, as he’d claimed all along, really had trouble lining up.
“I don’t know that we were ever going to be close,” he said of the talks with Melky, which took place both around the All-Star break and after the season ended. And when the deal with the Mariners for Saunders came about prior to the Winter Meetings, Anthopoulos liked it for all the obvious reasons, and made the hard choice to go for it while it was still on the table, even as he knew it meant ruling himself out of the Melky market — the catalyst being his fear that if Seattle had shopped the player at the Winter Meetings, another club might have made a better offer.
“We had, and still have, a lot of needs on this club,” he explained. “Our payroll’s a very strong, healthy payroll. Again, though, we do have a limit of where we’re prepared to go. Our payroll is certainly — I expect it to be right there in that top ten range, or at least close to the top ten. And at some point you have to make a decision. So, when we signed Martin, and being able to get Saunders, and two years of control with Saunders, at his arbitration salaries — and you recover the draft pick for Melky, as well, that we lost with Martin — and also to have dollars to allocate to some other areas, that’s what made the most sense to us.”