The winter meetings are set to begin tomorrow in Las Vegas, Nevada, new home of the Jays' Triple A team. The meetings don't always feature huge announcements of deals, but the groundwork for those deals is often laid at the winters even if they are not concluded until later on. The meetings will end with the Rule 5 draft on Thursday, and the Jays will need to do a bit of roster shuffling should they want to participate. That won't be difficult, as the Jays have some players on the 40-man roster that it's unlikely anyone would draft, and a few who are completely replaceable even if they were drafted.
Richard Griffin expects the Jays to be quiet in the winter meetings and for once it's hard to disagree with the man. Griff says that until the 4 big names are drafted (Sabathia, Teixiera, K-Rod, and Furcal), things will open up. There is some uncertainty for each player as to where they end up, though I would be surprised if K-Rod doesn't end up a Met - they have money to spend on a closer and no one else seems to interested in dropping big bucks on a 9th inning man. J.P. Ricciardi has all but conceded Burnett, though I guess you never know. Depending on what team signs Burnett, our compensation could vary greatly I just hope he doesn't end up with a team that also signs Sabathia or Teixiera, that would sting.
Bob Elliott takes a look at each team's needs in today's Sun, and there's nothing out of the ordinary about the Jays, although according to Elliott, the Jays are looking at Rafael Furcal, Bobby Crosby, and Raul Ibanez. It's been well-reported that the A's are out of the running for Furcal, and if that's true, it's hard to imagine how (or why) the Jays would trade for Crosby. Although Crosby was finally healthy last season, he was awful and hasn't been any good at all since 2005 (in a half season at that). I'd take a flier on him, but I sure wouldn't give up much of anything. Ibanez would be okay as DH on, say, a 2 year deal with an option except that he's a Type A free agent and would require the Jays to surrender their 1st round draft pick. He just declined arbitration. In a final bit of bad news, Brewers GM Doug Melvin says he's not trading Bluebird Banter favourite J.J. Hardy. Oh, well.
For top coverage of the Jays' needs, let me recommend our ongoing offseason conversation, The Dangling Conversation. And let me also recommend an excellent fanpost by Bunner and ensuing dialogue on whether the Jays should go into rebuilding mode.
Finally, MLB.com Jays beat reporting workhorse Jordan Bastian has a nice little article on Marco Scutaro. Scoot is playing in the Venezuelan Winter League this winter and is gearing up for what could very well be the starting shortstop job for the Jays in 2009.
N.B. Today's title comes from a song by Sea Wolf, whose record "Leaves in the River" has been a favorite of mine this fall and winter. It seemed appropriate, since the moves made this winter will hopefully bear fruit come spring and summer.