The first day of the Winter Meetings had more Blue Jays-activity than I could've hoped for. First, this morning we heard that Roy Halladay will be retiring as a Blue Jay, and then had an emotional press conference, then we learned that a possible deal that would've sent Sergio Santos to the Rangers for a starting pitcher fell through at the last moment. Since then, there have been other developments.
First up, you can now buy a sexy authentic "HALLADAY 32" Blue Jays jersey at the Jays Shop for just $223.99, or a replica for $119.99. Although he was invited to attend spring training in some capacity, we will likely not see Halladay actually wearing one of those jerseys. J.P. Arencibia jerseys are still full price, for some reason.
Second, a much younger-looking John Gibbons addressed the media (how one gets younger-looking after managing the 2013 Blue Jays is a mystery). The full transcript was kindly provided by Gregor Chisholm--it was done by software trying to understand Gibby's drawl so expect to see some strange stuff. The key points:
- On one hand, Gibbons said that he thinks Brandon Morrow is "going to be fine" but on the other hand said that he is "another big question mark."
- Ideally, Gibbons wants to see Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison start in triple-A and fill the role of the sixth (and seventh) pitcher whenever the major league club needs someone. The depth that those two will be providing is nice to see, considering the Blue Jays had to rely on the likes of Aaron Laffey, Sean Nolin, and Ramon Ortiz last season.
- Surprisingly, Gibbons said that he is "not sure" about what role Sergio Santos will take next season (assuming he is still a Blue Jay), saying that Santos wants to close. He did mention that Santos can take over "the night that [Casey] Janssen is not doing it," suggesting that Janssen may still be the club's closer but it's more written in erasable ink rather than etched in stone.
- When asked about the catching situation, Gibbons said some good things about his new catchers Dioner Navarro and Erik Kratz, noting that pitchers like throwing to Navarro, and Kratz had good defense. Kratz is expected to battle with incumbent Josh Thole for the backup spot in spring training.
- On Anthony Gose, Gibbons thinks that the toolsy outfielder can contribute to the club and that he could very well do better in the majors than in triple-A. Then he mentioned Melky Cabrera, saying that if he was healthy, he would be the starting left fielder, "but who knows how that's going to shake out."
- Gibbons said that he will likely only send Adam Lind out against righties (I assume--the transcript says Lind has "always dominated left-handed pitching.") But even though Moises Sierra is getting time at first base in winter ball, Gibbons thinks that he has a "hard time" seeing him there next year other than in a blowout.
- On the second base situation, Gibbons doled out some high praise for Ryan Goins, saying that "he handled the ball well enough [in September] to be the top dog going in [to spring training]," while suggesting that Maicer Izturis will fill in more of a utility role saying that his strength is to come off the bench. Goins handled the bat well in September and that he has good hand-eye coordination and had "put himself on the map." While seeing Goins talked about like that is great, to hear, I'm sure that we are all hoping that Anthopoulos could go out and acquire someone that is better than Goins and Izturis.
- New hitting coach Kevin Seitzer will not screw around too much with established hitters like Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, except to work with them to try to hit the other way when the other team pulls defensive shifts against them.
- Gibbons said that Mark DeRosa could be a GM or manager one day, and that he had "bounce[d] things off him" last year, asking him specifically about the strategies of his former managers.
- When asked whether Jose Reyes will be expected to step up as a clubhouse leader next year, Gibbons sort of hedged the question, saying that "he comes in everyday to play" and that he "brings enthusiasm and he's one of those guys," adding that "in reality, the manager has got to lead." The transcription is a little wonky in that part, but it does look like Reyes is not exactly a leader, at least in Gibbons's mind. Of course, that's perfectly alright if he isn't forced into that role.
In a minor move, Shi Davidi reported that the Blue Jays are sending Thad Weber, who spent the bulk of the 2013 season as a rather effective starter for the triple-A Buffalo Bisons, to the NC Dinos of the Korea Baseball Organization. There, he will join former Blue Jays outfielder Eric Thames, who was released in order for him to join the Dinos. I wish them both all the best and wish them a summer filled with bulgogi, jajangmyeon, dak galbi, kimbap, and naengmyeon.
On the rumours front, the Blue Jays have reportedly been interested in acquiring 40-year-old free agent pitcher and Muammar Gaddafi impersonator Bartolo Colon according to Peter Gammons. I don't really believe this rumour--with Anthopoulos' comments about not pursuing free agent and Colon's reported $10 million ask, I doubt that he would sign with Toronto. However, if he does, he would be added to the list of players who have played for both the Expos and the Blue Jays.
Other players linked to the Jays (ie. the club has asked about) include first basemen James Loney, Mitch Moreland, Logan Morrison, supposedly because the Jays were asking for second baseman Neil Walker in exchange for Adam Lind. Walker, a switch hitter with fairly large career splits favouring hitting righties, is 28 and will be eligible for arbitration in 2014. It seems to be that another piece will have to go along with Lind to Pittsburgh to get the deal done, and in the DH-less National League Lind's value will take a hit. By Anthopoulos is also working on a "smaller deal" to add a right-handed bench bat.
The Blue Jays were also one of the teams who saw Cuban shortstop Aledmys Diaz work out in a showcase in Mexico, reports Jeff Passan. Our friends at Viva El Birdos looked into Diaz earlier this season. Meh. Let's revisit this in February, if it's even a news story then. By the way, since we are talking about Cuban defectors, make sure you go and read this terrific piece by Passan, Charles Robinson, and Rand Getlin on the human smuggling, kidnapping, and extortion involved in getting some players from Cuba to the United States.
Former Blue Jays speedster Rajai Davis seems to be nearing a deal with the Detroit Tigers according to Ben Nicholson-Smith, after being linked with the Twins earlier in the day. With Austin Jackson, Torii Hunter, and Andy Dirks patrolling the outfield, it looks like Davis would be relegated to a fourth outfielder role next season despite his efforts at finding a starting role.
Rajai Davis has signed with the Tigers for two years in the $9-10 million range according to Jon Morosi, Nicholson-Smith adds that the deal does not include options. Davis is a flawed player, but it was unfortunate to see the Blue Jays just let him walk.
Also: the Arizona Diamondbacks are in a major shopping frenzy. Over at MLB Trade Rumors, Steve Adams writes that they are "determined" to leave Orlando with either Shin-Soo Choo or Mark Trumbo, preparing to offer both Tyler Skaggs and Trevor Cahill for Trumbo! What!