It has been a fun off-season so far. Makes you wonder what is next.
We went into the off-season needing a second baseman, a left fielder and, at least, a couple of bullpen arms. And, after a flurry of moves, we need a second baseman, a left fielder and, at least, a couple of bullpen arms. (Don't read that as a rip on Alex, I think he's had a pretty amazing couple of months). Following along with the reasoning of the moves, up to now, the next thing Alex will get us is a right fielder.
So far we have:
- Picked up Justin Smoak. Perhaps he is a placeholder, just there until someone better comes along. Perhaps they think he can make it through waivers. Perhaps they think he'll be a much better hitting in Rogers Centre. We'll see.
- Traded Adam Lind for Maco Estrada, because, of course, we needed a swing man. It isn't like they are a dime a dozen. This is the one move I haven't loved, but then the point was to create some payroll room. No one ever likes those trades. Marco can compete for the long man role, with Redmond or take J.A. Happ's spot if he is traded or just be a right-handed arm in the pen. Jays aren't saying it, but trading Lind might be part of remaking the clubhouse.
- Traded Anthony Gose for Devon Travis. Travis becomes the second baseman of the future. The future could begin at the start of the season, but, more likely, later in the season or 2016. Gose had been passed by Dalton Pompey and he doesn't seem the type to use that as inspiration to work harder.
- Signed free agent Russell Martin. This one surprised me. I figured they would live with Navarro, and bide time until Max Pentecost was ready. The move proves that they took notice of the defensive problems behind the plate.
- Traded Brett Lawrie (and Barreto, Nolin and Graveman) for Josh Donaldson. If the Martin signing was a surprise, this one was a knockout. If you had asked me, a week ago, which Jay was least likely to be traded, I would have said Lawrie, figuring it would be selling low on Brett and that, they seem to be gathering Canadians. I also would have bet that Donaldson was untouchable. I thought we needed another power bat, to go with Edwin and Jose, I can't imagine we could have found a better one than Donaldson. I'll miss Brett, but I'm glad to miss him to watch Donaldson. I'm sure that the fact that Donaldson played in 158 games, in each of the last two seasons had some to do with Alex wanting him. I'm so much happier with Donaldson than I would have been with Sandoval.
I think the team will wait to see if Melky Cabrera comes back before they look elsewhere. There was a report saying the team would like to word from Melky before the end of the winter meetings next week. If they don't get him, they'll have money for someone else. Maybe they will look at Nelson Cruz (I guess not, looks like he's signed with the Mariners, one less team bidding for Melky, plus the salary level is pretty much set), Nick Markakis or Nori Aoki. I'm really hoping Torii Hunter isn't on their radar. Beyond that, it's the trade market and I'd hate to outguess Alex. I'm not against Jay Bruce, if they can convince him to come here.
If they sign Melky, I wouldn't be surprised if they went with some combination of Maicer Izturis, Ryan Goins and Devon Travis. Or pick up someone on the cheap. If not I could see them go after Jed Lowrie or Asdrubal Cabrera, though they likely wouldn't want to go for more than a one or two year contract, if they really believe Travis is the future 2B.
Alex stated, on MLB Radio, that the team won't be signing any high priced free agent relievers. So that (if true) takes them out on Andrew Miller and David Robertson. And he isn't after Paplebon (thank you Alex). That seems to leave us with lesser free agents and the trade route. Maybe Luke Gregerson or Francisco Rodríguez (we don't seem to have our quota of Franciscos). I wonder if there is any chance that Brandon Morrow could be talked into coming back? I haven't heard any rumors about Casey Janssen either. I'm not against the Jays bringing back either of those two.
The way things are going, the next move will end up being something totally unrelated to those positions. Maybe Alex will decide he has to sign Jon Lester or Brandon McCarthy.
It has been much more exciting off-season than last year and it is only December 1. There is more fun to come.