Quiet Deadline For Blue Jays

Many of the best trade chips in baseball play for the Toronto Blue Jays, but the team held onto all of them when their rivals didn’t meet the club’s asking price. Scott Downs, Jason Frasor, Kevin Gregg, Jose Bautista and John Buck remain in Toronto for one simple reason: in the end, no team presented GM Alex Anthopoulos with an overwhelming offer.

“I don’t think we were that close today,” Anthopoulos said. “There were things we had on the table that were available to us, but not enough to make us make a trade.”

A year ago today, the Jays held onto the biggest trade chip in baseball: Roy Halladay. This season Anthopoulos targeted the same kinds of players that his predecessor, J.P. Ricciardi did.

“The greatest challenge we have is getting those elite players,” Anthopoulos said. “We’re always going to continue to shoot high and try to get those impact players.”

Multiple teams considered Scott Downs an impact reliever. The 34-year-old may have been the best left-handed reliever available, but he remains a Blue Jay. After a few months, the rumors and speculation became a bigger part of everyday life for Blue Jays relievers.

“It started to,” Downs said. “I can’t lie, it started to a little bit, but it’s a business.”

Downs, Frasor, Gregg and Buck could potentially bring the Blue Jays draft picks in the 2011 draft. If the four players maintain their current standings in the Elias rankings and all turn down offers of arbitration from the Blue Jays, the team could be working with as many as six extra picks in next year’s draft. It’s a big ‘if,’ but one the Blue Jays were keenly aware of.

“It’s absolutely part of the criteria,” Anthopoulos said. “You look at players that are free agents that could have compensation attached to them and you have a lot of options.”

Many teams liked Jose Bautista, but the MLB home run leader is still in Toronto. As far as he’s concerned, that’s a good thing.

“There were a lot of rumors out there,” Bautista said. “But the end result is I’m still here and this is where I wanted to be.”

The July 31st deadline means the end of non-waiver trades, but there’s still the potential for deals. Anthopoulos expects to explore trade possibilities next month, but most of his trade chips wouldn’t clear waivers. August will likely be quieter than July, but the Blue Jays are open to making deals.

“I’d say we’d be active in terms of exploring the waiver wire, talking to clubs, but in terms of actually getting a deal done, impossible to say,” Anthopoulos said. 

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