Anthopoulos Talks Hill, Encarnacion, Wells, Arencibia

Alex Anthopoulos says he has has 'tinkered' and 'talked' about acquiring a third baseman and won't rule out potential acquisitions. But the Blue Jays GM remains confident in Jose Bautista's ability to play the position all season long. The defending AL home run champ played 48 games at third last year and spent 225 games at the hot corner for the Pirates from 2007-08, so the Blue Jays say they're set at third.

Last year's third baseman, Edwin Encarnacion, will combine with Adam Lind to play first base and DH. The Blue Jays are hopeful that Lind can handle first defensively and they're optimistic about Encarnacion's power potential. Anthopoulos says he thinks Encarnacion has "one more gear in there" and while he hesitated before comparing him to Bautista, the GM says he can see Encarnacion hitting 30 homers or more in 2011.

The Blue Jays are also looking for a bounceback season from Aaron Hill, and they have a decision to make before the season starts. The team can either exercise Hill's 2012-14 options before the coming season begins or they can wait until the offseason, at which point they'll be able to exercise his 2012-13 options or just his 2012 option. Anthopoulos declined to elaborate on the team's plan, but did emphasize that the sides aren't bound to Hill's current deal.

“There’s a lot of flexibility,” Anthopoulos told a crowd of about 500 Blue Jays fans at last night's State of the Franchise event. “We’re not tied into anything. There’s nothing that prevents us from sitting down with Aaron and his agent and saying we want to do a five-year deal, four-year deal, six-year deal.”

Anthopoulos also discussed one multiyear deal that has become the responsibility of another organization. He declined to confirm reports that the Blue Jays are sending $5MM to the Angels as part of the Vernon Wells trade. 

"The deal that was announced [Wells straight up for Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera] was the deal that was agreed to," he said.

The Blue Jays have money to spend now that they've unloaded most or all of Wells' deal and they remain open to making acquisitions. Anthopoulos, a Montreal native and former Expos employee, says he can relate to fans who want a bona fide slugger like Vladimir Guerrero.

"I understand," Anthopoulos said. "He was one of my favorite players growing up and he's someone that I admire." 

However, Anthopoulos exaplined that he doesn't want to acquire players who get playing time in place of developing players. For example, the Blue Jays intend to provide their top catching prospect with the chance to show major league pitchers why he won the Pacific Coast League MVP last year.

“We really don’t want to get in the way of J.P. Arencibia because we do believe that he’s an important component of this team” Anthopoulos said. “He has nothing more to prove down [in the minors]. He needs to get an opportunity to play up here and we might have to let him live through some struggles early on.”

If the Blue Jays don't spend on free agents or through trades, they say they'll have more to spend on player development, the amateur draft and international free agency. Amateur spending will not end the Blue Jays' 17-year playoff drought immediately, but it's promising news for fans of a team that has seven of the first 78 selections in the upcoming June draft.

44 Responses to Anthopoulos Talks Hill, Encarnacion, Wells, Arencibia Leave a Reply

  1. BoSoxSam 4 years ago

    “However, Anthopoulos exaplined…”

    :) I’m actually impressed, that’s a more creative typo than usual.

    • Ben_Cherington 4 years ago

      you have never heard of exaplined? You should check the dictionary!!

      • iains 4 years ago

        on google exaplined gives you 10,600 results.. has to be a real word!

    • Garafraxaguy 4 years ago

      Maybe thats not a typo, maybe thats what AA said. I think it’s a Greek-Quebecois word.

  2. At least he didn’t have to explainify it like George W.

  3. Ian_Smell 4 years ago

    From what I remember, Joey Bats was a pretty good third baseman with the Pirates. He had decent range but he has a really strong arm. I’m confident that he can put up at least an average year at third.

    • He definitely had terrible UZR ratings with the Pirates, but I do agree he has a great arm.

      It may just be me, but I have a feeling Bautista might have a similar fate to Aaron Hill and Adam Lind…. In 2009 both had monster offensive years (kind of out of nowhere) and then were expected to continue that production into the next season…. Adam Lind and Aaron Hill were then both huge disappointments in the following season.

      I really hope Bautista is the real thing, but going from a high of 15 homers (in 142 games) to 54 (in 161) might not be so sustainable.

      • I expect (well, hope for) something like 20-25, and would be pleasantly surprised by 30+. If he hits at least 30 then I think that would be enough to say last season wasn’t a fluke (as far as one season can prove that).

        • I completely agree. This is why the Jays can’t give Jose some big Vernon Wells-esque extension based on one season.

          I hate looking at projections but Fangraphs has a 35 Hr 109 RBI prediction for next year and Bill James has a 34 Hr 90 RBI prediction.

          • FrankTheFunkasaurusRex 4 years ago

            and in my opinion that still very optimistic

      • Bombastic_Dave 4 years ago

        I think the biggest difference-maker is going to be Cito’s absence. He didn’t let his team hit the way they feel was best — they were told to swing for the fences. This probably had an effect on Lind and Hill as well as Bautista.

        We’ll see how they do with Farrell. One of many question marks…

        • Guest 4 years ago

          It would be interesting to see if Bautista struggles this year, if the bring Cito in for some teachings. He and Johnny Mac had great hitting seasons this year under Cito.

      • sadp 4 years ago

        The difference is that everyone expected Hill and Lind to repeat, or at least come close. No one expects Bautista to repeat.

      • RidiculousPage 4 years ago

        With Hill, you have to take into consideration that he ran into really bad luck. His BABIP was one of the lowest, if not the lowest, at like .197 if I remember correctly. He’s bound for some regression to the mean.

        • Hill’s low BABIP was not bad luck. It was popping up to shallow right-center for most of the season.

          • RaygunJones 4 years ago

            Which is best described as bad luck. The most minute variation of bat speed or contact location is the difference between a double and a popout. Plenty of near-Mendoza-line hitters actually have BABIP close to the league average (which is around .300 I believe). Among the players with qualified ABs who hit less than .250 in 2010, only four of them had a BABIP that was also lower than .250, and most were hovering between .270 and .300.

            Also, compared to other guys who hit close to .200, Hill’s K% was very low (16%, below the league average), but his BB% was also pretty low. So he was actually putting the ball in play more often than most players, and STILL wound up with the lowest BABIP in the league. No one believes that Aaron Hill is just THAT bad of a hitter.

        • Encarnacion's Parrot 4 years ago

          Fly balls lower your BABIP. Considering Hill swung for a HR at every at-bat..

  4. If AA says the Jays didn’t send $5 million over (that’s what it sounds like), then I’m going to believe that over “various reports”.

  5. blurnandez 4 years ago

    “He was one of my favorite players growing up and he’s someone that I admire” – This quote made me chuckle a little. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a GM talk about a current player as being a favorite player growing up. Sometimes I forget how young Anthopoulos is.

  6. blizzah 4 years ago

    Whats wrong with EE at 3rd. He wasn’t THAT bad last year, and Bautista is much more useful in RF than 3B. Especially if it means Snider and Rivera are your starting corners.

    EE to 3rd, sign Vlad to DH, or Branyan if you want a lefty who can play 1st if need be.

    • mike292929 4 years ago

      “Whats wrong with EE at 3rd. He wasn’t THAT bad last year”

      That made me LOL a little.

      • vtadave 4 years ago

        A “little”? Heh… Yeah I also see nothing wrong with Johnny Damon in center field and hey, Jim Thome used to play third base, so maybe he’s an option there if Valencia struggles.

      • FrankTheFunkasaurusRex 4 years ago

        he’s actually not that terrible. not anymore at least
        in the second half it was much less painful to watch him man 3B

  7. Daryl 4 years ago

    I dont get how Vlad would be like Napoli…. We do not think EE is the same as Arencibia. If we did – AA would have signed EE to a long term deal. Obviously anyone who is better than EE (forces him to the bench) isn’t a problem in my books. I get we need to build young, but especially Vlad signed for a year or two doesn’t block the way. Gives us something to watch. As someone with 20+ tickets already, I’m kinda annoyed with the lack of effort to put a winner together now. Please spend some money now too. Our dollar is strong, and we have a market in the top5. Lets build for the future, but also get some major league talent for 2011.

    • Bombastic_Dave 4 years ago

      Did you see Vlad on the field in the World Series last year? E5 has less of a chance of being E3 than Vlad, in case Lind goes back to DH.

      And I agree! Let’s mortgage our future with irrelevant spending just to appease people who don’t already know how exciting this season’s going to be!

      • HerbertAnchovy 4 years ago

        Looks like we’re on the same page. Killer avatar by the way.

    • HerbertAnchovy 4 years ago

      Vlad offers no versatility. EE can at least split time between 1B and DH, Vlad cannot. As others have pointed out, he’d be an expensive bench player and no doubt wants to play everyday.

      AA and Co. have put a lot of effort into this offseason, so saying otherwise is simply false. Signing FA’s just to sell tickets is not the way to go, we’ve been that route before, and it’s a flawed strategy.

      The Jays likely aren’t going to compete this year, so patience is needed from the fanbase. In a few years, when FA’s or big trades can really help the team, I believe we’ll see it happen.

  8. I think his attitude is why sign Vlad when he could potentially take playing time away from a younger player that they will count on in the future. I’m sure he hopes to contend this year, but I believe he’s trying to build a team the will contend from ’12 onward.

  9. slider32 4 years ago

    The Jays don’t have many consistent players. I look for a drop off from Bautista and Escobar, and improvements from Hill, Lind, Snider, and Arencibia. They don’t have enough good players to compete in the East. They did a great job dumping salary but that doesn’t win games.

    • wait. Why a drop off from Escobar? Didn’t he have a bad start to the year last year? Why would you expect him to drop further? If anything, I think most people think he might have an improved year.

    • Guest 4 years ago

      Disagree completely with you on Escobar. I would expect something like .290/.360/.390 from him this year. He is coming into his prime, has full support from the team and should be ready to explode. I also expect Arencibia to have a tough year.

    • HerbertAnchovy 4 years ago

      It’s MLBTR’s Jays-basher! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a comment from you that wasn’t negative. Maybe you should start trolling somewhere else.

    • drop off from escobar… hmm…

      lets see – he just had the worst statistical season of his career, and he predicts drop off! never heard of career norms i guess. no mention of the fact that he was close to a .300 career hitter in 3 seasons before last year and actually garnered MVP votes in 2009 after hitting .370 with RISP.

      maybe i’m crazy, but he seems like an excellent bounce back candidate and possibly one of the best SS in the game.

  10. RaygunJones 4 years ago

    I agree with AA’s assessment of a Vlad acquisition (but honestly, until the press release comes out, no one ever knows what AA will or will not do, so there’s always still the chance), but I also understand why more causal fans are disappointed that none of the big-name DHs Toronto was linked to have been signed. I’ve been really happy with most of AA’s moves this offseason (except the Marcum trade; I will rue that trade till the day I die; Marcum was the only baseball player I truly admired in a magical little-kid kind of way since George Bell in the late 80’s), but the fact remains that this is going to be even more of a high-risk, high-reward year than 2010. A huge number of players on the 2011 team will be question marks (do Hill and Lind recover? Does J-Bau prove the haters wrong? Does EE do anything useful? Does Snider finally gain a smidge of plate discipline and live up to his pedigree? Do the young pitchers succeed or flounder without a veteran presence in the rotation? Does the bullpen cobbled together from castoff almost-closers work out? Does Arencibia flourish with consistent ABs?). A stabilizing force like Vlad would calm the nerves of some of the less diehard fans, so I don’t begrudge them wanting to see him in Toronto.

  11. I’d rather see AA consider Figgins over Vlad. I know the Jays are interested in Figgins, although I’m not sure to what extent. They’ve mentioned before that they’re planning on adding a little more speed on the base paths (Davis is an example of this). I personally think he’d be a better fit. It all depends what Seattle wants in return I guess.

  12. Guest 4 years ago

    Guerrero’s fielding is past the point of no return lol I don’t think he’d help the Blue Jays at this point…

  13. I’d say the only reason to sign Vlad is hope he gets somewhat hot and then flip him to the Sox or Yankmes in July…

  14. vin050 4 years ago

    ya i didnt follow that either

  15. Guest 4 years ago

    He was using Arencibia as an example. Napoli would have interfered with his playing time, while Vlad would interfere with Lind/EE’s time.

  16. ukJaysfan 4 years ago

    Vlad would interfere with Arencibia’s playing time because on days when Molina catches (Morrow starts?), they are possibly starting Arencibia at DH to keep him with consistent AB’s.

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