Though the club had some very notable payroll issues in Spring Training, the Blue Jays will likely be able to take on additional payroll in summer trades if they have a need, general manager Alex Anthopoulos told reporters yesterday, including the Toronto Star’s Brendan Kennedy (Twitter links). It was fair to assume they were “at [their] number to start the year,” said Anthopoulos, but he described that number as “fluid,” and said he has “every confidence” that his club will have the necessary resources from ownership.
The fact that they had reached their preseason “number” may have significantly impacted both the AL East and the NL East, as the team was unable to top Atlanta’s one-year, $14.1MM offer to Ervin Santana, who has pitched well for the Braves to this point. Blue Jays players, at one point, were willing to defer some of their salary in order to help the team meet Santana’s asking price.
Anthopoulos’ comments are a departure from comments he made to Peter Gammons earlier in the week, in which he termed the team’s payroll as “maxed out.” At that point — just six days ago — he also hinted that the Jays preferred rental pitchers rather than paying the steep price of pursuing a pitcher that is controllable beyond the 2014 season (and would therefore come with a higher price tag). Said Anthopoulos at the time: “I think we’d probably look at something where we have a pitcher for the rest of this season. That makes sense.”
Among strictly rental pitchers that could be available at this summer’s trade deadline are Jason Hammel, Brandon McCarthy, A.J. Burnett, Kyle Kendrick, Roberto Hernandez, Justin Masterson, Francisco Liriano, and Edinson Volquez. Obviously, the next two months of play for the Phillies, Indians and Pirates will go a long way in determining which of those arms are available. As it is right now, no team in all of baseball is more than eight games removed from a Wild Card berth in the standings. One big fish for contending teams to monitor would be James Shields, though the Royals would probably need to really tank before biting the bullet and trading their ace.
Anthopoulos himself noted that it’s too early to know who will be available (more Twitter links from Kennedy), saying that “so much can change in the next six weeks” and adding that he’s not currently involved in any trade discussions.