The Blue Jays are next in our Offseason In Review series.
Major League Signings
- Jon Rauch, RP: one year, $3.75MM. Includes $3.75MM club option for 2012 with a $250K buyout.
- Octavio Dotel, RP: one year, $3.5MM. Includes $3.5MM club option for 2012 with a $750K buyout.
- Jason Frasor, RP: one year, $3.5MM. Accepted arbitration. Includes $3.75MM club option for 2012.
- Edwin Encarnacion, 3B: one year, $2.5MM. Includes $3.5MM club option for 2012 with a $500K buyout.
- Jose Molina, C: one year, $1.2MM. Club option exercised.
- Total spend: $14.45MM.
- Jairo Labour, Francisco Tejada
Notable Minor League Signings
- Corey Patterson, Scott Podsednik, Winston Abreu, Ryan Budde, Brian Stokes, Chad Cordero, Jason Lane, Ryan Shealy, Chris Woodward
- Jose Bautista, RF: five years, $64MM. Includes $14MM club option for 2016 with a $1MM buyout.
- Rajai Davis, CF: two years, $5.75MM. Includes $3MM club option for 2013 with a $500K buyout.
Trades and Claims
- Acquired C Miguel Olivo from Rockies for cash considerations or a player to be named later. Declined club option, paid $500K buyout, offered arbitration, and received #53 overall pick in supplemental round as compensation when he declined.
- Acquired RP Carlos Villanueva from Brewers for a player to be named later.
- Acquired 3B Brett Lawrie from Brewers for SP Shaun Marcum.
- Claimed RP Wil Ledezma off waivers from Pirates.
- Acquired CF Rajai Davis from Athletics for RP Danny Farquhar and RP Trystan Magnuson.
- Acquired C/1B Mike Napoli and OF Juan Rivera from Angels for OF Vernon Wells and $5MM.
- Acquired RP Frank Francisco from Rangers for C/1B Mike Napoli.
- Acquired IF Jayson Nix from Indians for cash considerations.
- Shaun Marcum, Vernon Wells, Mike Napoli, Lyle Overbay, Fred Lewis, John Buck, Dewayne Wise, Brian Tallet, Scott Downs, Kevin Gregg, Shawn Hill, Jeremy Accardo, Taylor Buchholz, Danny Farquhar, Trystan Magnuson
The 2010-11 offseason was another active one for Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos, filled with low-risk free agent signings, intriguing deals, a major extension and the hiring of manager John Farrell. Pull up a chair.
A couple of last winter's signings, John Buck and Kevin Gregg, improved their stock playing for the 2010 Blue Jays, each contributing a supplemental draft pick to the club as a parting gift. The four veteran relievers acquired this winter, all in the $3-4MM salary range, must be viewed with Anthopoulos' draft pick obsession in mind. The Blue Jays also bolstered the trade value of Dotel, Rauch, and Frasor by getting reasonable club options for 2012. On the surface the four relievers will replace Downs and Gregg, but the bigger picture seems to be about future value in terms of draft picks or trades. The signings are also forward-facing moves in that the Jays' young starters might be their greatest asset, and they'll be aided by a reliable bullpen.
For further proof of Anthopoulos' draft pick hoarding, consider the Olivo maneuvers. The Jays essentially bought the #53 overall draft pick for $500K plus whatever amount was sent to the Rockies, the first time I've seen that strategy employed. Given the free agent contracts they eventually signed, it seems that Gregg and Olivo might have had trade value had the Blue Jays exercised their options, but the team either didn't forecast that or just preferred the picks.
Anthopoulos made more traditional trades as well. The Wells deal was a masterstroke, as the Toronto GM moved his predecessor's unmovable contract, clearing significant payroll space and even netting a useful player down the line in Francisco. Anthopoulos cashed in on Marcum's fine 2010, netting a top 50 prospect in Lawrie. He did take on risk in that deal, dealing one of baseball's precious commodities (multiple years of a top starting pitcher) while pinning the success of the trade on one prospect. The Blue Jays dealt their ace for the second consecutive offseason, a trend that is probably finished.
I liked the Davis pickup, given the scarcity of center fielders. And while the Villanueva trade is not complete, it doesn't seem that the Jays gave up much for a guy who had an 11.4 K/9 last year. I'm not sure why the Brewers found Villanueva expendable.
I'm a fan of the Bautista extension as well. There's risk in any long-term deal, but if Bautista is now a consistent 30 home run bat, $14MM per free agent year is a fair price.
The Blue Jays will likely become progressively more aggressive about competing in the AL East, starting with the 2012 season. A playoff berth could be added by MLB, and Toronto's goal is to begin an extended period of contention. They've got a respectable 2011 club, but this coming offseason could be Anthopoulos' biggest push yet toward winning now.
Ben Nicholson-Smith contributed to this post.