Anthopoulos to put strategy in motion at GM Meetings
Blue Jays seeking starting pitcher, second baseman and catcher
TORONTO -- There usually isn't a lot of activity at the General Managers Meetings, but it's still likely where Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos will lay the groundwork for his approach this offseason.
Anthopoulos typically is very aggressive at these meetings, and in a lot of cases, he has put in motion a series of deals. Whether it was last year's trade with the Marlins or the Roy Halladay sweepstakes in 2009, a lot of important dialogue has taken place at this annual event.
That trend likely will continue on Monday when the GM Meetings officially open in Orlando, Fla., as Anthopoulos attempts to begin checking things off his offseason wish list.
The top priority can be found on the mound, where the Blue Jays are believed to be in the market for at least one and possibly two starting pitchers. The only Toronto starters with guaranteed jobs in 2014 are knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, left-hander Mark Buehrle and most likely right-hander Brandon Morrow.
The current candidates for the remaining two spots include Esmil Rogers, Todd Redmond, J.A. Happ, Drew Hutchison, Kyle Drabek, Ricky Romero, Marcus Stroman and possibly Dustin McGowan. It's a long list, but the rotation as a whole would be a lot stronger with the addition of a front- to mid-rotation starter.
Free-agent pitchers Ubaldo Jimenez and Matt Garza should attract a lot of interest, while the potential arrival of Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka likely will be a big topic of conversation in the Sunshine State. Bronson Arroyo and Scott Kazmir are other intriguing free agents, and Toronto fan favorite Halladay also became available when Philadelphia declined to pick up his $20 million option for 2014.
The trade market should become more clear in the coming days when the league's GMs have an opportunity to meet face-to-face. Left-hander David Price is expected to be available from the Rays, and a much larger list of names should start trickling out when the Hot Stove season begins in earnest.
Toronto is also in the market for a second baseman and possibly a starting catcher. Free agents Mark Ellis and A.J. Pierzynski would make a lot of sense as potential targets, while Cincinnati reportedly has second baseman Brandon Phillips and catcher Ryan Hanigan on the trading block.
It's not immediately clear which direction the always secretive Anthopoulos will take this offseason, but a look back at previous Winter Meetings suggests some future plans will be put in place next week at the Swan & Dolphin Resort.
Twelve-player trade with Miami: The massive 12-player deal wasn't officially completed until Nov. 19, 2012, but the premise really started coming together at the GM Meetings earlier that month. The talks between Anthopoulos and Marlins president of baseball operations Larry Beinfest originally centered around Josh Johnson but eventually expanded to include the likes of Jose Reyes, Buehrle and John Buck.
Free-agent signing of Maicer Izturis: The Blue Jays moved quickly last offseason by officially signing Izturis on Day 2 of the GM Meetings. Izturis reportedly received offers for two years, but it was Toronto's three-year deal for $9 million which ultimately won out. Izturis was expected to help fill the void at second base, but he struggled during his first season with the Blue Jays by hitting just .236 with a .597 OPS.
Dickey trade talks: Shi Davidi and John Lott recently revealed in their new book "Great Expectations" that the Blue Jays first talked to the Mets about Dickey at last year's GM Meetings. The deal didn't come together until mid-December, but the two sides originally broke the ice in Indian Wells, Calif.
Halladay: Anthopoulos was the center of attention at his first GM Meetings back in November 2009. Halladay was on his way out of Toronto, and Anthopoulos was the one trying to facilitate a deal. The trade didn't actually go through until mid-December, but there were lots of rumors in the weeks leading up to that point and the Meetings in Chicago.