The winter meetings started yesterday and John Gibbons and AA met the media to answer some questions.
Elsewhere the Red Sox added Mike Napoli. Angel Pagan stayed with the Giants. Rafael Soriano is rumoured to be close to signing with the Rangers. And A-Rod will have hip surgery in January and will miss four to six months.
Mike Cormack has posted a transcript of AA's comments over at Sportsnet.
First up for me is payroll:
I always get asked about payroll and it's not a bottomless pit and we talked about the parameters or the areas, and for where we're at or not, we blew by whatever the area was, that's in the dust, the rear-view mirror of where I thought we were going to be. The Marlins trade really changed that. It's not a bottomless pit but I also know the right trade, the right player, I always have that ability to have the conversation with Paul and he in turn takes that up to ownership.
There has been a lot of speculation that the Jays will go after RA Dickey, Brandon McCarthy or some other free agent starter. I think AA is saying in this quote that the team received special approval to exceed their expected payroll in order to do the Marlins trade. But that was a one-off, so don't expect them to bump it up some more.
It looks like the Jays are looking to sign some minor league free agent pitchers to be the backup to the current five. But free agents see that five spots are filled so they know they are not competing for a job in spring unless there is an injury:
We're happy with the five starters we have, it's the reality of you're probably going to need more than five, someone's not going to perform, someone is going to get hurt, so it's more starters six, seven, eight, at least and no team is motivated to trade those types of players. They don't make any money, they have options left, so you're looking to trade young player for young player or conversely you're talking about signing a minor-league free agent. It's important but it's hard to do. Sure if somebody came up that would push someone out of the rotation, great, I just don't necessarily see that occurring, and we're happy with the talent of the starting five. Anyone that qualifies as a minor-league free agent we would look at. The challenge is that we do have five established starters in the rotation right now, so it's not about selling the opportunity, the opportunity is right there and it speaks for itself. That's certainly a challenge. The fact that there's not a lot of upper-level depth, anybody can look at it and say, 'you know what? I'm one pitch away from being called up, one 6.00 ERA from being called up, and that certainly can happen. And it's probably going to happen. The fact that we don't have a lot of bodies at the higher levels to compete with can open it up. Again, most of those deals to minor-league free agents, at least the ones that have a chance to have the greatest impact, they're going to wait as long as they can to get a 40-man spot, to get a big-league deal, and those deals might get done in January. The meetings aren't normally where you get those deals done.
John Gibbons was asked about Adam Lind and the Jays are saying now that Lind will have a shot at the full time DH role to start the season. AA was asked about a platoon:
I think (Rajai) Davis certainly can do that. We've talked about it, I think Gibby's thought - we were talking about it a little bit today - I think his thought would be to give him one more crack at facing some left-handers early but knowing that obviously we have some other options.
But his thought today, and obviously he'll make those decisions going forward and he could change his mind in the spring and during the season, but he did bring it up today that he thought you know what, maybe to let those guys get the ABs early even against some left-handers, take a look at the results and maybe then make the adjustment, but clearly you look at the left-right splits and we do have some options with some right-handed bats and we've looked at who's our 25th guy going to be and it might make sense to get a right-handed bat. We don't really have anybody right now who would be the 25th guy.
AA also said:
Darren Oliver will decide in January if he is coming back. AA denied the rumour that Oliver just wanted to pitch in Texas.
The Jays offered to sign Bobby Wilson to a guaranteed two way deal that could have seen him come off the 40 man roster but Wilson declined.
Sergio Santos is not throwing off a mound yet.
The Jays are unlikely to pick anyone in the rule 5 draft. They have 40 players on their roster.
Joel Carreno will have surgery to repair his damaged orbital bone but should be ready for spring training.
Day two news to come...