The Toronto branch of the BBWAA held a meeting today and AA and Paul Besston joined the writers to answer questions. Gregor Chisholm at MLB.Com has posted a full transcript at his blog. AA discussed the roster in light of the winter meetings next week.
The first thing that caught my attention was that the Jays don't appear to be in the market for another position player.
Q- When you say you’re down to two or three free agents, you’re talking pitchers?
“Ideally. Right now we’re not in the market for any free-agent position players.”
The outfield will be Melky, Rasmus and Bautista. Bonifacio and Davis will be backups. The Jays still have hope for Rasmus:
“We’ve talked about it internally, what went wrong and so on. We think there could be a component of fatigue. He played all the time and one of the issues is that he hits all the time. I remember being in Miami and he had a good game against the Marlins, it was on a Saturday, I think he hit a home run or even two in the game. Afterwards, we played a day game, players were going to go out that night and enjoy themselves. He was going to go to the cage and hit. He just wanted to keep going.
“One thing we’re going to talk to him about is maybe learning to work a little smarter. He doesn’t need to work as hard as he does. He doesn’t need to take as many reps in the cage. It seems like now two years in a row he wears down at the end of the season and maybe we have to watch, give him some rest, give him some days off. We were so banged up from a position-player’s standpoint, we didn’t have that much depth on the bench.
“Colby didn’t necessarily get a tonne of days off. He was banged up as well. It’s not to make excuses for him. It’s the only thing that we can point to, that he did seem to wear down and tire, because the first half of the season he played so well.”
The infield will be Encarnacion, Izturis, Reyes and Lawrie. AA had a couple of relevant comments here:
Q- How does second base shape up?
“I think Izturis is the front runner. He hasn’t been promised the everyday job so there’s definitely potential to compete there. Izturis would certainly be the front runner for that spot. Bonifacio’s value is that he can play second, can play all the outfield spots, can play the other infield spots as well.
“I think Encarnacion has gotten to the point where he became the everyday first baseman at the end of the year … I think Encarnacion emerged as the everyday guy at first base but between first and DH we have enough guys that can play there.”
Arencibia, Buck and Wilson are in play for the catcher spots. The team has to offer him arbitration on Friday, a decision to be made per AA. If he is offered arb then there is a chance a catcher could be traded. If he is designated them a trade is unlikely.
AA was somewhat non-committal on signing a starter but if they do it's Happ who would be bumped:
. But we’d have to feel that anybody we get, especially if we’re going to guarantee them a contract, they’re going to want the opportunity to start, that they would be an upgrade over the current five.
“So the likelihood is that a minor-league free-agent signing, probably try to be more active there. I think if you see us give a guaranteed contract to a starter that’s going to be someone we think is going to beat out someone in the current rotation or would be willing to compete and end up in the ‘pen. And some of those guys want a guaranteed starting spot.”
Any major league free agent who signs with the Jays will want to be guaranteed a starting job, a la Villanueva. Happ was not been guaranteed a job so he is on the bubble.
The Jays will add some minor league free agents, AA says he needs 11 starters. Today he has five, plus Cecil and Jenkins. He needs up to four more, I would guess one at the major league level and three minor league free agents.
Among other things in the interview:
Marlins trade: Johnson knew he would be traded; Buck is happy to come back here. Reyes and Buehrle are angry with the Marlins. AA has received trade calls on all of them.
The Marlins trade was off until the Jays agreed to include Mathis for Buck.
Dustin McGowan is not throwing yet.
The Jays have told Bautista not to play winter ball and have denied him permission to play in the WBC, for now.
Adam Lind is on notice:
But Adam still has to earn his spot and he still has to earn his at-bats. We’re trying to win and if someone is going to be an upgrade over Adam in the lineup and he has to be on the bench then we’ll look at it.
....if you look at him as a player that doesn’t face the left-handers, he’ll only face right-handers, close to an .800 OPS, which is a pretty good player.
“We’ve had a lot of conversations with him. I think he’s learning himself as well. He had the back issue, he overworked trying to strengthen it and maintain it and then over time he started getting sore. We changed some of the exercises. You’re learning yourself and what learns for you and I think there was some concern that maybe he was five or 10 pounds more weight than maybe he should have been. He has to watch that as well.
“But I think Adam now understands where he’s at in his career. I think he’s encouraged as well with how he ended the year but I think he realizes where he’s at and what he needs to do to stay on the field and stay healthy.”
“It’s going to depend on everything but obviously Encarnacion is the everyday player, how many days a week he’s at first or DH I don’t know. Whether it’s a d’Arnaud, a Cooper, an Adam Lind, all those guys can play first base so however it works out Encarnacion is one guy that has every day at-bats. Who gets the everyday at-bats from the remaining three, Adam Lind because he ended the season as the everyday player and he played well is certainly the front-runner for that job, but he’s not promised that job. He still has to come out through spring training and earn that job.”
There is lots more in the transcript.