TORONTO -- There are still two weeks to go until the
non-waiver Trade Deadline, but as of right now, it appears
the Blue Jays will take on the role of casual observer as
opposed to active participant.
General manager Alex Anthopoulos remained relatively
inactive at the Deadline in 2010, and it's very likely that
will be the case again this year.
Anthopoulos has been engaging in more serious trade
negotiations in recent weeks, but he still doesn't expect to
make any major moves.
"Every GM is in trade mode, if you want to call it that,"
Anthopoulos said late last week. "That's not always the
case at certain times of the year. I find that exciting
because you know there are opportunities to make trades.
"At this point, though, [it's the] middle of July and I don't think
we're close to doing anything. If I had to handicap it
right now, I'd say I don't expect us to do anything, but
that could change quickly and I hope I'm wrong."
The Blue Jays do have some attractive trading chips if they
feel inclined to make a move. This is precisely the time of
year when a lot of contending teams look to improve their
Toronto has veteran relievers Frank Francisco, Jon Rauch,
Jason Frasor, Octavio Dotel and Shawn Camp, who are set to
hit free agency at the end of the year and could be made
If the season were to end today, though, the five would all
be ranked as Type B free agents and would each net the Blue Jays
a compensation pick in next year's First-Year Player Draft
if they signed with other teams.
That provides Anthopoulos with the luxury of being able to
stand pat if he doesn't receive an offer to his liking.
Anthopoulos likely will continue working the phones to see
which teams need help in the bullpen but will need value
close to, or equal to, a top Draft pick in return.
The most likely player to be dealt is Dotel, who is making
$2.75 million with a $750,000 buyout looming at the end of
Toronto would need to offer salary arbitration to him in
order to receive the Draft pick compensation, but at age 37, it's almost guaranteed Dotel would accept that offer
instead of opting for free agency.
Anthopoulos wouldn't comment on any specifics leading up to
the Deadline, but did admit he's trying to be as proactive
as possible when it comes to improving his roster.
Potential Trade Deadline Chips
Though the Blue Jays don't currently plan to be major players at the Trade Deadline, GM Alex Anthopoulos said that "could change fast." Here are assets Toronto has that could draw interest from other clubs.
RHP Frank Francisco (1-4, 5.40 ERA) -- The numbers haven't been pretty this year, but Francisco still has the type of arm that would intrigue a lot of teams across the Majors. He likely will qualify as a Type B free agent, so Toronto would need to receive value close, or equal, to that of a sandwich pick in the First-Year Player Draft. Francisco makes $4 million this season.
RHP Jon Rauch (3-3, 4.23 ERA) -- The Blue Jays have a team option on Rauch for $3.75 million. If he isn't dealt before the Deadline, a likely scenario is for Toronto to buy out that year for $250,000 to become eligible for a compensation pick if he signs with another team.
RHP Octavio Dotel (2-1, 3.46) -- Dotel is the most likely candidate to be dealt before the deadline. The 37-year-old is making $2.75 million this year and would almost assuredly accept arbitration if it were offered during the offseason. That means Anthopoulos would have to deal him or risk losing Dotel at the end of the year for nothing.
RHP Jason Frasor (2-1, 3.08) -- The longest-tenured player on the Blue Jays appeared set to leave via free agency in 2010 before accepting arbitration. His Type A status scared off teams who weren't prepared to part with a top pick to sign him. Frasor likely will qualify as a Type B this year, which should generate more interest in his services, but the Blue Jays could still deal him before then.
RHP Shawn Camp (1-1, 4.31 ERA) -- Camp is set to hit free agency for the first time in his career and is expected to qualify as a Type B free agent. He could become a welcome addition to a club in need of a veteran right-handed reliever but teams would have to match compensation-round value in order to entice Toronto to deal him.
Call to arms -- Carlos Villanueva (5-2, 3.31) or Jo-Jo Reyes (5-7, 4.94) likely could be available for teams looking for help at the back end of their starting rotations. But contenders likely would want to acquire pitchers with more proven track records.
Help off the bench -- Corey Patterson could be available for teams looking to acquire a veteran fourth outfielder who can provide speed off the bench. A less likely candidate would be backup catcher Jose Molina, who has earned praise for his ability to work with Toronto's young pitching staff.
"There's a lot more dialogue," Anthopoulos said. "There's
the window, it's the time of the year, there's a lot more
discussions amongst GMs. I was just in my office before I
came down [to the field], scanning my board with all of the
teams and making sure I had spoken with every GM and if I
needed to make any follow-up phone calls.
"GMs are much more engaged and there's much more talk
because one way or the other players will get moved, and
there's a lot of teams that are motivated to either buy or
Toronto doesn't have any other obvious trade candidates
besides its five relievers. The club has a core of young
players locked up long-term, and unless teams start calling
about the likes of veteran bench players such as Corey
Patterson or Jose Molina, it's doubtful there will be much
in the works.
But it's also impossible to completely count out
Anthopoulos. Last year, the third-year GM surprised many
around the league by pulling the trigger on a deal to
acquire shortstop Yunel Escobar from the Braves.
Escobar fit the mold of an up-and-coming player who was
still under contract for multiple years. Anthopoulous will
continue to scour rosters in an attempt to find similar
players who have fallen out of favor with their current
teams but still possess a lot of upside.
Anthopoulos admitted as much, and he also wouldn't completely
close the door on acquiring players who are set to become
free agents at the end of the year.
"If we can improve the club, we'll always look to do that,"
Anthopoulos said. "It always comes down to the assessment,
or the value, and what you're giving up.
"Even if you get someone here for two months, maybe you get
to know them for a little bit. Maybe they get to know the
city, their teammates and maybe even if it's a prospective
free agent, you get a chance to sign them back because you
do have that window of exclusive negotiating rights."
Toronto might not make any major additions prior to July 31,
but either way there will be some new faces in the lineup
in the coming weeks. The Blue Jays continue to put an
emphasis on their youth movement and another wave of talent
is on its way.
Before the end of the year, Minor League right-handers Zach
Stewart and Kyle Drabek could make their return, while top
prospect Brett Lawrie should be ready at the beginning of
Lawrie was on the verge of making his Major League debut in
early June before he was sidelined with a fractured left
hand. The 21-year-old just wrapped up three rehab games
with Class A Dunedin and will move up to Triple-A this
week with an eye on getting ready for a callup to the big
The British Columbia native was hitting .354
with 15 home runs and 49 RBIs in 52 games for Las Vegas
prior to the injury. He is expected to start at third base,
which would allow slugger Jose Bautista to move back to his
preferred position in right field.
Blue Jays manager John Farrell is focused on the imminent
arrival of Lawrie and the continued development of his
young core. The Trade Deadline talk will be left up to
"We fully anticipate Brett getting here," Farrell said when
asked what he was looking forward to in the second half.
"We want to see how guys continue throughout the course of
the season and maintain durability, maintain strength.
"It's the first-year guys and those in their second year in
their current role as you see their advances being
completed and their continued performance remaining at a
Anthopoulos hasn't taken his eye off this year's squad, but
the 34-year-old GM is attempting to build the Blue Jays into a
contender that can sustain its success over the long haul.
In order to do that, the club is attempting to acquire as
many assets as possible.
That could open the door for an unexpected move or two
before the end of the month. Anthopoulos said it doesn't
even matter what position it is. If the price is right, then
he would pull the trigger on just about anything.
It's not going to be easy, though.
"It's hard to make trades," Anthopoulos said. "It's hard to
line up with a team, it's rare that you line up with a
"There might be an opportunity where the player might not
be a great fit but there's value for what we have to give
up, so you make room. At the same time, you're trying to
build a team, a contending team, but you also need assets
to do that and sometimes you need to try to collect as many
as you can."