Morrow, Romero only starters locked in for 2013

Morrow, Romero only starters locked in for 2013

ST. PETERSBURG -- Brandon Morrow and Ricky Romero are the only two starting pitchers with guaranteed jobs heading into next season according to general manager Alex Anthopoulos.

The Blue Jays have made the rotation their top priority for the offseason and don't want to rule out acquiring at least a couple of upgrades.

That's why only two starters will end this season knowing for certain they have spots locked down on next year's squad. Everyone else will have to wait and see how the offseason unfolds before likely competing for a job during the spring.

"They both have guaranteed contracts," Anthopoulos said. "That's not to say we don't have guys that are front runners. Obviously if [Henderson] Alvarez continues to perform well, but he has options left.

"I just don't want people coming into Spring Training assuming they have a job lined up. Or, we make a trade in the offseason or we sign someone and I have to make a phone call and say, 'You know what? I changed my mind.'"

Contract options likely will play a big role heading into next year's Spring Training. This season, the Blue Jays lost three starting pitchers to major injuries in a span of just four days in June.

That created a ripple effect throughout the organization which had a negative impact on overall depth. Next season, to better combat the issue, Anthopoulos said he wouldn't be afraid to stash multiple young pitchers in Triple-A instead of giving them a job out of spring.

The strategy could allow the Blue Jays to add a couple of starting pitchers while also signing an additional veteran or two. That way, if anything goes wrong, there will be a series of arms waiting in the wings to take over.

The example Anthopoulos used was the 2007 season when the Blue Jays signed John Thomson, Tomo Ohka and Victor Zambrano. The move backfired because of poor performance, but it did allow the likes of Dustin McGowan and Shaun Marcum to begin the season in the Minor Leagues and then move up when the things went wrong.

"Not that they were the right signings because obviously they didn't perform well enough but, knowing you had those guys waiting in the wings are your insurance, as your backups, that's something you look back at," Anthopoulos said.

"Sometimes you want to give kids the innings, want to give them the opportunities, but it's not the worst thing in the world if they're sitting down there as depth and they're ready to go. Because you know guys are going to get hurt or guys aren't going to perform and you're going to need a change."