Jays keep focus on long-term gains

Jays keep focus on long-term gains

INDIANAPOLIS -- Alex Anthopoulos' quest to strengthen the foundation of the Blue Jays goes beyond the future of ace right-hander Roy Halladay. The young general manager is using these Winter Meetings to focus on trade talks, but Halladay is not the only player being discussed.

On Monday, Anthopoulos noted that he had at least six sit-downs with other clubs on his schedule for Day 1 of the event, and he had a handful of trade proposals in the works. In order to push Toronto up the American League East standings, Anthopoulos knows he has many areas that need addressing at the Major League and Minor League levels.

"I have multiple balls in the air," Anthopoulos said. "Sometimes, that's not always a good thing, but because there are multiple needs, I think we need to have a lot of balls in the air. Again, it's not about one player or one trade. It's about a lot of players, a lot of trades.

"It's about setting this organization up for the long term, and everything goes back to having a sustained model of success and having players that we feel can be here for a long time and building a good core of players."

Looking at the Blue Jays' immediate needs, the primary concern is finding a starting catcher for 2010. Anthopoulos said he has talked to the agents for some free agents and has discussed trades with a few other teams. This offseason, Toronto has been linked to free-agent catcher Yorvit Torrealba and Ryan Doumit of the Pirates.

As things currently stand, Anthopoulos is not sure whether the Blue Jays are more likely to find a catcher through free agency or via trade. Toronto will likely wait to see which arbitration-eligible backstops might be non-tendered by Saturday's deadline, sending the club to the free-agent pool. No matter which route the Jays take, they're only looking for a short-term solution.

"There are certainly some names that are out there in trade," Anthopoulos said. "Long-term, it's not a major priority for us, because we do feel that [prospect] J.P. Arencibia is a guy that we can count on. That being said, we're always looking to improve."

Other needs include help in the outfield and perhaps on the mound. Anthopoulos plans on talking to some agents this week in Indianapolis, but he is less focused on free agency than on potential trade solutions right now.

After concluding his meetings with other teams on Monday, Anthopoulos said that he was going to sit down with the rest of the Blue Jays' brass to go over various trade scenarios. The Jays' GM noted that he informed teams that no player on Toronto's roster was untouchable, creating some interesting talks that even led to at least one possible three-team deal.

"I think the fact that we've pretty much made every player available in the right deal has really opened up a lot of alternatives for us," Anthopoulos said.

While Anthopoulos said that no moves seemed imminent or close at this point, he felt that the face-to-face discussions -- continuations of talks he has held over the course of the offseason -- were productive and gaining in momentum at these Meetings.

"There's definitely something to build on," Anthopoulos said. "I do feel that we're continuing to have very productive dialogue, and we're having a better sense of truly where things stand with respect to trades and so on."

Anthopoulos continued to decline comment about Halladay, but the GM is likely shifting deeper into talks about the pitcher's future. Halladay -- eligible for free agency next offseason and hungry to pitch for a World Series contender -- has suitors in the Yankees, Red Sox and Angels, and perhaps the Phillies and Rays as well.

Former Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi attempted to trade Halladay this past July, but he was not blown away by an offer. That situation quickly developed into a media circus, and Halladay's representatives have noted that the pitcher does not want to go through a similar experience again. That being the case, Halladay reportedly plans on blocking any proposed trades once Spring Training begins.

Anthopoulos would not shed any light on the current state of the situation.

"I understand that Roy Halladay is a topic," Anthopoulos said. "I understand what happened last July certainly feeds into that, and I understand the comments from Roy's agent, certainly. I understand the elephant is in the room -- I realize that. It's just, from my standpoint, it really doesn't make any sense for me to comment as the general manager of this team."

Anthopoulos believes that commenting can only hinder negotiations, and in turn, that could hurt his chances of turning this franchise around swiftly.

"The priority in all of our trades are to get some long-term building blocks for the organization," Anthopoulos said.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.