More work for Jays GM after Meetings

More work for Jays GM after Meetings

INDIANAPOLIS -- Alex Anthopoulos did not inherit an ideal situation for a rookie general manager when he assumed the role for the Blue Jays at the end of last season. Suddenly, the future of a struggling franchise, and the fate of the club's biggest star, were in his hands.

This week at the Winter Meetings, Anthopoulos continued to explore ways to help Toronto regain its footing in the American League East, and listening to offers for ace pitcher Roy Halladay plays an integral role in that process. For now, Halladay remains with the Blue Jays, but that could very well change before the sun shines on Spring Training.

Anthopoulos has held firm to his policy on not speaking publicly about any Halladay trade discussions, and the general manager pulled the ultimate no comment on Thursday by leaving Indianapolis early in the morning. Assistant general manager Tony LaCava adhered by Anthopoulos' philosophy and chose not to talk about the progress made by the club this week.

"I really wouldn't have any comments on what we've done to this point," LaCava told Toronto reporters. "You know Alex, he's relentless. No stone unturned, as you guys know. I promise you, he's working really hard."

Anthopoulos' primary goal in trade discussions is to obtain young, controllable players who can help strengthen the Blue Jays' core or can significantly improve the team's farm system. In Halladay, who plans on testing free agency next winter, the Jays have a prime trading chip. Free agency is an avenue the GM will take to address more short-term solutions for the next season or two.

Immediate needs for the Jays include finding a starting catcher, acquiring some help in the outfield and perhaps giving the rotation and bullpen a boost with some new arms. Looking further down the road, the organization is in need of better long-term solutions at shortstop, in the outfield and at the corner infield spots -- areas Anthopoulos will likely attempt to address in a potential Halladay deal.

Anthopoulos' plan is to find a way to help Toronto -- coming off a fourth-place finish in the AL East -- reach a period of sustained success. That will take time, and the young GM believes upgrading the scouting and player development departments is key in the process. It is not an ideal situation for Anthopoulos, but he knows every GM faces similar issues at some point.

"The challenges that we have here are the same challenges that all the other 29 clubs have," Anthopoulos said on Wednesday. "You have to try to improve your club. You're going to have players that are going to have expiring contracts. You have to make a choice on them.


"The landscape that the Toronto Blue Jays have right now, do we have our challenges? Absolutely, but I don't think it's anything rare."
-- Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos

"Do you have a chance to sign these players? Can you sign them? Does it make sense to sign them? Do they want to come back? The landscape that the Toronto Blue Jays have right now, do we have our challenges? Absolutely, but I don't think it's anything rare."

Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston, who helped guide the club to back-to-back World Series titles in 1992-93, sees great potential in Anthopoulos. Gaston said on Wednesday that the 32-year-old general manager has shown the type of work ethic that was displayed by the Jays' leaders during the team's glory years.

"He's the type of guy that will call you on Saturday," Gaston said with a chuckle. "He's working all the time, so he's working hard trying to certainly get this club back to where we would like to see it be. ... I go back and look at the years that we won here, it's because everybody worked hard here. Everybody was kind of a workaholic, and that's what I see in Alex."

Deals done: The Blue Jays did not complete any trades or signings during their four-day stay in Indianapolis. Anthopoulos explored a variety of trade fronts, even floating some three-team concepts to try to address the club's long-term needs. Free agents being targeted are more likely to be short-term solutions for the 2010 season.

Rule 5 Draft activity: Toronto selected 24-year-old right-hander Zech Zinicola from the Nationals with the 10th pick in Thursday's Rule 5 Draft. With a 96-mph fastball and a plus slider, Zinicola will be in the mix for a bullpen job with the Jays. The club also grabbed 22-year-old righty Ruben De La Rosa from Washington in the Triple-A phase of the Draft.

Goals accomplished: Anthopoulos continued talks with multiple teams throughout the Meetings, laying the groundwork for potential deals. He said discussions were more focused and the Jays were able to "narrow the scope" in trade talks. Anthopoulos' next step is to go over various scenarios with team president and CEO Paul Beeston back in Toronto.

Unfinished business: The biggest situation facing the Blue Jays remains unresolved. Toronto continued to field offers for Halladay at the Meetings, but the team does not appear close to pulling the trigger on a trade that will send the face of the franchise to a new team. The Angels and Phillies appear to lead the pack of Halladay's suitors. The Yankees, Red Sox, Rays and Dodgers have also shown varying levels of interest. Toronto is also still searching for a starting catcher, as well as help in the outfield and possibly on the mound.

GM's bottom line: "You're always continuing to evaluate and continuing to talk and you're hearing things, you're getting information. We're calling other teams, floating other ideas and concepts and so on. We're continuing to try to look under every rock to try to find a deal that can improve us."-- Anthopoulos

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