With all of the talk about the compensation picks the Blue Jays will have in the upcoming Draft, I was just wondering who the Jays have received as compensation picks for past free agents?
-- Ted B., Port Perry, Ontario
You're right, there certainly has not been a shortage of talk about all the picks Toronto potentially has coming in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft. The Jays have two coming as compensation for Marco Scutaro signing with the Red Sox and one more when/if Rod Barajas inks a deal with a new team.
When it comes to the Draft, the more picks a club has in the early rounds, the better the chances of netting a future big league player. In recent Drafts, the best example for Toronto came in 2004, when the Blue Jays received a pair of compensatory picks after Kelvim Escobar signed as a free agent with the Angels.
In the third round in 2004, the Jays received a pick from the Angels that led to the selection of outfielder Adam Lind. This past season, Lind emerged as Toronto's best all-around hitter, posting a .305 average with 35 homers, 46 doubles and 114 RBIs. Lind earned a Silver Slugger and even received some votes in balloting for the American League's Most Valuable Player.
The Blue Jays also received a sandwich round pick in 2004 that was used on left-hander Zach Jackson. In December of 2005, Toronto included Jackson in a package of three players in a trade with the Brewers that brought first baseman Lyle Overbay north of the border.
In 2007, the Blue Jays received five compensation picks in the June Draft for losing outfielder Frank Catalanotto and pitchers Ted Lilly and Justin Speier in free agency. So far, the best of that haul has been left-hander Brett Cecil, who was grabbed in the sandwich round and became one of five starters to make his Major League debut with the Jays last season.
Beyond Cecil, Toronto used an extra first-round selection on third baseman Kevin Ahrens, grabbed shortstop Justin Jackson and pitcher Trystan Magnuson in the sandwich round, and used an additional second-round pick on outfielder Eric Eiland.
This past year, Toronto had two compensatory picks (James Paxton in the sandwich round and Jake Barrett in the third round) after pitcher A.J. Burnett signed with the Yankees. Paxton, Barrett and second-round pick Jake Eliopoulos did not sign with the Jays, who will have three extra picks in the 2010 Draft as a result.
Why don't the Blue Jays just open up their wallet and try to make a run in 2010 and prove that they are serious about winning? If they could make it to the playoffs, wouldn't Roy Halladay be willing to re-sign with the Jays and finish his career in Toronto?
-- Brett D., Tom River, N.J.
Given the current strength of the AL East, and also the thin free-agent market this offseason, the Blue Jays do not believe it is in the club's best interest to spend recklessly in an effort to contend in 2010. Even if Toronto did take that approach, there would be no guarantee that the team would make the playoffs or that Halladay would sign an extension.
Halladay wants to be in a position to make the playoffs consistently and win as many titles as possible. The Blue Jays want to eventually reach a period of sustained success, but bringing on massive contracts through free agency is not the way to accomplish that goal. Toronto would then likely have to restart the process all over again next winter.
Had Alex Anthopoulos become the Blue Jays general manager earlier in the 2009 campaign, do you think he also would have sent Alex Rios packing? I know Rios had a large contract, but he also seemed like a very talented young player with a lot of potential.
-- Warren M., Fredericton, New Brunswick
I can't speak for Anthopoulos, but I can say that parting with Rios made a lot of sense under the circumstances for the Blue Jays. When Toronto exposed Rios to waivers in August, the club likely was planning on trying to find a trading partner for the outfielder. Instead, the White Sox put in a claim and the Jays were able to simply wash their hands of his contract.
Have a question about the Blue Jays?
E-mail your query to MLB.com Blue Jays beat reporter Gregor Chisholm for possible inclusion in a future Inbox column. Letters may be edited for brevity, length and/or content.
For an organization that is now in a state of transition -- looking more at long-term success than short-term spending sprees -- having Rios' contract off the books is a blessing. Rios is owed $61 million through the 2014 season, with a $13.5 million club option for 2015. Rios may still turn into a great player, but Toronto now has more financial breathing room.
Is there a chance that first baseman David Cooper will get into the starting roster this coming season? If Overbay is traded, would Cooper get his spot at first for the season? Do you think Cooper will bring the type of power to fist base that Carlos Delgado once did?
-- Kyle R., Bolton, Ontario
Cooper -- selected by the Jays in the first round of the 2008 Draft -- does not project to have the type of power Delgado did. In some ways, the left-handed-hitting first base prospect projects to be similar to Overbay. It's unlikely that Cooper will see the big leagues this season. If Overbay were to be traded, the Jays would likely look for a new first baseman, or consider trying prospect Brian Dopirak, or perhaps Lind, at the position. Cooper might still be a couple of years away from being ready to test his skills on the big league stage.
What's the latest news on injured starting pitchers Shaun Marcum and Dustin McGowan? Is there any chance we will see them next season?
-- Robert A., Orange County, Calif.
Anthopoulos recently indicated that Marcum is considered completely recovered from the right elbow surgery he had at the end of the 2008 season. Marcum will be in the mix for a rotation job this spring. McGowan, who has been sidelined since having surgery on his right shoulder in July 2008, was throwing off a mound in October but felt discomfort in his arm and was shut down. The Jays will monitor McGowan this spring but aren't sure what to expect from the pitcher at this point.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.