Wednesday, December 3, 2014
Blue Jays General Manager Alex Anthopolous was a guest on Prime Time Sports on Toronto's The Fan 590 on Monday for a lengthy chat about the genesis of the Josh Donaldson deal. Hosts Bob McCown and Michael Grange did a good job of getting out of AA's way, feeding him questions about the deal that he could respond to in great detail. The interview lent fascinating insight into how MLB trades get made, and how organizations view their players and prospects. Say what you will about Anthopolous - depending on the question, you may not always get as straight an answer as you would like, but you will get an honest one.
According to Anthopolous, the deal had its origins in October, when he made a general inquiry with Oakland GM Billy Beane about Donaldson. Beane's initial answer, not surprisingly, was "no." A successful GM, though, obviously learns to take 'no' not as a dead end, but more like, "Come up with a package that will blow me away." And it wasn't until Brett Lawrie was included in the deal did it happen - we had thought that he would have been part of it all along, but the Blue Jays had toyed with the idea of moving Lawrie across to 2nd base if they had been able to acquire Donaldson with their intial offer.
Anthopolous admits that the organization was reluctant to part with all three prospects. The Blue Jays had one of their healthiest starting rotations in recent memory last year, but still needed 9 starters over the course of the season. Trading Kendall Graveman and Sean Nolin takes away from the club's depth of starters, with really only Daniel Norris, the re-acquired Liam Hendriks, and Todd Redmond as back up starters - we would add Scott Copeland to that list, he contniues to pitch like he did over the final half of last year. If Norris and/or Sanchez make the starting rotation next spring, that alleviates the situation somewhat. Beyond that, the Blue Jays have Miguel Castro and Roberto Osuna, who likely will pitch at AA next year, and a trio of pitchers in Jairo Labourt, Matt Smoral, and Ryan Borucki, who will likely take the mound for Lansing when April rolls around. So, there may be some finger crossing in the Blue Jays front office this year. Dealing Graveman and Nolin all but assures that the starting rotation that finished last year will likely start next year, but if the injury bug bites hard, the club is in trouble.
According to Anthopolous, the club felt that Graveman could compete for a starting job if they had kept him, and he expects him to land a spot in the back end of the Athletics rotation, while he suggested Nolin might find himself in Oakland's bullpen.
It was a bit of a surprise that AA mentioned that if Franklin Barrreto was still with the organization, he would have started the year at Dunedin (with an invite to the big club's spring training camp), which probably indicates that they were still willing to let him play himself out of shortstop. If the Athletics follow suit, Barreto will start in the California League next year. We fully expect him to advance quickly once he starts playing every day in full season ball.
Anthopolous also raised our eyebrows a bit when he told McCown and Grange that we could see Castro in the Blue Jays bullpen next summer. His lack of secondary pitches has always been a bit of a concern, but his 100 mph fastball could see him reprising Aaron Sanchez's role in the club's 2014 bullpen.
We can't wait.