December 2009

On the ace, arbitration and awards

AA.jpgBlue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos met with us local scribes this afternoon for a laid-back lunch and a wide-ranging Q&A session.

The first thing on everyone’s mind was obviously this morning’s report that Roy Halladay wants a decision to be made with respect to his future before he reports to Spring Training. If he’s not traded this winter, he will block any in-season trades with the plan of testing free agency next winter.

“One thing is certain — once Roy reports to Spring Training as a member of the Blue Jays, from that point forward he will not approve or even discuss any potential trade scenario,” Jeff Berry, one of Halladay’s representatives, told ESPN.com on Tuesday.

“This will eliminate a repeat of the distracting media frenzy of 2009 for both Roy and his teammates, and will allow Roy to focus on pitching at the exceptional level Jays fans have come to expect.”

Asked about the report, Anthopoulos said: “Obviously, I’ll look into it. If there’s something that Halladay’s agent said, I’ll certainly touch base. I just want to hear it for myself and talk to him.”

That would make it seem as though Anthopoulos had not heard about the deadline, but he said all talks between him and the pitcher will remain in-houst. Anthopoulos said he simply hadn’t seen the report in question and he wanted to talk to Doc’s agent before commenting on anything that was reported.

What we know is that Halladay was not a fan of the media circus that was last July, when former GM J.P. Ricciardi hardly kept a lid on all the trade negotiations. Halladay wants to win soon, and he’s not against being dealt to a select group of teams, but he does not want to put up with in-season rumors.

With a full no-trade clause, he has the power to block trades during the year and walk away as a free agent next winter. If the Jays want more than two Draft picks for Halladay, they’ll have to find a taker this offseason. My money is still on this coming down to the Yankees and Red Sox.

ARBITRATION: The Blue Jays have extended one-year arbitration offers to free agents Marco Scutaro and Rod Barajas. Toronto will welcome either or both players back for 2010, but expect them to decline the offers in favor of multi-year contracts. In that likely scenario, the Jays will gain three extra picks in the 2010 Draft, two for Scutaro and one for Barajas. They have until the end of the day on Monday to either accept or decline the offers.

REPLACEMENTS: If Scutaro accepts, Anthopoulos said he would have playing time in the outfield. Scoot would prefer to stick with shortstop or second base. Toronto will be looking for outfield help this winter, and Anthopoulos said the Jays have not discussed and don’t plan on discussing moving Vernon Wells out of center field. Behind the plate, Anthopoulos is still looking at free agents, but plans on letting the market play out some. He’s also identified some possible non-tender candidates to target and has his “toes in the water” on some trades. He said it’s hard to say right now which direction he’s most likely to head in search of a starting catcher. Anthopoulos also noted that he’s always looking for rotation and bullpen help.

AWARDS: The Toronto chapter of the BBWAA has announced its 2009 Blue Jays award winners. Roy Halladay was named the Pitcher of the Year, Aaron Hill the Player of the Year, Ricky Romero the Rookie of the Year and Adam Lind the Most Improved Player. Hill also received the John Cerutti/Good Guy Award.

–JB

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