Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos held a conference call on Friday to go over the moves he made one night earlier. Toronto declined all the club options in closer Kevin Gregg’s contract and declined a club option for Miguel Olivo shortly after acquiring the catcher in a trade with the Rockies.
Here are some highlights of what Anthopoulos had to say…
On the decision to make Gregg a free agent:
“The decision on Kevin Gregg was not an easy one to make. It’s one that we took a long time to make the evaluation and we really had it pushed up to the deadline just because of what Kevin did for us last season. Obviously, the numbers speak for themselves, but also the leadership component that he brought to the bullpen and to the clubhouse. That being said, I had spoken to him and I had spoken to his agent, because of the free agency dates and the option decision dates had been moved up, comparative to past offseasons, we just didn’t have as much time to potentially flesh out the market or flesh out the alternatives like we would’ve in the past. I explained that to both Kevin and his agent. What I really took the time to do over these last few days as guys filed for frree agency, was try to get a feel for some of the free agents that were out there and also to try to make a determination from a trade standpoint with allocating our funds.
“Like I explained to Kevin last night, we’re not prepared to lock him in right now at those option salaries, but we may very well come back to him in two weeks or three weeks from now, after we’ve had a chance to continue to work through the offseason and the market. We’ll know what the landscape will be. It’ll be a little more defined and we’ll have a better understanding and feel for what our alternatives are and we may very well come back and try to get something done with him. He’s very open to coming back here.”
On the possibility of an internal closing candidate:
“We haven’t made any determinations on anything like that at all. The offseason is so fluid. I have no idea what’s going to happen trade wise. [Manager John Farrell] and I are continuing to work on putting our staff together. He’s continuing to reach out to players and have dialogue and I’m starting to familiarize him a little bit more with the personnel that are here from our perspective. With respect to anybody specifically, in terms of certain roles and things like that, especially in the bullpen with any free agents, I wouldn’t be sitting here today telling you who’d be anointed the closer. That’s something I’d talk to John Farrell about because he would have a large part in making that determination as well.”
Asked if the closer is most likely to come from outside the organization:
“It’s hard to say. I’m open-minded to anything, I guess is what I would say. I’m going to continue to talk to John about it and continue to talk to our staff and our scouts about it. I don’t think there’s an absolute there. I’m open to anything. There’s a lot of ways that we can go with this thing.”
Asked if Olivo move was about securing the rights to the compensation Draft pick:
“No, and I’ve been reading a lot of that today. There’s a lot of components with that. We didn’t talk about the players that we pursued last offseason. When we signed John Buck, we were really agonizing over — at the time — Miguel Olivo and John Buck. … Collectively, we elected to go with John Buck. Knowing that John’s a free agent and, as we continue to gather information, whether it’s just getting a sense of a market and so on, it seems to be, and rightfully so, that the market for John Buck is going to be incredibly strong.”
On how Olivo move protects the team against Buck’s possible departure:
“I really don’t believe we can afford to be left naked at that position. We need to continue to have our options and continue to have our alternatives. Olivo is a guy we had interest in last offseason. We still continue to have interest in John Buck. But, we’re in the free agency period and we don’t know where the market for John is going to go. [The trade] allowed us to have dialogue with Olivo’s agent last night. It allowed us to explain to him with the way things are going for us in the offseason, explaining that we would like to have John Buck, we do have J.P. Arencibia with the club, we do have Molina under contract currently, but we do not know what the offseason is going to bring. We wanted to at least be able to have that dialogue. We were granted a window in a lot of ways to have that dialogue to be able to lay things out for them.”
Asked if he believes Arencibia needs more time before being full-time catcher:
“I don’t know. … You hope all players feel this way, J.P. absolutely feels that he’s ready to perform at the big league level at this time. I’m not one to ever say that a young player, or a player who hasn’t established himself, is ready at this time or that time. Players will dictate that to us and players will show that to us. That beeing said, my job and our responsibility is to protect the organization and to have the most competitive club. Part of that is to insure against certain performances, health, things like that. And, we need to continue to try to build that depth. Competition is not a bad thing.”
On Arencibia possibly switching positions:
“J.P. Arencibia for us, there’s no question, we view him behind the plate and we don’t view him at any other spot. People have talked about his ability to play other positions, because he’s that type of athlete and he’s that type of kid. But, there’s no question, his value and where we think he has tremendous ceiling and tremendous upside is behind the plate.”
What does it all mean? It means, welcome to the offseason.