Unlike last off-season, Blue Jays GM Alex Anthropoulos is looking for that missing piece of puzzle that will make Blue Jays a competitive team not only for the 2011 season but also for seasons to come. Anthropoulos entered the November GM’s Meeting in Florida with a different agenda than November 2009.
At this time last season, the question was not if, but when will the Jays deal Roy Halladay? Where will Halladay go? Who will the Jays get in return? The Blue Jays biggest off season acquisition was a subtraction as former Cy Young and the heart and soul of the Blue Jays rotation left Toronto to pursue a World Series dream in Philadelphia. The Jays, in return, received three promising prospects in Kyle Drabek, Travis D’Arnaud and Michael Taylor (who eventually was shipped to Oakland for Brett Wallace). This season, however, the Jays are looking to add to a roster that saw them finished 8 games above .500. Jays’ aggressive pursue to improve their roster was shown in its attempt to acquire slugging second baseman Dan Uggla from the Florida Marlins. Reports indicated that the Jays’ were the favourites right down to the wire only to lose out to The Atlanta Braves. Uggla would have filled several holes in the Jays line up. Uggla would have provided a right-handed power hitting presence in the middle of the order to compliment a line-up that led the league in Home Runs in 2010. Now that Uggla is off the market, Anthropoulos will look towards Plan B.
In a surprising turn of events, news leaked earlier this week that Arizona Diamondbacks are listening to offers for RF Justin Upton. Drafted first overall in the MLB Draft in 2005, Upton would provide speed, power and defense to whomever acquire his services (if traded at all). Early reports suggest that it would take an awful lot (major league and minor league talents) to convince Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers to move the 23 year old outfielder. The Blue Jays are reportedly amongst several teams who have contacted Towers. Upton would be a tremendous acquisition for a young rising team like the Blue Jays. His speed and bat will make him a valuable addition, hitting third in the order in front of Vernon Wells or Jose Bautista. Along with his age, and a reasonable contract, Upton would be the core of an up-and-coming team similar to Carl Crawford with the Tampa Bay Rays couple seasons ago. Diamondbacks will likely ask for a package of 4-5 Major League/Minor League players for the young outfielder. If the Jays are indeed serious in acquiring Upton, look for Kevin Towers to ask for a package that will likely include Travis Snider, Kyle Drabek, Travis D’Arnaud and Anthony Gose. It remains to be seen the level of interest Anthropoulos have in Upton. Anthropoulos admitted that the team will explore trade options rather than entering into a bidding war with free-spending teams like the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and the Los Angeles Angels in free agency.
The Jays also made a minor trade with Oakland Athletics earlier this week, acquiring OF Rajai Davis for two minor league players. The acquisition of Rajai Davis will likely mean Fred Lewis will not be returning next season. Davis’ speed will be a welcomed edition to a Blue Jays team that lacked “speed” last season. Davis stole over 40 bases in each of his last two season and will fit in perfectly at the top of the Blue Jays order. The MLB Hot Stove season is just warming up. With the second set of GM Meetings set for early December, look for trade and free agent rumours to heat up within the next several weeks. One things for certain, Anthropoulos’ aggressiveness gives Blue Jays fans a reason to be excited about this off-season.
Until next time, Peace!
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