Alex Anthopoulos is a shrewd baseball man, plain and simple.  The Blue Jays recently added Miguel Olivo for a player to be named later and will immediately buy out Olivo for a cool half million.  Why would the Blue Jays make such a move you might ask?  The reasoning is simple, yet brilliant – to have the potential to acquire a valuable compensation pick in the upcoming MLB amateur draft.

You see in the draconian MLB compensation system a team can offer a player arbitration and gain a draft pick (anywhere from a first round to an early second round pick) if the player rejects the arbitration offer in the hopes of landing a more lucrative (and longer term) contract.  According to Victor Wang’s research from 2009, a 1st round pick is worth about $5.2 million, a supplemental pick around $2.6 million and a second round compensatory pick worth $0.8 million.

The Jays hope that all of their potential arbitration eligible players (Scott Downs, Jason Frasor, John Buck, Kevin Gregg, and Miguel Olivo) will not only turn down the arbitration offer but also net them a draft pick in the process.  A calculated risk, read Jack Moore’s excellent piece at Fangraphs for more on this move and the Blue Jays motives for such a move.  The 2011 draft is supposed to be absolutely loaded with great talent and promises to be (on paper) one of the deeper drafts in recent memory and ideally the Jays (if things go to plan) could end up with eight picks in the top fifty – huge.

I wanted to dive into the Blue Jays winter plans a little deeper and come up with what I thought would be the absolutely ideal offseason for the team.  First, the chances of all of these moves coming to fruition are pretty slim and we aren’t sure what type of budget increase AA intends to try and push to the suits at Rogers Corp or if he even feels the Jays are close enough to contention to make it worth his while. 

But let’s assume the Jays were legit in 2010 and really aren’t all that far from being a true contender in the AL East.  With the New York Yankees suddenly looking older and vulnerable (though still deep pocketed), the Boston Red Sox seemingly stuck in neutral and the Tampa Bay Rays potentially losing Carlos Pena, Carl Crawford and (rumoured) Matt Garza – the time for the Jays to strike could be and maybe should be now. 

Coming off an unexpected (for the most part) 85-win campaign the Blue Jays head into 2011 clearly a team on the rise and I contend had they played in any other division in baseball would likely have made the playoffs.  With that, what moves do I feel the team should make if the budget allowed, let’s take a look at one realistic, one hopeful and one long shot potential offseason move.

1)      Re-sign reliever Scott Downs.  Reliable, tough on lefties and a guy who doesn’t break in pressure situations Downs has been one of the best relievers in baseball over the past three seasons.  His FIP during the past three seasons have been phenomenal (3.39, 3.33 & 3.03) and he likely could be signed to a fairly team friendly contract if the team strikes early.

2)       Take a run at free agent 3B Adrian Beltre.  Beltre would give us instant improvement in infield defense and make our pitching staff that much more effective while providing a solid power bat in the middle of the order.  He is an intense gamer who plays hard every at-bat and every inning in the field – a throwback.  He will likely see a drop in batting average (.331 BABIP in 2010) and he doesn’t have much patience (6.9% career BB rate) but the combination of his power bat, slick glove while also presumably weakening the rival Red Sox make him a valuable commodity for the Jays.  He could command upwards of 4-5 years on a deal that would pay him 14-16 million annually, maybe more, so he comes with a price tag.

3)      Trade for Kansas City Royals ace Zack Greinke.  Before you laugh this one off hear me out, Greinke is not a New York/Boston big baseball market kind of guy and rumours circulate the team and player both want a potential trade to happen and I say why not Toronto?

We have a near perfect environment for a guy like Greinke (who battled depression and anxiety issues in the past) with a young, improving group of players and ownership’s supposed commitment to fielding a competitive team, no matter the cost.  More importantly we have the young pieces to get a potential deal done should the opportunity present itself.

An offer centred on Travis Snider with the potential of adding guys like Zach Stewart, Kyle Drabek, Brett Cecil, Deck McGuire and a host of other intriguing names in the finally viable Blue Jays farm system would at the very least get the Jays “in the mix”.  And though the competition for the services of a young and talented arm like Zack Greinke will be fierce and the price very steep I wouldn’t count out the Blue Jays as a potential suitor like most of the baseball pundits, sites and publications – it could happen.

Well that is my ideal offseason and if coupled with a few other minor moves to solidify the bullpen and our bench could go a very long way in turning the Jays not only into a contender but a potential favourite in one of the harder divisions in sports.  It might be a pipedream but I think reality is the Jays are becoming closer to a team that could be fighting for division titles and have championship aspirations in the not too distant future.

UPDATE: My Maple Leafs content and pieces can now be found at the best Toronto Maple Leaf site on the net, visit it now!  Maple Leafs Hot Stove

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  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by JK and RoyalsFanZone, MB. MB said: My Ideal Blue Jays Offseason: http://t.co/F9YZbsI #BlueJays #AdrianBeltre #Jays #MLB [...]

  2. Bleacher Creature says:

    Greinke can walk in 2 years. Why overpay with 2 blue chip prospects minimum when Kyle Drabek is ready to rock and roll? When the Cito first saw him throw in Sept., he said this kid should have been there all year. Starting pitching, the Jays may be the only team in baseball which has more than enough quality starters. And I’m not even considering Zep and Stewart and the plethora of live arms up and down the system.

    Job One regarding 2011 pitching is to get all the live young arms that they have sorted out and organized to have a bullpen ready for a real push in 2011. Then go get whatever else they need out there. Setup, closer whatever. I wouldn’t be surprised if they filled most of the spots with their own guys like Purcey, Zep, Stewart, Camp, Roenike if he can throw strikes in Toronto like he could in LV. he’s electric. Accardo is still there too, but I think his days are numbered. Give him a shot, anyway. He did have one great year closing, so he has done it in the Big Leagues before.

    Signing a 37 year old reliever instead of getting 2 high picks for him, that would be Scott Downs, would be plain stupid. Signing any of the guys who will generate picks would be stupid. Why? Because you cannot trade for picks in baseball. So you get extra high picks for the prime prospects by offering to a certain class of FA’s arbitration, and hoping like hell they turn you down for a free agent deal with term and big bucks from another team. The Jays could have 8 over the first 2 rounds. That’s amazing.

    But there is a guy with KC that is interesting and being shopped. Alex Gordon is a former 2nd overall draft pick from 2005. He’s a 5 tool player that KC had moved from 3rd to the outfield last year. He has been a bust hitting in KC. But this is the team that gave up on John Buck because he couldn’t go the other way behind the runner. Dinking out little singles when he did roll one through. Toronto’s grip it and rip it did Buck a world of good. KC has jerked guys around, before, hitting wise. They have always played small ball with gap hitters, in that big outfield of theirs.That isn’t Buck’s game. I figure it isn’t Gordon’s either.

    AA and his scouts see something in this guy. AA was the guy who was right on Bautista when he hit the wire a couple of years ago, they were big time right on Morrow, another guy who was not developing because his team didn’t know what they had.

    3rd is a spot that a toolsy 26 year old reclamation would fit right in, if the Jays scouts are right about him. That is good enough for me to go get the guy. It’s not like the Jays don’t see the prime talent from other organizations that don’t know what they have.

    So, get this kid Gordon for 3rd, start him in Vegas. Move Hill and sign Orlando Hudson for 2nd to at least start the season. for the whole season might be best. Tell Gordon that 3rd base is his to win when he hits like they know he can. Just grip it and rip it, son.l

    Lind hits a lot better when he is in the field, not DHing. So go sign a professional bat, and let Butters get Lind ready to rock and roll at 1st.

    • tdotsports1 says:

      Well I agree that Downs is aged and losing the chance at an extra pick isn’t always wise the fact is we have a limited window opening it appears as the Rays are on the downslope (money issues) the Yankees appear vulnerable and the Sox looked awful last season. The rise of a team isn’t linear and who knows how good the Jays could be in the next 1-2 years when we might have a chance to do some damage so what good are the EXTRA 1-2 prospects going to do for us over the next 5-6 years?

      The Jays will have a huge boon of picks regardless of who we do or don’t sign so not as if we aren’t going to have a great draft and addition of young talent.

      Alex Gordon has looked awful in an extended major league addition and the price still wouldn’t be cheap as he is still young and teams likely still value him for what he COULD be as opposed to what he is or has shown.

      I would definitely like to see a pro DH come in and really solidify that spot and use Lind in the field, as his bat is still legit and should see a bounce in BA and hopefully power. Ditto Hill.

      In short, we aren’t far off and making aggressive moves could really payoff.

      I would love to see Beltre added to the fold, if we give up a compensatory pick, so be it. We need him more than fringe prospects and we can just roll with our starting rotation as it is if you don’t want to part with young talent for a Greinke type. Beltre makes our offense and defense better.

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