TORONTO - The Blue Jays are prepared to get off their fat wallet.
In his season-ending media scrum, general manager Alex Anthopoulos not only promised that there would be a bump in payroll to lure free agents northward but that he was willing to overpay if that’s what it takes to make the additions that he deems necessary to turn the club into contender status.
If other words, this off-season, Anthopoulos will be a player and for the first time since he took over the job from J.P. Ricciardi he will be allowed to shop in aisles that previously have been off limits.
Will he overpay in some cases to get what he wants?
“Yes,” he replied. “Again it’s not a bottomless pit so you’re weighing your options and I think that’s ultimately what it comes down to. If you have X amount of dollars to spend, what percentage of that are you going to allocate to one or two or three areas?
“For the right fit or you might think the perfect fit, the overpay makes a lot of sense. Where you do get into trouble is when you start settling and you just settle on somebody you weren’t as excited about. I’d rather overpay for someone you really believe in than someone you’re not so certain of because it saves money and you end up getting what you pay for.”
It’s no secret as to what area Anthopoulos is willing to spend the most money.
“The biggest need is the starting rotation,” Anthopoulos said. “It’s clear we have needs there, especially with the guys who were injured that are not gong to be ready for the start of the year (Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison) or the middle of the year. So it’s definitely going to be a major area of our concentration in the off-season.”
One way or the other, the payroll will definitely be on the rise over the $83,700,000 the Jays doled out this season.
“It will definitely go up,” Anthopoulos said. “There’s going to be a little bit more to work with going into the off-season than last. I think there’s no question with what I’ve been told about where we can be, we’ll be able to look at players maybe we wouldn’t have been serious about or wouldn’t have fit (in the past).
“It’s not a bottomless pit. It doesn’t mean that we can have everybody we want but we’ll have to be creative and make some things fit but it’s definitely more to work with than we did last year.
“We may be able to look at players we may not have looked at in the past and I think that’s an exciting thing.”
Zack Greinke is the prize of the free agent pitching ranks and it will be interesting to see if the Jays would be a player on that front, to set their sights so high.
One way or another, Anthopoulos knows he needs to bring in some top talent and not just provide a tweak here or upgrade there to turn his club in the right direction.
“It needs major additions in the rotation for sure,” he said. “There could be tweaks in other areas but the rotation, absolutely major additions. We’re not close to where we need to be.”
Anthopoulos is comfortable putting himself out on the limb. Whether he’s out there with a cheque book or a saw remains to be seen.
KIDS WON’T RULE
The Jays have brought up a ton of young players this season, many before their true arrival date, and the two position players that have impressed the most have been infielder Adeiny Hechavarria and outfielder Anthony Gose.
There has been speculation that perhaps the Jays would be comfortable having both players in their lineup at the start of the 2013 season and one of them for sure. Anthopoulos, however, threw a bucket of cold water on that notion.
“I think they both performed fairly well for young guys,” Anthopoulos began. “The longer they’ve been up here they’ve started to settle in a little bit more. But again, over the years we’ve seen a lot of guys come up and perform in September and not perform the following year.
“There may be a circumstance that one of them is on the roster, but two of them on the roster, that probably means we’ve made some big trades and it was a payroll thing. Hard to tell. I wouldn’t rule it out but ideally we would have them in the minor leagues.”