GM dismisses Arencibia speculation at Meetings
Anthopoulos 'confident' Blue Jays won't be making deals while in Nashville
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The rumors continue to persist, but it's becoming increasingly obvious that the Blue Jays aren't close to doing anything big at this week's Winter Meetings.
Toronto has been linked to several big-name pitchers in recent days, but the club appears unwilling to meet the high asking prices either through trade or free agency.
That should lead to a rather quiet Meetings for general manager Alex Anthopoulos following several weeks of seemingly non-stop roster moves.
"We don't have any traction, or anything that's starting to move," Anthopoulos said on Day 2 of the Winter Meetings. "I feel very confident that we won't make any deals here. Hopefully it changes. If I had to bet right now, I'd feel really confident we aren't going to do anything."
Anthopoulos' comment could throw some cold water on the rampant speculation that his team is shopping starting catcher J.P. Arencibia. The club has maintained for the past several weeks that Arencibia is entrenched at the position while veteran John Buck will serve as his primary backup.
But Toronto also is in the market for more pitching. The focus likely will be on organizational depth rather than another major addition, but needs have prompted several rumors that the Blue Jays would part with a catcher for an upgrade over fifth starter J.A. Happ.
Arencibia has been mentioned most frequently in reports linking him to either the Rangers or Mets. New York has a pair of pitchers -- R.A. Dickey and Jon Niese -- available through trade, but the asking prices for both are steep. Texas, meanwhile, isn't prepared to part with either Derek Holland or Alexi Ogando in that type of transaction.
Anthopoulos understands that rumors are all a part of baseball, but he does take issue when one of his players appears to be singled out.
"I sometimes have a hard time when maybe some of our players' names are repeatedly thrown out there and then they have to go through interviews and things like that," Anthopoulos said.
"I got asked about J.P. earlier today, and I know he got bombarded with questions and everyone's asking about it, and like I told somebody earlier today, there's just a lot of things out there and it's not right, I think at times, that one player's name gets thrown out there, because we don't shop players."
Arencibia recently stated on Twitter and through various interviews that there's no doubt in his mind he'll be back in Toronto next season. Some of the comments appeared to indicate he had received some sort of guarantee from Anthopoulos, but that is not the case.
Anthopoulos purposely avoids making those type of commitments to players because, obviously, he can't predict the future. If an irresistible trade offer surfaced, there's no doubt Anthopoulos would jump at the opportunity to improve his club.
What Anthopoulos did say is that "right now" Arencibia is the Blue Jays' starting catcher. That's not expected to change, because Toronto likes his power at the plate and feels as though he's improving defensively.
But anything could happen at any given time, and most people won't see it coming.
"I believe almost every trade we've ever made hasn't really leaked or been rumored for weeks," Anthopoulos said. "So, I think from that perspective, that's pretty telling. When things are out there for weeks and days at a time, I have yet to see it where we've actually made a trade.
"There are times that our team will get used to try to get another team to move or up the price for somebody else. Actually, I just had an agent tell me that a GM tends to use us all the time on the phone -- 'Me and Alex are talking about this' -- when I'm not talking to that team at all."
In other Blue Jays news from the Winter Meetings, Anthopoulos said he intends to speak with former pitching coach Bruce Walton and former bench coach Don Wakamatsu in the near future about taking positions within the organization.
Both coaches were expected to return in 2013 until former manager John Farrell departed for the Red Sox. When John Gibbons then rejoined the organization, he received permission to bring in his own staff, and that ultimately left Walton and Wakamatsu on the outside looking in.
Walton and Wakamatsu are free to depart for another organization, but if suitable jobs do not surface, then Anthopoulos maintained both individuals would be taken care of.
"I think there's a scenario where we're looking, we're evaluating that," Anthopoulos said of offering Walton some sort of job in the Minor Leagues. "There could be a role for him in the organization. We just don't know what it's going to be yet. But both him and Wak.
"We're evaluating now just to see what can we do -- if we can find opportunities for both guys. Obviously they're free to find something else, but we're in the process to see if there's something. We want to make sure there's something tangible they can work on."