Notes on Blue Jays State of the Franchise

The following are some notes from the annual Blue Jays State of the Franchise event held at Rogers Centre, which was streamed live online.

GM Alex Anthopoulos explained his offseason goals in “getting more durable” guys like Russell Martin and Josh Donaldson. He mentioned improving the defense was a priority and he accomplished that with the Michael Saunders and Martin acquisitions. He also wanted to change the mix of the club, saying “we’ve added [to the roster], we’ve gotten better.”

The projected lineup and rotation flashed on the screen showing the following:

Reyes, SS

Martin, C

Bautista, RF

Encarnacion, DH

Donaldson, 3B

Smoak, 1B

Saunders, LF

Pompey, CF

2B

And they had Aaron Sanchez penciled into the fifth spot of the rotation.

Anthopoulos made it clear however that “things can still happen,” that they’re still talking to teams about trades, there’s still free agents out there, so there’s a scenario where Sanchez could still end up in the bullpen as a late relief arm.

Buck Martinez reiterated to the fans in attendance and those streaming the event live online “don’t get too concerned about your team until opening day” pointing to the fact that potential moves could still be made to bolster the bullpen, even during spring training.

Paul Beeston said regarding grass being put in Rogers Centre, “We can get the sun, we can get the water,” it’s just the air currents that they’re looking into. Apparently, they signed a contract today with the University of Guelph to research this issue.

Blue Jays Manager John Gibbons said that reports on infielder Maicer Izturis are good, that “he’s in the best condition he’s ever been.” So that’s good because he’ll challenge to be the starting second baseman when the club heads north. Gibbons also reiterated that prospect Devon Travis will get a good look in the spring as well and he might just run away with it “if he’s ready”.

More from Anthopoulos, as he said “we’ve wanted Saunders for three years now,” as he mentioned how pleased he thinks fans will be of his “gold glove” defense in left field. He’s a “very excited” player to be on this Blue Jays team right now. The Mariners also claimed J.A. Happ on trade waivers (last August), so interest was there for the eventual trade to transpire between those two players.

Anthopoulos said that “Sanchez could have been our best pitcher last year” which is some high praise to put on a rookie, and yet very exciting for fans to contemplate for the coming season. He also made a Matt Harvey mention when talking about prospect Daniel Norris and what he can potentially bring to the team.

Beeston also shared that he spoke with new MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred the other day about the Blue Jays hosting another All-Star game. “We’re going to put a proposal together,” he said. “We deserve it. It’s our turn!”  Quite right, it’s been 25 years since the last one in 1991 when Kirby Puckett hit a home run derby ball into the soup out in Windows Restaurant.

Lastly, Anthopoulos shared some insights on the Melky Cabrera negotiations, saying they talked to Melky early on in the offseason, and once again when the Saunders deal was on the burner. At that time, Alex was informed that Melky would be open to a three or four year deal, thereby implying that he was initially looking for five years. Ultimately, they were too far down the road with Saunders and they spent a fair chunk of money on Martin already. “Martin was a better fit,” Anthopoulos said.

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