Alex Anthopoulos is ready to prepare his Blue Jays for the 2011 season. His coaching staff has all been assembled and it is an interesting mix of old and new. Now it is time for Anthopoulos to work on the team he is going to field in the coming season.
One of the issues that must get dealt with sooner or later is Jose Bautista's new contract, or whether he will just get a raise through arbitration.
The outfielder and third basemen just won the Silver Slugger for the right field position, making him the third Blue Jay in two years to win the award.
There is a good chance that the GM will wait until part way through the season to see whether the slugger can keep up his record breaking numbers, then work up a contract based upon his performance.
After letting Edwin Encarnacion be claimed off waivers by the Oakland Athletics, the Blue Jays could be looking for a new third baseman, or slotting Bautista into that spot. Bautista's arm is highly valued in right field, so there is a chance they will keep him there and look for a more permanent solution in third.
A couple of options could be the Kansas City Royals Alex Gordon or the Chicago White Sox's Gordon Beckham. The Toronto Sun was reporting that the Blue Jays were talking with Kansas City about their former first round pick, as well as their Cy Young winning pitcher Zack Greinke.
It seems unlikely that they would pry Greinke away from Kansas since they seem hesitant to deal their primary starter, also due to the costs for the Jays to acquire him and the options they already have for starting.
Both the Jays and the Red Sox have inquired about Greinke, who has a partial no-trade clause with two years and $27 million remaining on his contract.
Gordon is a much easier target, once a highly regarded prospect, his stock has fallen after struggling to make it at the big league level. His defense was rather weak when he played at third, so he has since been moved to the outfield. Gordon is rather injury prone, but could develop into a hitting star if given the proper guidance and at-bats.
MLB trade rumors has been discussing that the White Sox have thought about dealing Beckham, and listed the possible suitors for the young infielder. His experience at third base, combined with his youth and potential seem like a prime option for Anthopoulos to pursue.
The same site is also reporting that the Florida Marlins talks with Dan Uggla have stalled, both sides in disagreement after the Marlins 4-year, $48 million contract extension was rejected. ESPN's Buster Olney mentioned that two executives both said that Toronto would be their best guess for a possible trade destination for the second baseman.
Whether that would mean that Aaron Hill or Dan Uggla would be moved to third base remains to be seen, but this is all still speculation.
On ESPN, a survey by the analysts of the top free agents and their possible destinations mentioned two names for the Blue Jays, Manny Ramirez and Magglio Ordonez.
Both sluggers are nearing the end of the careers and don't seem like a long term option for the Jays, so it seems unlikely Anthopoulos would bite on adding either of these two to his roster.
In other waiver news, both Brian Tallet and DeWayne Wise refused their assignment to Triple-A, which makes them free agents now.
Finally, since Tallet leaving creates an opening in the left handed long relief role, a possibility to fill that role is Marc Rzepczynski, who is currently working on his game in the Arizona Fall League.
Rzepczynski was just named one of the two Players of the Week, and in three starts so far has gone 1-0, with a 1.29 ERA, nine strikeouts and seven walks.