It was on the 19th of November last year that the Blue Jays pulled off their massive 12-player deal with Miami that was supposed to set the table for a playoff season in 2013. Of course it didn't work out that way, but I suppose the point of this is, the deal came right out of nowhere. There were no hot rumours, no build-up. It just happened.
This year's Winter Meetings are being held from Dec. 9-12 at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Orlando. This is the third time the meetings have been held at this facility. The last time was in 2010. It's interesting to look back now at some of the rumours involving the Blue Jays back then and what actually went down.
One of the hottest rumours had the Jays offering a package that might have included right hander Kyle Drabek, outfielder Travis Snider and a couple of other prospects to Kansas City for right hander Zach Greinke who was fresh off winning the American League Cy Young Award. There was also talk the Jays were going after Arizona outfielder Justin Upton and even Manny Ramirez.
None of those deals came to fruition.
Alex Anthopoulos did pull off the first major swap of those meetings though, sending right-hander Shaun Marcum to Milwaukee for Brett Lawrie. Again, though, there were no rumours surrounding that deal. It just happened.
Arguably, the Jays' most significant deal of that offseason didn't come until the New Year. They sent Vernon Wells and his huge contract to the Angels for catcher/1B/DH Mike Napoli and outfielder Juan Rivera. Four days later they flipped Napoli to Texas in a deal involving closer Frank Francisco. Wells incidently will be heading into the final year of his contract next season. Though Vernon will earn $21 million, the Yankees are only on the hook for $2.4 million of that.
According the Baseball Reference.com, the Angels are paying the rest, some $18.6 million.
Rumours and Deals
There was actually a trade this week, with the Dodgers getting outfielder Jeremy Hazelbaker and cash from Boston for outfielder prospect Alex Castellanos.
The rumour mill really figures to start heating up at the Owners and GM's meetings running from Nov. 11-13 at Orlando. Usually those meetings are where the ground work is laid for the bigger deals and free agent signings to come through the fall and over the winter.
This brings us back to the two big rumours of the past week or so, put out by ESPN contributors.
One had the Mets possibly offering right-hander Jon Niese, outfielder prospect Cesar Puello and another prospect for Jose Bautista.
The Mets really need a power bat to offer some support for David Wright, and J.P. Ricciardi who now works in the Mets front office acquired Bautista for the Blue Jays in the first place from Pittsburgh. Puello is supposed to be the key in the deal for the Blue Jays. He's supposedly a top-notch right field prospect who plays the game with boundless hustle. Some have compared him to Yasiel Puig, without the hotdogging. Trouble is Puello was suspended for 50 games for using PED's in connection with Biogenesis. But again its only another rumour.
Another hot one had the Blue Jays being in the thick of the race for Cincinnati's out-of-favour second baseman Brandon Phillips. Though some say he had an offseason and caused some friction for the Reds by comparing his contract to that of Joey Votto and for getting into a beef with a reporter, Phillips is still one of top second basemen in the game. Even in an "off year" he knocked in 103 runs.
If new Reds manager Bryan Price moves closer Aroldis Chapman into the starting rotation as has been rumoured, maybe Anthopoulos can offer some of the Blue Jays' bullpen depth and a prospect or two for Phillips. But as a cautionary note, Phillips will be 33 next season and is owed $50 million on his contract over the next four years.
If the Blue Jays are truly going to go "all-in" again next season, this is the deal that they might actually pursue. Still, it's just another one of those rumours you hear this time of year, and most of these rumours as we learned from 2010, don't ever turn into reality.
Tampa Bay, Oakland and Pittsburgh are three of the teams that proved this season that you can win with a lower-echelon payroll. But of the final four teams that were alive in the post-season, three were in the top five in money spent, and St. Louis was number 11.