Inbox: Blue Jays close to hiring new manager?
Beat reporter Gregor Chisholm answers Toronto fans' questions
Why is Alex Anthopoulos not in more of a hurry to choose a manager, given the obvious impact it has on signing free agents?
-- Nick W., Hampton, Nova Scotia
The Blue Jays are expected to enter the final phase of their managerial search this week, and a replacement for John Farrell should be named in the relatively near future. Anthopoulos said on Friday that he was entering the home stretch of the process and hoped to find a resolution relatively quickly.
The lack of having a manager in place has been a talking point with free agents, but it has yet to become a major hindrance. Toronto still managed to sign infielder Maicer Izturis to a three-year contract last week, and the big-name free agents tend to remain available through the end of November and into next month's Winter Meetings.
Toronto previously reached out to rookie managerial candidates such as Tim Wallach and Matt Williams, but it now appears as though Anthopoulos is more inclined to hire someone with previous experience at the big league level. That could give bench coach Don Wakamatsu a shot at the promotion, while others such as Manny Acta reportedly also are in the mix.
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Are there no tampering rules in MLB when it comes to managers? The Red Sox were pretty overt in their interest of John Farrell, which would be clear-cut tampering if it were a player.
-- Darren B., Abbotsford, British Columbia
There are tampering rules in place, but any infractions of that policy would be incredibly hard to prove. Anthopoulos was asked this question around the time of Farrell's departure, and he stated on the record that there were no suspicions of Boston having done anything inappropriate.
Anthopoulos did appear to point the finger at Boston, though, for the series of leaks to the media in the days leading up to Farrell's hiring. That might have upset the fourth-year GM, but it's certainly not against the rules, and Anthopoulos knows it's all fair game.
In order to prove tampering charges, the Blue Jays would need to provide evidence that Farrell talked specifics with the Red Sox before receiving permission. That's a lot easier said than done, and instead the Blue Jays will turn the page and attempt to put this issue in the past.
What is the probability that either J.P. Arencibia or Travis d'Arnaud is dealt to Texas?
-- Alex M., Carrollton, Texas
If the Blue Jays are able to pull off a major trade this offseason, there's a strong chance it would involve either Arencibia or d'Arnaud. Both players are valuable commodities at a relatively weak position around the Major Leagues and could be used as part of a package to help upgrade the rotation.
Texas reportedly has interest in both catchers with the future of free agent Mike Napoli up in the air. If the Rangers take a pass on Napoli, they'll likely shift their attention to the trade market and the Blue Jays would be one of the first teams they call.
It would seem unlikely that the Rangers would part with starter Derek Holland, but based on observations from some of their local media, Alexi Ogando could be made available in the right deal. Almost every team would have an interest in d'Arnaud, who is generally regarded as the best catching prospect in the game, but is also someone Anthopoulos would be loath to move in any trade.
With his solid play after returning from Triple-A, do you think Adam Lind has earned himself a spot in the 2013 lineup?
-- Phil A., Shio, Manitoba
By all accounts, it appears as though Lind will get one more chance to secure his spot in the Blue Jays' lineup. He is set to earn $5 million in 2013, with a club option the following year which can be bought out for $2 million.
With at least $7 million in guaranteed money coming his way, it seems almost impossible that the Blue Jays would be able to dump his contract -- especially considering he was placed on waivers last season and could have been picked up by any club.
Toronto is in the market for a pair of starters and upgrades at either left field or second base, so Lind's situation likely will be kept on the back burner. After a slow start, Lind did show some signs of life after returning from Triple-A Las Vegas by hitting .301 (37-for-123), but there was still a noticeable lack of power, as evidenced by just three homers and a .447 slugging percentage.
It appeared that Mike Aviles would give us some versatility up the middle, but he was gone before we knew it. Now Izturis appears to be the guy, but will he be the starter or utility infielder?
-- Jeff K., Toronto
Despite public claims to the contrary, it appeared from the start that Aviles wouldn't have much of a future in Toronto. He was acquired more as a tradeable asset than he was as a potential long-term fit with the organization.
Aviles is a versatile defender with the ability to play three infield positions. Even though Aviles wasn't viewed as a long-term fit, there was a need for that type of skill set on the team, which is why the club ultimately guaranteed a three-year deal for Izturis.
Izturis immediately becomes the favorite to start at second base, but a lot could change between now and Opening Day. Izturis is expected to receive competition from Cuban prospect Adeiny Hechavarria, while a potential trade of Yunel Escobar could drastically change the current look of the infield.
What pitchers will be targeted for trades this winter?
-- Adrian G., Bordentown, N.J.
The easy answer to this is almost anyone and everyone. Anthopoulos had made no secret of his desire to upgrade the rotation this offseason, and the club is expected to make acquiring two starters its top priority.
Right-hander Zack Greinke is expected to be out of reach because of his financial demands, but Toronto could find some interesting candidates in the second-tier group of free agents. Anibal Sanchez, Dan Haren, Edwin Jackson, Brandon McCarthy and Francisco Liriano are all likely to receive consideration and could help solidify the middle of Toronto's staff.
The Blue Jays appear to have enough financial flexibility to sign at least one pitcher. The second is likely to be acquired via trade using a wealth of resources at the Minor League level. Oakland's Brett Anderson could become a prime target if the A's decide they have enough depth to part with some of their young starters.
What can we expect from Ricky Romero after the year he had?
-- Oliver D., London, England
It's impossible to know for sure how Romero will respond to the worst season of his professional career. He seemed to lack confidence on the mound and battled control problems all year en route to a 9-14 record with a 5.77 ERA.
A clue to his puzzling season wasn't provided until the end of October, when it was revealed Romero had surgery on his left elbow to clean up some scar tissue. Romero admitted there had been more soreness than normal in his left elbow during the year and it's possible that negatively impacted his performance on the mound.
The Blue Jays can no longer rely on Romero to be the ace, but they'll still need him to experience a return to form to have any chance in the American League East next season. He has a guaranteed job heading into Spring Training and will either find himself slotted behind Brandon Morrow or in the middle of the rotation, depending on acquisitions this offseason.