Blue Jays to keep eye out for more pitching
Toronto could add more pieces during upcoming Winter Meetings
TORONTO -- The offseason Hot Stove is about to heat up, and that could mean more pitching help will be on the way for the Blue Jays when the Winter Meetings officially begin on Monday in Nashville, Tenn.
The annual Winter Meetings are scheduled to take place at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center. When it comes to the Blue Jays, expect their conversations to center around pitching, pitching and more pitching.
Toronto is in the market for at least one starting pitcher and one prominent reliever, but there also is a need for more organizational depth. Even though the Blue Jays have been busy this offseason by signing J.A. Happ, re-signing Marco Estrada and trading for Jesse Chavez, their work is far from over.
"We've had dialogue with a wide net that we cast," senior vice president of baseball operations and assistant general manager Tony LaCava said. "We still have conversations with various free agents and their agents, and also with other teams for the trade market as well.
"It's still early ... and we're going to try to continue to improve the club always. I wouldn't rule anything out right now, but certainly we addressed some of the bigger needs that we had coming in."
Toronto entered this offseason with Marcus Stroman as the only starting pitcher guaranteed to return in 2016. David Price has agreed to a deal with the Red Sox, while veteran lefty Mark Buehrle is considering retirement and is all but officially assured of not returning.
The potential turnover created a lot of uncertainty, but the Blue Jays have picked up the option on R.A. Dickey's contract while reaching deals for Happ, Estrada and Chavez. The current rotation is projected to be Stroman, Estrada, Dickey and Happ, while Chavez will compete for the final spot alongside Drew Hutchison and -- to a lesser extent -- Aaron Sanchez.
The Blue Jays' strategy seems to be stocking the rotation full of mid-rotation pieces that will help support the powerhouse offense. Toronto still needs at least one more piece, but whether that is found through free agency or via trade remains to be seen.
"I think they're both still open," LaCava said. "Things change quickly, and as the offseason unfolds, teams may make moves that allow them to deal someone they didn't even think they could deal, because now they've addressed something else. So you stay engaged with other teams.
"Free agents often times, too -- maybe initially they didn't see a fit with your team, but as the offseason unfolds, they revisit and look back, and now maybe there is a fit and we can get engaged. It can change quick, and so far we're monitoring everything we need to, and at the Winter Meetings, we'll find out more information."
Toronto's work isn't exclusively limited to the starting rotation. The Blue Jays also need to add at least one reliable right-handed setup man, and ideally the club would bring another lefty into the fold as well. Roberto Osuna, Sanchez and Brett Cecil are expected to form the heart of the bullpen, but there isn't a lot of depth after those three.
Right-hander Mark Lowe is a free agent and could be an option to return, while setup man Ryan Madson also has been linked to Toronto in recent days. The offensive side of things doesn't require nearly as much work, with one of the only needs being a utility infielder to fill in while Devon Travis recovers from shoulder surgery.
MLB.com and MLB Network will have wall-to-wall coverage of the 2015 Winter Meetings from the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, with the Network launching 35 hours of live Winter Meetings coverage on Sunday at 8 p.m. ET. Fans can also catch live streaming of all news conferences and manager availability on MLB.com, as well as the announcement of the Hall of Fame Pre-Integration Era Committee inductees on Monday at 11 a.m. and the Rule 5 Draft on Dec. 10 at 10 a.m.