The “risks” and “tough decisions” that Alex Anthopoulos talked about started yesterday, as he decided against bringing back closer Kevin Gregg while also grabbing catcher Miguel Olivo from the Colorado Rockies for a player to be named / cash, only to decline his 2011 contract option.
The decisions were made in order to save some money while possibly adding a pair of draft choices once the two men sign elsewhere. Here are a couple quick reactions.
The Move: Jays decline 2011 option on Gregg, making him a free agent.
The Reaction: Anyone who read my season recap or even my off-season outlook know that I was an advocate to pick up Gregg’s option in order to bring stability to the back end of what is an extremely shaky bullpen. Picking up the option on the 37-save closer would have cost the team $5.25 million, which seems steep but is probably in line with other free agent closer options (Kerry Wood and Jorge De La Rosa, with Rafael Soriano expected to get a bigger deal). Now, the Jays will wind up with a compensatory draft pick (a sandwich pick after the first round) for the type-B free agent and a big hole to fill. Expect a similar situation to last spring, where the team creates a training camp battle for the closer’s slot, between some incumbents (David Purcey, Casey Janssen and possibly free agents Scott Downs and Jason Frasor) and maybe a bargain bin free agent pick-up or two. It seems like a pretty iffy plan for a critical position with no viable prospect exactly knocking down the door (Trystan Magnuson could eventually be the answer, but is still quite raw).
The Move: Jays trade future considerations to Colorado for Olivo, then decline Olivo’s option
The Reaction: It’s really quite a simple, savvy move – Toronto effectively trades either cash or a fringe player for a 2011 draft pick likely to be in the 30-40 range. Ironically, when I first heard of the trade, I thought Olivo was a terrific pick-up for the Jays as a cheap replacement for John Buck. The former Rockie put up similar numbers to the 2010 All-Star this past season (.269 average, 14 home runs and 58 RBI to Buck’s .281-20-66) and would cost sufficiently less than Buck, who is due for a well-deserved raise after a strong 2010 campaign. While the move, in itself, was crafty, it still doesn’t resolve a questionable catching situation with Jose Molina and inexperienced J.P. Arencibia as the top in-house options. Buck is still very much a possibility to return.
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Written by Ben Fisher