At trade deadline, not a peep from Jays
Toronto stands pat, but GM still positive about team's outlook
ST. PETERSBURG -- All was quiet on the Blue Jays' front. The non-waiver trade deadline came and went on Tuesday afternoon, and Toronto's roster remained unchanged.
A strong sign that the Jays had no plans on dealing at the deadline rested in the fact that Toronto general manager J.P. Ricciardi isn't even with the club in Florida. Then again, Ricciardi has been saying for the past few weeks that he didn't anticipate taking part in the annual swapping of players.
The Jays have fallen short of expectations through the first four months of the season, but injuries have played a crucial role in the club's underperformance. Ricciardi didn't want to become a seller, because he firmly believes that the roster he's built can still compete in the American League East if the group can avoid the disabled list.
"We could bring this club back totally healthy next year, and we could be the guys in first place," Ricciardi said earlier this month. "There's not underachievers on it. There's not old guys that you're trying to move bad contracts. It's a good group and I like our group. I want to go to battle with this group."
Toronto, which had 12 different players land on the DL in the first half, has five players under contract through at least 2010, which happens to be the final year in Ricciardi's current deal as well. The exception among that class is right-hander A.J. Burnett, who has an opt-out clause that he could potentially exercise after next season.
Beyond that group and outside of arbitration-eligible players or protected players on the active roster, the Jays have eight signed through 2008. That includes 39-year-old designated hitter Frank Thomas, whose two-year deal also has a vesting option for the '09 campaign.
"I'm not looking to dismantle this group," Ricciardi said. "This team was built for '07, '08, '09, '10. For the most part, this group was built to stay together. We don't have a lot of guys, outside of Frank and [catcher Gregg Zaun], who are older guys. So, the majority of this group is going to stay together."
That didn't stop trade rumors and reports to swirl around Toronto, recently. The Phillies sent a representative to Toronto two weeks ago to watch Blue Jays starter Josh Towers, who is in the final year of his two-year, $5.2 million contract. Ricciardi indicated that the Phillies inquired about Towers' availability, but their offer couldn't convince the Jays to trade away the pitcher.
Jays third baseman Troy Glaus' name has also popped up in rumors on the West Coast. Glaus, who is from California, was rumored to be a target for the Dodgers and Angels -- teams that might have convinced the third baseman to waive his no-trade clause. The trade deadline is in the rear-view mirror, though, and Glaus is still a member of the Jays, who are scheduled to pay him $12.75 million next season.
If last year set any sort of precedent, the Blue Jays could still have plans on moving a player or two during the waiver period in August. Last season, Toronto traded Eric Hinske to Boston and Scott Schoeneweis to Cincinnati in August in order to rid itself of some salary on players who weren't in the plans for 2007.
On Toronto's current roster, 39-year-old outfielder Matt Stairs and 37-year-old shortstop Royce Clayton, along with Towers, are signed through the end of this season, but they aren't likely in the plans for next year. With that being the case, there's a chance the Jays might attempt to move those players in August.
For now, the roster was unaffected by Tuesday's deadline, which was Ricciardi's prediction. With the Jays finally getting some of their injured players back, Toronto's general manager said he's looking forward to seeing what the team can do down the stretch and into next year.
"We could play August and September with everybody, but [injured closer B.J.] Ryan. I'm excited," Ricciardi said. "I think this group is going to be together for the next few years."
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.