The Toronto Blue Jays recently completed a blockbuster 12-player trade where they acquired Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, John Buck and Emilio Bonifacio from the Marlins.
It’s a deal that some believe has shifted the balance of power in the AL East. It’s a deal some Orioles fans seem to feel the team has to counter with a move or moves of their own.
I asked executive vice president Dan Duquette just that question this week. Do the Orioles feel pressure to counter the Toronto trade?
“We have systematically built our roster and we built our roster for this past season, but we also built it for the medium and short-term with a lot of the player moves we made,” Duquette said. “So we’re always looking to build our roster and we built a contending team and we are bringing back the core of that roster with the intent to contend again.
“We’re going to continue to build the roster this offseason. Some of the moves we made are part of that building. Alexi Casilla is a terrific defensive player and a very good base-stealer. Trayvon Robinson has speed and has some pop in his bat. Although he hasn’t emerged as an everyday player with the bat, he’s got a .484 lifetime slugging percentage at Triple-A and is still young. He has the tools to develop into a good outfielder.
“So we’re continuing to build our team, proactively build our team. What you’re suggesting is that we react to what one of our competitors has done, but I would suggest to you that the better way to build a team is to be proactive and address your needs on a piece-by-piece basis, which is what we have done here.”
Of course, Duquette is always keeping up with the moves made by the other teams in what is year in and year out baseball’s toughest division. But that doesn’t mean he will react to every big move other clubs make.
“We’re mindful of how competitive the American League East is,” he said. “The Blue Jays addressed a lot of their needs in one trade. Our fans know we are diligently putting together a good club. For instance, they’ll see Manny Machado as an everyday ballplayer this year. That was a significant upgrade to our defense last year and he swung the bat well, too.
“We don’t have a lot of holes on our team. We still have a relatively young team that established itself as a contender this year and they’re coming back. We are trying to build our team to be contenders every year. That’s the challenge.”
What did Duquette think of that Toronto-Miami deal?
“I thought the trade was good for both teams,” he said. “The Marlins have reloaded with young ballplayers after signing a number of free agents last year and that didn’t work for them. They’ve reloaded before and won two World Series doing it.”
My take on Reynolds: I don’t agree with the Orioles’ decision to non-tender Mark Reynolds last night. I still feel that a player with 35-homer potential, solid defense, great character and makeup like Reynolds was worth $9 million for 2013.
Yes, that is probably a little pricey, but Reynolds brought so much to the table, especially late last year with the bat and in the clubhouse all year. Still, I am open to seeing what the club has in store for first base if it turns out that Reynolds signs somewhere else, which now seems likely.
Chris Davis could turn into a decent fielder at first, but he wasn’t that yet when he played there last year. I have concerns about a falloff in defense at first base and a loss of what Reynolds brought to the clubhouse. I think there is a decent chance the Orioles will regret the decision they made last night, but now let’s see what direction they go with that spot.