(...and before we begin, can we just agree once and for all that the team should revert back to the old logo above? Who would be against this? Look at that thing! It's freaking majestic!)
If the hiring of John Farrell to be The Manager charged with taking this Blue Jays club to the next level (ahem...playoffs!) signified the start of the offseason, Thursday's "option deadline" provided Hotstove fans with the first transaction of the winter...fall...whatever. And while the trade for & subsequent declining of Miguel Olivo's 2011 option hasn't exactly flown under the radar with praise for the move abundant, it's significance cannot be overstated:
These aren't your father's Blue Jays...er, your older brother's Blue Jays....er, you know what I mean.
In a move stunningly brilliant in it's simplicity, Alex Anthopoulos essentially guaranteed his club another supplemental draft pick in the 2011 amateur draft and created more legitimate options at the catching position. The ramifications of the transaction are wide, considering:
* under the supposition that the Jays really are interested (to whatever degree) in re-signing John Buck, when (not if) he declines arbitration - the team is in a win-win position: he signs elsewhere netting a supp pick, or he remains with the team - presumably on their terms given the added leverage.
* if Buck re-signs, Olivo, who we will logically presume will also decline arb in favour of searching out a multi-year deal (at 32, taking a one-year arb offer presents too much risk for The Player) is sure to sign elsewhere, preserving the supplemental pick "forfeited" in bringing back the incumbent, Buck.
* if Buck walks - which I believe he will - the Jays happily scoop the pick and have his potential (one year) replacement in waiting with Olivo, who might not find a better opportunity for playing time elsewhere as he sets up his free agency year with an offer constructed similar to the one Buck agreed to last winter.
Of course, this is all under the assumption that the Jays aren't comfortable going to spring training with JP Arencibia all but handed the starting job. And to be honest, it just doesn't feel like that's the direction the club wants to go. Perhaps it's the memory of JPA collecting dust on Cito's bench that's influencing my opinion here, but I can't shake the feeling that the club isn't sold. Having said that.... Anthopoulos has very openly stated there's nothing left for Arencibia to prove in the minor leagues, meaning....
* he will get consistent at-bats with the Blue Jays in 2011, or
* he will be traded.
Friends, all of the above pontification comes from one minor move. But that's the beauty of the current Jays regime, isn't it? Everything that's done is transacted with an eye towards the next move, or maybe the one after that. Proactive vs Reactive. It's absolutely the way the club needs to be run and is finally being run.
Moving past the ramifications for the 2011 season, the Olivo transaction is hugely symbolic of the Jays' new value system - investing & building through the draft. And once again - pardon me for repeating - it's absolutely the way the club needs to be run. It's no longer about setting up for a season where the Yankees and Red Sox look poised to fall back - though that will always be a consideration - the organization's new & current philosophy is to build a club that is consistently strong and deep enough to challenge on any given year.
It's being Tampa Bay with enough payroll dollars promised by ownership to maintain. While that component remains to be seen, I choose not to be a complete fucking pessimist about it. Toronto will never compete with the Yanks and Sox on payroll dollars, but every voice that matters - from Nadir Mohamed to Handsome Tony Viner to Paul Beeston to Alex Anthopoulos to John Farrell - has relayed the same message: when it's time, the dollars will be there.
No more waiting for a break. Given the strength of the division (and depth of pocket), the Jays will instead look to make their own breaks. Is there a lot of work to be done? Of course. But there's real hope and optimism for the future of the franchise that extends well beyond a few Blue Jay blogs, and that's more than could have been said in many a November past.