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Will stars align for Jays this winter?

For Toronto Blue Jays fans expecting a big free-agent spree, there isthis dispiriting assessment of the process from general manager AlexAnthopoulos.

For Toronto Blue Jays fans expecting a big free-agent spree, there is this dispiriting assessment of the process from general manager Alex Anthopoulos.

“It’s the worst market to be in,” Anthopoulos said this week. “It’s also a necessary market to be in in some capacity and at some point. Free agency is our least preferred route (to acquire players).”

Still, the GM did hint that shoring up the bullpen will be a top priority. He spoke of only two positional “needs” this winter — at second base and backup catcher. Beyond that are the “wants.”

The reality will likely be low key, but lets pretend the sky is finally the limit inside the Rogers Inc. accounting department.

Prince Fielder

First baseman

If you’re a newcomer to the game, and you’re given a look at Fielder, your first thought is going to be, “He’s an athlete?” But the impressive stats over six years prove Fielder’s the real deal. Though incumbent 1B Adam Lind is possible trade bait, this is the sort of $150-175 million gamble that helped sink the previous GM. Anthopoulos isn’t going to take it. Odds 75-1.

Yu Darvish

Starting pitcher

Anthopoulos visited Japan to scout the 25-year-old right-hander who some have compared to Justin Verlander. This is the sort of acquisition Anthopoulos loves — an elite, fully developed player who costs money but not draft picks. It will be a lot of money, likely well north of $125 million between the posting fee and contract. But it would give the Jays a second star at the top of the rotation. Odds 5-2.

Albert Pujols

First baseman

After what was, by his own ludicrous standards, an off year (.299 AVG/.366 OBP/.541 SLG), Pujols is still the ultimate free-agent statement.

However, Anthopoulos would certainly and quite rightly shy away from agent Dan Lozano’s “just above A-Rod (10 years, $275 million)” demands. Anthopoulos already ranks offence as the team’s No. 1 strength. Odds 100-1.

Aaron Hill and Kelly Johnson

Second basemen

The Jays have been looking inwards and evaluating their own roster. By that rationale, Hill may be the better fit. His replacement, Johnson, showed little in Toronto. Hill, by contrast, played well in 33 regular-season games with Arizona (.315/.386/ .492). If Arizona doesn’t pick up Hill’s $8 million option, he could return. Odds on Johnson 10-1. Odds on Hill 3-1.

Jose Reyes

Shortstop

It’s a long shot, but Toronto could offer the mercurial Met a slightly less heated atmosphere and a strongly Latino clubhouse. Could Reyes play second? Probably. Would he want to strong-arm incumbent Yunel Escobar out of his spot at shortstop? Even more probably. From a purely offensive perspective, it’d be a nice problem to have. Odds 25-1

 
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