LAKE BUENA VISTA, Florida – It's not for a lack of interest or due to a lack of effort - the Blue Jays are trying - but so far there is no trade to be made to enhance the club.
"I don't know that we're close," said general manager Alex Anthopoulos. "I just think, right now, the acquisition cost just doesn't work for us right now. I don't know if I can quantify how far off or things like that that they might be but I would say we continue to have dialogue. So if you want to, look at that as encouraging."
While young pitching prospects Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman continue to be in high demand – Anthopoulos isn't opposed to moving either if the deal is right – it's the Jays' big bats that are attracting the most attention.
"The one thing we have on this team is power," said Anthopoulos. "There's not a lot of power out there on the market or the free agent prices don't work for some of the clubs so we've been approached by clubs asking for some of our position players that have power."
Anthopoulos then moved quickly to deny a Toronto Sun report that Colby Rasmus had been offered to two teams in the search for starting pitching.
"With respect to rumours and some of our position players, I would say just to kind of bury some of those. With all our players we'll be open-minded if people want to approach us but I can say as we sit here today I feel pretty confident that most, if not all, our position player core will be with the club to start the year," he said.
The Blue Jays haven't ruled out signing Rasmus to a long-term extension. The 26-year-old is coming off his best season since his breakout campaign in 2010 with the Cardinals. Limited by injury to 118 games, Rasmus authored a slash line of .276/.338/.501, and lifted his OPS to .840 from .689 the previous season.
Anthopoulos is leaving the door open to a long-term extension with Rasmus, who will be a free agent for the first time after this season. In fact, only Jose Bautista of the Blue Jays' starting outfielders is signed beyond 2014.
Citing Edwin Encarnacion as a player given a long-term commitment in the middle of a breakout campaign, Anthopoulos said he's willing to wait on Rasmus in order to "gather more information," even if the centerfielder continues to perform at a high level and a deal becomes more costly.
"We feel time is on our side in the sense of we don't feel the need to necessarily have to do it so early," said general manager Alex Anthopoulos. "We've got more resources from a payroll standpoint."
Jose Bautista's and Edwin Encarnacion's team-friendly contracts – Bautista has two years left at $28 million with a club option for 2016 at $14 million while Encarnacion is signed for two more years at $19 million with a club option for 2016 at $10 million – make Rasmus a logical choice to be moved out of the group of power bats.
Given this year's offseason market for outfielders – Jacoby Ellsbury signed for $153 million over seven years with the Yankees and Shin-Soo Choo is expected to receive a similar figure in free agency – Anthopoulos has a difficult decision to make on Rasmus' value.
WEBER HEADS TO KOREA
The Blue Jays will enter Thursday morning's Rule 5 draft with 39 players on their 40-man roster.
Right-hander Thad Weber has been sold to NC Dinos of the Korean Baseball Organization.
MOTTOLA NEARING DEAL WITH RAYS
Former Blue Jays hitting coach Chad Mottola and the Tampa Bay Rays are finalizing the paperwork on his contract to become the club's new minor league hitting coordinator.
Mottola served in the same capacity for the Blue Jays in 2009 before spending three seasons as the hitting coach at Triple-A Las Vegas.
Mottola and Dwayne Murphy, who retired, are the two members of last season's coaching staff that won't be returning to Toronto.
Kevin Seitzer, who was the hitting coach in Kansas City when manager John Gibbons served as Royals' bench coach, was hired last month to replace Mottola.