TORONTO -- The Toronto Blue Jays are unsettled at both corners of the diamond, behind the plate and in the bullpen but Alex Anthopoulos isn't worried right now because he sees a host of ways to fill his team's needs.
Last off-season, the general manager struck early to plug holes at shortstop and catcher by signing Alex Gonzalez, John McDonald and John Buck. This fall, he's able to take his time a little bit more because he's got more internal options to fall back on if external opportunities don't pan out.
Two of those, Adam Lind at first base and J.P. Arencibia catching, sounded more likely to happen Thursday when Anthopoulos had lunch with members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America's Toronto chapter.
With a young staff in 2010, one of Anthopoulos's primary concerns was providing as strong a defence as possible to help save his young arms pitches and stress. Given the experience they gained this past season, he's more willing to sacrifice some glove if it means more bat.
"That's fair to say and the key is in certain positions," said Anthopoulos. "You might be able to not place as much importance on it because (the young pitchers) have been through it more and they may not need as much help. I still think you'd like to have somebody back there (at catcher) who can handle a staff and run a game, but with the year of experience, I think you can take the reins off a little bit with those guys."
While that came off as a nod to Arencibia, he also seemed to somewhat open the door to Lind, who logged 76 innings at first base after not playing there since college. Anthopoulos praised Lind's hands while adding that his footwork needed to improve, and conceded that he's more willing to take a chance on a permanent move.
"If you would have done something like that last off-season, it would have been a total guess. Even though it's a small sample size, you've (now) seen something to grab hold of," said Anthopoulos. "I don't think anyone can definitively say Adam Lind can play first base over the course of a full season, there's an unknown there.
"And maybe there is a component where you say we're going to take that chance, we're going to roll him out there and see what we have. We haven't made that determination, but I wouldn't rule it out."
Buck's departure as a free agent leaves Arencibia and Jose Molina as the primary in-house catching options for the Blue Jays, though free agent Miguel Olivo was offered arbitration ahead of Tuesday's midnight deadline and remains in play.
First baseman Lyle Overbay was not offered arbitration and is unlikely to return, with Lind the best internal candidate for the position.
Home run king Jose Bautista remains a possibility to fill the hole at third base but his arm makes him more valuable in right field. Still, outfielder Rajai Davis, the only addition of significance so far this off-season, allows the Blue Jays to go that route if they choose.
Their third base problems were nearly solved by Dan Uggla before the Marlins turned down a Blue Jays offer and sent the second baseman to Atlanta instead. Uggla would have pushed Aaron Hill to third, and shifting the second baseman over is still on the table.
Justin Upton is not on the team's radar any more, as the Arizona Diamondbacks want too much for the outfielder.
The Blue Jays bullpen is in for the biggest revamp, with closer Kevin Gregg and set-up man Scott Downs and Jason Frasor all free agents. Combined with the departure of Brian Tallet, Anthopoulos has four relief jobs to fill and while there are some potential replacements from within, he acknowledges that "the quality of those alternatives remains to be seen."
"There's a lot of alternatives because there are still so many free agents on the board and there are still a lot to trade for," said Anthopoulos. "It's not the same as last off-season, because there are some ways that we can go right now."
Gregg, Downs and Frasor were all offered arbitration to guarantee the Blue Jays compensatory picks should they depart, and while in years past that has hurt some free agents, Anthopoulos doesn't expect that to be the case this year.
He said 35 free agents were extended offers of arbitration and that if all reject them and sign elsewhere, an entire new round of picks would be created, devaluing some of the value of the selection.
"My prediction is a lot of Type A free agents will decline (arbitration) because the draft-pick compensation is not nearly what it was and there's too many sandwich picks," he said.
"You're taking guys in the draft, paying them a signing bonus in the hopes that they become these guys (the free agents) and they may not and there's a significant amount of risk and there's also the time value, that they may be four or five years away. So in a lot of ways, if you find the right deal it's a no-brainer to me, added in with the fact that you get to bump back your picks."
Anthopoulos also wouldn't tip his hand on whether or not he wants to extend Bautista, and declined comment on persistent speculation that Manny Ramirez may sign with the club.