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Bautista, Romero think Blue Jays are title contenders in 2013

TSN.ca Staff

11/19/2012 9:45:41 PM

With the proposed 12-player trade between the Toronto Blue Jays and Miami Marlins getting Major League Baseball's approval nearly a week after it had been presented to the commissioner's office, Blue Jays players took the chance to talk about the implications the deal may have on the team moving forward.

Jose Bautista and Ricky Romero were guests on Cabbie Presents: The Podcast on Monday and both could hardly contain their excitement when asked about the impact of the mega-trade, as well as the signing of free agent outfielder Melky Cabrera.

"This is the moment you thrive for in your professional career, especially when you love what you do, for someone to provide you with the right opportunity in order to succeed and that's what our organization has provided all of us with. Now it's time to grind it out and go out there and play as good as we can play and bring that championship back to Toronto," Bautista said.

Coming off an injury-plagued year that caused him to play in just 92 games, Bautista thinks the additions make the Jays legitimate contenders for the foreseeable future.

"We should be contenders for the next four or five years consistently," Bautista said. "There's no excuses, there's no things to really point at in the sense that ownership or management hadn't done enough. They did what they did and now it's up to us players to go out there and perform."

Two of the players acquired in the deal, Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle are under contract until 2017 and 2015 respectively, while a third player, Emilio Bonifacio is eligible for his second year of arbitration in 2013.

The other two players acquired in the trade, pitcher Josh Johnson and catcher John Buck are scheduled to become free agents after next season.

Cabrera, who's two-year, $16-million deal was also announced on Monday, is coming off a career year in which he posted a National League-leading .346 batting average, but his season was marred by a 50-game suspension for a positive drug test.

Commenting on the additions to the pitching staff, Romero said he would be comfortable wherever the Jays decide to slot him in among the five starting pitching slots.

"Ever since I was drafted by the Blue Jays in 2005, my goal was to win a World Series for the city of Toronto, so whether I'm the No. 1 guy or the No. 5 guy, it doesn't matter," Romero said. "In the end, it's about who holds that trophy out and who's laughing at the end, enjoying popping that champagne and what better way than to take the party down Blue Jays Way after a World Series win."

Barring any future moves, Johnson and Buehrle are expected to join Romero, Brandon Morrow and possibly J.A. Happ in the starting rotation, while Cabrera, Reyes and Bonifacio will likely be new everyday starters in the team's lineup.