Blue Jays likely to stand pat at second, still looking at 'pen

Blue Jays likely to stand pat at second, still looking at 'pen

TORONTO -- Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos doesn't expect to add another second baseman before the start of the regular season, but he left the door open for moves to reinforce Toronto's bullpen.

The Blue Jays began the offseason with needs in both areas, but the focus has shifted in recent months after additions were made elsewhere. Toronto now seems relatively content with the internal candidates -- Ryan Goins, Maicer Izturis, Steve Tolleson and Danny Valencia -- to address the middle of the infield.

The same can't necessarily be said for the bullpen, which remains a work in progress. Anthopoulos on Thursday once again stated that he remains open to the idea of adding another player or two, either through free agency or trade.

"Second base, I don't expect anything to change between now and the time camp starts," Anthopoulos told reporters prior to the Blue Jays' State of the Franchise event. "We had some things we worked on, we just couldn't get close. The bullpen, those are still open, both in trade and free agency."

With fewer than three weeks until the start of Spring Training, there aren't a lot of relievers available on the open market, but a handful of guys could become fits at the right price. Veteran relievers Rafael Soriano, Francisco Rodriguez, Phil Coke and Joba Chamberlain are a few of the notable players still looking for work.

Soriano and Rodriguez, in particular, have experience closing out games, and while the Blue Jays have a vacancy at the back end of the 'pen, that doesn't necessarily mean they're still in the market for a closer. Anthopoulos and manager John Gibbons expressed confidence that left-hander Brett Cecil or rookie Aaron Sanchez would be able to handle the role.

That could leave the club looking for someone to pitch in the middle innings while prospect Daniel Norris and right-hander Marco Estrada compete for the final spot in the starting rotation.

"Cecil is a guy that we think can certainly close," Anthopoulos said. "I don't have any doubts about him being able to do it. The question becomes, are we stronger with him in the ninth? Or would we be stronger with Gibby being able to bring him in during the eighth, with a man on third and one out, trying to get the big swing and miss vs. a left-hander?

"[Cecil and Sanchez] can certainly do it, we have all the confidence in the world that they can. Are we the strongest bullpen that we can be -- and team -- with them in the those roles? That's why Spring Training will be important."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.