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Around the American League: Toronto Blue Jays: GM Frees Up Some Cap Space, Trades Expensive Veterans, Gets Youth At Bargain Price

By dealing lengthy contracts, Blue Jays endured a productive off season

The Toronto Blue Jays are no longer the proud owners of center fielder Vernon Well ‘s fleeced contract thanks to their new General Manager Alex Anthopoulos. Anthopoulos has had big shoes to fill since the departure of J.P. Ricciardi, and has dealt some of the biggest names in baseball. One of Anthopoulos's first tasks at the helm of the franchise was to deal 7 time All-Star Roy Halladay. Now Wells is gone, along with right-hander Shaun Marcum. Anthopoulos might not have brought any Major-League ready talent just yet, but if it all pans out, Toronto could be in the mix.

As of right now, they don't have a single player making more than five and a half million dollars; which in today's baseball world is exceedingly fecund. In fact, most of their projected starting pitchers, such as Brett Cecil, Brandon Morrow, and Jesse Litsch are making under seven digits this 2011 season. That's impressive. But they've got to start getting production at the big league level for any of this to matter. 26-year-old south paw Ricky Romero figures to be the Opening Day Starter. He is already catching eyes around the league with his command of his fastball (noticed I said command, not control. There's a difference) and devastating change up. With those tools he has plastered a 27-and-18 career record, and figures to have his best season yet this time around.

Raise your hand if you saw Jose Bautista ‘s 54 home runs coming last season? No one; I thought so. Perhaps not even the experts are sure of what to expect form him this season, but odds are that he will be their most industrious run producer. At 2.4 million, he was arguable the best bargain player of anyone in MLB in 2010.

But if there is only one thing the Jays wish they could take for granted is the performance of second basemen Aaron Hill. His stellar 09 campaign of 36 home runs and 108 runs batted in came to a crashing halt last year, and his .205 batting average was barely mediocre enough to keep him from being sent down to the minors. The Blue Jays pray that the same does not happen with their ex All-Star outfielder.

Experts lean towards picking Toronto as having the best off season. I don't think it compares to the moves the Red Sox or Phillies made, but at least Toronto will be making revenue for future investments.

Photographs by spatulated, Triple Tri, and chrischappelear used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.