TORONTO -- The holiday season came early this year for the Blue Jays.
The team's core players sat back and watched as general manager Alex Anthopoulos handed out gift after gift. The 34-year-old is far too young to play the role of Santa Claus, but he did have a seemingly endless supply of presents at his disposal.
First there was the blockbuster 12-player trade with Miami that netted the Blue Jays Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes and Emilio Bonifacio. Days later, All-Star left fielder Melky Cabrera was added to the mix.
The final piece of the puzzle came on Dec. 17, when Anthopoulos traded a package of prospects for 2012 National League Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey. That move completed a drastic makeover that suddenly has the Blue Jays as one of the favorites to win next year's World Series.
A couple of months ago, nobody could have envisioned this type of offseason taking place. But the news came as music to the ears of many Blue Jays, including starting catcher J.P. Arencibia, who took some time out of his schedule to talk about the moves and what he has planned for Christmas:
MLB.com: Christmas came early for you guys this year. Did you ever in a million years think this type of offseason could actually happen?
Arencibia: You hear the chatter about who we're going to go after and we're going to make some trades. It's hard to fathom that you could pick up two All-Star pitchers, then you pick up an All-Star shortstop, and you pick up an All-Star left fielder. Then you pick up a Cy Young winner to go along with what we already have. To be able to do those things is pretty crazy, and it's pretty exciting because I'm a part of it. I always work hard and work toward winning a World Series, but they're giving us the product and now we just have to go out and execute.
MLB.com: What do you have planned for the holidays this year?
Arencibia: I go home to Miami for a few days, and then my family, on Christmas Day will fly up to Nashville, Tenn., and they'll spend the holidays with me. So it will be nice. My sister has six kids and they're all pretty much my life, so it will be nice to have them in the house and have everyone together.
MLB.com: Is that something your family does every year?
Arencibia: We try. I moved to Nashville to be able to focus more and lay low and just really concentrate on training in the offseason. So it makes it harder for us to get together, but I go down and they'll travel up to see me. It's not too bad, but we definitely always want to be together over the holidays.
MLB.com: You have a very close family and I know that you're a very proud uncle. This must be a time of the year that you really look forward to because it has everyone in the same spot.
Arencibia: For me, it's the best time of the year -- the holidays. The Christmas lights, the spirit, I think everyone's in a better mood and I think it's time to give. Christmas and these times are special for me, because before I would look at it as getting gifts and that part of it. Now I look at it as the time to be able to give to the people that need. It's just a good time of the year. It's something that I've always loved since when I was a kid and still love to this day.
MLB.com: What was your favorite gift that you received during your childhood?
Arencibia: If I had to have a favorite gift, which is tough, because my parents were pretty good to me, but I would say all of my baseball stuff. I remember getting baseball things -- if I got a new baseball bat, I was sleeping with that bat for the next however many weeks or months that I had it. All of my baseball equipment, that's what I wanted Santa Claus to bring me every year, and fortunately enough, I was able to grab some of those things.
MLB.com: You're a really big country music fan, so does that mean your favorite Christmas songs are country as well?
Arencibia: I don't know if I have a favorite country music Christmas song because Christmas songs are Christmas songs. But I bought this "Elf" soundtrack and that is definitely one of my favorites.
MLB.com: Great movie. Does that mean Elf's your favorite Christmas film, too?
Arencibia: Now, yes, I would say it's definitely one of my favorites, but as a kid, it was definitely "Home Alone." That was tough to beat for me, "Home Alone." That was one of my favorites, and I remember watching that for years and years and years for a good Christmas movie.
MLB.com: So you grew up in Miami and now you live in Nashville. Have you ever seen a white Christmas before?
Arencibia: No, I really haven't. One year, I think we went to some place that was kind of ... I don't even remember if it was for Christmas or after but that was pretty much it. I've never really had a white Christmas. Santa Claus would also come in board shorts.
MLB.com: Which was the better offseason move for the Blue Jays? Trading for Dickey or deciding to give you your very own bobblehead day next year?
Arencibia: (Laughs) The Dickey acquisition is definitely higher than me getting a bobblehead, that's for sure. But the bobblehead thing is pretty cool. That's a pretty big statement by a team to be able to do that. It shows the fans and how they've been receptive as well, because I think that's part of the strategy behind it. I feel like if fans support me, that's a big part of it.
MLB.com: The question a lot of your fans are dying to know. What does your dog, Yogi, want for Christmas this year?
Arencibia: For him, as many balls, bouncing balls, golf balls, kick balls, as many of those that are around the house the more that he's running around and trying to play with it because he doesn't stop.
MLB.com: How excited are you to get this season started?
Arencibia: When I talked to Alex, I told him, "Hey, can we move Spring Training up to right after Christmas because I'm ready to go." That's the truth, I've never been so excited to get ready and to get going. Just from talking with the guys, I think everybody's excited because everybody wants to win. Everyone truly believes that this team is a team that's going to win. I think everybody's ready to go.