Toronto Blue Jays: 2012 Trade Deadline Predictions
Friday July 13th, 2012
Alexander McWilliams (MLB reports Intern Candidate): As of yesterday, the Toronto Blue Jays and their fans can completely throw out the idea of trading the surging Edwin Encarnacion at the trade deadline on July 31st. General Manager Alex Anthopoulos locked up the 1st basemen/Designated Hitter to a 3-year deal worth $27 million, with a club option in 2016 worth a reported $10 million. With this deal taking place some 19 days before the trade deadline, what can fans expect to happen with their beloved Blue Jays? Many say they will be sellers, and others say buyers. Buy why can’t they be both?
The Blue Jays have developed, arguably, the best farm system in the MLB ever since Alex Anthopoulos took over as GM. Not only do they possess some of the best pitching prospects, but position players as well. All teams across the league are more than aware of the injuries that Toronto has suffered over the past few months, and could look to exploit said farm system in order to provide an immediate need for the team north of the border. Names such as Justin Upton, Carlos Quentin, Matt Garza, and Cole Hamels are the big names being talked about by a lot of teams these past few months. All are huge impact players which could benefit any team that acquired their services, but at what cost?
Justin Upton is a 24-year-old right fielder who has quite a bit of pop in his bat. With a .276 lifetime BA, 88 RBIs, and 24 home runs per season, he is clearly a player that knows how to get it done at the plate. A lot of talks in Toronto currently are regarding packaging RF All-Star and perennial home run champion Jose Bautista to the Diamondbacks in order to acquire Upton. Even though Bautista is 31 years old, he still has 3 years left on his 5 year/$64m deal. Although I can understand why fans would want to capitalize on these rumours; and trade him away for a younger player of the same position, I can’t see how Justin Upton would be able to fill the shoes of someone like a Bautista and be able to thrive in that role. Trading the likes of Adam Lind or Travis Snider in a package of players would be more suitable. Bautista is the heart and soul of the Jays and quite frankly, is not going anywhere for a long time.
The Adam Lind experiment, along with the Travis Snider, hasn’t quite panned out the way either party would have hoped. Inconsistent numbers, injuries, and lack of production have plagued both players which have led to talks of them being dealt. A huge blow has been dealt to the future of Adam Lind since Encarnacion has been signed to an extension. Edwin has proven that in the absence of a full-time first baseman, he can take over until a suitable replacement is either developed or traded for. Travis Snider is still young, and although he’s battled a few wrist injuries in the past years, he can still be an everyday left fielder to any number of teams.
I don’t see someone like Carlos Quentin being dealt to Toronto. After having arthroscopic knee surgery, and missing the team’s first 49 games, Quentin is somewhat of a gamble when you look at his career numbers. Even though his best season resulted in 36 home runs and 100 RBIs, he has never played more than 131 games in a season. 2 All-Star selections, 1 Silver Slugger award, and 1 top-5 finish for the AL MVP award are his most notable achievements; but he isn’t someone the Blue Jays should mortgage the farm over. San Diego is a team that has been declining for quite some time, and it would seem as though the asking price would be pretty steep for someone of Quentin’s calibre. With all the prospects Toronto has, if they were going to deal a few of them away, it shouldn’t be for Quentin. They need far more long-term stability given the package that Quentin would cost in a trade.
Pitching is a definite must for the Blue Jays. It doesn’t matter what needs to be sacrificed, Alex Anthopoulos needs to entertain almost every offer he receives in order to better his starting rotation, maybe even the bullpen as well. Having 3 starters go down at any point of the season could be crippling for any team, let alone in one week. Losing Brandon Morrow was a costly blow to their team, due in part to the fact that he was putting up All-Star type numbers. Not to mention 3 complete games where 2 of them could have been no-hitters except for the 1 hit in each of them taking place. Cole Hamels and Zack Greinke are the top pitchers that are going to be free agents in 2013, and all teams will be interested in signing any number of them. Having said that, Toronto does have the aforementioned top farm system in the Majors, and this could be their ticket to acquiring a highly touted pitcher (maybe a Brandon McCarthy or even James Shields), as long as they are able to do so long-term. The biggest problem with Toronto is not being able to sign top-tier FA players in the offseason, and it wouldn’t make much sense to mortgage the farm through trades unless they were able to lock one of these pitchers up to a long-term deal. Players that I see being dealt are the like of Adam Lind, Travis Snider, even someone like Adeiny Hechavarria should be someone the Jays dangle as bait during the coming weeks. A top-tier Shortstop is something all teams are looking for, and with 6 home runs and 58 RBIs in 82 games, I wouldn’t discount him as someone teams will inquire about. Hechavarria is seen as a future gold glove calibre shortstop and those types of players with strong bats are always in demand.
The end result is the Toronto Blue Jays need to be both buyers and sellers in the coming weeks. Although their bats are coming alive as of late to compensate their lack of pitching, a team can never turn away additional hitting. Justin Upton is someone who fills that need, and he may even be capable of playing left lield where Toronto has had a bit of a turnstile rotation in the last few seasons. Sacrificing someone like Adam Lind or Travis Snider could be very appealing to the Diamondbacks, and there is a history between Alex Anthopoulos and Arizona GM and Executive Vice-President Kevin Towers. Pitching is a must need for this team, as long as they don’t mortgage the farm for a short-term player. Assurances of signing them in the offseason need to be addressed before a deal can be done, and being controllable through 2013. As a result, Matt Garza might be the right fit. He’s proven he can pitch in the American League East and would fit nicely into the 3rd slot in the rotation once Brandon Morrow is back at full health.
Being a .500 ball club, Toronto needs to decide quickly whether they are going to go all out this season, or to simply wait until the offseason to make their final moves. While they don’t have the greatest record for luring players to arguably the toughest division in the MLB, it could be interesting to see how the influence of players like Jose Bautista plays into other players wanting to join Canada’s lone team.
You can follow me on Twitter for all things baseball: @alexmcwilliams
Until next time,
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Posted on July 13, 2012, in MLB Teams: Articles and Analysis and tagged adam line, adeiny hechavarria, AL East, baseball, blue jays, brandon mccarthy, brandon morrow, carlos quentin, cole hamels, edwin encarnacion, james shields, jose bautista, justin upton, las vegas 51s, matt garza, mlb, prospect, toronto, travis snider, yunel escobar, zack greinke. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.