Toronto Blue Jays: Time to Make the Call


Toronto Blue Jays: Time to Make the Call

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It seems as if it may finally be time to get a trade done, and lots of pundits are bringing up the Toronto Blue Jays interest in a number of players.  This list includes closers Jonathan Papelbon and Francisco Rodriguez, along with starters Jeff Samardzija, Mat Latos, Scott Kazmir and Johnny Cueto.

Drew Hutchison‘s start in Chicago outlined a thought that has been circulating for the last three years, and that is the Jays need pitching.  Hutchison had some struggles against the White Sox, although I did find it an odd time to take him out of the game after the fifth inning.

The 24-year old let the first two baserunners on, only to then pop up the third hitter, before inducing an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.  He made some effective pitches, and let’s not forget how shaky the Jays bullpen has been.

I thought Hutch at least deserved an opportunity to go back out and have a runner reach base, before handing things over.  None-the-less Liam Hendriks came in, and before you knew it the score was 6-6 and though pitching held on after this, going into extra innings was always going to be a problem for the Blue Jays.

Mar 1, 2015; Dunedin, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos watches during spring training workouts at Bobby Mattick Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

So now we get back to what will happen in the coming weeks before the trade deadline. One has to look at what the best options are for a team that is much more budget conscious than they are willing to admit.

Alex Anthopoulos has said he thought he had a couple potential deals done only to have teams pull out. It’s possible this was as a result of pitchers increasing their stock with a couple strong starts/relief appearances.

The main man on the market right now has to be Cueto and with teams like the Boston Red Sox coming on as of late, the teams looking for top-end starting pitching is getting a bit crowded.  One would think nearly the entire AL East would be interested in Cueto and if that’s the case, the Jays may not be able to meet the Cincinnati Reds demands.

However, unless Cueto is to re-sign with whichever prospective team he is traded to, he is really just a 2-3 month rental.  So what is fair in acquiring such a rental?

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There is one thing that is interesting about the Reds which may help , and that is the Blue Jays have a catcher with some power in Dioner Navarro who could be used as a trade piece.  In Cincinnati, Devin Mesoraco has gone down for the season after having successful hip-surgery.

However, even before the surgery the Reds were having Mesoraco play left field. After he returns, Cincinnati may not want to rush him back to being an every-day catcher.

Enter Navarro, who could help the Reds offensively right now, and if he was potentially re-signed there, he could split time with Mesoraco behind the dish.  I know Navarro wants an every-day starting spot, but given the free agent class ahead, things don’t look too promising in that department and he may have to except that.

But who else would be needed in a trade?  AA has gone on record recently saying that a man on the 25-man roster may need to be moved.

He is open to an idea similar to Jon Lester and Yoenis Cespedes in the Boston Red Sox and Oakland Athletics trade last year.  Prospects and really good players are needed in trades like this and there is no way around that.

However, would Navarro packaged with Miguel Castro and Dalton Pompey do the trick?  This would allow the Reds to get a catcher, a talented relief arm and a potential replacement to Jay Bruce in right field.

Cincinnati have looked into trading Bruce in the past and this would allow them to lessen their demands for him, while also opening up payroll.  I know giving up Castro would be tough to swallow, but Pompey only hit .209 in AAA this year and needs a lot of work overall to be an everyday big leaguer.

The Jays have Kevin Pillar (who has been asked about in trades), Jose Bautista and Michael Saunders (when healthy).  Since Pillar is just 26, if I was to trade either him or Pompey, then it’s a no-brainer to let the latter go. (Although, if you want an extremely talented player, you often need to be willing to part with one as well.)

Jun 20, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Mat Latos throws a pitch against the Toronto Blue Jays in the second inning at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

The Blue Jays have enquired about Latos as he would be a good fit and would come cheaper then Cueto, but the Jays would still have to part with someone.  In 14 starts, Latos has only given up seven home runs, and his over-the-top sinker would keep the ball in the yard at Rogers Centre.

Kazmir would also be a good fit, although he just left his start versus the Yankees early with tricep tightness in his throwing arm.  There are some potential suitors and perhaps the Jays are waiting for the first starter to get taken off the board, to see what the offers will need to be like.

From a relief perspective, Rodriguez would be the best bet.  This season he has 19 saves and a 1.4 ERA to go along with 37 k’s in 32 innings pitched.  (He is also much cheaper then Papelbon, who is just too pricey for the Blue Jays.)

Time is starting to run out and we will know the answers soon enough, in respect of what Toronto will do.  We all know they can hit, but can they hit enough to perhaps trade a mainstay in the lineup for some pitching help?

Next: Blue Jays taking the good with the bad