Jays' Anthopoulos has plenty of options as trade deadline approaches
Trade Jose Bautista? Trade Casey Janssen?
With baseball's non-waiver trade deadline set for 4 p.m. (EDT) on Wednesday, several contenders are looking for an impact power hitter and premium bullpen help. The Toronto Blue Jays have fallen out of contention, leaving them as potential sellers.
While some fans are calling for the Jays to make a major deal via social media, sports radio and online comments, Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos would be breaking a personal pattern if he were to deal away one of the club's top players. He'd also be veering from a three-year plan to build a contender around the present nucleus.
Last week, he indicated the American League club would be unlikely to swing a major deal. On Tuesday, he was said to be shopping left fielder Melky Cabrera, infielder Emilio Bonifacio and reliever Darren Oliver.
Nonetheless, if the GM has concluded the roster needs a shakeup, there may be an opportunity to restock the upper levels of the farm system, if not to change the culture of the clubhouse.
On the flip side, he could add major-league talent in an attempt to turn momentum positive. He tried to obtain pitcher Jake Peavy in the off-season, only to see him re-sign with the Chicago White Sox. (On Tuesday, with trade rumours swirling, Chicago pulled Peavy from his scheduled start.)
Going into Tuesday night's game in Oakland against the Athletics, the Blue Jays had lost eight of 11 games since the all-star break.
Anthopoulos dealt away several prospects in off-season deals with the New York Mets and Miami Marlins, leaving the top levels of the minor-league system short of talent. Contenders may be more willing to trade prospects now to secure major-league talent, than in the off-season.
Acquired from the Pittsburgh Pirates in August of 2008, Bautista faces a sixth consecutive meaningless September with the Blue Jays. The Pirates are among several contending teams in need of a power hitter.
Turning 33 in October, and signed to favourable market terms through 2015 (with a team option for 2016), Bautista was averaging .251 with a .348 on-base percentage, 24 home runs and 64 runs batted in entering Tuesday. He's the team's No. 2 run producer after Edwin Encarnacion – a function both of his streaky hitting and positions in the batting order this season.
He's also in a running battle with umpires, which, while justified by evidence he receives more than his share of bad pitches called strikes, detracts from his role as clubhouse leader.
Janssen, 31, with 18 saves in 20 chances, a 3-0 record, 2.43 earned-run average and 33 strikeouts against nine walks in 33 innings, is coming off off-season shoulder surgery. His market value may be at a high and the Jays would have a few candidates to replace him as closer.
Reliever Darren Oliver, who confirmed in a Globe and Mail report last Sunday that he will retire at season's end, could be dealt before the deadline but would return modest value.
Tradeable commodities could also include pitchers Mark Buehrle and R.A. Dickey, reliever Steve Delabar, outfielder Rajai Davis, infielder/outfielder Bonifacio, designated hitter Adam Lind, centre fielder Colby Rasmus and infielder Mark DeRosa.
Media speculation, however, outweighs the annual transactions at trade deadline.
"Usually, nothing gets done," Oliver said.
In the past three seasons, Anthopoulos has used the mid-season trade window to acquire outfielders Rasmus and Anthony Gose, shortstop Yunel Escobar, second baseman Kelly Johnson, relievers Delabar and Brad Lincoln.
A look at the deals:
July 14, 2010 – SS Yunel Escobar and LHP Jo-Jo Reyes obtained from Atlanta Braves for SS Alex Gonzalez, INF Tyler Pastornicky and LHP Tim Collins
Upshot: Escobar played shortstop for the Jays until being moved to Miami in the 12-player off-season transaction that brought shortstop Jose Reyes to Toronto.
July 29, 2010 – OF Anthony Gose from Houston Astros for 1B Brett Wallace
Upshot: Gose is playing at Triple-A Buffalo. Neither he nor Wallace has yet turned into the hitter the organizations hope them to be.
July 27, 2011 – RHP Edwin Jackson and INF Mark Teahan obtained from Chicago White Sox for RHP Jason Frasor and RHP Zach Stewart
Upshot: A dud.
July 27, 2011 – OF Colby Rasmus, LHP Brian Tallet, LHP Trever Miller, RHP P.J. Walter obtained from St. Louis Cardinals for RHP Edwin Jackson, RHP Octavio Dotel, LHP Marc Rzepczynski, OF Corey Patterson
Upshot: St. Louis needed immediate pitching help for a pennant chase and Rasmus had fallen into disfavour with then-manager Tony La Russa. Rasmus slumped through much of the remainder of that season and 2012, but is delivering at the plate this year, despite a high strikeout total.
July 20, 2012 – LHP J.A. Happ, RHP Brandon Lyon, RHP David Carpenter obtained from Houston for RHP Francisco Cordero, OF Ben Francisco, C Carlos Perez and five minor-leaguers
Upshot: Houston was dumping salary and Happ became Toronto's No. 5 pitcher.
July 30, 2012 – RHP Brad Lincoln obtained from Pittsburgh Pirates for OF Travis Snider
Upshot: Lincoln's pitching for Buffalo, with occasional trips up the Queen Elizabeth Way; Snider has shown little power for the Pirates.
July 30, 2012 – RHP Steve Delabar obtained from Seattle Mariners for OF Eric Thames
Upshot: Fans voted Delabar and his 98-mile-an-hour fastball onto the 2013 AL all-star team. Thames is in the minors.
July 30, 2012 – Cash from Oakland Athletics for RHP Jesse Chavez
Upshot: Prior to Tuesday, Chavez had appeared in 21 games for the A's this year. The cash has had no effect on Rogers cable bills.