Assessing Potential Jays Trade Targets: Yonder Alonso

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I’ve considered a few pre-season Jays targets that may make more sense than others based on current circumstances. The current circumstances include the Jays reportedly looking to deal Juan Rivera if possible, some players being out of options and new players possibly taking their spots on the roster (Scott Podsednik), the returning health of others (Dustin McGowan), and the depth of the pen and starting pitching overall.

With these things in mind, I have decided to run a short series of articles that will be “Assessing Potential Jays Trade Targets”. These are not probable deals, simply options that I thought should be examined because they have some legitimacy and sense to them. The first player I see as a potential target and the reasoning is as follows:

Yonder Alonso - 1B CIN6’2″ 210 lbs / Bats Left, Throws Right / 23 years old

Drafted: in the 1st rd (7th overall) of the 2008 draft by the Reds

Minor League Stats:

08 21 FLA A+ 19 6 1 0 0 2 0 0 5 5 0.316 0.440 0.368 0.808
09 22 GCL Rk 15 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 1 0.133 0.278 0.133 0.411
09 22 FLA A+ 175 53 13 0 7 38 0 1 24 30 0.303 0.383 0.497 0.880
09 22 SL AA 105 31 11 0 2 14 1 0 14 15 0.295 0.372 0.457 0.829
10 23 SL AA 101 27 5 0 3 13 4 2 19 16 0.267 0.388 0.406 0.794
10 23 IL AAA 406 120 31 2 12 56 9 1 37 76 0.296 0.355 0.470 0.825

The Reds are set at 1B for the foreseeable future with Canadian Joey Votto manning the position. Alonso has proven in short time that he can’t really fit in at other positions such as 3B or LF. He has the bat to man 1B at an above-average level, was named the 2nd best Reds prospect by Baseball America, and would fit in very well at 1B with Toronto as a young and controllable player that can grow with all of the Jays top prospects.

Alonso projects to have a good amount of power, as indicated by his 45 extra base hits in 2010 over only 406 AAA ABs (an 11% extra base hit rate). He’s also Cuban, something that could potentially provide the Jays with a 3/4 Cuban infield of Alonso, Adeiny Hechavarria, and Yunel Escobar. I’m not certain, but I have a feeling that this would be an MLB first. Perhaps more important, however, is that Alonso would offer power from the left side of the plate, something that would complement the predominantly right-handed power within the lineup (Arencibia, Bautista, Hill, Encarnacion). Even Rajai Davis and Adeiny Hechavarria hit from the right side of the plate, leaving only Travis Snider and Adam Lind as left-handed options for the Jays. Adding a 3rd option would provide great balance for the Jays through the lineup, but the fact that Lind and Alonso would both be 1B and LHB options may be seen as a down side. If, however, it is determined that Alonso would be better at dealing with LHP than Lind has been historically, he could still be seen as a better asset when Southpaws are on the mound.

The Reds would not deal Alonso easily, but they are in the hunt for the playoffs in 2011 and are looking to win now. With no place for Alonso to make an impact with the Reds, a move to Toronto could bring back some players that would strengthen their weak points, namely relief pitching. With Francisco Cordero being on the fringe or being pushed aside by a blossoming Aroldis Chapman in Cincinnati being the first of many questions in the Reds pen, there is no doubt that improving their depth would go a long way to helping them win the NL Central. Nick Masset is the strongest setup man they have, and they lost Arthur Rhodes this off season. Aside from these two relievers, there was little certainty in the back end of the Reds pen in 2010.

The Jays could therefore offer the Reds a couple of relievers in return for Alonso, with other pieces on other side dependent on the quality of the players included. But, a deal of this manner seems to make sense on the surface if the Reds don’t want to lose many games in 2011 due to the pen. The Jays, with a potentially healthy Dustin McGowan and other RP candidates such as Carlos Villanueva, Josh Roenicke, and Chad Cordero still looking for roster space, can afford to let one or two RPs go. Adding a key prospect and/or other player, would likely be necessary in this case, but fulfilling a long-term option at 1B would be a great addition for the Jays.

With that said, I’m entirely aware that the Jays want to see how well Adam Lind performs at 1B and are also committed to Edwin Encarnacion as a full-time DH, so in no way am I saying the Jays will stray from that plan for the 2011 season. But, if a deal that would bring a young and controllable player of such a high-quality as Alonso made itself known, it is likely that the Jays would at the very least see if a deal could be worked out. How it would affect the 2011 lineup is another question, but it’s not like Alonso couldn’t benefit from additional seasoning in AAA for a potential arrival in The Show in late 2011 or 2012. In fact, such seasoning may be the very best thing for him.

Final Evaluation

It’s an interesting potential trade target, and with some trade history between the 2 teams (the Scott Rolen for Zach Stewart , Josh Roenicke, and Edwin Encarnacion deal), there is potential for another deal to take place this season if both sides find common ground. As always, dealing top prospects is not an easy thing to do, but there’s little to no chance that the Reds could find a spot in the lineup for Alonso, and therefore it makes him the perfect trade chip for them to use as they chase their first championship in quite a few years.

I wouldn’t say that Alonso will become the top prospect or player sought after by the Jays in 2011, but if he is offered to them in a potential deal by the Reds, he may make a whole lot of sense (or not) due to the reasons listed above. He’s not a probable acquisition at all since the Reds will want to hang on to him and the cost may be steep, but he does fit the mould of a young, high-ceilinged and controllable player that Alex Anthopoulos may have a lot of interest in if he is attainable at the right price. Therefore, if there’s a deal to be made, expect Alex to find a way to make it happen, because Alonso still projects to be a very special player once he reaches his potential in The Show.

- MG

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Tags: Adeiny Hechavarria Aroldis Chapman Carlos Villanueva Chad Cordero Dustin McGowan Francisco Cordero Joey Votto Juan Rivera Nick Masset Scott Podsednik Yonder Alonso Yunel Escobar

  • Shockey12

    I had a chance to see him play for the Louisville Batts in July and Alonzo reminds me ALOT of a left handed Randy Ruiz

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  • Marsupial Jones

    The reds arent going to give up one of their top prospects to aquire middle relief. Thats just silly.

    • Mat Germain

      That’s not what’s proposed up there. It’s middle relief AND other pieces to even the deal out each way.

      And, I’d also point out that teams are starting to come to terms with the fact that relief pitching is sometimes something you have to deal for if you want to make the playoffs and go far into the playoffs. What did Dan Uggla get dealt for? For 1 excellent RP and Omar “call me utility” Infante. And what about Cameron Maybin, a player who was more highly thought of than Alonso ever has been? Two relief pitchers, that’s what. How is the thought process in my article that far off based on those 2 deals?

      It’s not.

      • Marsupial Jones

        Uggla was going to be a free agent relatively soon and wasnt going to sign with the Marlins (he had already rejected a 4 year 48 million dollar deal). It is hardly the same thing as trading one of your best prospects for a reliever.

        And I’m not sure Cameron Maybin you are talking about but the only one that I know of wasn’t traded for two relievers. He was traded (along with 4 other players) for Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis.

        • Shockey12

          The marlins traded him to the Padres earlier in the offseason for 2 relievers….

          • Marsupial Jones

            Yeah but at that point he wasnt a prospect anymore. When he was actually in the position that Alonso is in right now and was the promising prospect the author talked about he was traded for one of the best players in the game.

            Teams just dont trade top end prospects to target relief pitching very often. If ever. Not to mention the Jays dont even have that good of relievers to offer. I’m sure if the Reds actually wanted to trade Alonso for relief help they could find better.

  • Dan McGee

    I could see rather an exchange of talent, probably for a catching prospect, especially if J. P. performs well.

    • Mat Germain

      That’s an interesting thought Dan, but I think the Reds have one of the best catching prospects out there in Devin Mesoraco. In fact, if you’re looking for a catcher for fantasy purposes, he’s a good one to grab early. Between 3 leagues in 2010, he hit 26 HRs with a total line of .302/.377/.587. The fact that he made it all of the way to AAA as a 22 year old tells you something about his skills, particularly when the Jays have plenty of examples to show that catching sometimes takes a while to learn. If Carlos Perez makes it to AA in 2011, and then AAA in 2012, he’d be the same age, so that’s the timeline Mesoraco has worked into age wise.

      Of note is that he’ll be in AAA in 2011 and that his average and OBP did drop a lot in AAA last year (.231/.310) but that was to be expected when being pushed so hard. HE could arrive in Cinci by mid-season if he does well.

      However, I say that it’s an interesting thought because the presence of Mesoraco in their system doesn’t prohibit them from seeking other options, particularly when he’s leaving the system some time in 2011. Adding a catcher like AJ Jimenez or Brian Jeroloman to their system could be very enticing as either could eventually share time with Mesoraco or replace him if he is injured or unable to catch.

  • AG

    I used to be quite bearish on Alonso but I’m coming around. He had a monster second half last year which was enough for him to salvage an .825 OPS out of a season that started very poorly. If Alonso starts 2011 strongly he will make quite an asset for the Reds at the trade deadline. By then The Jays will have a better idea of what kind of first baseman Lind is. Assuming the Jays aren’t in a playoff hunt at that point and that the Reds are, an Alonso deal might be very appealing to both teams.

  • Mat Germain

    Just as a follow-up, Walt Jocketty was on MLB Radio and mentioned that Alonso has lost weight in hopes of being able to stick with the Reds in LF. We’ll see how it works out, but in the same conversation Walt also mentioned Fred Lewis and Johnny Gomes would me manning LF in 2011, so it seems like a tough road ahead for Alonso.

  • Keith

    Matt – I couldn’t agree with you more. For those who don`t see prospects being dealt for RP. Consider this:
    1 – the Jays pen lost 26 games last year. If we even win 10 of those games, we`re right there in the hunt for a wild card. P.S the Yankees won 95 games so if we don`t lose those 10 games, we are tied and as we had the better record head to head…..we are the wild card.
    2 – Plus AA and Billy bean have illustrated there is a loop hole in the current CBA where RP is valued fairly highly, allowing for mid-high end guys like Downs to give you great compensation back (2 picks for the Jays in this years draft). Don`t you think other clubs are looking at this and trying to acquire bullpen arms at a reasonable cost knowing they will get picks when they walk.
    3 – Lastly trades have to work both ways. As you have illustrated the Reds pen needs match up nicely with the Jays positional needs.

    I`ve also been tracking Yonder also as a potential 1B of the future for the Jays, as I don`t see anything but Mike McDade in the minors. This will be a big year for McDade and if he can get his OBP up and strikeout % down we could have something as he has a great glove for a big man.
    Now that we have a bit of stability with pitching, I think you will see AA start to focus on the position players more. What better asset to trade from for the Jays = MLB ready Bullpen arms. If you look at the 40 man, we have at least 8 guys with legitimate track records or who are out of options, in the pen. Fransisco, Rauch, Dotel, Fraser and Camp are locks or will have to prove they are not capable due to salary. Purcey is out of options and so he is likely in. Now you are left with Villenueva, Jansen, Reyes (who is out of options) and the loser for the 5th starter – assuming that is a battle between Litch and Zep. 4 guys battling for 1 spot.
    I could see this deal coming together pretty quickly towards the end of the spring or by end of May – especially if the Reds have an injury in middle relief.

    • Keith

      One other question Matt, you wrote a post a while ago about GM’s especially AA trying to force another teams hand by making a deal. This was a post about the Marcum deal perhaps taking the Brewers out of the running for Greinke. Who they still wound up getting.
      Do you think another one of the side benefits of the Lawrie deal (besides getting Lawrie) was to put pressure on the Reds? Specifically now that the Brewers will be a powerhouse/ favourite team in the NL Central, the Reds may need to shore up in order to stay competitive. This may wind up forcing them to deal from a position of strength….

      • Mat Germain

        That could be part of it, but I think that they had liked Lawrie a lot for a long time and really liked how marketable he could become as a Canadian super-star. Add the grit he has – something that the Jays could use a little more of – and he was the perfect person for them to go and get. Hey, if he can fit in at 3B, hit, and allow for Jose to go to RF, he was more than worth Marcum (which I’m sure you agree with).

        Also, the relationship between Doug Melvin and Alex Anthopoulos seems to be extremely cordial as both are Canadians and both have what seems to be mutual respect for one another. That’s why I think a deal got done.

        Now, that’s not to say that when AA said no the first time Melvin offered the deal that was agreed to, he didn’t go back into his office and play out the entire scenario. If he did that and did foresee the opportunity to pressure other NL Central teams – such as the Cards, Reds, and Cubs – into making deals with the Jays, he’s even more wily than people give him credit for! I wouldn’t put it past him one bit. The Jays know that the Reds have some holes to fill in order to become this season’s Giants, so they could be positioning themselves for a trade.

        With talks of Jo-Jo Reyes making the pen for the Jays heating up, you never know what will shake down pre-season for the Jays. All I know is that they have a surplus of pen arms, while others are severely deficient there…such as the Reds, Phillies, and Braves.

  • noisyflowers

    The whole point of the Lawrie trade was to take advantage of an opportunity to acquire a targeted player. Like Anthony Gose, Lawrie was a guy the Jays had been coveting for awhile and they knew they would probably only get one shot to get him. If AA had hesitated, Lawrie would have probably ended up in KC and if not in KC via the Greinke than than another team in a different trade. Milwaukee was willing to move Lawrie and the Jays made sure it was to them. Simple as that.