Assessing the Reported Jays Interest in Kevin Slowey

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There are rumors, and we all know that most of these are usually wrong, that place the Jays as being interested in Twins SP Kevin Slowey. The report is from Joe Christensen, who tweeted the following:

“Blue Jays had 3 scouts watching B-game, one with a video camera. I’m told they like Slowey and have relievers to spare. #stribtwins

Now, first things first. Just because 3 Jays scouts show up to a Twins game, one with camera in hand, it doesn’t mean that they’re there to get a deal done. They could simply be doing their due dilligence and could be creating a list of options for the Jays should a necessity for another starter become a requirement due to injury or other circumstance. Second, there’s no guarantee that they were there to watch Slowey. they could have been looking at some of their prospects, an outfielder, ect.. Joe didn’t get a quote from, or even speak to, the Jays scouts. He simply noted that they were there, along with one camera.

However, let’s say for one moment that his presumption (the most likely reason they were there) is correct and that the Jays are in fact scouting Kevin Slowey thoroughly to see whether or not he is an option for the Jays. What are the most likely options for the two clubs in making a deal happen?

First, let’s review what Kevin Slowey has done and why he is listed as #6 on the Twins depth chart as a SP.

Slowey is 26, has 82 starts in the majors under his belt over 4 seasons of work, and has an overall record of 39-21.

Here are his stats over his first 4 seasons:

Yr Age W L ERA GS IP H ER HR BB SO Whip H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
07 23 4 1 4.73 11 66.2 82 35 16 11 47 1.4 11 2.2 1.5 6.3 4.3
08 24 12 11 3.99 27 160 161 71 22 24 123 1.15 9 1.2 1.3 6.9 5.1
09 25 10 3 4.86 16 90.2 113 49 15 15 75 1.41 11 1.5 1.5 7.4 5.0
10 26 13 6 4.45 28 155 172 77 21 29 116 1.29 9.9 1.2 1.7 6.7 4.0
4 Seasons 39 21 4.41 82 473 528 232 74 79 361 1.28 10 1.4 1.5 6.9 4.6
Avg (162) 16 9 4.41 33 192 214 94 30 32 146 1.28 10 1.4 1.5 6.9 4.6

Notoverwhelmingly great, but with his control and now being experienced, you have to wonder whether or not John Farrell and Bruce Walton could get more out of him than the Twins did…..just a thought….

Here are some interesting Splits against AL East teams and within their stadiums that may apply to his case for becoming a Jays pitcher. First, his career stats vs AL East teams:

  ERA GS IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP SO/9 SO/BB
Baltimore Orioles 4.8 3 15 18 8 8 3 1 6 1.267 3.6 6
Boston Red Sox 4.86 3 16.2 18 9 9 2 5 13 1.38 7 2.6
New York Yankees 4.76 4 22.2 23 12 12 4 5 14 1.235 5.6 2.8
Tampa Bay Rays 6.75 2 12 13 9 9 1 4 12 1.417 9 3
Toronto Blue Jays 6.09 6 34 53 24 23 9 4 21 1.676 5.6 5.25

Second, his stats in AL East stadiums:

  W L ERA GS IP H ER BB SO WHIP SO/9 SO/BB
BAL-Camden Yards 1 1 4.00 2 9 11 4 1 4 1.333 4.0 4.0
BOS-Fenway Pk 0 1 6.35 1 5 7 4 0 3 1.235 4.8  
NYY-Yankees 0 1 9.00 2 9 13 9 0 5 1.889 5.0 1.3
NYY-Yankees (new) 0 0 2.35 1 7 7 2 0 8 0.913 9.4  
TBR-TropicanaFld 0 1 6.75 2 12 13 9 4 12 1.417 9.0 3.0
TOR-Rogers Ctr 1 1 5.82 3 17 28 11 1 9 1.706 4.8 9.0

Ok, so Slowey has had success versus the Yankees in their new park as well as in Baltimore, but has struggled elsewhere in the AL East – most notably in Toronto. With this knowledge in mind, and only 2 wins to show for his 11 starts against AL East opponents, I’m not so sure I can make a decent case for the Jays to acquire Slowey. Of course, that’s always dependent on the price.

 Still, when evaluating players, you have to look at their body of work, as well as their potential to improve. His stats are not particularly stellar, but they’re not horrible either. His Whip has been strong in 2 of the last 3 seasons, and he had a nice 4.0 SO/BB ratio in 2010. He won’t dominate hitters, but it’s his control that makes him effective, as made evident by his excellent 1.5 BB/9 ratio. Although his splits are not particularly impressive, he does well enough the majority of the time to fill the role of a good #4-5 pitcher that will likely need to be replaced in the rotation at times during the season since he has yet to surpass the 160.1 IP mark in any one season.

The Twins are dangling Slowey as trade bait, apparently, because he is viewed by many to be the most “affordable loss” within their pitching staff. He is under team control through 2013, and just recently earned a raise from $470,000 to $2,700,000, so the acquiring team would have to be willing to pay Slowey an increasing amount in 2012 and 2013. Slowey is represented by SFX.

Now that we know what Slowey has to offer, how would he fit in with the Jays?

It’s likely that he would become yet another competition piece for the 4th-5th spots in the rotation or a depth addition. With Jesse Litsch, Marc Rzepczynski, and Kyle Drabek already vying for those spots, and Zach Stewart, Brad Mills, and Scott Richmond backing them up, I’m not really sure how this would play out for the Jays (assuming none of these would be included in the trade, of course).

Like I said before, the price would have to be right for me to be in favor of a deal between the Jays and Twins. It seems to me that the Yankees, and particularly the Cardinals, could be better fits for Slowey than Toronto. But, are the Twins looking ahead and seeing those 2 as contenders for a World Series ring, and may therefore be reluctant to deal Slowey to either team? Or, better yet, could the Jays be looking to flip acquire Slowey in order to be able to make one of Jesse Litsch or Marc Rzepczynski available to teams like the Cards and others? All I’m saying here is that the Jays interest in Slowey may not lay in simply acquiring him, it may be much more strategic than a straight-up acquisition.

Assuming the teams are talking and do want to get a deal done, you have to believe that 1 reliever would be included. With the many relievers that the Jays have to offer, and the many relievers that the Twins lost this off season, it seems that the 2 teams are a match. Any of the Jays relievers, aside from the back end 3 (Francisco, Dotel, or Rauch), could be involved, with the possible addition of a prospect or other player depending on the makeup of the deal.

I’m not certain how the rotation would look once spring training was over and done with, but if it is decided that Kyle Drabek should get a few starts (and maintain a more regular schedule due to the lack of a need for a #5 often early on in the season) in the minors and be brought up in May or June, it could make room for Slowey as a #5 starter. The top 4 would include Jesse Litsch, who has been the most impressive Jays pitcher this spring, as a #4 starter.

Once again, Alex Anthopoulos would be creating a multitude of options for the Jays should he acquire Kevin Slowey from the Twins, while also adding some much needed experience to the rotation. How he would deal with the options available if Slowey is acquired is debatable and unpredictable, but it never hurts to have a ton of starting options, as any MLB GM will tell you.

Is the Jays interest in Kevin Slowey real? I don’t know. Can a case be made that acquiring him makes sense? Sure, but only if the price is right. Anything more than a reliever or two and/or prospect seems like an overpay in his case for the Jays. I’m not a huge Slowey fan at this point, but I do believe that the Jays may be able to change his approach slightly to make him a little more effective than he has been. Besides, with his stats and experience, he makes a more than decent #5 starter and would become one of the best depth pitcher in the AL East.

We’ll just have to wait and see what the silent assassin has in mind. But I will add that since this news was anything but silent, it may be nothing more than due dilligence by the Jays scouting department.

- MG

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Tags: Jo Jo Reyes Kevin Slowey Kyle Drabek

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