According to Richard Griffin, via Twitter, the Jays picked up LHP Cesar Cabral from the Rays in order to work out a deal with the Red Sox. The interesting part of this is that Griffin got the information from John Farrell, someone who knows the Red Sox extremely well – including how much they valued Cabral before he was taken from them in the rule 5 draft by the Rays. He also knows the Red Sox pitching staff extremely well, so something could definitely brewing between these 2 division rivals.
It’s hard to say how big of a trade we’d be talking about here since nothing has been expanded upon since Farrell made the comment, but the obvious thing is that if it’s only Cabral included, it should be a minor move. However, what if this is only part of a bigger deal? Here are some thoughts on what could be in play in terms of possible Jays-Sox trade targets:
- Possibility #1: Mike Cameron; The veteran is now expendable due to the acquisition of Carl Crawford and also after dealing with so many injuries in 2010. If healthy, Cameron can play all 3 OF spots and could become a much better bench OF option than Corey Patterson or the now injured Scott Podsednik. In my mind, it would be much better for the Jay to target one of their younger outfielders (Ryan Kalish or Josh Reddick), but it’s unlikely that the Red Sox would deal either. Cameron is set to make $7,750,000 in 2011 and will be a FA for 2012, so the Sox would likely be happy to unload a portion of his salary – I doubt any team would cover it all at this point.
- Possibility #2: Daisuke Matsuzaka; Farrell knows him well and it seems that the Red Sox have had enough of the Japanese bust. Why would the Jays want to acquire him? Can you say….Yu Darvish? What better to attract the phenom to Toronto and ease his assimilation into MLB than by having Dice-K there to help him. I’m not sure what other piece the Jays would have to include here, but Dice would bring stability to the back of the rotation for a mediocre 130-170 innings. If his presence really does increase their chances of luring Darvish to Toronto, he’d be a great addition to the Jays.
- Possibility #3: Jonathan Papelbon; The Jays may not want to wait until he is a FA to acquire him, particularly when Frank Francisco is already having some “minor” health issues (I never consider shoulder issues, or what the Jays are calling a knot, to be minor) and Octavio Dotel has been anything but effective thus far in spring training (15.00 ERA with 9 hits in 3 IP). Sure, the Jays have many options to deal with either loss in-house, but Farrell knows Papelbon better than anyone within the Jays organization and may be pushing for the Jays to jump on him while his stock is low enough to do so. Why would Boston deal Papelbon? Well, money , pending free agency, and decreased effectiveness mostly – the same reasons that some will point to when arguing that the Jays should stay away from him, particularly the cost. I doubt this trade would occur for many reasons and could imagine Papelbon heading to Texas more than his heading to Toronto for the 2011 season, possibly in return for Michael Young, but I can’t overlook the possibility of John Farrell asking for him to be acquired (or signed post 2011), so he’d added to this list of possibilities. Papelbon is set to make $12 million in 2011, and may be happy to sign with Toronto for 2012 and beyond in rejoin his coach, to remain in the AL East and its eternal spotlight, and to get a chance to win with the up-and-coming Jays against his old team who seem unlikely to offer him much of a contract. With the Jays having so much money to spend in 2012, they could feasibly target Papelbon (a likely Type A FA) AND another Type A that would ensure that the Red Sox get a lower pick.
- Possibility #4: Lars Anderson; The first baseman now very little chance of unseating Adrian Gonzalez at 1B and his stock has fallen off quite a bit from his pre-2009 ranking of 17th best prospect in MLB handed to him by Baseball America. John Sickels has him listed as the 17th best Boston prospect for 2011, so that’s quite a drop off. Still, he’s only 23 years old and still managed 45 extra base hits in only 409 ABs during his 1st season in AAA.
- Possibility #5: Other prospects; The trade could simply be a prospect for Cabral, which may be the likeliest option of the bunch. Oscar Tejeda is one of the many guys the Jays could target, but it would likely take more than Cabral to land him.
The Jays could include others along with Cabral in trade, including Brian Jeroloman (the Sox are thin at catcher), A.J. Jimenez, the many relievers on the club, Jo-Jo Reyes, Juan Rivera, and prospects. It all depends on what they are looking for, and I’m not familiar enough with their system to know where their weaknesses are.
All-in-all, it’s more probable that nothing happens. Still, the possibilities above are samples of what could be brewing between the two clubs. When the Jays manager is the ex-pitching coach of the Red Sox, and he specifically names them as a possible trade candidate, you see that the possibility for trading between the 2 clubs may be greater than it ever has been. Just as ex-Red Sox executives in San Diego targetted the guys they knew in the Red Sox system when they deal Adrian Gonzalez, Farrell may be looking to add some pieces to the Jays that he is very familiar with. We don’t know who that is yet, but with Alex Anthopoulos making the calls we may find out sooner rather than later. It’ll be interesting to see if anything is worked out, or if Cabral is returned to TB.