Image courtesy of SI.com

Anthopoulos fleeces yet another GM, obtains Colby Rasmus from St. Louis


It’s safe to say that the “Silent Assassin”, Alex Anthopoulos, probably keeps a list of baseball’s other 29 general managers in his office with the goal of robbing each and every one of them blind at least once in his career.

Anthopoulos can now check St. Louis Cardinals GM John Mozeliak off of that fictional list, as he was able to pry highly-touted center fielder Colby Rasmus away from the redbirds in a three-team deal that included the Chicago White Sox.

By now, you probably know which 11 players were involved in the trades, their season stats, and who went where, so there’s no sense in rehashing that too much.

Instead — and more importantly — what does this mean for the Jays going forward?

The Deals

When Anthopoulos was recently talking to Mozeliak about Rasmus, discussions weren’t going to intensify until a Major League starting pitcher was included in the package heading to St. Louis.

So, Anthopoulos did what any silent assassin would do, and declined to include one of his starters but mentioned that he could include Chicago right-hander Edwin Jackson in the package instead.

And that was the first deal of the day.

Anthopoulos called up White Sox GM Kenny Williams and signed off on shipping him Zach Stewart and franchise appearance leader Jason Frasor in exchange for Jackson and Mark Teahen. While some Jays fans are going to be a bit perturbed that Stewart was sent packing, the Jays have so many pitching prospects in their farm system that it makes the move practically irrelevant. As for Frasor, I can believe Anthopoulos’ kind words about him having talked to him myself, and I wish him nothing but the best back home in Chicago with the White Sox.

Jackson was flipped to the Cards in Anthopoulos’ second deal of the day that brought back Rasmus and relievers Trever Miller, P. J. Walters, and familiar face Brian Tallet. The Jays players that were packaged with Jackson to St. Louis were Octavio Dotel, Marc Rzepczynski, and Corey Patterson (yes, Patterson is indeed out of Toronto, as he was shown already in the Cardinals dugout during their telecast last night).

What it means for 2011

Rasmus will obviously take over as the Jays’ everyday center fielder, relegating Rajai Davis to a bench role. Given Davis’ struggles with the stick this season, this move makes even more sense, and he’ll continue to be available as a pinch runner/base stealer. The odd men out here seem to be Eric Thames and Mike McCoy, unfortunately. With Rasmus’ arrival, Thames’ playing time will be greatly reduced unless Farrell uses Jose Bautista almost exclusively at third base until Brett Lawrie arrives.

If that’s the case, it will be interesting to see what the Jays do with Teahen, the disregarded part of the whole deal. Assuming Teahen, under contract for $4.75 million this season, sticks with the Jays as a bench player, that will likely mean McCoy gets on another plane to return to Las Vegas for the remainder of the season.

Shifting focus to relievers, losing Frasor, Dotel, and Rzepczynski left a gaping hole in the Jays bullpen, but it’s one that is quite easy to live with given that the Jays now have another high-upside player at a premium position in Rasmus. Out of the three relievers the Jays got in return, Tallet is on the DL with polycystic kidney disease and isn’t due back until the beginning of August at the earliest. So, that leaves Miller and Walters as usable arms from the deal, even if they represent a significant downgrade from Scrabble, Frasor, and Dotel.

Assuming both of them are going to be members of the Jays’ pen, a lot of things can happen, since that gives the Jays eight relievers when you add them to Casey Janssen, Shawn Camp, Jon Rauch, Frank Francisco, Brad Mills, and Wil Ledezma. Either Ledezma or Walters is almost guaranteed to return to Las Vegas, but one could stay (or get swapped for Luis Perez) until Tallet gets activated off the DL or if Mills steps into the rotation as the Jays’ fifth starter until the end of the season.

That is, unless Anthopoulos adds a starter before the trade deadline, something that I think he just might be trying to do given that our only sensible starting option from the minors right now is Mills (excluding youngsters Henderson Alvarez and Joel Carreno). It wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing for Mills to get the 10 starts or so that are left, though, as it would give other teams an extended look at him at the Major League level.

As for the loss of Stewart, there are many arms that can step in and fill in the innings that he was eating with Double-A New Hampshire. Aside from relievers making spot starts and since Drew Hutchison hasn’t been with Hi-A Dunedin for that long yet, a name that comes to mind to fill in for Stewart could be Nestor Molina. In 19 games (16 starts) with Dunedin this season, Molina has a 2.56 ERA, 1.1 BB/9, 1.037 WHIP, and a 9.6 K/9. He’s always been underrated in the Jays’ minor league system, and given his strong performance since being converted to a starter, he could easily make the jump to Double-A.

What it means for 2012 and beyond

There is, however, one very overlooked part of the Rasmus deal that could turn interesting, and that’s the fact the Jays will also send either cash or three players to be named later to complete the deal. With a PTBNL usually being a throw-in type of player, this element of the deal shouldn’t be any cause for concern, but I’m very interested to see which three players the Cardinals choose from their list before the end of the calendar year, and if they’re going to be anybody interesting.

Speaking of the end of the year and these trades, things really clear up for Jays after this season. Miller will have completed the three-year/$6 million contract that he signed with St. Louis in 2009 so he’ll become a free agent, and since Tallet received a one year deal from the Cards this past offseason, he’ll be a free-agent as well. Add in that Walters will likely be minor league bullpen depth at-best next year, and Anthopoulos will be able to wash his hands clean of the three relievers he got from St. Louis in just over two months time.

That means that he’ll have to construct a bullpen again this offseason much like he did at the end of 2010, which means that Camp will likely be more considered to be re-signed, and Rauch’s club option could be triggered.

Assuming he’s not designated for assignment, the only part of this trade besides Rasmus that will be on the Jays next year is Teahen. Taking on Teahen’s $5.5 million salary for next season was the reason that Anthopoulos was able to get that first trade done with the White Sox in the first place, and whether Teahen actually plays for the Jays in 2012 will remain to be seen.

Most importantly, the Jays have Rasmus patrolling center field for the next few years. He’s making a mere $443,000 this season and is under club control for the next three seasons. It allows the Jays to be patient with touted prospect Anthony Gose, and puts some extra pressure on him to perform even better in the minor leagues now. Rasmus is young and will grow with the young core already in place, and a fresh start should do wonders for him.

***

The fact that Anthopoulos was able to acquire Rasmus for, technically, Stewart, Frasor, Dotel, Rzepczynski, and Patterson is beyond mind-boggling.

Just add it to his list of impressive trades since taking the job.

-JM

Next Blue Jays Game View full schedule »
Tuesday, Sep 22 Sep7:10at Tampa Bay RaysBuy Tickets

Tags: Alex Anthopoulos Brian Tallet Chicago White Sox Colby Rasmus Jason Frasor St. Louis Cardinals Toronto Blue Jays

  • MattProk

    You mentioned that Colby playing every day affects Eric Thames and Mike McCoy. I think that it affects Snider/Thames, while Teahen affects Mike. Is it fair to suggest that an overwhelming Thames will lose playing time to an underwhelming Travis Snider? I’m no pundit, and it might be selling low, but moving Travis Snider would seem optimal at this point. If you think that he won’t produce at a much more efficient rate than he is now, then it’s time to maximize the asset and acquire a starter with some upside for him. Thames can then stay in left, and continue batting like he has (although no more in the #2 slot occupied by Rasmus).

  • DerekNakluski

    Ok AA we don’t need any more outfielders, I would rather see Thames and Sinder getting at bats over EE and Colby. I’m sorry Sinder and Thames need to be in the line up everyday and I don’t think Colby has proven to be better then ethier player other then what AA thinks of him. I think if Thames gets the most of the DH AB then it’s ok. I mean EE has double the AB of Thames, but has 3 more HR and 5 more RBI’s. I’m also upset because I wanted to see Adam Lowain get a look he’s killing it in AAA. Then theres Mark Teehen, we worked so hard to get Wells contract gone now we have another useless player under contract for next season. Ok we need starting pitching to compete, IE we have a #1 &2 guy and I think Cecil will be good in the 4-5 hole so we need two more strong pitchers until some of our young guys get there. I think Colby works as long as Thames/Sinder don’t lose at bats that means EE is on the bench. Then the team is much better, if EE is in the lineup and Thames or Sinder sit then I don’t think we improve that much….

  • admchestermynutz

    Awesome column. Rasmus became a fourth outfielder because every other outfielder with the Cardinals was better in all facets of the game.

    Rasmus is the worst defensive player I have ever witnessed starting in center fielder for the St. Louis Cardinals. His arm is pathetic. I understand your enthusiasm for your team, but if you call trading a fourth outfielder for a few relievers and a starter a fleecing…………..

    Why was the Blue Jay/White Sox deal the best the Cardinals could get for Rasmus? Because anyone who actually watched Rasmus play for the past few years wouldn’t give anything for him. Value for value is not mind-bloggling, Trading our crap for your crap and calling it a fleecing, that is mind boggling.

  • Mylegacy

    Going forward…

    Gose will be our CFer…but not for at least two or three years. Rasmus will then be either a footnote or a stud corner outfielder – either on our team or another team after AA has fleeced another GM. Colby – like Snider – is an exceptional prospect and IF he(they) make it (many don’t) we’ll be LOADED. IF Colby DOESN’T make it – his upside is high enough, and our depth is so exciting and deep, that what we’ve given in this trade is meaningless.

    As to Thames – a guy who before his injury at Uni was expected to be a very high draft choice – he too is an exceptional prospect and will part of a Bautista, Snider, Thames ROTATION (of some sort) between LF, RF and DH. The loser will be EE.

    When Lawrie comes up next week or the week after – offensively and defensively the pieces will be in place that give us EIGHT exceptionally talented young(ish) position players/bats.

    AA will then be able to turn his genius to the pitching. Not counting any of the pitchers on the team at present we’ve the following near ready (by mid-2012) EXCEPTIONAL prospects: Alvarez, Hutchison, McGuire, Drabek, Molina, Carreno. I really don’t think most “casual” fans have any idea just how much high end talent those 6 guys possess. In addition – further away there are at least another 6 just a sgood – or better. The question AA will have to answer is shoud he trade two or three of them for one serious proven star starter or wait for their arrival. Personally – I’d WAIT – by this time next year our rotation will be Morrow, Romero, Alvarez, Hutchison and either McGowan or Drabek.

    At that point we will have a “contending” offense, defense and pitching. We are so very close to repeating what the team did from the early 1980′s to the early 1990′s. This is a seriously good team.

  • MattProk

    LOL @ Henderson Alvarez AND Drew Hutchinson being in our rotation. I wouldn’t poke fun at you if you wrote this might happen, but how can you believe that they would go with three GREEN pitchers next year. What happens to Brett Cecil? Jesse Litsch? Carlos Villanueva? Free Agents? Trades? Why would we go into a season with two rookies and Drabek?Gose is so far away it doesn’t even make sense to slot him in – he will decide for us. Rasmus is 24, and i only hope that he doesn’t take away from Thames’ playing time.

  • MattProk

    @admchestermynutz Talk about a bitter Cards fan in denial. Just let it go bud – you lost a top prospect with huge upside and proven ability to succeed for zippo/relievers. What can’t you understand about that being a fleece?

  • MattProk

    @DerekNakluski Are you a leafs fan too? Because you’re oddly irrational. You think Snider has earned more at-bats than Colby? We should have not traded for Rasmus/give him less at-bats for the sake of seeing what we have with Adam Loewen? Are you drunk? Before you speak again, maybe you should actually find out how good of a player Colby Rasmus is. Five-tool player, that plays centre. Think Grady Sizemore. And yet you want the perpetually underwhelming Travis Snider getting his licks in. If you see my earliest post, i also do not want this trade to affect Thames adversely, but seriously, when you have an opportunity to grab an elite/young CF, there are no Eric Thames in the world that would convince me otherwise.PS, your post is the typical “this is what I think the Jays should do and i’ll be damned if it has real world implications or real-world chances”. You’re complaining about Mark Teahan’s $7 million dollars?! Get serious, Wells was owed like $80 million or something. Jesus Go Leafs Go

  • DerekNakluski

    @MattProk One I don’t even really like hockey and Sinders got 10-15 RBI’s since he came back and I wouldn’t compare Colby to Sizemore. all I’m saying is we have two young outfeilders that should get there playing time Rasmus has a huge upside, but so do Sinder and Thames and when Loewen gets a look in Sept. he will do well.

  • admchestermynutz

    Bitter? Bitter about baseball? To fleece is to obtain via a swindle. I don’t think anyone was swindled in this deal.

    What am I to let go? Chatting about baseball. I hope the best for Rasmus and Toronto. He seems to be a good kid and all. His ability to succeed is not proven. Hence the huge upside.

    “Rasmus is the worst defensive player I have ever witnessed starting in center fielder for the St. Louis Cardinals.” I’ve witnessed McBride, Mcgee, Van Slyke, Lankford, Edmonds, Ankiel and Rasmus as starting every day center fielders.

    Just an observation. I don’t think it a stretch to say Rasmus is the worst in class.

    Have you actual witnessed Rasmus play outfield? By the end of this season you will witness him stop running as he approaches warning track on every ball over his head. He then lets ball hit bottom of wall and chase it down. I have never witnessed him touch the wall more or less climb it.

    He would not go back to AAA , lose starting position and had four outfielders clearly outperforming him on the team. He had to go. STL put-up for sale sign and Toronto’s offer, nothing to get excited over, but was better than nothing because he was no longer a top prospect.

    @MattProk

  • JaysJournal

    There seems to be a whole lot of commenting on who loses playing time and who gains it. In my mind, the more competition, the better. Let the cream come to the top, and let John Farrell decide who gets to play based on their being the hottest bat. Competition is exactly what was lacking under JP Ricciardi and was one of the reasons players like Alex Rios were allowed to get lazy. Nobody threatened his starting role, so why play at 100% every day?

    I love the competition AA is creating in Toronto. Force Snider and Thames to hammer the ball to earn their long-term roles with the club. Force Colby Rasmus to play to his potential or replace him in the future with Anthony Gose. As they play to keep their spots, all of these players also boost their trade values, which in turn gives AA lots of ammo to use on the market.

    That, my friends, is the recipe of success in the AL East.

  • admchestermynutz

    Fleeced, .191 as a Jay

    “Yet when asked about the focus of his daily drills, Rasmus replied: “I’m not working on anything right now.”

    “He said he is eager for the season to end, for the pressure of high expectations to fade, for a few months away from baseball to dissolve the bitter taste of his final days in St. Louis.”

    “I feel like I’ve played the outfield pretty good but my hitting’s been terrible,” he said. “But I wasn’t hitting good before I got here, so I didn’t really put too much expectation on myself to do good.” Rasmus

    “So I’m just going out there and playing and just riding it out, and then work on it in the off-season.” Rasmus

    “Last off-season I didn’t do anything baseball-wise,” he said. “I didn’t really pick up a bat ’til probably a week, two weeks before spring training.” Rasmus

    And you called me bitter.

  • Pingback: Picks of the Pen - Call to the Pen - A Major League Baseball Fan Site - News, Blogs, Opinion and More