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?
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.