It goes without saying that the Toronto Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox both envisioned different results at the beginning of the 2012 season. The standings alone are proof positive that expectations often do not work out and adversity strikes even the best of teams. Of course, the Blue Jays and Red Sox took very different paths to the bottom of the standings, but in the end, the results are still a disappointment.
So it is kind of fitting that they should remain tied together as we head into the postseason.
John Farrell is the tie that binds these two clubs together by the wrist. The Blue Jays have him. The Red Sox, who are mere games away from jettisoning Bobby Valentine and knocking on the Blue Jays’ door, covet him.
For their part, the Blue Jays seem to like Farrell, despite his 150-171 record as Toronto’s manager for the past two seasons. Some of that may be posturing on their part, as they realize they have an opportunity to get something in return by sending him to Boston, rather than if they indicate any sort of displeasure over his lack of results at the helm.
The Red Sox obviously realize that Toronto is not going to let him go without a significant package going North. That much is apparent after they hedged their bets earlier this week and hired Jason Varitek as special assistant to the general manager. The Blue Jays case is not made any easier by the recent comments by Omar Vizquel and Adam Lind about the lack of communications by the coaching staff.
Still, the Blue Jays have a firm grasp on the singular bargaining chip here, and what they want to do with it. And if Boston wants to get Farrell badly enough, the Blue Jays will aim high in their demands for a return. And since Boston’s major league roster, outside of Clay Buchholz, offers very little in terms of attractive pieces for the Blue Jays, Toronto will likely look to the minor league system.
- Xander Bogaerts – Shortstop
This would represent the ultimate in aiming high, as Bogaerts is Boston’s top prospect and is the 31st best prospect in the entire game according to MLB.com. Despite being just 19-years-old, Bogaerts is on the fast track to the majors. Hit .307 with 20 home runs, 81 RBI, and a .896 OPS between High-A and Double-A in 2012. He’s made solid progress in his development as a shortstop, but long-term he’ll likely outgrow the position and require a shift to either 3rd base or left field. The Blue Jays could choose to develop him as either an infielder or left fielder and benefit in either direction, giving them a high-end hitting prospect in the upper minors, and someone who will likely be ready to join the big club in 2014.
- Matt Barnes – Starting Pitcher
Prying Barnes loose may be even more difficult than getting Bogaerts, especially considering the derth of pitching prospects that Boston has in the high minors. Barnes is a former college arms who will move quickly through the system on the way to the majors, where to projects as a front line starter. Plus fastball, plus curve, and solid change-up, with slider and cutter both being developed. Gets solid velocity due to tall frame and down hill delivery. Toronto has a slew of quality arms in the low minors, and Barnes would make another solid horse in the stable.
Allen Webster – Starting Pitcher
He was the key acquisition for Boston in the Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, and Josh Beckett to Los Angeles blockbuster in August. While not as sexy a name as Barnes, Webster is nonetheless intriguing. He is much closer to the majors than Barnes, and could likely be ready mid-2013 with a quick start next season. Has a plus sinking fastball with solid velocity that tops out at 97, a plus change-up that sits in the low 80’s, and an average slider and curve. Will work more as a back-end starter in the majors. Ultimately, Webster may not give the Blue Jays any more promise than an arm like Drew Hutchison or Kyle Drabek already present once they are healthy.
- Bryce Brentz – Outfielder
Perhaps the most likely of the group, Brentz is something the Blue Jays badly need; a legitimate power threat as a corner outfielder. Brentz made the transition to Triple-A in 2012, after hitting .296 with 17 home runs, 76 RBI, and a .833 OPS at Double-A Portland. With a strong spring, he could break with the big league club, although he would likely benefit from another year in the minors to improve his pitch recognition and cut down on strike-outs. A solid outfield arm that is meant more for right field, but could transition to left field if needed. Currently ranks as Boston’s 5th best prospect.
Perhaps these are pipe-dream requests, and knowing that Boston is looking to rebuild from within, it may be a lot to ask for one of their top prospects. Still, if Boston wants to get Farrell, the Blue Jays are not going to make it easy for them, and that means starting with a package built around one of these prospects.