As ten lucky teams get themselves ready for October baseball and the postseason, the Toronto Blue Jays are getting right back to work and starting to kindle the fires of the Hot Stove in their quest to improve the club in 2013.
For you and I, that means the speculation can officially begin.
The Jays have many needs, with pitching chiefly among them. Manager John Farrell touched on another one the other day, telling MLB.com that he’d like to add a high on-base percentage hitter to the top of the line-up in 2013. Specifically, he is looking for a guy to set the table for what hopes to be a healthy combination of Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion.
That’s where Elvis Andrus comes into the picture.
It is a bit out of the ordinary to be considering a 24-year-old All-Star shortstop as possible trade fodder, but the Texas Rangers will find themselves in an interesting position this offseason. In Jurickson Profar, they have a 19-year-old who is now ranked as baseball’s top prospect and is pushing himself to the major leagues at a rapid pace. And because he profiles as a once-in-a-lifetime type prospect that will be the future of their club for many years, Andrus may become available to make room for him.
Andrus will have his most value on the trade market this winter, when he still has two years remaining on his contract, which is quite affordable at $4.8 million in 2013 and $6.475 million in 2014.
Toronto is obviously less than pleased with their incumbent candidate at shortstop, Yunel Escobar, and their prospective replacement, Adeiny Hechavarria, profiles more as a bottom of the order hitter long-term. Additionally, Hecavarria may be a solid candidate to man second base in 2013.
The Rangers are always looking for pitching prospects, something that Toronto has a plethora of with the likes of Noah Syndergaard, Justin Nicolino, Daniel Norris, Aaron Sanchez, et al. Of course, the Blue Jays have their own long-term pitching needs to think of, but a package centered around one of these prospects, plus one of Toronto’s catching prospects may be enough to get a deal done with Texas.
The Rangers may also choose to start Profar in the minors in 2013. If they do, Toronto could include Yunel Escobar in any deal. Escobar has one more season guaranteed on his contract, with team options in 2014 and 2015. The Rangers could use him as a stop-gap until Profar is ready to take the position.
Either way, working out a deal would likely cost Toronto something significant, and given Anthopoulos’s edict on building the farm system, the Blue Jays may be hesitant to part with the necessary pieces. Still, the chance to acquire a 24-year-old All-Star shortstop do not come around often, so Toronto would be prudent to at least shake the tree.