Going into this offseason Toronto Blue Jays fans knew the Blue Jays were going to make acquiring starting pitching there top priority. It was a safe assumption that the way the Blue Jays were going to acquire these pitchers was by trading prospects and with free agent signings. Then at the end of the GM Meetings Alex Anthopoulos was asked if the Blue Jays were willing to move a young player off the big-league roster for a starting pitcher. Alex said that they would have to be open to that. Maybe this comes as a surprise to you, maybe it doesn’t.
The real question is who on the Blue Jays big league roster could get traded. It’s safe to say Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Brandon Morrow aren’t going anywhere. They are the best players on the team. When you trade elite talent you never get anything as good in return as what you’re giving up.
The Blue Jays probably wouldn’t trade Brett Lawrie. In Lawrie’s case he hasn’t established himself as an elite talent yet, he’s just very popular. However, the Blue Jays just signed Maicer Izturis to a 3 year contract so if Lawrie were to get traded Izturis could play 3rd base. Even if the Blue Jays were able to get a good starting pitcher by trading Lawrie they would initially lose some fans. The starting pitcher they get back would be a piece in making the Blue Jays a playoff team. If the Blue Jays make the playoffs or even stay in contention until September those same fans will be back saying “Lawrie who?”.
No one knows who the Blue Jays four bench players will be but it doesn’t matter because it goes without saying that you’ll always include a bench player as a “throw in” if it’ll get you a starting pitcher. The same can be said for the 7 relievers in the bullpen, if anyone of them will get you a starting pitcher as part of a “throw in” to a trade you don’t hesitate.
Yunel Escobar is an obvious candidate to get traded because of his eye black incident. Adam Lind just had a 3rd straight bad year with the Blue Jays and now they don’t owe him that much money. In 2013 the Blue Jays could have Edwin Encarnacion and Travis D’Arnaud sharing first base making Lind even more expendable. Don’t let the 3 year contract Maicer Izturis just signed with the Blue Jays fool you either, he could also get traded as a “throw in” for a starting pitcher.
J.P. Arencibia could also get traded for a starting pitcher which would be like killing 2 birds with one stone because it would give D’Arnaud the full time catching spot. The only other position player the Blue Jays have is Colby Rasmus who is probably the least likely player on the big league roster to get traded besides Bautista, EE and Morrow. The Blue Jays don’t have a real internal option at center field and why waste time, prospects or money trying to replace Rasmus when you’ve got time, prospects, money to be spent on starting pitching.
It might sound counter-productive but the Blue Jays could also trade starting pitching for starting pitching. Ricky Romero, coming off a big down season is a good buy low trade candidate with a team friendly contract that would easily get a lot of interest. Henderson Alvarez and J.A. Happ are 2 adequate starting pitchers that could be a lot of help for teams trying to contend in lesser hitting divisions.
Whether the Blue Jays choose to trade a player off their big league roster or not the fact that they are open to it just gives them that many more options for acquiring starting pitching.