August 23, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria (3) runs to first against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE

Spend Money, Keep As Many Prospects As Possible

No one knows exactly how the Toronto Blue Jays are going to get the starting pitching they so desperately need to contend. They could get it through trades or free agency.

With the Blue Jays in the middle of a 19 year playoff drought coming off a 73-89 season getting free agents to leave America to come to Toronto will be a difficult task. It will require the Blue Jays to have to overpay them. If the Blue Jays try to pick up starting pitching through trades they will have to overpay in big league players or prospects.

Would it be better to overpay in prospects or money? Not bad contracts that handcuff the Blue Jays in the future. Just 10 – 30 million more than what other teams are offering for the entire contract, assuming that other teams offer’s aren’t an overpay to begin with.

Often times it’s better to overpay in free agency than trades because when trading for a good starting pitcher you have to give up a lot of talent. Depth in baseball is very important. If you get players through free agency and keep your prospects you will always have enough depth and contributions.

Last offseason the Washington Nationals traded for Gio Gonzalez from the Oakland Athlethics. In that trade the Nationals gave up Tom Milone, Derek Norris, Brad Peacock, A.J. Cole. If the Nationals had signed a starting pitcher instead of trading for Gonzalez they would have also had the additional help of Tom Milone and Derek Norris last season and in future seasons. They also could have had Brad Peacock and A.J. Cole contribute in future years.

When acquiring any player you never know if they’re going to perform well when there with your team regardless of their history. As unpredictable as prospects are it seems like it would be more logical to bet on 2 – 4 players than to bet on 1 player. Last season the Cleveland Indians traded for Ubaldo Jiménez and he has been terrible for them. The fact that the Indians gave up 4 useful prospects that could contribute to their team makes that trade even more painful for them.

For most teams trading prospects for a good starting pitcher is a risk worth taking even if the starter doesn’t perform or they lose depth in the near future. In the Blue Jays case they have so many starting pitching prospects in the minor leagues that can contribute in future years that trading away valuable prospects for starting pitching almost seems crazy. Some of the best pitching staffs in baseball are home grown, the Tampa Bay Rays, Atlanta Braves, Texas Rangers and San Francisco Giants.

Alex Anthopoulos trade for a starting pitcher if you think the players you give up don’t have the ability to make big contributions in the future or you’re absolutely sure the starting pitching you acquire is going to be good. Otherwise spend money and keep as many prospects as possible.

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  • Vivek Bhatt

    Your point is valid, however the Jays with most upside are mostly in Low A’s…

    You can trade pitchers like Chad Jenkins, Decck McGuire and eventually Kyle Drabek & Drew Hutchinson… These are pitchers with low ceilings and are most likely to reach their potential.

    I think Washington did a fantastic job by trading for Gio Gonzalez…. His age along with contract fit the nucleus of their organization…

    Indians were unlucky but you never know… A trend that I seem to notice is that all the teams that end up having success have 1 Bad/Long contract (excluding of course the A’s)…

    Yankees (A-Rod)

    Giants (Barry Zito)

    Detroit (The back end years of Fielder)

    LA Angels (Vernon Wells)

    LA Dodgers (Crawford, & the many huge cap hits)

    Washington Nationals ( Jayson Werth)

    Reds (Joey Votto’s huge contract)

    It seems to be a trend, and it seems that having 1 bad thing, will end with a good..

    • Joe Turner

      Why would the Jays have to overpay in prospects in a trade?

      • Vivek Bhatt

        It would make sense only if you have the right nucleus… Currently the teams still lacks in 2B, LF, Starting Pitching…
        I argued that the Nats made the correct decision in getting Gio

  • Justin Crozier

    The Blue Jays will not have to overpay in prospects if that is what everyone has to pay. They will just be paying market value.
    To wait for the prospects in low A to get to the big leagues is beyond stupid. First of all, there is no guarantee that they even reach the big leagues. And second of all, there is no guarantee that they will be effective even if they reach the big leagues. In all likely-hood only 1-2 of the Jays top pitching prospects will be top of the rotation starters in the big leagues. It would serve the Jays to trade one or two of them to get some certainty in the rotation now.

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  • Michael Natelli

    You guys sure called this one! They lost Marisnick, but still got a decent farm and a heck of a return from Miami!