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.