With the trade deadline approaching on Wednesday afternoon, it is interesting to see which teams are suddenly becoming sellers. Teams that one week ago looked as though they intended to push forward and buy the pieces they needed, are instead choosing to shed a few in favor of landing some prospects instead.
With the Toronto Blue Jays looking at another season of missed opportunities, one would think that a pursuit of either Aybar or Kendrick would be ill-conceived. However, when you consider Alex Anthopoulos’ stance that Toronto intends to compete next season with this roster, a deal does not seem so far fetched any longer.
The Blue Jays found out in 2013 that second base was definitely a position of ineptitude for them, both offensively and defensively. The addition of Kendrick or Aybar at the trade deadline would allow them to address a positional short-coming outside of free agency, allowing the team to press forward this offseason with filling holes in their pitching staff.
Howie Kendrick would be the ideal candidate of the two, being the natural second baseman. The 30-year-old is a career .292 hitter with decent pop at the keystone and has averaged nearly 3 wins above replacement during his career. He will be under team control through the 2015 season, but is owed roughly $18.85 million over the next two seasons which would make him a difficult add for Toronto with their salary commitments.
The 29-year-old Aybar is a career shortstop, but has started 35 games at second base during his career with the Angels. While he is the more polished defender of the two, Aybar is not quite the hitter than Kendrick is. A .278 career hitter with a lifetime OPS of .705, Aybar’s a decent handler of the bat, but has solid speed with 103 stolen bases over his 8-year career. Like Kendrick, he would be under team control, but for three additional seasons, but also like Kendrick, his salary may be prohibitive, being owed $25.5 million over the next three years.
Now to be fair, Toronto looking at Kendrick or Aybar on is merely speculative on my part, noting a team need and an opportunity to fill it. However, I find it difficult to imagine that Toronto would assemble a package to acquire either, as the price in prospects would likely be higher than the Blue Jays would want to pay at this stage.
With the salary issues the Blue Jays will face over the next few seasons, the team would also have to shed a contract, or two or three, in order to fit one of them in without raising payroll again. To do that, Anthopoulos would have to convince Rogers that 2013 was a blip and 2014 will be the sure thing, which would be a tremendously hard sell given the return on his last sales pitch.
But hey, we can dream right?