Jul 22, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Tyler Skaggs (37) throws during the first inning against the Chicago Cubs at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

A Trade For Toronto That Works

Jul 22, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Tyler Skaggs (37) throws during the first inning against the Chicago Cubs at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

If you’ve been following along, we’ve had some site problems throughout Fansided.com.  I’m sure the other writers have already apologized and I would like to extend the same courtesy as well.  Now that we’re back online, I decided to put an idea out there that I think is rather reasonable.  I noticed a few other Blue Jay sites putting out blueprints on ways to fix the team and such.  They’re creative and mostly reasonable.  I, however, am not giving you a blueprint today.  I’m here to preach about one specific idea (no… not “panic” or “blow the whole damn thing up!”).


If you’re like me, you’re of the belief that the Toronto Blue Jays greatest strength is their bullpen. With the emergence of Brett Cecil, Neil Wagner, and even Aaron Loup, combined with Steve Delabar, I started giving deep thought as to which teams could desperately need a closer and have a stacked farm system.  I briefly mentioned this back in June: Arizona is that team.

Now, I know I said Casey Janssen is a Top 5 closer. I know I said we need to keep this guy.  Trust me, I hate the thought of doing this, but Janssen’s stock has never been higher.  The Diamondbacks had 67 Save Opportunities last season.  They blew 29 of them.  Janssen blew 2.  Despite the 29 blown saves, Arizona went 81-81 for the season and finished in 2nd place in the NL West.  They missed winning the division by 12 games.  Take a minute to digest all of that.

Arizona’s farm system is stacked!  Absolutely stacked.  Archie Bradley has taken over the top spot as top pitching prospect in the organization.  You can forget about getting him for Janssen.  I don’t want him anyway.  I want Tyler Skaggs.  Skaggs always seems to be the bridesmaid when it comes to Top Prospect pitching honours in Arizona’s system and that’s perfect for Toronto.  He’s a #2 pitcher in the making and he’s a lefty with a filthy, dirty, make you salivate curveball.  So what’s my point?

I think Toronto can get him.  He’s fallen out of favour with the Arizona brass, kind of like how Trevor Bauer did after 2012.  Even if it cost Janssen and a prospect of some sort, I think Toronto can get Skaggs.  When you think of guys like Mark Buehrle and Pat Hentgen mentoring a kid like Skaggs, it’s something to get excited over.  Not only does getting a pitcher like Skaggs instantly make the Blue Jays rotation better, it gives the Blue Jays insurance. “Insurance?” There have been rumblings of Toronto re-signing Josh Johnson.  Get a guy like Skaggs and sure!  Do it!  Re-sign Johnson!  Toronto’s rotation would look something like this: Dickey, Morrow, Buehrle, Skaggs, and Johnson/Happ/Romero/Hutchison/Drabek/Stroman/Nolin.

Do you see the beauty in that?  There’s guaranteed depth.  There’s no rush to move guys like Sean Nolin and Marcus Stroman up to big leagues too soon (though, Toronto did let Nolin get a taste already).  Let the kids get a taste of AAA ball. Let them make some adjustments and get themselves on track. When they get all warmed up, if Johnson, Happ, or Romero (all of whom should have first crack at the rotation in April 2014) happen to struggle, make a change.

I know there will be doubts.  “Can Cecil or Delabar close out games?”  The answer is YES!  Both guys have the confidence.  They will also have their health and maintain it while moving into the closer’s role.  Toronto managed to limit Janssen’s innings to 52.2 last season, 11 less than last season.  So keeping them fresh is also a plus.  They’re both also less expensive than Janssen and under team control through 2014.  Not to say Janssen is “expensive” for a top closer, because he’s certainly not, but this Blue Jays payroll is going to balloon and every bit of savings helps.

“Why Skaggs?” Good question!  For starters and to drive the point home, he’s a lefty.  In the AL East, you need those.  Yea, he was 2-3 with a 5.12 ERA and 7 HRA in 38.2 innings.  Even in AAA Reno, 6-10 4.59 ERA 1.471 WHIP.  Shelby Miller didn’t have stellar AAA numbers either, but he was working on different pitches.  I feel Skaggs was doing something similar.  BrooksBaseball.net shows that throughout 2013, Skaggs was mostly throwing his 4FB, until July.  In July, he had 1 quality start, and got hit pretty hard throughout the rest of the month.  The reason being was Skaggs was trying to develop a forth pitch.  He started working on his 2FB. In July, he only threw his 4FB 9% of the time, while his 2FB was at 53%, with his CHG (21%) and CRV (17%) mixed in.  Skaggs’ two best pitches are his 4FB and CRV and he threw them the least.  What happens when he start to unleash the fury? That’s what I want to find out!  Prior to this season in the minors, he was absolutely dominant.  At every level except The Show, he’s struck out close to 1 batter per inning, and he wasn’t too far off for AZ at 8.4 K/9.  Like I said, with a guy like Buehrle in his corner, I like his chances for development.

The only thing I see ruining this idea, aside from Arizona’s GM Kevin Towers flat out saying “no,” is a guy named Jake Barrett.  In that farm system AZ’s got, Barrett is #7.  After struggling in his first pro season in 2012, he flat out dealed through high A and AA ball.  He’s the X factor that ruins my Skaggs idea.  If Towers feels Barrett is ready, and MLB.com predicts he makes the club in 2014, then Janssen will not be necessary other than to fix the bullpen.  That won’t land Toronto Skaggs.  If Towers feels that two pitches just isn’t good enough and is concerned that his GB:FB ratio reversed itself between A+ (1.29) and AA (0.77), there’s no way he cannot consider dealing Skaggs for Janssen.  29 blown saves is unacceptable and going into the season with Ziegler and his mid-80s side-arm sinking fastball as your closer is also unacceptable.  If Arizona blows 2 games instead of 29, they’re in the playoffs and Mattingly’s fired and the Dodgers are an afterthought.  Towers!  Anthopoulos!  Make… this… trade!


**UPDATE** Fansided.com’s Arizona Diamondbacks website, Venomstrikes.com, had a response to the article.  Co-Editor Thomas Lynch makes some compelling points for Diamondback fans here!  Interesting read.  Have a look!

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Tags: Arizona Diamondbacks Casey Janssen Toronto Blue Tyler Skaggs

  • Michael Scott

    I highly doubt we get that much for Casey. He is a top 10 closer in my mind but that’s a steep asking price.

    In all seriousness, we traded a top 20 prospect with injury questions and AA pitcher who projects for the bullpen for a 38 year old knuckleballer.
    The price for front of the rotation starters is so ridiculously high right now that you wouldn’t trade away a potential one for a closer, not to mention a closer with limited control.

    Andrew Bailey was traded for a 4th outfielder (who panned out well for them, worth noting) and a couple middling prospects, and in my opinion Bailey at that time had a better track record, injuries aside.

    I think the root of the problem for Jays fans is ideas like this, because if we end up sending Delabar, Jansen, and Pillar for a guy in Skaggs situation (2013 12th best prospect in the league) then everybody loses their minds.

    I still remember the deal in which we got Dickey, when people were arguing that JPA for Dickey was a huge overpay and that we should offer less, and then lost their minds when they found out it was d’Arnaud and speculated about getting much more back from the Mets. Once they found out we also sent Syndergaard, a lot of hardcore fans (That recognize the value of prospects and the true value of a 38 year old knuckleballer) lost it.

    I think acquiring a guy like Skaggs is useless unless we blow it up. He is a huge question mark for 2014 as far as the MLB level goes, and a precious year is wasted while Dickey, Encarnacion, Bautista all age. Unless we flip him right away for a guy who can contribute I think the Jays are better off keeping Jansen.

    I do believe a Jansen trade may make sense but not for prospects, not unless we are ending it. I would look to do the opposite, moving prospects with question marks for guys we think can contribute. I’m all for the future, but right now our build mode in win now.

    • Joshua

      While I agree with the basis of your argument (well, not the part where Janssen for Skaggs doesn’t make sense, he’s good depth/value regardless), are you suggesting Syndergaard (who was actually in High-A at the time) is a pen arm? Because NOBODY seems to be saying that. Even his biggest detractors think he should be able to be a mid-rotation starter.

      • Jeremy Russell

        IMO, he should be a #3 or #4, I dont agree with the above comment in that he will be a bullpen arm, but his secondary stuff is nowhere near good enough to be a top end starter.

        If you want to see what it takes to be a top end starter, just look at Stroman, nasty slider and changeup

        • Joshua

          He has an upper 90s fastball and a good changeup, with command. That’s Michael Wacha. #3-4 basically sounds like a floor.

          • Jeremy Russell

            Comparing Sydergaard to Wacha is crazy, Syndergaard’s chaneup is a 5 maybe 6. Curveball is a 5 at best. Not good enough for a top end starter, maybe a low end #2 at best, low end is a top bullpen arm.

          • Joshua

            Wow, that’s even more generous than I would’ve been. If he’s already 6 CH and a 5 CB, he’s a no. 2 starter EASILY with that fastball and that control.

          • Joshua

            But anyway, my point was that with control, an above-average change and with that fastball, he’s not going to be any worse than a #3-4 unless he blows out.

          • Jeremy Russell

            My other comment is awaiting moderation (I think because I left a link to the MLB website) so Ill repost what I said here:

            I was talking about his peak, not what he is right now, although thats my fault since I worded it poorly.

            Right now his curveball is a 5, changeup is a 4, control is a 4

          • Joshua

            That report is VERY different from anything I’ve seen. Everything I’ve come across has the change well ahead of the curve, and the control graded 1-2 points higher than that.

          • Jeremy Russell

            Ive found a few, they do range from 4-6, so probably safe to settle on 5. The MLB website has 4, so thats where I got my original number from.

          • Justin Jay

            I’m with Josh. #3-#4 is a floor. His curveball has developed into a weapon and at his young age, he’s got an advanced feel for his change-up. Combine that with his fastball, ACE is his ceiling, #3 is his floor. He was the best pitching prospect we had since Halladay.

          • brad

            Justin: He wasn’t even the best pitching prospect on his high A team when they traded him….

          • Justin Jay

            Yes, Sanchez has more of an offering, but look I’m telling you Syndergaard, especially if he develops more secondary pitches (and he will), will be better than Sanchez. Look at the K/BB. In 2012 they had identical records, almost identical ERAs, but Noah had the advantage in WHIP. I really do like Sanchez, but he somewhat struggled in A+ ball… and Syndergaard excelled in AA. I find it strange that people say he has control issues with his curveball, but he hardly walks anybody.

            I love the responses to the article and love a great Jays debate (I don’t get to have these living just south of Boston). So it’s much appreciated… but I’ll be waiting for you guys to pat me on the back when Syndergaard is an All Star in 2015, with Matt Harvey and Zach Wheeler.

          • brad

            That’s all fine to say now that syndergaard has taken the next step but when he was a blue jay he was absolutely not a better prospect than Sanchez… Keith law had Sanchez 19th and Syndergaard 97th at the start of the year and with that type of discrepancy and the type of reputation Keith Law has, that’s pretty much all that needs to be said in justification. speaking generally, my view is that using K/BB(and really many other pitching statistics) is folly in the minor leagues where elite pitching prospects are told to work on pitches they aren’t as good at…..murdering their strikeout numbers

            …so I just can’t get behind you saying “he was the best pitching prospect we had since Halladay”…because I don’t think that when we had him he was even close to that calibre. In 2012, Sanchez had way way way better stuff and by all accounts still has the higher ceiling. That being said, at this point, syndergaard is much closer to being a sure thing. The real question is: would he have followed the same development path in the Jay’s organization?…. I’m not sold that he would have.

      • Michael Scott

        That’s the problem with most Toronto fans. We have been taught as a fanbase to overvalue prospects. If the Jays organization believed him to be a #2 or higher, we wouldn’t have traded him. There was a reason he was packaged with a top prospect to land Dickey.

        Here are some quotes:

        Keith Law:
        “He’s a solid acquisition for the Mets because of his size, delivery, and easy velocity, but he’s also very high-beta and could end up a back-end guy or even a reliever if that third pitch doesn’t make some major strides.”

        I wouldn’t go around calling Keith Law a “nobody”. Currently he has two MLB quality pitches, and you need 3 to be considered a starter, by scout standards (I got into a lengthy discussion with a Braves scout on other things that define a starter over a reliever, including stride length and arm action, both which point Syndergaard towards the reliever platform).

        It’s not an insult, it’s just how he fits. I see him as more of a closer, or a 4/5 starter. Quite frankly, labeling a AA arm as a “floor 3/4 starter” is absolutely absurd, especially considering the flame out rate of top pitching prospects. (Kyle Drabek was MUCH higher regarded, was a hands down front of the rotation starter in scouts eyes).

        Stroman won’t be a top tier starter as he is too short to start. Once your fastball flattens out later in the game, the angle of which you throw the ball is too close to the ground (If a 6’5 pitcher throws the ball, they release it higher than a guy who is 5’10, having less “depth” on their fastball). But I would put my money on Stroman becoming a starter over Syndergaard just due to the three pitches Stroman possesses.

        Comparing Syndergaard to Michael Wacha is a bit of a stretch. Sure Syndergaard throws hard (he never touched 100+ in Lansing, the gun there is juiced. I was told by a friend who pitches in that loop that he was touching 97/98 on the gun, while he throws low 90′s at best.) but his offspeed is nowhere near where Wacha’s is.

        And to Justin, his curveball is the question, his changeup is his plus pitch. By trying to teach him a slider, he improved his curveball but it has a long ways to go to become a MLB level pitch. And again, his floor is bullpen. If that 3rd pitch doesn’t develop he is either a fringe #5 or a bullpen arm.

        If you care to look at the history of most bullpen arms, most of them are highly touted SP prospects who can’t develop 3 pitches or the stamina required.

        I was talking to another scout about “ace” level prospects, and he said that there are maybe one or two in the minor leagues. You rarely ever see a player labelled as that coming out of the draft.

        This talk of him having a 5 curveball (MLB league average curveball), and 6 changeup (MLB plus change up), and a plus fastball (presumably a 7 if you think it is his best pitch) is absolutely laughable. If that were true he’d be in contention for an All-Star team. I’d put him at a 5 fastball, 4 change, 3 curve with potential 6/5/4. There is maybe 5 starters in the league with a 7 fastball or better. You are placing him with the greats already. Control is also a huge question with him.

        He is more likely to be a reliever than a starter, but that goes for most pitching prospects in AA or lower.

        Claiming that two pitches gets you a starting job is quite off too. Ask any scout you want, whether they be an associate, part-time, cross-checker, full-time or area guys. 2 pitches, he’s in the pen.

  • Scott

    The Jays searched for a successful closer for 20 years to no avail. Finally they have a guy they can have confidence in at the back of the bullpen, so why trade him? Especially for a starting pitcher who’s never proven himself in the Majors. We still have Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison in terms of young, unproven guys with high upsides. Trades are not the way to go. There’s no reason to trade talent for potential talent when there are able players available for only loss of money. They should look to Free Agency this season, and they definitely should not be creating holes in their core to fill other holes.

    • Justin Jay

      B.J. Ryan had a nice 2 year span. Billy Koch? Kelvim Escobar had a decent 2002. Batista filled in well for a year. Frasor and Accardo were not bad. I think the trouble years were Rausch and Francisco. But honestly, the closer situation wasn’t really all that bad the last 20 years. The bullpen has been up and down, but it’s a 20 year span so all I can say is “Hey, it happens!”

      Point is, the Blue Jays have a very good bullpen. Brett Cecil looks like he can handle the job. Delabar looks like he could do it. There’s value in Janssen. He’s going to be $4M vs a couple of guys under team control. And Skaggs isn’t fully unproven. What exactly is there to lose too? Toronto just finished in LAST place. How much worse could it get? I think you guys are crazy if you think this team is inches away from turning it around. There are many, MANY holes in crucial positions. SP is the biggest problem. 2B is a problem. RF, fielding wise, is a problem. C is a more than obvious problem. You think all that can be solved through free agency? Ok! I disagree… even if AA says otherwise.

  • Governator88

    Why move our top left hander from the BP to closer? Then all we have is loup… Lets not forgot we still have Santos who when healthy should be able to close out games with the best of them and would probably be slotted in as the closer before delabar/cecil who were the reason our BP was so good from 6 innings on to begin with.

    • Justin Jay

      What about Juan Perez when he comes back? Cecil wasn’t a lefty specialist. Loup is sort of the lefty specialist. Billy Wagner was once a top lefty BP guy. That worked out pretty well right? They found another lefty to replace him. Jays were carrying 4 at one point.

      Santos… if you want to put all your eggs in one basket for the idea of Santos, that’s up to you. I wouldn’t. He’s proven nothing in a Jays uniform. 25 IPs doesn’t tell me otherwise. Janssen is CHEAPER than Santos and more proven at this point. That’s why I suggested moving Janssen. Cecil has proven more durable. I can’t say “use Santos” knowing that the guy has been with the Jays for 2 seasons now, and he’s only thrown for half of the innings that Janssen threw in 2012.

      • Governator88

        I would think Luis Perez over Juan Perez as the lefty specialist. Regardless, Cecil is just so versatile, he comes in when the team is in a tough jam and gets the job done while making it look easy. He can be used in almost any situation unlike guys who just throw heat & sliders. I’d rather make the opposite argument that Cecil could be used as a spot starter over a closer.

        • Justin Jay

          Why Luis over Juan? Granted Juan is 35 and coming off TJ, but he was also much better and track records are starting to show most pitchers come back better from TJ.

          Funny thing about Cecil and I’m not disagreeing with what you’re saying with his versatility… but he was originally coming in, in the 6th, in no pressure situation. Injuries and his effectiveness pushed him into the 7th and 8th set-up roles. I also don’t disagree with the Spot Start idea, but I think there’s a growing sentiment now that he’s going to be a bullpen guy of which you can get 1-2 innings. It’s because of his effectiveness in that regard, I feel he would be a great candidate to close out games in the event Toronto trades Janssen. That’s why I feel a Janssen trade is possible. There are 2, and with a healthy Santos, maybe 3 guys in Jays pen that are fully capable of closing out games. There are also 2 other effective lefty arms besides Cecil

          • Governator88

            Maybe I’m mistaken (or we’re both mixed up) but it was Luis Perez who had Tommy John.

            Anyways, I think it’s fair to say Cecil can be used in any role the club sees fit, whether that’s a long arm, specialist, set up man or closer and I definitely don’t disagree that Janssen is expendable with our BP depth to find a different closer which I think is your main point anyway.

          • Justin Jay

            Actually, it was both. Last season, Luis Perez went down. This season it was Juan Perez. Both are lefties, but they’re about 5-6 yrs apart in age (Juan is older). I thought Juan Perez was better, but Luis Perez, prior to the arm injury, was about the same.

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