Credit: L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Which Blue Jays Are Replaceable Through Free Agency?

Alex Anthopoulos was his cryptic self when he spoke with Jim Bowden of ESPN on Sirius XM on Sunday. At least he was a tad more open than normal, providing some insight into the kind of work he is doing this off-season.

While most of his comments were still broad and vague, he did say something that might give a hint as to what kind of moves we may see:

But we’ve even called on positions we don’t have a need on because there have been some trade talks where some teams have asked about some guys that we don’t plan on trading but all of a sudden we get to fill some other holes and if we can back-fill through free agency and strengthen the club we would look to do that as well. Obviously a lot more complicated to do something like that but we’ve been open-minded and we’ve actually looked into some of those things as well.

Could this be Anthopoulos’ way of softening the blow for when some beloved Jays player gets traded away? Maybe. But the logic of it does make sense. Instead of shopping around and picking up spare parts to patch-up obvious holes—a catcher, a second baseman, a couple starting pitchers—it may be easier to trade from a position of strength, then look to replace who you lost.

Does this mean trading away Edwin Encarnacion or Jose Bautista for a big return? Probably not since it would be far too difficult to replace either of their bats from out of the lineup. Combined with the way they play their respective positions, such a move might only create bigger problems.

Brett Lawrie at 3B and Jose Reyes at SS are other positions of strength. But there’s little available, especially in free agency, to replace at either of those positions. This is why a formerly suspended Jhonny Peralta got $53 million over four years with the Cardinals.

All signs point to outfield and relief pitching. Aside from Bautista, the Jays can replace anyone in the outfield. We may not like the idea of losing someone like Colby Rasmus, who is a great defensive outfielder and projecting to have his biggest season yet. And we may not want to part with someone like Anthony Gose, who is still only 23 years old. For relief pitching, the Jays are strong enough there to lose Casey Janssen or Sergio Santos, and use the other as the closer. Keeping in mind that they should keep relief pitching as a strength, one arm can be replaced with relative ease.

When you put a package like that together—Rasmus and Gose, with Janssen or Santos—it sounds pretty good, and you should be able to get a decent return to solve some of your problems. Then you can go ahead and sign Jacoby Ellsbury and Shin-Soo Choo. Hey, I can dream, it’s not my money.

Would you be willing to sacrifice a few great players in order to build a stronger team?

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Tags: Alex Anthopoulos Free Agency Toronto Blue Jays

  • david s

    Robert, your scenario seems like a definite possibility. Gose disappointed me that he did not take up Winter ball in the Dominican Republic. At least Sierra shows more hustle in working the off season. Gose does not seem happy to play the fourth outfielder either. So I have no problem with him being part of a package or selling him by himself.

    Chicago fans that I have read seem to be happy with Gose by himself for Samardzija. If Santos and Gose were to go then I would want much more than a middle of the rotation pitcher. Much more.

    • Andrew van Laar

      I agree 100% If it was one for one I would do that deal, Nothing more though.

      • Justin Jay

        You won’t get Shark 1 for 1. This isn’t like Fielder and Kinsler. Shark is more proven than Gose at the major league level. Chicago isn’t desperate to make a trade. Toronto is

        • Andrew van Laar

          I know but can’t we dream that their GM mayyyyy heavily medicate himself that day and be off his game? :P

          • Justin Jay

            If you talk to people around Boston, about 50% of Red Sox fans blamed Theo for what happened in 2011-2012 and find him to be overrated. I’m not one of those people, but Cherrington certainly didn’t help my opinion of Epstein by making himself look like a genius this past season. Latest MLB Trade Rumor regarding Shark came out a few minutes ago. He’s getting a lot of play with Arizona right now… and that actually makes a lot of sense for the Cubs.

          • Andrew van Laar

            Ya Arizona has a ton of quality young talent the Cubs would want. I definitely see them being a better fit than the Jays right now.

  • Erik Trenouth

    Why can’t Bautista be included? If the Jays think that they can replace someone on the team through Free Agency, why can’t they replace Bautista with Choo? Choo doesn’t hit for as much power, but it is definitely still there, and he gets on base better and steals more. A lineup with Reyes, Choo, EE, Rasmus, Lawrie, Lind, JP, Melky and Goins is still going to score you a lot of runs. And if Bautista can be traded with a couple bullpen pieces and Gose, we could get back one heck of a pitcher or make a 3-way trade with Texas (or Detroit) and Chicago and get Holland (or Porcello) and Samardzija.

    • Justin Jay

      You still have to convince Choo to come to Toronto and that might cost more or close to the same amount as what they’re paying Bautista. Plus Choo has had run ins with law several times while in Cleveland, typically for DUIs.

      • Erik Trenouth

        It would likely cost more to get Choo, both in terms of dollars and years than what Bautista will make. But at least Choo is 2 years younger, although any deal involving him won’t be as good of a deal than what the Jays have with Bautista. But I don’t think that is the point. His production is pretty much replaceable with Choo, as is Rasmus with Ellsbury, Lind with Morneau.
        Any Free Agent will be difficult to convince to come to Toronto, but the article talked about who is tradeable and replaceable through Free Agency. The entire outfiled, Lind and Arencibia would all fit that, so the only ones that aren’t replaceable are Reyes, Lawrie and EE.
        There are getting to be fewer and fewer Major League players who live “clean” lives. Unfortunately, a DUI isn’t looked on nearly as badly as it was before.

        • Justin Jay

          I think the idea is if you’re going to trade a major guy, how replaceable is he under the parameters Toronto has. It’s obvious that a guy like Ellsbury can replace Rasmus, but not at the cost. Toronto can’t afford to pay Ellsbury’s asking price and the “rumours” of a budget decrease is scaring the crap out of this fanbase.

          Choo is a headache. So much so that despite Choo being an All Star, Cleveland took a chance with underachieving Drew Stubbs instead of Choo.

          What I don’t understand is why Lawrie is considered so untouchable? There’s no basis for it. I watched the games. I love the hustle. I love the intensity… usually. But he gets injured, his BA, OBP, and SLG have gotten progressively worse with each season. There have been corrections made and I saw them near the end of the year, but still… what makes him so damn untouchable? Is it because he’s Canadian? The only untouchables for Toronto right now should be EE and Reyes. After that, everybody should be considered.

          • Erik Trenouth

            I think the untouchable aspect comes from a variety of things. He is Canadian, he is still young, has a lot of potential, and I think finding a replacement for him would be difficult. There are a lot of good young third basemen out there, but none are available. If the Jays give up Lawrie, they have no options of replacing him with anyone other than a Maicer Izturis caliber player.

          • Justin Jay

            Well, with the right trade, you could fix that. I keep saying Arizona. I like Matt Davidson. Not as much potential as Lawrie, but the likelihood Davidson easily replaces the current Brett Lawrie is there.

          • Andrew van Laar

            After more thought I wouldn’t consider Reyes untouchable. I know he is an elite leadoff man but those knees… I really don’t know how he is going to fair. And his contract is quite large too. I would hate to lose him but I don’t think he can be untouchable.

  • Jensan

    How about Goes+ Drabek+ Dean+ Nolin for Shark

    • Andrew van Laar

      No way I would do that deal. I am really not a fan of the whole ‘lets get the shark’ trade talk. I honestly do not think he is worth anything near what is being floated out there in terms of the package going the other way.

      • Justin Jay

        I agree with Andrew on this. I think Shark can be a very good pitcher, but he’s performed like A.J. Burnett did early in his career. The only difference is Samardzija has a better demeanor than Burnett. We need more back than that to give up what the Cubs want

    • Michael Wray

      As a Jays fan I’d take that deal in a heartbeat but I’m not sure if Chicago would be see it as enough. I like your line of thinking though.

    • Justin Jay

      I don’t think Chicago bites at that. Shark was considered their Ace and has Ace potential, but struggled mightily from June to the finish. I do believe Gose will be involved because Chicago desperately needs OF help and they don’t have any viable prospects to fill the role. Brett Jackson is sort of viewed to the Cubs like Toronto fans view Gose at this point. Out of all the players mentioned here, I think Gose is the most likely candidate to go to Chicago, though Sierra wouldn’t be a surprise either.

  • Jensan

    JA Happ was an overpay for a #4 Pitcher of 5 prospects, who became BJ’s #5/6 SP, So the Shark #3 SP cost of 1 top ten prospect , 1 past top ten Goes plus 2 other prospects in the #10 to 20. In the alternative go after Trevor Cahill. Both have different benefits. But they are still SP QUALITY #3 . What are you losing a OF who has potential to replace Rasmus. Best LHP prospect in the organization and TJ pitcher and a deep prospect in the 20s, who Mitch Nay is so much better than. The alternative is to offer John Stilson instead of Drabek.

    • Kyle Franzoni

      I like the option of Cahill. Good ground-ball pitcher would work well, both at Rogers and in the AL East. Return package changes though, as D-Backs have outfield surplus and a need at shortstop, which Blue Jays can’t fill.

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