Aug 30, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Mark Buehrle (56) delivers a pitch against the Kansas City Royals at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Post Cano: Are the Blue Jays and Mariners Potential Trade Partners?


Interesting.  The biggest free agent has come off the board, landing in a destination few had predicted.  The ramifications for the New York Yankees losing their best player and the Seattle Mariners gaining a genuine superstar are huge.  But as this is a Blue Jays site, let’s narrow the focus a bit.  How does the signing affect Toronto?

First, the obvious.  We see less of Cano, and his ridiculous 2013 .362/.397/638 slash line versus the Jays, lighting up Toronto pitching.  That’s good.

Another positive, and twitter was awash with speculation post-signing, is that Seattle may have become a very interesting trade partner for Alex Anthopoulos.

The obvious chatter revolves around the fact that Seattle now has a a bunch of second basemen while Toronto is light at the position.  On closer inspection, however, saying the M’s are swimming with two baggers is a bit misleading.  They have one very good one (who they just signed) and two who haven’t quite lived up to expectations.

Dustin Ackley and Nick Franklin are both first round draft picks (2009) who came to Seattle fairly hyped having been ranked by Baseball America as top prospects for two years running.  Ackley was ranked #11 in 2010 and #13 in 2011. Franklin was #53 in 2012 and #79 in 2013.

Neither, however, have provided any value at the major league level (albeit in a relatively small sample sizes, especially for Franklin) and according to Fangraphs Steamer projections, things aren’t likely to get much better next year.  With Ackley projected to provide a 0.6 WAR while Franklin checks in at 0.2.

In comparison, the Jays current no hitting ‘incumbent’ Ryan Goins is projected to be pretty much replacement at 0.1 WAR.  Not great, but not far off what the Seattle pair has to offer.

Jeff Zimmerman over at fangraphs did an excellent comparison piece, looking at some of the causes of Ackley’s and Franklin’s struggles at the plate and what they have and can do to help re-build some of their value.  The article is worth a read on its own, but skipping to the conclusion, Zimmerman also doesn’t expect much out of the pair in 2014.

So, for Seattle to trade one or both of them, would be the ultimate sell low scenario.  Whereas the acquiring GM would be taking on a project and betting that a a swing adjustment or two, plus a fresh start would work some magic (eerily similar to a certain non-tendered catcher who was also a first round pick).

Generally I don’t like to write trade scenario pieces as you leave yourself open to being called a fool (which you’d think I’d be used to by now), but I do think there is something here.  I don’t believe AA would want to acquire just one of Ackley or Franklin as he won’t want to pay much based on fact they’ve both been rubbish thus far.  While the Mariners would want to extract as much value as possible given what they’ve invested in the pair.

If the two GMs were willing to get a bit creative though, a package could be put together that benefits both sides.

First, though, I need to make a few assumptions:

1) With the addition of Cano, the M’s will want/need to trade one of Ackley or Franklin

2) Seattle aren’t satisfied with just Cano and are willing to spend more.  Reports linking them to remaining big ticket free agents such as Shin-Soo Choo would seem to bear this out.

3) This may be my biggest leap, but with the NPB posting rules set to change, allowing Masahiro Tanaka to negotiate with any team who meets the max posting bid, you have to think Seattle are front-runners to acquire the Rakuten Golden Eagles right-hander.  This assumption is based on their ownership group, history of success with Japanese imports, and willingness to spend for 2014.

That leaves the Mariners with three right-handers occupying the top of their rotation.  What would a team in a win now mode need to complement them?  A veteran, durable, innings eating lefty whose fly ball percentage would play very well in Safeco.

Now, let me preface this by saying I don’t particularly want the Jays to trade Mark Buehrle, nor do I think his contract (considering current pitcher values on free agent market) is all that bad.  But if Anthopoulos can extract some value then I think it is worth dealing.

Sep 18, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Seattle Mariners starting pitcher James Paxton (65) pitches in the third inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The player the Jays should be looking at is James Paxton.  A native of Ladner, B.C., Paxton made his major league debut last year, putting up a 0.917 WHIP and 3.0 K/9 ratio over four starts.  A small sample size granted, and his minor league numbers were nowhere near as good.  His walk rates on the farm were too high, and as per this scouting report, for Paxton to be a successful starter he’ll need to be more consistent around the strike zone.  Again, per that report, he did make some in-season adjustments last year which seemed to help, making his number two starter ceiling very attractive indeed.  Add in the fact he’s younger, under team control, and cheap makes him a very valuable addition.

Those that believe the Jays window is now, wouldn’t be thrilled with this proposal.  You know what you’re getting with Buehrle while Paxton will probably struggle a bit in 2014.  But Steamer still projects 1.3 wins for the Canadian, less than a win under what it projects for Buehrle (2.2).  Surely that win can be paid for somewhere else with the thirty-seven million you shed with Buehrle’s contract.

Why would the Mariners consider this deal?  If you add 20 year old Taijuan Walker to their rotation, you have four young-ish right-handers.  Replacing lefty Paxton with Buehrle means you add a veteran presence who (as I said above) they would know exactly what they are getting.  Offsetting Paxton’s inconsistencies albeit at a a cheaper price for the more expensive but reliable Toronto lefty.

Obviously the Jays aren’t going to get Paxton and one of Ackley/Franklin for Buehrle alone, so some other pieces (and possibly cash) would need to be involved.  Crucially though, I don’t believe one of those pieces would need to be a top prospect.  The M’s already have a pretty stacked farm system and, if going for it, don’t really need someone who is a few years away.  They would want someone who could help next year.

One of Toronto’s out of option bullpen pieces?  A center fielder that could cover Safeco’s spacious outfield while also allowing Michael Saunders to move to a corner spot?  I’m not going to try and predict an exact package but I do believe the Jays have the pieces needed to make this work while not spending a great deal of their prospect capital.

Am I being a bit of a maple dick?  Probably.  A bi naive? Maybe.  I’ve seen rumours out there that the Mariners are deep into discussions with the Rays regarding David Price.  Making a Mark Buehrle trade irrelevant.  If that doesn’t happen though, this could be an excellent fallback for Seattle.

I’m also pretty optimistic that the Jays front line pitching prospects are not as far away as some other believe.  Paxton would not only provide value now, but in two years, when he is entering his prime, other names such as Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez, and Daniel Norris are going to be entering the fray.  Mix in a final year from R.A. Dickey to provide a bit of veteran stability and a healthy Brandon Morrow (possibly a stretch) and you have the makings of a very exciting staff.

If I were to really go out on a limb, why not throw Tom Robson into the 2016/17 mix.  Two B.C. pitchers and Delta Senior Secondary alumni in the same rotation.  Add in Langley’s Brett Lawrie and Rogers are having a Canada-wide marketing wet dream.

Come on Alex, I really haven’t asked for much of you thus far (aside from begging you not to trade any more prospects).  Let’s get this done.

 

 

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  • Jensan

    Trade Rasmus for Paxton and Ackley

    • david s

      Of for God’s sake, why would you trade the Jay’s best defensive player? Leave the outfield

      No, stick with Goins. You have seven good hitters on the team. You just got a catcher who can hit for average so I suppose that makes eight. Goins can hit .250 and that will be good enough. The Jays are now strong up the middle defensively, from catcher, short and second base and centre field.

      Actually, all the team needs is one more very good starter. All the worries many have had are taken care of. You do not need Cano with the fire power the Jays have.

      The defence will be better and the hitting philosophy will be more be more evolved than going for the fences all the time.

      I for one like AA as a general manager and Gibby is good too. All those band wagon no minds who feel cheated over their flex packs can go kiss their momma’s…. Just one more pitcher that is solid will be fine.

      So to the devil with the negative people and blame seekers. This boy is for the Jays. I for one am so tired of people blaming AA and Gibbons for everything.

      After acquiring one pitcher, all we need is health, hard work and of course luck.

      • Pingston

        Strong post and use of logic.

        Doesn’t agree with other posts of mine, but makes the case well. (Izturis needs to bounce back or be gone.)

        If I could embellish, just a tad, I’d like to see Jays go VERY hard after Tanaka. If they get him, they can afford him. If they don’t, then make the signing drain someone else’s treasury.

        • Charlie Caskey

          If the posting system does change I don’t see how the Jays could not offer up the max amount. Unfortunately, 10 to 15 other teams will do the same meaning they all have the ability to negotiate with Tanaka. I would have thought that would hamper the Jays chances significantly

          • Pingston

            No, I presume they’ll get past the negotiation hurdle (as will 20 others). I mean offering the max in the deal offered directly to Tanaka (he chooses where he goes). According to a radio report the other day on Fan590 the teams with the worst records get to deal first, although I don’t see how this is fair if all have qualified to negotiate. Just tell Tanaka you’ll beat what anyone else will pay by $5 million and have him talk to Kawasaki…

          • Charlie Caskey

            that report was incorrect, Tanaka, if posted, will be free to negotiate with all the teams that submit the largest bid (in this case we can assume it’d be the max). He’d essentially be a free agent, but limited to all teams that meet the posting. As I said previously, that will be a fair few.

      • Jensan

        OH for god sakes, just remember Rasmus free agent at the end of this year.

        • Charlie Caskey

          I tend to agree with that. Although I wouldn’t particularly want to trade Rasmus, the fact he is due a big payday and advanced metrics tend to show his hot hitting may be based a bit on luck with BABIP make it palatable. Add in the fact that Gose should be his equal defensively than it may be worthwhile.

          • Justin Jay

            I’m not ready to hand the reigns of CF over to Gose. I think the guest is right on. The team is much improved up the middle. A little added depth for the middle infield could be nice, but he’s right. Jays need Jimenez. They get him, and Morrow gives ANYTHING, Jays have a shot.

        • jordan

          It wont matter THEY NEED HIM DUUUUUUUUH

          • jordan

            RASMUS IS AWESOME KEEP HIM FOR AS LONG AS YOU CAN

  • John Smith

    You can believe what you want. Paxton is likely better then Buehrle now, under control till forever, and makes peanuts. Seattle’s Gm may be dumb but noone is that dumb. Stop dreaming and start living in reality dude.

    • Charlie Caskey

      He’s ‘likely’ better or he ‘is’ better? Big difference. And if you truly believe he is better, then all the more reason to try and get him. My point is that Seattle will be in win now mode given the Cano signing and their flagging attendance. They may not be after prospects like the Cubs would be with The Shark. If they believe Buehrle gives them a better chance to win in 2014 they may be willing to deal away some cost control to get him. And as I said in the piece, no way do I think it’s a one for one deal.

      The Jays have players that Seattle could use, whether it’s Janssen, Lind, Gose, Delabar, or a a couple of those with a prospect not named Sanchez, Stroman, Norris, etc

      • RyanMueller

        Mark Buehrle ‘is’ better right now. Look at their records from last year and compare….oh what you can’t because Mark Buehrle was pitching his 200 innings to major league batters in the toughest league in baseball, where as Paxton pitched only 4 games (although to against playoff teams…Tigers, St.L, TB, and KC).

  • John Smith

    Oh and if you are designing a trade with Sea you are probably better off including one (or both) of Janssen/Lind. The last thing Sea needs is a mediocre innings eater.

    • RyanMueller

      Mark Buehrle is not a mediocre innings eater. He started off slow and was hurt by poor defense and hitting. This guy knows how to pitch, not just throw, and proved he still has what it takes to be a solid 3 guy in the rotation

      • Justin Jay

        He’s not mediocre. You put him in the right spot on a rotation, he wins you more than he loses. He’s a borderline #3, but ideally you want him in the #4 or #5 spot. He could put up All Star numbers there.

        • RyanMueller

          On this team he is a solid number 3….I agree, on a contending team he would be better served as a 4/5.

        • jordan

          Justin Is very smart and he is right he know his stuff

      • Justin Jay

        Also, while Janssen to Seattle isn’t a bad concept, it’s unlikely. Wilhemsen was too good in 2012 to completely give up on. Farquhar did a pretty good job after he became the closer Aug.1 this past season. Still… none of them touched Janssen in terms of Save %

        • RyanMueller

          Farquhar was a jays prospect at one time, was he not???

          • Justin Jay

            Yes he was. He went on quite the ride from 2011-2012. Toronto to Oakland back to Toronto back to Oakland over to the Yankees, and finally landing in Seattle.

  • Kurtis Dunlop

    We drafted Paxton and he didn’t wanna come so forget him this ain’t ps4 buddy this is real baseball your trade ideas are ridiculous and stupid

    • Charlie Caskey

      I’m going to take a wild guess that it wasn’t the fact that Paxton ‘didn’t want to come to Toronto’ but was money motivated. And yes, a cursory search on google confirms this. A decision that didn’t really pay off considering he got less than what the Jays reportedly offered him and lost a year of development time.

      In regards to my idea, can you qualify what is ridiculous and stupid about it? Trying to trade for Paxton? Or the players suggested going the other way?

      • jordan

        If he did not want to come make Him Plus there is not a base ball game out on ps4 yet :/

    • Justin Jay

      He did preface the trade ideas as something he doesn’t normally like to do. He subjected himself to people. You got anything better?

      • RyanMueller

        Good point JJ

  • RyanMueller

    Good post Charlie, even though you didn’t get much love for it. I like the idea of trading with the M’s. to comment on trading Rasmus suggested below, not sure that the Jays would be looking to trade Rasmus. I think that the Jays would be willing to sign Rasmus long term in the spring to one of AA’s team friendly contracts. What many people forget is AA has not been afraid to sign his core players that are set to become free agent (i.e. Rickey “BB” Romero, Jose, E5, Lind, Morrow….). This management team has said all along that they will spend money to keep their talent and will not be the Rays.

    • Charlie Caskey

      I agree with that, both your particular point and the Jays philosophy of keeping their players long term. Makes you confident that if their lower level pitchers do eventually make the majors and have success the Jays will be able to keep them long term. Maybe I’m a dreamer, but I do see Stroman, Sanchez, Norris, and eventually Osuna in that rotation over the next 2 to 3 years.

      One or two may be dealt, but there is a ton of depth in the lower minor leagues.

      If Rasmus is re-signed than something needs to be done with Gose. His bat doesn’t really play in left and if they can get any value for them, they should definitely look into it.

  • Justin Jay

    Charlie, I love the creativity of this article. I think it’s a great idea to try and fix Ackley if I had to choose. I’m not really sure what makes the Jays a great trade partner on their end. I’m writing this as I toss around the idea in my head before football starts. Mariners GM Zduriencik has done a lot of work to bring in strong young arms, but has put soft tossers like Jason Vargas and Joe Saunders. Putting a guy like Buehrle in that massive ballpark is appealing and he does have relatively good success against the AL West. So I don’t think your trade is stupid or ridiculous at all.

    I don’t know if it nets any of the Mariners big 3 though. When David Price is being considered in a trade to possibly land a guy like Taijuan Walker, Buehrle being used as consideration is disappointing in comparison. Not only does Price have more obvious upside, but his contract is more favourable, for now.

    One last thing on Paxton. Yea, he does look good, but he’s only gone over 100 IPs twice in the minor and has had issues staying healthy. That’s a red flag to me, especially if Buehrle is the name we’re giving up since he actually gives us consistent, productive innings. Not to mention he’s a GG at his position, something that often goes unnoticed and is taken for granted. But hey! I’m the same guy that’s been preaching trade Buehrle before he gets too expensive. This trade idea isn’t unfair at all.

    • Charlie Caskey

      thanks Jay. I agree that Buehrle doesn’t net one of the big three on his own. Other pieces would need to be added, whether it’s Gose, Lind, a bullpen arm, or others. I didn’t want to come up with a specific package because was fairly certain I’d get hammered for whatever I came up with.

      Just think the Jays have the pieces to do a deal but they wouldn’t need to include Stroman, Sanchez, Norris, etc as a) they wouldn’t need to pay that much and b) the M’s wouldn’t be interested in lower level pitchers if they are in win now mode.

      Similar to the Jays last year.

      You make a good point on Paxton’s injury history, but his last two years have been his highest IPs as well so he seems to be on the correct trajectory and should throw (if remains healthy) in the 180 range next season.

  • sciencewitnesscom

    As you mention, a Price trade would kill all of this. Otherwise, Buehrle is too much for their second basemen, but the Mariners desperately need outfielders, which the Jays have. I think it would be an outfielder for Ackley or Franklin in a much less flashy trade. Prying Paxton away would be pretty difficult.

    • Charlie Caskey

      Yes, a Price deal would nix everything, but if they weren’t able to match up and the M’s were desperate for a proven workhorse than I do think Buehrle is a fit. The whole premise of the post was that just taking one of the 2nd basemen wouldn’t be worthwhile as the Jays wouldn’t want to pay what the M’s would think is fair value.

      By expanding the deal than you can get creative, hence the Paxton addition. And you’re right, the M’s outfield depth is thin. I think Gose would be a great fit defensively in that park, but his bat probably raises too many questions.

  • Wiesmann

    What I don’t understand from your perspective is, isn’t the goal to shore up pitching (not necessarily to fill in a gap on the 2nd bag)? Trading away Buehrle even at the possible benefit of a 2nd basement goes against this, doesn’t it?